Editorial

Did Microsoft solve its perception issue this week?

It's no secret Microsoft's had a perception issue for the last decade. Ever since Apple launched the original iPod, Microsoft's main rival has been considered the forward-looking company in the technology industry.

Regardless of whether or not this perception is accurate, it's hard to argue the general consumer would consider Microsoft and Apple on a level playing field in terms of product and service offerings and the excitement derived from those offerings.

While some may argue the perception isn't a problem if Microsoft's quality isn't lacking, the statistics paint a very different picture. Apple products, including both its mobile devices and computers, are extremely popular with younger segments – segments that traditionally serve as an influence for older audiences, such as parents and grandparents. In a 2010 study, for instance, 47 percent of students surveyed planned on buying a Mac for college. This is a strikingly unusual percentage, given the sales of Windows-powered computers far outpace the sales of Macs.

There's been an ongoing debate on what will truly make Microsoft "cool again." While Apple's largely dominated the portable music player, smartphone and tablet industries, Microsoft has continued to focus on the decidedly unsexy areas of software and services in recent years, save Microsoft's wildly successful Xbox gaming console. As the company's proven this week, however, it appears Microsoft's willing to go the extra mile to appease consumers and change perception.

As Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer wrote in an internal memo earlier this week, the company is attempting to redefine itself through innovation.

"I love that we aren’t afraid to make big bold bets," Ballmer wrote, clearly referring – at least in part – to the overhaul of the traditional Windows design in Windows 8 and Windows RT.

But it hasn't merely been the events from this week that may change perception of Microsoft; the company has slowly changed itself from a software-driven company to a company that can succeed on multiple fronts.

* * *

When Microsoft revealed its new Surface line on Monday, it struck a major blow at that common perception. The company proved it's willing to do whatever it takes to win the hearts and minds of consumers, even if it means ruffling the feathers of some of its hardware partners. And, to be blunt, those were feathers that needed ruffling: Microsoft's hardware partners have been severely lacking in original ideas for years; instead, they've essentially either relied on their own previous designs, copied Apple's design principles or made minor advances in their own philosophies.

Reaction to the new tablets has been nothing short of glowing. Even Joshua Topolsky of The Verge, a noted Apple enthusiast, is singing Microsoft's praises.

"After Microsoft's announcement yesterday, I can actually envision a situation where I'm not traveling with two devices, or sitting on my couch with two devices, or running to grab my laptop from my office upstairs," Topolsky wrote. "The Surface makes sense, and it drives home Microsoft's previously vague intentions with Windows 8."

Other major technology sites echoed Topolsky's opinions. Brooke Crothers of CNET wrote that Microsoft's new tablet may have "one-upped Apple" and showed that its main rival can be wrong. Mat Honan of Gizmodo was even more direct: "It's a super solid device and if Microsoft can deliver what it demoed, the iPad finally has a real competitor and Android has a big [freaking] problem." Neowin's own Brad Sams was just as complimentary, saying he's never felt a tablet as sturdy as Surface – the iPad included.

Microsoft's made a habit of either over-promising or being less than entertaining with its product announcements in recent years. The Windows 8 reveal last year, for instance, lacked excitement and emphasis.

While the event was clearly focused on developers, it was an odd way to reveal perhaps the most dramatic overhaul of the company's signature product since Windows 95. At the very least, Waggener Edstrom, the public relations agency in charge of Microsoft's Windows and Windows Phone lines, should be given credit for masterfully orchestrating the event and building up just enough hype and mystery to entice the press and general public.

Ironically, it appears software rather than hardware will be the biggest question for Microsoft's first tablets. It's hard to predict how the public will react to the new Metro interface in Windows RT and Windows 8. Microsoft's had issues with Metro's simplicity on the latest Xbox 360 dashboard, for instance, drawing criticism from both developers and users that navigation was unintuitive and highlighted advertisements rather than important game releases and similar content.

The new Metro interface and apps in the next generation of Windows has been divisive, to say the least. While the consumer and release previews have been downloaded millions of times, some users have made claims they dropped the new operating system in a matter of hours. Its success may ultimately hinge on how users adapt to using the new interface. Regardless of this issue, the reaction to Surface has been nothing short of spectacular.

While comparisons can surely be made to Microsoft's last two hardware ventures, the Zune HD and Kin, there's a key difference between their failures and Surface's release: an ecosystem.

Neither the Zune HD nor the Kin was made with the intention of supporting apps. This is noteworthy as consumers have come to expect apps from all their devices – be it phones, portable music players, game consoles, anything. Surface, however, will be supported as a Windows platform, giving it access to thousands of apps in a short amount of time due to the ease of development between Windows 8, Windows RT and Windows Phone 8.

* * *

Windows Phone 8, while not a radical departure from Windows Phone 7 in terms of user interface, also represents a major step forward for the company. The addition of a shared core will allow developers to easily create software that works across a variety of hardware devices, which will also, in theory, help entice users with more, better software. At the very least, it's clear Microsoft wants to encourage developers to make applications across its line of operating systems, including Windows 8, Windows RT and Windows Phone 8.

Joe Belfiore, senior vice-president at Microsoft and Windows Phone manager, specifically mentioned the shared graphics drivers and DirectX on the new platform, which will allow "killer games" to be developed for the Windows Phone platform, he said.

This is an important feature as games are traditionally some of the best-selling applications on smartphones, and the current crop of games available on Windows Phone devices aren't as good as the offerings on iOS and Android. One of the games confirmed to be making the move to Windows Phone 8 is N.O.V.A. 3, the latest installment in one of the most popular franchises on iOS and Android.

"The biggest effect that we think [native code] will have on Windows Phone 8 is we're going to see some freaking killer games this year," Belfiore said. "There are a whole lot of benefits that come out of a shared architecture between Windows on PCs and laptops and slates and Windows on the phone. They both share DirectX, they both share common graphics drivers. What this means is a game developer who authors an unbelievable, detailed, rich, immersive, compelling game experience for the PC has a super easy port of their native game to the phone."

The platform's new start screen also addressed many of the issues previously raised by allowing users to customize the interface to a far greater extent. Microsoft's always claimed Windows Phone has the quickest, easiest-to-use interface on a smartphone, and now it seems that claim may actually be true for more users. Now users can pin tiles of varying sizes on the Start screen without having to worry about scrolling through a long list of large tiles (if a user so chooses, at least). 

With Windows Phone 8, Microsoft's addressed the two most frequent complaints of the platform: a lack of customization and a lack of quality software. It may seem presumptuous to say the latter issue has been solved, but it's hard to argue otherwise. Much like Windows RT, Windows Phone 8 will benefit from common programs through the aforementioned shared core.

Some users may be mad about the fact Windows Phone 8 won't come to current devices, it's a path the company needed to take in order to increase the volume and quality of apps available for its smartphone operating system. Refusing to dumb down the operating system for previous devices will also ensure it won't have the fragmentation issues facing Android.

Other complaints are also being addressed, such as Microsoft's plans for one of its recent acquisitions. Last year, Microsoft purchased Skype to much fanfare; since then, however, little has been known about how the new Microsoft division will be integrated in the company's product lines. This week, the company finally began revealing how it will make use of that transaction.

Skype will have a major role in Windows Phone 8, as it and other VoIP apps will have a deep integration with the operating system. Now VoIP apps will act like the native phone service in the operating system, with incoming VoIP calls appearing in the same manner standard calls do.

Microsoft and Skype have also made similar statements regarding Windows 8 and Windows RT, saying the Microsoft division will "double down" on the new operating system. If one thing's certain, it's that Microsoft will do whatever it takes to remove any competitive advantages Apple and Google have gained in the services space.

* * *

If there's one man to thank for Microsoft's newfound innovation, it's none other than Ballmer, the same CEO who's been routinely criticized for Microsoft's direction since he took over the CEO position from Microsoft founder Bill Gates in 2000. Multiple shareholders have attempted to remove Ballmer from his executive position despite the fact that Microsoft's revenue and income has steadily increased since his promotion to CEO. Why have there been so many attempts to oust the CEO of a successful company? Perception.

While Microsoft's seen a steady increase in revenue and income, Apple has seen both its finances and its influence in the industry skyrocket. The company's quickly become the darling of the tech industry, and it has a rabid fanbase that eagerly anticipates the company's next product revision, regardless of whether or not competitor products are worthy of purchase consideration. Brand loyalty like that is hard to create, and Apple's done it in a harsh economic climate.

Yet at the same time Apple's seen its popularity skyrocket, Microsoft's been toiling away at truly innovative projects that for some reason analysts are unwilling to credit for their originality. Microsoft released Kinect in 2010, for instance. The peripheral has sold like an Apple product since its release, breaking records and helping the Xbox 360 dominate the U.S. console market for over a year. For the past seventeen months, the Xbox 360 has been the best-selling console in the United States, and it's no coincidence that Kinect launched just two months before this streak began.

Both the original Xbox and the Xbox 360 were released under Ballmer's tenure as CEO, although the gears behind the original clearly began while Gates was still head of the company. PixelSense (née Surface) also got its start under Ballmer, as did the entire Zune line. While some of these endeavors were commercial failures or proof-of-concept projects, they've all helped Microsoft get to the point it's at today. The Zune, for instance, was a commercial disaster, yet its interface could be considered the forefather to the Metro design language.

Ballmer's gotten a lot of criticism over the years. The fact that Windows Vista was the first major overhaul of Microsoft's prized operating with Ballmer's seal of approval certainly helped feed the angst-ridden fires of dismayed shareholders. But for all the misses Microsoft's made over his tenure – and there have been a number, such as Vista, the Zune line and the Kin, among others – the company's clearly headed down an innovative path. The only question that remains is whether or not standard consumers will give Microsoft a chance in a world where Apple's suddenly become the standard for positive consumer perception.

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Valve's growing virtual economy, and how it has changed Team Fortress 2

Next Story

This is Big Data: We send over 200,000,000 emails a minute

55 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

If MS wants to REALLY win our hearts, they need to listen to those of us who use Windows primarily for work, not entertainment. The unicolor "blocks" of Win 8 make it VERY difficult to quickly find an icon and they really don't work well with a mouse. (Do I have to buy a touch-screen just to work in Excel?) I regularly use over 2 dozen programs and I have them nicely grouped by category in desktop folders. If they really want a "dual-use" interface pair, they need to let us have it OUR way (old-fashioned desktop that is PRODUCTIVITY oriented) with a quick-switch to the ugly Metro UI. Metro is the new Vista/Millenium Edition farce. If I get really pushed, I'll abandon Windows (except I'll keep using it for Photoshop) and go to Linux with OpenOffice. MS's arrogance (or maybe ignorance) is beyond contempt.

And trying to work with multiple windows open in Metro is a gymnastic feat of Olympic proportions..

One of the games confirmed to be making the move to Windows Phone 8 is N.O.V.A. 3, the latest installment in one of the most popular franchises on iOS and Android.

BS. Microsoft just bring Halo to your mobile and forget about this copycat.

Its seems that lately, in the eyes of the media, MS is sort of damned if they do and damned if they don't, which is unfortunate. I like the new direction they are taking, they are taking risks and thats because they have to but also I think they are saying look we were once the leader of this industry, lets innovate and lead again.

I wish them all the luck, but the new generation of tech consumers have a perception that MS is decrepit and un-cool, lets see if MS can change that perception.

Sonne said,
Its seems that lately, in the eyes of the media, MS is sort of damned if they do and damned if they don't, which is unfortunate. I like the new direction they are taking, they are taking risks and thats because they have to but also I think they are saying look we were once the leader of this industry, lets innovate and lead again.

I wish them all the luck, but the new generation of tech consumers have a perception that MS is decrepit and un-cool, lets see if MS can change that perception.

It all comes around, MS has a solid foundation in business class software which does not wavier based on fads etc. so they will always have a sold stream of money to fund more risk taking in the consumer sector.

Consumers are fickle and MS being cool or uncool will go back an fourth with the times.

One thing is for sure nothing n the consumer space lasts forever as king. Apple's time on top will not last forever and you can bet that their will be a time when they are seen as relics and behind the times and they will have to go through this as well.

For all of you that are talking about marketing Surface, and if Windows RT Surface to become successful, Microsoft must find a cool and savvy way to inform regular consumers (via commercials) that Windows RT will not be bugged down by viruses/malware. I'm sure the competition will target Pro, and would likely take a cheap shot on RT by stating that it can be brought down with malware and viruses, and consumers would likely to believe that unless they visit a Microsoft Store or electronic store that would tell them otherwise.

RommelS said,
For all of you that are talking about marketing Surface, and if Windows RT Surface to become successful, Microsoft must find a cool and savvy way to inform regular consumers (via commercials) that Windows RT will not be bugged down by viruses/malware. I'm sure the competition will target Pro, and would likely take a cheap shot on RT by stating that it can be brought down with malware and viruses, and consumers would likely to believe that unless they visit a Microsoft Store or electronic store that would tell them otherwise.

WinRT Surface is different ballgame it competes with the Ipad and android. I also believe its going to come with office built in. Office is something Android lacks. But it is still going to be a tough sell initially. It may only gain traction if good apps can be built for the metro environment at a relatively fast clip. Surface Pro is different device we haven't seen before. My guess is there are 2 markets that really gets better then competition business and video games. And the demand for surface pro maybe huge depending on the price.

RommelS said,
For all of you that are talking about marketing Surface, and if Windows RT Surface to become successful, Microsoft must find a cool and savvy way to inform regular consumers (via commercials) that Windows RT will not be bugged down by viruses/malware. I'm sure the competition will target Pro, and would likely take a cheap shot on RT by stating that it can be brought down with malware and viruses, and consumers would likely to believe that unless they visit a Microsoft Store or electronic store that would tell them otherwise.

I sincerely think that viruses/malware are really a thing of the past when it comes to Windows 7. Security has been high on the agenda in these past 10 years and Microsoft has taken it very seriosly. So much so that Kapersky critisised Apple for being where Microsoft was 10 years ago about security. 600 million news Windows 7 users were not scared away from viruses/malware. Adding to this, Windows 8 will have Windows Defender built-in + secure boot.

Having said that, I think Microsoft still has a very big perception problem. Most of this is coming from the Apple fanboys who literrally hate Microsoft so much they'd throw mega parties at Microsoft's funeral were it to become reality. Where is all this hatred stemming from ? Apple culture I guess. It's always been like that and will always be. I still remember Bill Gates being booed when he made a virtual appearance at an Apple launch event.

Crappy hardware from OEMs hasn't helped Microsoft's image at all. Some people tend to go to the cheapest of things and then pretend miracles. Most problems would be attributed to poor hardware, however it's still Microsoft's image that is at stake.

With Microsoft Surface the crappy hardware should be addressed.

One last word... I am typing this on a laptop. The keyboard is still the best input device for text in my opinion. I wouldn't imagine myself typing this comment on a tablet without a keyboard. Tablets are still very convenient for casual tasks. The post-PC era is more interesting than ever!


Agree on your points and choose to refine the keyboard comment. The keyboard is the most economical and most available text input method. Using a tablet on screen keyboard is just awful.

The post PC era I suppose you have to label it something. There are simply more choices, including the PC.



One last word... I am typing this on a laptop. The keyboard is still the best input device for text in my opinion. I wouldn't imagine myself typing this comment on a tablet without a keyboard. Tablets are still very convenient for casual tasks. The post-PC era is more interesting than ever!

If there's one man to thank for Microsoft's newfound innovation, it's none other than Ballmer, the same CEO...

The same CEO who said the iPhone had "no chance" of gaining significant market share. Yeah they guy sure has vision.

.Neo said,

The same CEO who said the iPhone had "no chance" of gaining significant market share. Yeah they guy sure has vision.

Right, because giving early praise to your competitor's products is a proven logical business strategy....

No. Microsoft is still sending out very confusing signals--part of the FUD campaign, so successfully implemented by IBM in the 60s and 70s? What seems to be clear is that Microsoft is abandoning the enterprise marketplace in exchange for the consumer marketplace. (If not "abandoning" them, certainly putting them in a very distance second place.)

TsarNikky said,
No. Microsoft is still sending out very confusing signals--part of the FUD campaign, so successfully implemented by IBM in the 60s and 70s? What seems to be clear is that Microsoft is abandoning the enterprise marketplace in exchange for the consumer marketplace. (If not "abandoning" them, certainly putting them in a very distance second place.)

Enterprise will be taken care of. They aren't being abandoned. I had this debate with a friend the other day. He went on about training users on a new interface, etc. Never once did he acknowledge users can stay in a the familiar desktop environment of Windows8. As for WP8, some really great enterprise stuff was announced.

Having in-house IT marketplace for your enterprise apps is brilliant. Our workplace does iOS apps and they have to go through the whole approval process which isn't swift. Deploying apps quickly is huge. The work hub feature was nice too.

I think right NOW people are jumping the gun to fast in how they plan to accomodate enterprise. They are huge in enterprise. Changing? Yes. Abandoning? Hell no.

TsarNikky said,
No. Microsoft is still sending out very confusing signals--part of the FUD campaign, so successfully implemented by IBM in the 60s and 70s? What seems to be clear is that Microsoft is abandoning the enterprise marketplace in exchange for the consumer marketplace. (If not "abandoning" them, certainly putting them in a very distance second place.)
What world are you living in? You must not know what is going on with Windows in the enterprise. Are they not allowed to walk and chew gum at the same time?

Seriously, you need to do a little research.

I think it's certainly a good first step, the tech press and enthusiasts have been almost unanimously positive about it, though with a degree of reasonable scepticism.
It's the "average consumer" they'll really need to ultimately convince, many of them appear to see Windows as the "basic" option for a computer (perhaps without even realising they're using Windows or even a Microsoft product), with a Mac being the premium option.
I still know plenty of people who use old, creaky PCs running XP or Vista that get frequent errors and curse Microsoft's name because of it and consequently say they'll be getting a Mac the next time they purchase a computer. The fault for that probably lies somewhere between Microsoft and the uninformed, casual user, though both are perhaps easier to blame with hindsight.
Microsoft will need more than a barrage of marketing, but positive word of mouth from tech loving people to their peers and family members. A few hipsters using a Surface and/or Windows Phone probably wouldn't hurt either.

Pretty much, MS showed off a device everyone is talking about, and it is actually mostly positive, plus they added Win phone 8 to the mix and everyone paying attention is making the connections to their unified approach to multiple device screens.

Their plan is now out in the open and the reaction has been generally positive in the press and public which is a change of pace for MS.

Dot Matrix said,
Please don't compare the Zune with the Kin. It might not have been popular, but was no failure IMO.

If a product isn't popular it's pretty much a failure.

.Neo said,

If a product isn't popular it's pretty much a failure.

The Zune sold for a couple years and forms the backbone of Windows Phone and Zune Pass (now Xbox Music).

By your definition, Mac OS X is also basically a failure.

.Neo said,

If a product isn't popular it's pretty much a failure.

Yes and no, kinda... Failure in that it went nowhere. Yet the service is really quite nice. The hardware of original Zunes were so-so. The ZuneHD was a work of art. Everyone I know who saw or held mine would say "what is that?" I'd say "not a crappy iPod" 3 years I've had this thing. It's really a damn shame it didn't do better. PMPs were on the way out though in that form. Zune lives on in WP7/8 and Win8 in a way. MS just had to throw down with marketing it all.

So it failed from a consumer point of view but it was an exceptional piece of hardware. The service is still one of the (if not the) best. IMO.

> Ballmer's got a lot of criticism over the years. The fact that Windows Vista was the first major overhaul of Microsoft's prized operating with Ballmer's seal of approval certainly helped feed the angst-ridden fires of dismayed shareholders.

Windows 7 was the first Windows OS where Bill had ZERO influence. Vista was Gates baby as well.

Not at all as far as I'm concerned, from a professional / corporate angle... They're trying too much to be "cool", to look like Apple... In the end I think a lot of pro consumers who always saw MS as a "business" company feel they're now dealing with a ****-poor / bad imitation of Apple...

I've been using MS's products for over 2 decades and for the first time, I feel like they don't know where they're going, and for the first time I'm not excited at all with the new Windows version and will stay with the current one.

Microsoft can't be Apple...

myxomatosis said,

Snip

I do feel that MS is a company with business products, however with Win 8 I am somewhat unsure as to how business users will find it (A radical overhaul of a functional workspace? Who knows...)

I also think that MS does have a strong consumer focus with this one (WinRT/8) rather than being lost - I think they did the same with WP7, its a great social phone but blows for work tasks.

I think this release will go over brilliantly with consumers, but may struggle with businesses.

myxomatosis said,
Not at all as far as I'm concerned, from a professional / corporate angle... They're trying too much to be "cool", to look like Apple... In the end I think a lot of pro consumers who always saw MS as a "business" company feel they're now dealing with a ****-poor / bad imitation of Apple...

I've been using MS's products for over 2 decades and for the first time, I feel like they don't know where they're going, and for the first time I'm not excited at all with the new Windows version and will stay with the current one.

Microsoft can't be Apple...

Apple is not cool anymore. They're like Volkswagen Golf. It's not cheap, you know what you get, but practically every model is the same, just a little bit better and different from the previous one. Watch the Surface ad, this is the new Microsoft. This is cool, not Apple's ads with families and hipsters. Is MS can continue with this trend, they're going to win. Maybe not in the sense of pure market share. But as you know, Mercedes and BMW don't sell as many cars as VW (but they still sell a lot of them) and they're still very successful.

myxomatosis said,
Not at all as far as I'm concerned, from a professional / corporate angle... They're trying too much to be "cool", to look like Apple... In the end I think a lot of pro consumers who always saw MS as a "business" company feel they're now dealing with a ****-poor / bad imitation of Apple...

I've been using MS's products for over 2 decades and for the first time, I feel like they don't know where they're going, and for the first time I'm not excited at all with the new Windows version and will stay with the current one.

Microsoft can't be Apple...


Been using Microsoft products for 2 decades as well. Entrenched in their consumer & business offerings. Developing off of their technologies. I've never been so excited to see what's coming out next.

But then again, I haven't latched on to the start menu tit like a spoiled 4 year old, so maybe that helps me see this with more clarity.

One thing that Apple does that makes people excited and drums up lots of attention is that at their press conferences they mention release dates and pricing.

The release date often is often immediate or within 2 weeks.

No other company seems to be able to do this. By the time the product is then released most people have lost interest.

I suspect they are so afraid of the product leaking that they announce it so early.

win2000b said,
One thing that Apple does that makes people excited and drums up lots of attention is that at their press conferences they mention release dates and pricing.

The release date often is often immediate or within 2 weeks.

No other company seems to be able to do this. By the time the product is then released most people have lost interest.

I suspect they are so afraid of the product leaking that they announce it so early.

It took Apple 3 months to release the iPad after first announcing it, right?

rfirth said,

It took Apple 3 months to release the iPad after first announcing it, right?

Apple could get away with that in early 2010 when the market was still nascent. Now with the iPad dominating, you can't do that.

The thing that's going to hurt soon is the pricing. I can see the Windows RT ARM-powered tablet at $499 to match the iPad base price, with options pushing it higher, but the Windows 8 Intel-powered tablet, good lord, as soon as Sinofsky said "Priced competitively with current and upcoming Ultrabooks" I was so let down, really. I know Microsoft has spent a literal ton of cash and even more on resources to get this thing done but that's just going to kill it for me. I'm not rich, but I'm not totally poor either, but I'm not spending $1000+ on a Surface, sorry, it's just not happening. I've love to have one but, that's just not happening anymore - I'll never ever spend that kind of money on a computer again in this day and age - no computers are worth that much to me, period.

But there's another way they one-upped Apple: not one peep about this ever leaked out, even Apple can't keep their stuff as secret as Microsoft did with this project which is absolutely astonishing, not one leak, not one photo, not one prototype... now THAT was magical indeed.

br0adband said,
The thing that's going to hurt soon is the pricing. I can see the Windows RT ARM-powered tablet at $499 to match the iPad base price, with options pushing it higher, but the Windows 8 Intel-powered tablet, good lord, as soon as Sinofsky said "Priced competitively with current and upcoming Ultrabooks" I was so let down, really. I know Microsoft has spent a literal ton of cash and even more on resources to get this thing done but that's just going to kill it for me. I'm not rich, but I'm not totally poor either, but I'm not spending $1000+ on a Surface, sorry, it's just not happening. I've love to have one but, that's just not happening anymore - I'll never ever spend that kind of money on a computer again in this day and age - no computers are worth that much to me, period.

But there's another way they one-upped Apple: not one peep about this ever leaked out, even Apple can't keep their stuff as secret as Microsoft did with this project which is absolutely astonishing, not one leak, not one photo, not one prototype... now THAT was magical indeed.

Ultrabooks, as far as intel says, could be anything in the $699 to $1499 price range really. The 64GB Pro could cost, say, $799 and the 128GB go for $999. It really depends on how aggressive MS wants to go with these, if it's too aggressive it could get their OEM partners in a fit.

br0adband said,

But there's another way they one-upped Apple: not one peep about this ever leaked out, even Apple can't keep their stuff as secret as Microsoft did with this project which is absolutely astonishing, not one leak, not one photo, not one prototype... now THAT was magical indeed.

Apple doesn't want secrecy; they want constant, unrelenting media attention aka free advertising. Whatever 'leaks' from Apple - and that includes many 'rumors' - comes directly from Cupertino's marketing department. And the global media just eat up every tiny bit of it like good doggies. However, to keep appearances up, Apple never comments on unreleased products.

If you look closely you can even see the pattern... iPhone... tick... iPad... tock... WWDC with mystery product... tick... iPhone... tock.

"The Zune, for instance, was a commercial disaster, yet its interface could be considered the forefather to the Metro design language."

Metro actually has its roots from Windows Media Center, Zune HD was a refinement on touch and user interface.

rom said,
"The Zune, for instance, was a commercial disaster, yet its interface could be considered the forefather to the Metro design language."

Metro actually has its roots from Windows Media Center, Zune HD was a refinement on touch and user interface.


WMC User Here. You're nuts.

rom said,
"The Zune, for instance, was a commercial disaster, yet its interface could be considered the forefather to the Metro design language."

Metro actually has its roots from Windows Media Center, Zune HD was a refinement on touch and user interface.

I agree that the framework concepts as adapted to WP7 and then on to a new framework model did probably start with Zune.

However, the UI concept goes back even before WMC, you can find Metro in Microsoft concept and production Applications in the 90s, and even hints of it back in the 80s. A good example from the 90s would be Streets or Encarta that look more like Metro Apps than traditional Win32 Apps.

MrHumpty said,

WMC User Here. You're nuts.

Then you never used a ZuneHD, as portions of the interface is modeled from WMC directly, with a few new UI concepts that are later found in WP7 and Metro first introduced, like the Charms and other overlay bar concepts.

Great read Anothony,

Just wanted to add that Microsoft isn't your normal company. Unlike all tech companies, MS is the only one that has a leg in both consumer and business worlds. from any prospective be it Apple or Oracle, you will find MS competing in that area. They have solution for almost everything, from a music service and video console to cloud OS. This might be one of the problems of Microsoft goals and vision which makes it hard for such one to sustain its place to begin with. But right now they are preforming well and will continue to that due to its determination and willing to succeed. Many will argue, but i will say that Steve Ballmer was the one who rescued MS after Gates era. Yes he seems funny for some, but deep inside he is one of the business geniuses and the one who shaped MS in a time where giant 80's and 90's companies died with no one in their funerals

release it early (or at least on time), market it like crazy and launch it globally (unlike zune)

rom said,
release it early (or at least on time), market it like crazy and launch it globally (unlike zune)

Absolutely key!

rom said,
release it early (or at least on time), market it like crazy and launch it globally (unlike zune)

You can than the music industries for the Zune not launching worldwide. They didn't like Microsoft's idea of pricing.

If Microsoft can actually advertise this unlike the Zune and not kill it off after a few years then yes, in my mind they will have fixed some of their perception issues.

wv@gt said,
If Microsoft can actually advertise this unlike the Zune and not kill it off after a few years then yes, in my mind they will have fixed some of their perception issues.

Who cares if they kill it off? Any OEM can build the exact same device. This isn't like Zune, where it was unique software. This is just a Windows tablet, a really slick looking one, but nothing that another manufacturer can't assemble.

I dont think so. Not enterely at least.

MS will solve it if the Surface does not suffer the same fate as the Courier, Pixelsense or InkSeine.

sanctified said,
I dont think so. Not enterely at least.

MS will solve it if the Surface does not suffer the same fate as the Courier, Pixelsense or InkSeine.

Courier was never actually shown, it had that flashy concept video but nothing else so already the Surface has passed that and made it to production. Pixelsense, well, that's a different market, those sell to business and not to consumers (not yet anyways, they still cost $8k iirc), but they too are in production. If you really want one Samsung makes them last I saw.

Why? Surface can fail and still not be a problem, as long as their OEM partners succeed. It's more about the ecosystem than it is about any one specific hardware product.

We have a Surface 1.0 and Surface 2.0 (PixelSense) here at my university... PixelSense is a shipping product that you can buy today.

sanctified said,
I dont think so. Not enterely at least.

MS will solve it if the Surface does not suffer the same fate as the Courier, Pixelsense or InkSeine.

Adding to what GP007 said, InkSeine was only ever a research project and it served its purpose. It was never intended to be a real product.

You've certainly chosen a strange collection of things to use against MS.

jakem1 said,

Adding to what GP007 said, InkSeine was only ever a research project and it served its purpose. It was never intended to be a real product.

You've certainly chosen a strange collection of things to use against MS.

Why should I be against them? Why the defensive attitude?

sanctified said,
I dont think so. Not enterely at least.

MS will solve it if the Surface does not suffer the same fate as the Courier, Pixelsense or InkSeine.

the same "fate" as the courier? let's not forget that was a research project and never comercialized. how many countless prototypes are killed internally and the IP transfered elsewehre? no doubt surface is benefitting from courier's research and you can see this clearly from the use of edge UI's which was one of courier's main points. Pixel sense or surface tables, are aimed at the commercial market, not consumer. and MSFt's early work on touch now benefits windows 8.

so all the things you mentioned are live and well.