I love parody on tech events.
Even though these days I mostly use a Mac and an iPad (in fact this comic is completely produced on an iPad) I do not label myself a fanboy for either Apple or Microsoft. I use whatever tool happens to satisfy my needs at any given time. I have been an avid Windows user for 20 years before switching to Apple a couple of years ago, mostly due to the type of work I do.
This strip is not about criticizing Microsoft’s products. I actually think that the Surface is much needed competition for the iPad, and good competition forces companies to invest in trying to push their limits. I hope it will be very successful, both for the Redmond’s company sake that needs a bit of success after an unfortunate period, and for the market that needs variety and choices. I had this hope with the Kindle Fire, but it ended up being a disappointment. Hopefully the Surface will bring the needed quality to the table. We’ll see.
This strip is mostly a parody on the timing for such announcements, and the fact that MS seems to come up with good ideas at the wrong time (like, in this strip, cassette tapes in 2012) with some fatal flaws (look at the size of that tape!).
Microsoft came up with the tablet PC back in 2001, and nobody cared very much. Bill Gates stated “Within five years tablet PC’s will be the most popular form of PC sold in America.”. Well, that didn’t happen. Why did they fail so miserably? I think the major problem was that they tried to make a touch screen PC run standard windows programs. While the idea made practical sense and allowed the new tablet to immediately have access to all the software available for Windows, the issue was that Windows programs were NOT designed for touch screens. For the tablet to work they had to find ways to emulate a mouse using a pen and the result was clumsy and didn’t feel quite right. They attempted to push the “pen and paper” metaphor and didn’t try to create something new, but tried to emulate something old.
Years later created a completely touch-screen based experience. The result ended up being more compelling and felt right, even though it meant that they had to design and implement yet another operating system. The results were amazing however. Apple sold 3 million iPads in 80 days. Today high quality iPad apps are released constantly and they are built with a touch screen and the iPad specific form factor in mind.
We’ll see how it goes for Microsoft. For now, I just hope you’ll like this strip.