Microsoft is the Official Laptop sponsor of Super Bowl LIII -- with a tablet

Posted:
in Genius Bar edited February 1
Microsoft's latest Super Bowl campaign calls the Surface a laptop, but the company shifts definitions of what it is when it suits them. It's always been very careful to compare its tablets against Apple's laptops whenever possible, for instance, but that's gone now Microsoft has seemingly decided the NFL audience is more likely to buy a laptop.

Still from Microsoft's Super Bowl LIII laptop ad
Still from Microsoft's Super Bowl LIII laptop ad


We can now state the true definition of a laptop as opposed to a tablet. It's anything you like. Forget size and weight, forget whether it's got a keyboard or a mouse, it's a laptop if that's the word which will sell more devices. Hence the fact that Microsoft Surface is the official tablet of the NFL, and the official laptop of the NFL's Super Bowl LIII simultaneously.

As the Official Laptop of the NFL, #Surface is in Atlanta prepping for all the action at #SuperBowlLIII. Come back all week for more from the big game. pic.twitter.com/WZUMl7bhRr

-- Microsoft Surface (@surface)


Take a look at the ad, and see if you can spot the actual laptops in amongst the tablets. And then, take a look at who will be watching this ad during the Super Bowl and see if you can spot any of them who will care.

Back in the day

We didn't actually have desktops either, not at first. At first we had computers. They were big, they were on the top of your desk, but they weren't called desktops until the minute we had laptops.

Then companies needed a way to distinguish between the types of machines and that's fine, but the industry called these newer computers laptops as more advertising hype. You could put them on your lap but they might crush your legs.

It was like the way that the Osborne portable had been advertised as a computer you could carry like a suitcase. Those were pre-Photoshop days, though, so you could see the strain on the faces of models demonstrating the Osborne, and you couldn't miss their white knuckles.

The name didn't really matter when we had desktops and laptops but it did when we finally got portable computers that were genuinely portable. Manufacturers didn't want to taint them with the word laptop because they were now so much better than all that had gone before. So they called them notebooks.

The word didn't catch on. To everybody outside the salesroom, they were laptops and to this day, if anyone uses the word notebook then they are probably trying to get you to buy one.

Then the words subnotebook and netbook came next and didn't stick at all. More recently we've had ultrabooks and the definition of those is that they are not MacBook Airs.

Still from Microsoft's Super Bowl LIII laptop ad
Still from Microsoft's Super Bowl LIII laptop ad


If you saw, say, the Mac Portable, the PowerBook 170, the PowerBook Duo 204, the 2018 MacBook Air and -- let's just throw this in -- the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, you'd know the differences. More than knowing which was a laptop, which a notebook and so on, you'd appreciate the benefits and the limitations of each form factor.

No average consumer will and no average consumer should have to. If you're being shown any kind of computer, the question has to be about what it can do for you, not what label you put on it.

And that's where we've got to with Microsoft -- but also with Apple.

Today

Apple got mocked a little for its What is a Computer? ad but it had a point. The ad was all about what you can do on this device and if Microsoft is mixing up its devices in this Super Bowl ad, it's only doing so for the same reason.






All that matters to us is what you can do with the device. All that matters to Microsoft and Apple is that you do whatever it is on their machines.

Pushing it

You can go too far, though. Microsoft does have a second definition of when it calls something a laptop, and that's whenever calling it this means it wins in a comparison.





That's a Surface tablet against a MacBook. The laptop is primarily being criticized for not being a tablet and there's no question, that is quite correct. It's also just wrong.





You could swap out the MacBook in this ad for any laptop computer and the claims would be as valid, the song just might not scan so well.

What is a computer?

During the Super Bowl when Microsoft says that tablets are laptops, they're not right, but they're not really wrong either. If you're watching with friends and they look interested, make sure you tell them the difference. Not the difference between a tablet and a laptop, but between Windows and macOS.

It's the software that counts, not just the hardware it comes in.



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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 31
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,537member
    I’m actually surprised Microsoft wants to go there after the prior NFL drama with its Surface.

    It must have paid a lot of money!

    https://youtu.be/wyhjUFcXgo0
    jasenj1jbdragonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 31
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,679member
    Can't wait for Belicheat to spike a Surface, Gronk style. 
    cornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 31
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 1,285member
    Well, to be fair, several weeks ago, Apple put out an ad saying the iPad Pro should be your 'next computer,' so Microsoft's not the only one blurring the lines. In reality, the lines have been getting more and more blurred for the past several years. Maybe we should start calling them 'tabtops' or 'laplets?'
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 4 of 31
    AppleExposedAppleExposed Posts: 696unconfirmed, member
    Can't wait for the "Knockoff iPads" comments next season!
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 31
    Cesar Battistini MazieroCesar Battistini Maziero Posts: 161unconfirmed, member
    And let's just wait for the problems they will have auhahuauhhuahua

    AppleExposedwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 31
    Wasn't Microsoft complaining a couple years ago about being the sponsors with the Surface, but the trainer and technicians ended up using iPads because they worked better?
    AppleExposedrazorpitcrossladjbdragonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 31
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,414administrator
    jungmark said:
    Can't wait for Belicheat to spike a Surface, Gronk style. 
    Happened at the end of the last playoff game, again!
    edited February 1 mobirdwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 31
    AppleExposedAppleExposed Posts: 696unconfirmed, member
    gutengel said:
    Wasn't Microsoft complaining a couple years ago about being the sponsors with the Surface, but the trainer and technicians ended up using iPads because they worked better?
    Usually the people paid to use the surface use iPads behind their backs.

    Anyone remember when Microsoft paid a news network to use Surface and they used them as iPad stands instead?
    razorpitStrangeDaysracerhomie3jbdragonlolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 31
    MplsP said:
    Well, to be fair, several weeks ago, Apple put out an ad saying the iPad Pro should be your 'next computer,' so Microsoft's not the only one blurring the lines. In reality, the lines have been getting more and more blurred for the past several years. Maybe we should start calling them 'tabtops' or 'laplets?'
    It’s never been in dispute that iPads and tablets are sub-categories of “computer”. They are computers. Of course they’re computers. That doesn’t mean they’re blurring the lines between what is a laptop and what is a tablet in the way this article discusses. 
    AppleExposedjbdragonlolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 31
    jimh2jimh2 Posts: 128member
    gutengel said:
    Wasn't Microsoft complaining a couple years ago about being the sponsors with the Surface, but the trainer and technicians ended up using iPads because they worked better?
    Usually the people paid to use the surface use iPads behind their backs.

    Anyone remember when Microsoft paid a news network to use Surface and they used them as iPad stands instead?
    I think the league has an exclusive contract with Microsoft which is why they are all over the sidelines. They probably wrote custom software for them to make them more useful than a plain tablet. I doubt the NFL is paying a nickel as they generally don't pay for anything. The NFL was recently called out for charging the military for doing an assortment of things during games (https://thinkprogress.org/nfl-dod-national-anthem-6f682cebc7cd/). As a part of the agreement I'd guess the teams are not allowed to have iPad's on the sidelines or at least not in any quantity. They had to put those bright colors and words on the tablets just so people knew they were not iPads. The NFL has an agreement with Bose that won't let players be seen with anything but Bose headphones. I think players are fined if they are seen with other brands while in the stadium. I'd call BS on this if I was a player since they are not employees. Perceived poor, unruly or offensive behavior is one thing, but headphones are not. It's more greed by the NFL than anything else.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 31
    AppleExposedAppleExposed Posts: 696unconfirmed, member
    MplsP said:
    Well, to be fair, several weeks ago, Apple put out an ad saying the iPad Pro should be your 'next computer,' so Microsoft's not the only one blurring the lines. In reality, the lines have been getting more and more blurred for the past several years. Maybe we should start calling them 'tabtops' or 'laplets?'
    It’s never been in dispute that iPads and tablets are sub-categories of “computer”. They are computers. Of course they’re computers. That doesn’t mean they’re blurring the lines between what is a laptop and what is a tablet in the way this article discusses. 
    Forgot to mention that.

    The surface is confused. It doesn't know what it is and who wants it.
    jbdragonlolliver
  • Reply 12 of 31
    davgregdavgreg Posts: 303member
    The Surface line is getting better and the same cannot be said for the MacBook line which keeps taking things away despite the ever higher price.

    My new iPad Pro 12.9 seems a tad smaller than the previous generation, but the grossly overpriced keyboard cover and 2nd generation pen/pencil/stylus do not seem worth the money. It also amazes me that Apple decided to make the new iPad Pro incompatible with the pencil from my previous one.

    Until Apple gives us access to the file system the iPad Pro remains just a higher end media consumption device with gaming and crude apps thrown in. A Surface is a real computer.
  • Reply 13 of 31
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 4,300member
    Microsoft's latest Super Bowl campaign calls the Surface a laptop, but the company shifts definitions of what it is when it suits them. It's always been very careful to compare its tablets against Apple's laptops whenever possible, for instance, but that's gone now Microsoft has seemingly decided the NFL audience is more likely to buy a laptop.
    Nah, sorry, I'm not buying the spin.
    Microsoft isn't blurring any lines with this ad.   It blurred them when it created the Surface line that can swap back and forth between them and can function equally well in either laptop or  tablet form.

    The fact that Apple has been unwilling or unable to produce such a product doesn't change that.

    And, the fact that it's Windows and WIndows sucks no matter which form its being used as doesn't change that either.

    The Surface didn't blur that line, it obliterated it.  The ad is accurate.   It does not misrepresent this product in any way.
  • Reply 14 of 31
    AppleExposedAppleExposed Posts: 696unconfirmed, member
    jimh2 said:
    gutengel said:
    Wasn't Microsoft complaining a couple years ago about being the sponsors with the Surface, but the trainer and technicians ended up using iPads because they worked better?
    Usually the people paid to use the surface use iPads behind their backs.

    Anyone remember when Microsoft paid a news network to use Surface and they used them as iPad stands instead?
    I think the league has an exclusive contract with Microsoft which is why they are all over the sidelines. They probably wrote custom software for them to make them more useful than a plain tablet. I doubt the NFL is paying a nickel as they generally don't pay for anything. The NFL was recently called out for charging the military for doing an assortment of things during games (https://thinkprogress.org/nfl-dod-national-anthem-6f682cebc7cd/). As a part of the agreement I'd guess the teams are not allowed to have iPad's on the sidelines or at least not in any quantity. They had to put those bright colors and words on the tablets just so people knew they were not iPads. The NFL has an agreement with Bose that won't let players be seen with anything but Bose headphones. I think players are fined if they are seen with other brands while in the stadium. I'd call BS on this if I was a player since they are not employees. Perceived poor, unruly or offensive behavior is one thing, but headphones are not. It's more greed by the NFL than anything else.
    That doesn't stop people from using their Apple products.

    When Bose banned Beats it was also a disaster and players were still wearing them.

    If anything good came from Apple buying Beats, it's the fact, like Apple, people paid to use other brands get caught wearing Beats. And that comedy is worth 3B dollars.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 31
    davgreg said:
    The Surface line is getting better and the same cannot be said for the MacBook line which keeps taking things away despite the ever higher price.

    My new iPad Pro 12.9 seems a tad smaller than the previous generation, but the grossly overpriced keyboard cover and 2nd generation pen/pencil/stylus do not seem worth the money. It also amazes me that Apple decided to make the new iPad Pro incompatible with the pencil from my previous one.

    Until Apple gives us access to the file system the iPad Pro remains just a higher end media consumption device with gaming and crude apps thrown in. A Surface is a real computer.
    If you really think the surface is a ‘real’ computer, you should have gotten that. Each has its purpose. I love MacOS & Mac hardware, but my dad is capable of only using iPads. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 31
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,414administrator
    jimh2 said:
    gutengel said:
    Wasn't Microsoft complaining a couple years ago about being the sponsors with the Surface, but the trainer and technicians ended up using iPads because they worked better?
    Usually the people paid to use the surface use iPads behind their backs.

    Anyone remember when Microsoft paid a news network to use Surface and they used them as iPad stands instead?
    I think the league has an exclusive contract with Microsoft which is why they are all over the sidelines. They probably wrote custom software for them to make them more useful than a plain tablet. I doubt the NFL is paying a nickel as they generally don't pay for anything. The NFL was recently called out for charging the military for doing an assortment of things during games (https://thinkprogress.org/nfl-dod-national-anthem-6f682cebc7cd/). As a part of the agreement I'd guess the teams are not allowed to have iPad's on the sidelines or at least not in any quantity. They had to put those bright colors and words on the tablets just so people knew they were not iPads. The NFL has an agreement with Bose that won't let players be seen with anything but Bose headphones. I think players are fined if they are seen with other brands while in the stadium. I'd call BS on this if I was a player since they are not employees. Perceived poor, unruly or offensive behavior is one thing, but headphones are not. It's more greed by the NFL than anything else.
    That doesn't stop people from using their Apple products.

    When Bose banned Beats it was also a disaster and players were still wearing them.

    If anything good came from Apple buying Beats, it's the fact, like Apple, people paid to use other brands get caught wearing Beats. And that comedy is worth 3B dollars.
    Apple bought Beats more for what it would fold into Apple Music, than the hardware. That was a "bonus."
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 31
    danvmdanvm Posts: 735member
    MplsP said:
    Well, to be fair, several weeks ago, Apple put out an ad saying the iPad Pro should be your 'next computer,' so Microsoft's not the only one blurring the lines. In reality, the lines have been getting more and more blurred for the past several years. Maybe we should start calling them 'tabtops' or 'laplets?'
    It’s never been in dispute that iPads and tablets are sub-categories of “computer”. They are computers. Of course they’re computers. That doesn’t mean they’re blurring the lines between what is a laptop and what is a tablet in the way this article discusses. 
    Forgot to mention that.

    The surface is confused. It doesn't know what it is and who wants it.
    I don't think the Surface is confusing.  You use it as a PC / notebook with a keyboard w/ trackpad attached, and detach the keyboard and use it as a tablet.

    What is confusing is Apple message.  They tell you that touchscreen notebooks have a bad ergonomic experience because the screen in vertical position  But at the same time they push the iPad Pro + Smart Keyboard as a desktop replacement, and you have to use it in the same way as a touchscreen notebook.  They should be more clear in what position they are with touchscreen devices.
    GeorgeBMacatomic101
  • Reply 18 of 31
    gutengel said:
    Wasn't Microsoft complaining a couple years ago about being the sponsors with the Surface, but the trainer and technicians ended up using iPads because they worked better?
    I think it was because the TV announcers kept calling them iPads.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 31
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 4,300member
    danvm said:
    MplsP said:
    Well, to be fair, several weeks ago, Apple put out an ad saying the iPad Pro should be your 'next computer,' so Microsoft's not the only one blurring the lines. In reality, the lines have been getting more and more blurred for the past several years. Maybe we should start calling them 'tabtops' or 'laplets?'
    It’s never been in dispute that iPads and tablets are sub-categories of “computer”. They are computers. Of course they’re computers. That doesn’t mean they’re blurring the lines between what is a laptop and what is a tablet in the way this article discusses. 
    Forgot to mention that.

    The surface is confused. It doesn't know what it is and who wants it.
    I don't think the Surface is confusing.  You use it as a PC / notebook with a keyboard w/ trackpad attached, and detach the keyboard and use it as a tablet.

    What is confusing is Apple message.  They tell you that touchscreen notebooks have a bad ergonomic experience because the screen in vertical position  But at the same time they push the iPad Pro + Smart Keyboard as a desktop replacement, and you have to use it in the same way as a touchscreen notebook.  They should be more clear in what position they are with touchscreen devices.
    Good point.   For once, it's not Microsoft who is the lost & confused one...

    From a technical standpoint Apple could fix this easily -- if the iPad can use an X-Box style controller as input, adding trackpad or mouse input should be a minor upgrade.   My gut tells me they've been focusing on upgrading the OS with enhanced file systems etc., before pulling the trigger.
  • Reply 20 of 31
    thedbathedba Posts: 474member
    danvm said:
    MplsP said:
    Well, to be fair, several weeks ago, Apple put out an ad saying the iPad Pro should be your 'next computer,' so Microsoft's not the only one blurring the lines. In reality, the lines have been getting more and more blurred for the past several years. Maybe we should start calling them 'tabtops' or 'laplets?'
    It’s never been in dispute that iPads and tablets are sub-categories of “computer”. They are computers. Of course they’re computers. That doesn’t mean they’re blurring the lines between what is a laptop and what is a tablet in the way this article discusses. 
    Forgot to mention that.

    The surface is confused. It doesn't know what it is and who wants it.
    I don't think the Surface is confusing.  You use it as a PC / notebook with a keyboard w/ trackpad attached, and detach the keyboard and use it as a tablet.

    What is confusing is Apple message.  They tell you that touchscreen notebooks have a bad ergonomic experience because the screen in vertical position  But at the same time they push the iPad Pro + Smart Keyboard as a desktop replacement, and you have to use it in the same way as a touchscreen notebook.  They should be more clear in what position they are with touchscreen devices.
    The problem with the Surface as a tablet paradigm, is that as soon as MS decided to put desktop Windows on it, developers never bothered writing software with touch in mind. Most have taken the path of least resistance. Not to mention users whom the vast majority go with what they’re already familiar with. Keyboard and mouse. 
    The iPad on the other hand, was born as tablet and software written for it is touch first. Adding a keyboard or Pencil to an iPad is a bonus, not a must. 
    lolliverwatto_cobra
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