Editorial: The mysterious failure of Microsoft's Surface RT

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  • Reply 61 of 347
    gazoobeegazoobee Posts: 3,754member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by MacManFelix View Post


    ... I’d sure love to hear—objectively—how more estrogen could improve this discourse or an optical device….



     


    Oestrogen improves everything. 

  • Reply 62 of 347
    What's so mysterious? They released a nice looking but very expensive tablet with an untested desktop OS, plastic keyboard and a low resolution screen that couldn't refresh properly (not smooth when dragging) - Microsoft can only be great again when they stop trying to copy Apple and start innovating. I have no understanding of how Bill Gates can sit and watch what is happening and not come back and take charge again.
  • Reply 63 of 347
    qamfqamf Posts: 87member


    The only mysterious parts is how they managed to get a decent ad out with it....



     



    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post


     


    Those were essentially copies of the Apple Newton. 



    Original tablet (MS versus Apple only) was running Windoze.  Sorry.



    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_tablet_computers#Early_tablets




    -QAMF

  • Reply 64 of 347
    Good editorial, Microsoft is trying to stop the sloping of 10+ years of success. The market is switching towards apple as the main computer saler, then google the little one!

    To bad Steve did not get to see apple at its high point.
  • Reply 65 of 347
    I don't think it's that mysterious. I think that they under executed on it, and it cost them. I think that there are two ways that they could have done it, and still competed with Apple.

    1. Low end. Same model, launch at $349 or and include the Type or Touch cover for $50 more. The Type Cover especially is nice - really great keyboard. At $399 - $100 less than the bottom rung iPad - I think it would be reasonably compelling as a get work done machine.

    2. Higher end. Same model, but with a good screen, at $499 with a $50 Type or Touch cover. Now in lock step with the iPad, I think it would have done alright.

    The surface hardware is actually really nice - as I've said before, it feels like a tablet that's not an iPad knockoff - except the screen is somewhere around the original iPad. I was genuinely interested in picking one up, but I couldn't get over how bad text looked on it (which is to say, how bad text looked on it compared to a modern iPad or Retina MacBook), and it was maybe $100 too expensive.

    The other problem I think is one that Microsoft has had for ages - OEMs releasing low quality devices - but I'm not sure that was a huge deal in this case, as the weaker tablets seem to have come out more recently

    Finally, Windows 8 is so half baked it's not even funny. I like Metro as a metaphor, and the Windows 7 desktop isn't bad, but Microsoft decided to take 75% of each of those, put them together and call it done. It feels unpredictable, makes the workflow for equivalent tasks different, and you never know what UI paradigm you'll be in when you launch a new app. Windows 8.1 seems better in this regard.

    Really though, I would still consider getting a Surface 2, if it ever comes out and fixes some of my complaints, but it would be in addition to my iPad. Microsoft seems more promising than Android on the tablet front, but they've got a ways to go.
  • Reply 66 of 347
    gazoobeegazoobee Posts: 3,754member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by huffcw View Post


    I may be in the minority, but after spending some time with Windows 8 have found myself really liking it. I spouted a lot of hate for Windows 8 until I actually gave a true and fair chance by actually using it for a bit of time (not just trying it for few minutes in a store). I have been gravitating to my Lenovo Twist laptop/tablet hybrid over both my iPad and MacBook a lot lately. And when I am on my MacBook or iPad, I miss some of the ways that the Windows 8 tile interface works (I know -- it's crazy, but once I got used to the interface it started to feel natural to me and then by mistake I try to do some of the same things on my other devices).


     


    With all that said, I fully acknowledge the current shortcomings:


     



    • I am using full Windows 8 - and would be missing some key programs and functionality I need on the RT version or by staying in the tile interface alone.  So until the Windows store is fully stocked with apps that provide the full spectrum of needed features in the tile interface, the platform will continue to feel like it has a split personality. However, with that said, it does provide more versatility than an iPad (can use it for things I previously had to put down my iPad for and reach for my MacBook to do instead).


    • I am not sure about the Surface, but my Lenovo Twist takes a full six seconds to wake from sleep. Doesn't sound like a lot, but once you get used to the instant on of the iPad or almost instant on of the MacBook Air, those six seconds feel very long. Although once it does wake, it's just as snappy as any other device I have.


    • There is more of a learning curve with Windows 8 compared to an iPad. Although, it's not as bad as most people make it out to be (if you have half a brain and give it more than two minutes, it quickly becomes easy and natural). Yes, I am someone who enjoys technology so probably have a bit easier time than the general population. But I did test this out with my 70-year old mother who is not tech savvy at all -- and just like me, after using Windows 8 for  a short amount of time, it felt easy and natural to her. While I do get calls from her from time-to-time for help -- it's no more frequent than when she was using an iPad and couldn't figure out how to change a setting or do something very specific on it. Ultimately she is happy with Windows 8 over the iPad because for not too much more money she has something she can use like a tablet but do things on she couldn't do with just an iPad. 


     


    I still love my iPad and MacBook, but I have a place for Windows 8 in my house too. My kids end up using the Lenovo a lot too over the iPad because they were able to setup their own accounts and customize the tiles to what they like and the apps they want to use (as well as the colors, backgrounds, etc.) There isn't an option for multiple users on an iPad like this.


     


    There is still a lot that can be done to make Windows 8 better, but the bashing and acting like it is not a viable option (or potential competition for Apple in the long-term) is ridiculous.



     


    This reads like an astroturfing post.  I mean you cover all the points MS says to in their guidelines on it. 


     


    - slight criticism of MS product just to show you're "fair" (but ensure to end or bookend each one of those statements with a positive.)


    - slight praise of Apple's products (but be sure to end or bookend with slight criticism.)


    - claim that "regular person" (grandma, kid) can use it and actually likes it


    - overall impression is definitely "thumbs up"


    - caveat that your a tech person (cause the audience will know anyway), that sets you up as "different," but also an expert (without having to say you're an expert)


    - formatted in MS Word


     


    In short, the humble but open-minded expert with the contrary opinion.  Barf. 

  • Reply 67 of 347
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    gazoobee wrote: »
    Yeah, that was a cringeworthy moment for sure.  I thought Sinofsky looked like scared, like he knew that the product wasn't ready and was likely to fail.  Then it did!
    Another thing, they rarely ever show the device being used in portrait orientation. A lot of people use tablets as e-book readers. The Surface, always being shown in landscape orientation and with the kickstand out and the keyboard attached didn't make it look like a thin and light tablet you could just pick up and read like a book or easily take on the go.
  • Reply 68 of 347
    gazoobeegazoobee Posts: 3,754member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by QAMF View Post

    ...


    Original tablet (MS versus Apple only) was running Windoze.  Sorry.




     


    I meant only that the success of platforms like Newton (and Palm that followed/copied it), was the reason Microsoft tried the Tablet computer at all.  Palm devices in particular were wildly popular at Microsoft headquarters and used by many of the top execs just before the Windows pen computing and tablet initiatives.  Bill Gates was a prime mover and a big fan of Palm. 

  • Reply 69 of 347
    d4njvrzfd4njvrzf Posts: 797member


    Perhaps I missed some detail, but the article doesn't seem to assert any specific reason for the Surface RT's failure beyond pricing and "it's not a good product." 


     


    I don't think UX is the main issue. The Metro interface is optimized for touch, to the detriment of mouse and keyboard users staring at 27 inch displays. And as others in this forum have commented, it's quite snappy and not hard to learn. Depending on your tastes, you might even find the minimalist look attractive.


     


    Besides pricing, the main problem has always been the lack of key apps compared to iOS and Android. It is perhaps unreasonable to expect Windows RT to have the same app ecosystem as the other two platforms because it launched only a year ago. But the reality is that when you enter a market as late as Microsoft did with the smartphone and tablet market, you won't win many customers by offering a product as good as what your competitors had three years ago. People judge your product based on what your competitors have today. Although the Windows store has been slowly adding titles over the past year, it is still missing key software that people take for granted on iOS and Android, such as Google apps. And as long as people don't use Windows RT, developers won't want to write and maintain code for that platform.

  • Reply 70 of 347
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    gazoobee wrote: »
    I'm not saying it would have worked, but just that the thing that doomed it was the (probably enforced by Balmer from the top) inclusion of Office and Windows desktop.  As long as you stay in the Metro part it works okay, and it would have at least had as much chance as Windows Phone has against iPhone.  

    This is sacrilege to Microsoft of course and probably wouldn't have ever happened because Microsoft won't ship a product that can't run Office.  If I was them however, I would have waited until Surface Pro was ready, released that as is, and at the same time released Windows Surface RT without Office at all, as a cheap alternative "tablet only" and "Metro only" device.  As it stands, all the Surface products are really hybrid laptops and Microsoft still doesn't even have a true tablet in the game.  

    You are probably right that this would likely have been just a different variety of fail, but at least it would have been a sensible strategy and I bet there would be more sales and no need to discount it later. 

    I would further guess that if the RT survives to a second iteration at all, they will do exactly that.  All it needs is an ARM front end for Office 360 (which they are building for iOS already) and they can dump the "legacy desktop" altogether.  
    How about Microsoft making simplified touch versions of Office and selling them on App Store and Google Play? Office is the product line that brings in the most revenue for Microsoft these days. Of course doing that would mean they're willing to screw Windows. But as it is right now people are buying iPads and Android tablets over Windows offerings. At least this way Microsoft could get some Office subscription revenue. Now they get nothing. Perhaps it will happen with this new org structure as Windows and Office will no longer be competing with each other.
  • Reply 71 of 347

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by RichL View Post



    That 52% figure is extremely dodgy and I think you know it. I guess that's why you link to your own blog rather than the original source of the figure.



    The Xbox 360 has been profitable since 2008. That's five years ago. The Xbox 360's division reported 8% sale growth this quarter.


     


    I guess it depends how you measure success.






    Microsoft spent four tough years with the original Xbox in which it operated the division at a big loss — reportedly $4 billion over four years — in order to try to gain a foothold in the videogame market. So investors wouldn’t have been pleased if Microsoft said they’d have to wait another generation for the profit to begin flowing.


    Though Xbox 360 also operated at a loss for its first few years, Microsoft’s fortunes finally turned in late 2008 when it posted the first net profits for the Entertainment and Devices division (which includes Xbox, Windows Phone, PC gaming and Zune) since its entry into consoles.


    It got off to a rough start, though. Xbox 360 faced a $1 billion setback when Microsoft extended the system’s warranty to three years due to the dreaded Red Ring of Death error, resulting in a disastrous $1.9 billion operating loss for the division in 2007.


    It will take more time for Microsoft to erase the massive multi-billion dollar loss accrued in the early years, but the division is now profitable and Microsoft is now a major market player.


    http://www.wired.com/gamelife/2013/04/microsoft-xbox-360-promises/2/





     


    As you referenced



    Revenue for Microsoft's Entertainment and Devices Division, which includes Xbox 360 hardware and software sales, grew by 8 percent ($134 million) this quarter, and 6 percent ($566 million) year-on-year.


     




     


         However, the Entertainment and Devices Division includes a lot more products:






    Microsoft 


    Entertainment and Devices Division


    The Entertainment and Devices Division produces the Windows CE OS for embedded systems and Windows Phone forsmartphones.[68] Microsoft initially entered the mobile market through Windows CE for handheld devices, eventually developing into the Windows Mobile OS and now, Windows Phone. Windows CE is designed for devices where the OS may not directly be visible to the end user, in particular, appliances and cars. The division also produces computer games that run on Windows PCs and other systems including titles such as Age of EmpiresHalo and the Microsoft Flight Simulator series, and houses the Macintosh Business Unit which produces Mac OS software including Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac. Microsoft's Entertainment and Devices Division designs, markets, and manufactures consumer electronics including the Xbox 360 game console, the handheld Zune media player, and the television-based Internet appliance MSN TV. Microsoft also markets personal computer hardware including micekeyboards, and various game controllers such as joysticks and gamepads.


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft#Entertainment_and_Devices_Division


  • Reply 72 of 347
    qamfqamf Posts: 87member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post


     


    I meant only that the success of platforms like Newton (and Palm that followed/copied it), was the reason Microsoft tried the Tablet computer at all.  Palm devices in particular were wildly popular at Microsoft headquarters and used by many of the top execs just before the Windows pen computing and tablet initiatives.  Bill Gates was a prime mover and a big fan of Palm. 



    Yup, I'll gladly accept and agree with that. :)

    Just not that Tablet's were first done by Apple.



    I wish Palm (OS) had stayed alive....

    EDIT: I wish Bill Gates had bought Palm.


    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post





    How about Microsoft making simplified touch versions of Office and selling them on App Store and Google Play? Office is the product line that brings in the most revenue for Microsoft these days. Of course doing that would mean they're willing to screw Windows. But as it is right now people are buying iPads and Android tablets over Windows offerings. At least this way Microsoft could get some Office subscription revenue. Now they get nothing. Perhaps it will happen with this new org structure as Windows and Office will no longer be competing with each other.


    Nope, Microsoft wants the lock in.  They cannot get a lock in with people using it on those devices.  EDIT: therefor I doubt they will do it.



    Also, I don't know about the iPhone 5 (have not used it for over 5-10 minutes total) but I would not want to use it on older ones.  That is based on my experience using Microsoft Office on Lumia 920, it really is just enough room (imo, ofc) and that is 4.5 inch screen.



    Dunno, would be interesting to see!



    -QAMF



    note: edited in a note (bolded)

  • Reply 73 of 347
    The problem that Microsoft has that apple doesn't is apps. when people think windows they think x86 apps. Microsoft made a mistake by not making their lower price surface have an atom chip in it.

    While an atom chip runs full blown x86 apps like photoshop slow it runs other things that run on an arm processor faster.

    Apple has the luxury of doing something and people having to accept it. Apple can change the architecture of the ipad and tell people oh well just buy all your apps again. Microsoft can't do that.

    Microsofts next cheap surface should just be a baytrail surface. they can stil l price it the same but it would run everybody's windows apps and still get great battery life.

    A lot of these articles don't get down to the true problem. The whole reason to stay in the windows eco system is to use the programs you already have.
  • Reply 74 of 347
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,492member
    abazigal wrote: »
    It doesn't even have to be a thesis. Simply cut down on the snark, and summarise the counterarguments to some of the more popular criticisms into a few bullet points. People like to point out how the ipad lacks true multitasking, has no ports, expandable memory, is closed, overpriced, requires expensive peripherals to connect to other devices, lacks mouse support (really?!?) and so on. 

    Instead, the question everyone should be asking is " The ipad remains popular despite all these perceived limitations. What exactly is the rationale behind this?" For all the criticism, it is an undeniable fact that the ipad is selling, and selling well because it works great and clearly resonates with buyers. Yet the way everyone glosses over this point and hails every new tablet entrant as the next ipad killer, you would think we are either still in early 2010 or in some alternate universe where the ipad never became a success. 

    What they fail to understand is that the ipad is so successful because it represents a holistic combination of software and hardware working together in harmony to create a great user experience for the consumer, and this matters more than simply being a laundry list of specs and features. I could go on, but I believe I would simply be preaching to the choir here. 


    We went through the same discussion last week after DED's last master piece. I don't disagree with anything you say other than to say a lot of us partizans here really love the style. So, the solution is DED should wrote two versions, one for the non Apple centric world (I hear there are actually people out there somewhere that don't like Apple :no:) and ones like this for us! :D

    p.s. I kid, I know they'd get linked anyway.
  • Reply 75 of 347
    robin huberrobin huber Posts: 3,630member
    I love weekends when I can look forward to some good old fashioned upbeat Apple boosterism. Seriously. Everything I read about Apple elsewhere is of the "Apple is doomed" or "new killer product that will take over for Apple's [fill in the blank]." Were it not for DED I would be walking around with a little black cloud over my head. Thank you for cheering us on
  • Reply 76 of 347
    qamfqamf Posts: 87member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by majortom1981 View Post



    The problem that Microsoft has that apple doesn't is apps. when people think windows they think x86 apps. Microsoft made a mistake by not making their lower price surface have an atom chip in it.



    While an atom chip runs full blown x86 apps like photoshop slow it runs other things that run on an arm processor faster.



    Apple has the luxury of doing something and people having to accept it. Apple can change the architecture of the ipad and tell people oh well just buy all your apps again. Microsoft can't do that.



    Microsofts next cheap surface should just be a baytrail surface. they can stil l price it the same but it would run everybody's windows apps and still get great battery life.



    A lot of these articles don't get down to the true problem. The whole reason to stay in the windows eco system is to use the programs you already have.


    Windoze RT is not x86... It is ARM....

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_RT

    -QAMF

  • Reply 77 of 347
    I have a Surface RT and an iPad. I regularly use both, and I like both. They're basically just different in emphasis. If I want to browse the web, do some email, watch some movies, they're both good choices in my view. If I want to play games, there's clearly a wider choice on the iPad. If I want to do some work, I'd choose the Surface. Although, actually I think Apple did a really good job with iWork on iOS. Clearly, I can play games on the Surface or work on the iPad, I just choose not to.

    They both have really good touch-centric interfaces. I find that the Metro interface works nicely, so apps that use it well are enjoyable to use. Unfortunately, many of the Microsoft's first efforts started off a bit weak, but they're getting there. And I remember that an iPad with iOS 3.2 was a much less compelling device than one with iOS 6.

    Obviously, Windows RT cannot run regular Windows applications, but most of them would be deeply unusable without redesigning their UI for touch.

    When I travel, I have a choice. When I go on a business trip, I take the Surface because it's a bit more flexible with peripherals and exchanging files. When I go on holiday, I take the iPad because it's a bit more portable and better for keeping me entertained in the airport.

    So, I would actually like Windows RT to succeed and the Surface hardware to be iterated a few generations. The prices need to be lower and the choice of apps needs to improve, but I think we'll get more innovation in tablets in general if Windows RT doesn't fail.
  • Reply 78 of 347


    Windows RT 8.1 is a BIG improvement though. It works nicely in portrait mode as well as landscape mode. They're nailed multi-tasking in a touch environment.

  • Reply 79 of 347
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,492member
    I love weekends when I can look forward to some good old fashioned upbeat Apple boosterism. Seriously. Everything I read about Apple elsewhere is of the "Apple is doomed" or "new killer product that will take over for Apple's [fill in the blank]." Were it not for DED I would be walking around with a little black cloud over my head. Thank you for cheering us on

    100% agree. It's like getting your weekly comic delivered when you were a kid ... (not sure if that happened in the US but we all did in UK as kids).
  • Reply 80 of 347
    gazoobee wrote: »
    rogifan wrote: »
    Another thing, during the Surface announcement last July they spent most of their time talking about the design of the hardware, and very little about actually using the software. And when Sinofsky did use the software it didn't work.

    Yeah, that was a cringeworthy moment for sure.  I thought Sinofsky looked like scared, like he knew that the product wasn't ready and was likely to fail.  Then it did!

    That has to be one of the great 'awkward moments of all time' in tech. Poor guy.

    Didn't he get fired or some such thing?
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