I find that I can't really hold the iPad with one hand, partially because the shape and weight distribution, partially because it feels so incredibly fragile. I found the Surface to be shaped comfortably, even for one hand, and thought it felt much more durable than the iPad (this article states it doesn't feel light like the iPhone 5, however even though it's comparable in weight to the iPad 3, my first thought was that it feels kind of like the lightness and increased sense of durability of the iPhone 5).
>> I couldn’t type on the Touch Cover significantly faster than with the on-screen keyboard.
Seriously? I type on the iPad a lot and resort to "pecking" most of the time, and I have fairly average sized hands. I instantly was able to use the touch cover like a normal keyboard. I made a few mistakes, but could easily see myself typing nearly as fast as a normal keyboard with a little practice. I have no such feeling with the iPad.
>> Apple’s products say, “You can’t do that because we think it would suck.” Microsoft’s products say, “We’ll let you try to do anything on anything if you really want to, even if it sucks.”
Wow, what a sad sounding world for people who like Apple products.
I'm not going to buy a Surface yet, but I'm seriously tempted.
Kickstarter idea: pitch a "Touch Cover" product for the iPad (could be done using the USB port I believe). PS: lawyer up!
Of course iPad users look at me oddly and go back to touching like buttons and watching videos.
Did you have the same problem Marco mentioned, that he could not rest his fingers on the keyboard without accidentally typing? That would explain your faster typing speed vs his.
In the specific case of web browsers, they will allow you to build one as long as it sucks.
Despite the criticisms of some of the execution here and there (e.g., the pointless animations), it's clear if you've done any reading that a tremendous amount of research and UX work went into this--but it's a v1 product and many of the apps are written by groups other than MS.
I got a chance to use the Surface today and the thing that I came away with was that this could be a person's only computer. As an example, you can browse the file system, run desktop apps, and copy files to external storage. I can't say that about an iPad. Everyone I know who owns an iPad (myself included) also has a second computer somewhere--often in the same bag.
The other thing I came away with was that Microsoft is open and Apple is closed. Why can't I plug a microSD card into any Apple product? Why can't I plug in a USB device? You can plug your camera into the Surface (it's a host) and download pictures to your local machine. MS has several capacities and price points, just like Apple, but they're not afraid to let you use external storage.
I believe in a future with open computing and, firmware lock downs notwithstanding, MS is far more open than Apple.
The amount of R&D has no relevance to a consumer. The relevant thing is how much value the device provides.
I agree that the expectation and advantage is to have your tablet serve as your one and only computer. But this will never be actually true since most people will actually have to carry around a phone (or phablet). The portability and availability of a phone will beat out that of a tablet. Try jogging with a tablet. What a tablet currently buys you is a larger screen and a keyboard that you can type on for awhile.
A truer statement may be that this tablet's aim is to take on additional functionality found in desktops and laptops and not found in other tablets. In Microsoft's mind, that functionality is Office and access the file system.
You can plug in microSD and USD into an iPad. You need the accessories. Agree that they don't let you use external storage.
If you want open computing, you shouldn't be picking Microsoft, nor Apple, nor Google. Are you saying that you want to depend on an entity whose sole purpose is to make money to supply you with open source code in the long run? How about Oracle with Java? Or Compuserve with gif? Corporations don't even trust other corporations with key technologies without making them open source or FRAND. If you truly want open source, you should be branching Android and replacing or removing Google services with open source alternatives.
I would indeed label the Surface as a Version 1, both in terms of hardware and software.
Makes the case that tablets can provide different value from phones.
That's kiiiinda cool. Marco said that the Surface felt like a computer (is that a bad thing), and it sounded pretty good to me. I use an iPhone now and its artificial limitations are kind of ridiculous.
If/when I snag a tablet, I'll be hard at work making it work like a computer - just a hand-held one.
And just like every other consumer, you need to compare the latest iPad with the latest surface. Not many people care about your excuses.
Why are there so many Microsoft apologists out this week?
Yes, there are advantages to the Surface, this should have been the focus of your reply.
Yes, unlike the iPad you can access the filesystem OOTB.
>run desktop apps,
No, you can't. Office and (I think) Notepad and Paint are the only desktop apps you can run on the Surface with Windows RT.
>The other thing I came away with was that Microsoft is open and Apple is closed. Why can't I plug a microSD card into any Apple product? Why can't I plug in a USB device? You can plug your camera into the Surface (it's a host) and download pictures to your local machine.
You can't use an SD card as additional storage, but you can import pictures from a camera over USB or directly from an SD card, using the $30 camera connection kit. The USB port on the camera connection kit can be used for other purposes as well, for example MIDI keyboards: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6Pwa3SbFFE
Not the same as having a USB port included, but the iPad is more capable than you make it out to be.
But Apple did not invent this style of presenting consumer electronics. Sometimes I feel like Marco, MG, and Gruber were born 5 years ago. Am I the only one who bought nice, industrial designed stuff from stores like Bang and Olufsen? The Beocom 2 came out in 2002 and some of the Bang and Olufsen stores had flat tables like that. And if you visited some of the boutique stores in Italy or Japan even 10 years ago you would find some with this layout.
And didn't BestBuy invent the blue-shirt guy? I'm kind of bored of the continued notion that Apple was the first consumer electronics company to obsess over industrial design, build quality, or retail presentation.
Successfully repurposing ideas into fresh contexts is good work. This is not what Microsoft has done. Not by a long shot.
As to the Bang and Olufson argument, well, B&O sell speakers and is a nice company, but Apple sells the future of humanity and is the largest company in the world. It's a question of vision and impact, not who came up with hardwood floors first.
Come to think of it, the whole who-thought-of-it-first is a real red herring when thinking about why Apple/Apple Stores are significant.
Apparently from the various posts relating to discussions about Apple some people take the idea of others emulating Apple as a criminal offense, a type of offense in which for them is valid to point the fingers in the face of such companies and repeated yelling: "loser loser."
About your two last paragraphs I dislike this wording but it shows every mark of the fanboy speak, when given the facts that someone made some elements that Apple uses today just say how Apple is significant compared to them, it's the reverse of the above pattern. This is increasingly making me sick.
Writing this from a Windows PC.
Microsoft, on the other hand, seem to take a bunch of concepts at face value and mash them together without totally understanding them. Or perhaps in a company so large and distributed it's more a case of great ideas becoming corrupted over time. I don't know.
Look at Marco's photos of the Microsoft store. On the surface it looks like they did a good job. Look a little closer and you quickly see dumb decisions. For example, the "Windows 8" lettering on the floor they need a staff member to warn people not to step over. It's these mis-steps that undermine Microsoft and make them look like they're simply ripping off Apple Stores (and tablets) without really understanding what makes them awesome.
(others) -> Bang Olufsen, fashion boutiques -> Apple Stores -> Microsoft Stores -> (future)
This chain of inspiration is precisely what makes intellectual property very vague to reason about.
Meanwhile, it's probably also misinformed to say Microsoft or Samsung were not inspired by Apple. I don't think Microsoft were primarily influenced by Bang Olufsen stores. I don't think this is the direction they would have taken without Apple doing it before them.
I don't know if Macro is not seeing the picture clearly or if he's just miscommunicating. If he's saying that Apple was the original source of this store layout, that's silly. If he's trying to point out that Microsoft's decisions were largely a reaction to Apple's, he's not wrong.
The article by this fully-grown adult is summed up as he bitches about how "he isn't told how to exit other stores." What a clown.
the criticisms about the store experience and salesmen notwithstanding, this is apple fanboism at its best.
It's far better to keep an open mind and experience new ways of interaction than to deride/scoff at alternative UI and UX.
I switch between Android, Windows, and Mac OSX; it's far more interesting to enjoy more platforms than forgo trying new experiences.
But, I disagree with you on the writing - he clearly put a lot of work into that essay, and it's less egregious than what I would expect from the other pundits.
Kind of like putting a picture of a Nexus 7 on the screen and calling it "a competitor's tablet"? This isn't trolling, it's the way advertising has worked throughout the history of people trying to get other people to buy stuff.
Interestingly, all the laptops in the MS store had a touchscreen. The Apple laptops did not. I think MS has changed the game here, with my playing around with the MS store laptops I found the touchscreen interface to be a welcome addition (not a replacement, the touchpad mouse works the same as always).
I'm sure it's considered a flagship Microsoft store, but when I was computer shoppin last year the sales staff did not unde rstand the difference between "small form factor to watch tv and DVDs" and "tablet". Even when I said, "no, like a Mac mini".
>all the laptops in the MS store had a touchscreen. The Apple laptops did not.
This is a blog post, not a research paper. That's not a strawman argument, it's a joke.
It certainly has some flaws as a first generation product, but on the whole it's a breath of fresh air in the tablet space.
Tablets do change how you use computing, simply because they are more mobile than the PC. Instead of a stationary tool, you now have a portable version.
A few years ago, I was given an iPad 1 by the company I work for as a x-mas bonus. It took me a little while, but over time I've found it taking up so very many functions in my life, and doing so with more ease than I thought possible.
To start with, I use a stylus (a Pogo Sketch Pro) constantly with my iPad. I journal daily - I now have about 300 pages of hand-written journaling done, two years worth, that I did in the Penultimate app. I also do a lot of reading on my iPad; I generally read PDFs inside Goodreader, which allows me to underline and take notes with my stylus; last month I read almost all of Kurt Vonnegut's novels, and now I'm working on Moby-Dick (an old favorite of mine.) Being able to take notes, save those notes, print out or email a single page - these things are very useful.
In fact, I use my iPad to fill in every form I find myself having to fill in. These days, lots of places (the DMV, insurance companies, etc) will send you a link to a PDF and ask you to fill it in - which, of course, seems utterly ridiculous in this era. But that's no problem for me; in fact, I prefer it, because I can fill it in pretty easily on my iPad (by hand with my stylus, or typing the data in if I want it to look pretty) and then print it out. That way, I can keep a copy of every form that I am forced to fill in. I do this with leases, with insurance cards, with applications for things, etc. It's a great way to keep track of those things when I find I need them later, too (since that seems to happen often.)
Just in general, it's allowed me to simplify my life immensely. Huge stacks of paper and file folders filled with old receipts and crumpled-up forms have been replaced by a tiny device with a few Goodreader folders. And of course, I'm the type of (ADD) person who is benefited immensely just by having a calendar app handy all the time.
Another thing - I am a jazz pianist. My iPad has become pretty much indispensable for my music. Most jazz musicians lug around three phone books' worth of music books called "Real books;" I have all three of the standard volumes in PDFs on my iPad, and several other more obscure ones too. I have hundreds of pages of other sheet music that's instantly accessible, no filing necessary. I can take notes on anything I like - my iPad saves all of it.
Also - lots of musicians like me find it really useful to practice along to a prerecorded background at home; once upon a time people used pre-recorded tapes, and in the past few years there's been a desktop program called "Band In A Box." Last I checked, a Band In A Box license costs $300; that's how it often is with these niche pieces of software. But there's a fantastic little $8 iPad app called "iReal B" that does everything Band In A Box does, and more - it gives you simple chord sheets for 1200 songs, and easily plays backgrounds for you if you need it. And in addition, I have apps that help me format sheet music for people and transpose it for other instruments when I want other musicians to be able to play along with me.
My iPad is also a really good tool for actually creating music itself. There's a pretty fantastic sequencing / synthesizer app called Nano Studio that I use to create some electronic music (like this: http://soundcloud.com/koeselitz/the-end-of-the-beginning) just for fun. There are apps like Filtatron with filters and effects I can run sounds through if I want. And the iPad is good enough to work nicely for my own recordings of me playing my piano; the Soundcloud app lets me record directly and upload immediately if I want, or there's an app called Fourtrack that just acts as a simple four-track recorder if I want several parts in the recording.
The essential thing for me is that the iPad is miniscule when compared to all the things it's replaced. And at this point, I can pretty much do anything I need to on my iPad. I can download files and then open them in any app I want to; and I have players that work with any format under the sun no matter how obscure. There were days when having an iPad seemed to be limiting in that it was somewhat difficult to move files around and manipulate them, but as far as I can tell those days are mostly gone. It would be nice to have direct filesystem acccess - but I almost never miss it now.
Sorry this is so long, but you asked I guess. Really, there are things I never would have even thought to do if I hadn't had this device.
I can read literature on a screen now! I have documentation in A4/letter size readable! That combination can't be matched, since larger eInk screens seems to become retired?
Arguably, this changed not only how I use computers but my life for better...
It is a completely different approach to iOS and Mac. And it is better. I can safely say Windows 8's Metro UI is miles ahead of Apple's iOS in terms of UI and UX. Metro UI is prettier, easier to use and by far more productive. Apple's iOS looks static, dull, ancient and boring compared to this.
Yes but he us upfront about that. He isn't pretending it is a well researched review. He is writing about his experience.
ALSO - the UX issues he found are quite apparent on casual inspection.
I disagree. Historically, Microsoft software products have been more customizable and more flexible than what comes from Apple. PC hardware as well. But what we're seeing now, with Windows 8, is a departure from that. Microsoft isn't just copying Apple's store -- they're copying the fundamental mind-set behind Apple's software. Instead of a general purpose computing machine, they're both trying to sell closed consumer electronics products. In my opinion, Microsoft took their biggest advantage and tossed it. People who dislike Apple's approach or whose requirements are incompatible aren't going to find much of an alternative. Microsoft seems to think they can compete with Apple on Apple's terms.
However... if some new way of using computers comes along, it seems more likely to emerge in a more open system (like windows or android or linux) than in a closed one. Or maybe at the level of ARM SoC, with its own hardware.
It saddens me to see Microsoft disappointing, time after time. There must be great material for anthropologists to figure out how such an incredibly smart and talented group of people, with almost unlimited amount of money, can continue to be second-rate. In fact, comparing the cultures around Linux, MS and Apple is bound to reveal some greater truths about human/societal behavior which could be applied to improving the lot of countries and cultures which have stagnated.
I read this entire piece as a critique of the MS store. The Surface just happened to be what he tried to see/mess with; an activity that was constantly interrupted by the sales staff.
I went into my local MS store a few weeks ago (pre-surface). While I didn't encounter pushy salesmen, the rest of the experience was similar. The layout and design was a clear copy of Apple. The uniforms and the way they carried their ID on a lanyard was a clear copy. There was an "XBox Experience" section in the back no one was using. The Windows phones were covered in fingerprints, making it hard to see how nice the screens really were.
They're trying, but it was clear to me they needed some time and experience to round some rough edges.
The pitches were aggressive, fast-paced, and competitively
defensive: they often mentioned “other tablets” and didn’t
let me forget which features were “not available on any
That store experience does sound awful though. There's nothing more off putting than over eager sales staff interrupting your curiosity.
The staff must be forced to take lithium at the start of each shift. At the Microsoft store in Chicago, it's not only empty and in the least 'cool' part of the city (distant suburbs), but the constant demos felt like I was a victim in a Saw movie. I had to enthusiastically play a Kinect game... or else.
Disclaimer: I'm a Microsoft employee, hardly an Apple fanboy.
Thank goodness for Internet shopping. Whenever I can I buy online specifically so I don't have to put up with sales people like the ones described in this article.
Does noone have any creativity left anymore?
That's a good summation of most comments on HN about Windows 8 and the Surface. It's too bad, because it's exactly the same poor level of discourse that happened when OSX came out and ALL developers were on Windows or Linux.
Of course, when Apple finally releases a unified version of OSX and iOS and releases their convertible device, I'm sure it will be perfect.
Also there were plenty of shopping mall stands selling iPad keyboards months before Surface was announced. Keyboards aren't what makes tablets successful.
Honestly - who wants to carry both a Laptop and a Tablet - I currently do, but, if some clever company could figure out how to give me the best of both worlds (Light, 100% focus, responsive Tablet + Keyboard Base for laptop typing, shortcuts, touchpad, multi-tasking when I'm rocking out 20 Apps and 40 console windows) - then I'll be first in line. (And, if you really want to take over the world, release a device with a stylus that matches, or exceeds, the resolution of a typical pen-on-paper)
I'm actually quite intrigued by the Surface - looking forward to checking it out.
Now if only someone would write a decent Terminal.App for Windows RT.... (No, Putty and SecureCRT don't count. And I don't think either of them run on Windows RT anyways).
A tablet is optimized for finger touch and on screen gestures. A laptop is optimized for portable productivity and keyboard input. You can't create a UI/UX that works best for both and Apple isn't about to start compromising.
My Air and iPad combined is lighter than most other laptops, when I want instant info + utility I whip out my iPad, when I need to do work I open the Air.
So, you don't have to convince me of the utility of each, and where they are optimized. But, I would so love to just have one sub 16 ounce gadget to carry around with me, with some amazingly easy to manage keyboard/touchpad (with a bunch of USB3.x ports) when I need it. It would also make keeping my video/song files a lot easier to keep synced.
Switch to OS/X when I've got the keyboard attached, and switch back to IOS when I don't. Or something. I don't know. But I really only want to carry / charge a single device.
The creativity is in the product and advertising.
I promise you - whatever you ate in the last week has only been tweaked. The creativity came with the people who created the dish long ago.
The last line of the article says it all "I fled Windows 8 years ago with no intention of returning". Wow, thanks for that information. I really needed to know about your blind faith in Apple, and your feelings for Windows. I'm sure you attend Apple store openings and queue for the high-fives and woot-woots.
This was the hardest thing for me when I was trying out Windows 8. Was never sure the menu didn't exist or my mouse wasn't in the corner properly.
This makes me a little sad, I was rooting for Microsoft this time.
The author made serious points (even the store uniforms(!) are copied, bad animation handling, office apps are slow, etc, etc).
Why are the anti-Apple fan boys just complaining that the article is biased -- instead of showing that it is biased by answering the "biased" points?
You lack that?
Edit: The criticism of the Surface is echoed here: http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2012/10/microsoft-surface-rt-revie... (I'm not going to bother to read more about non-retina pads/laptops. My eyes are too old and spoiled.)
Granted there was a fair amount of valid criticism, but it was mainly the biased tone I was addressing.
I'm sorry, but why was this comparison necessary?
An atheist might say its like arguing with a christian.
A pc person might say its like arguing with an apple fanboy.
Batman arguing with joker?
This was not a great or balanced blog post by any means, but I didn't think this sentence was the worst part.
The iPad does not everything, but at what it does, it tries to be the best.
The Surface is trying to be best at everything, but that creates so many trade-offs, it drags down the user experience.
I left Win XP, and Windows 7 did not make me come back, because there are so many things that lack decision making in leaving features out rather than putting everything in. Metro is a step in the right direction, but it needs more finish.
A computer should help you, and guide you to achieve a goal. A Win PC usually needs a lot of work to bend him in a way which enables you to do your task. And I have enough of that.
Why do I need experts in an Office program? Why not making the Office program so intuitive, that it is super easy to create a set of documents? Why not cutting unnecessary features out? A Metro version of Office, which does that, wouldn't that be great?
Furthermore, I don't want to tinker, I don't want to dig through five layers of settings.
I want to see the IT world going on. And Windows was not really helping in pushing the world forward in the last decade. Apple did. That's why some of the praise and "fanboism" is justified.
Let's see who leads the next decade, but have an open mind and acknowledge the fact that people like Marco, Gruber, or MG have an idea of what they are talking about.
They give credit where credit is due. But MS has to do a lot more to earn that credit. Maybe they have to cut some things out of the Metro side and go dual platform. It will help to make Metro something that pushes forward the whole industry.
When a lot of people are used to Win 8, maybe it's a good thing to go separate ways with Win 9. The "professionals" will use their desktop and the rest is used to Metro and maybe they will see how it excels the desktop version with ease of use.
I'm using Windows 8 on my (non touchscreen) laptop, for the overall improvements on the platform and I'm very happy about it so far. And it means I have day to day experience using it.
And so far, I think the Mail-app is one of the weakest apps to the point where I wondered if Microsoft is seriously releasing this as their RTM, finalized Mail-client for the masses.
If I may ask: What part about it do you find so faverouble? Is there some hidden gem I have missed?
My guess would be that they applied the Aol user principle to the mail app and figured you'd use Outlook if you need a more featureful application.
fwiw, here's a good presentation of the design rationale behind the use of animations in Windows 8: http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/Build/BUILD2011/APP-206T
Sources are great when they support or expand on points you're making, but they're no replacement for dialogue. The comments become really spammy if it's all just links to videos and research papers.
Platform zealotry is the domain of children, the feeble minded and host of shills who feed on the above two groups (and the platform holder's marketing budgets).
* Rhetorical question (I expect that most HNers agree).
The one to one feature comparison to the iPad is silly. The surface is not trying to be a carbon copy. Features like retina display come with trade offs in power, speed and cost that were obviously not worth the trade off. It seems that ever since Apple raised the issue pixels have gone from being something few ever thought about to being physically painful to consumer's eyeballs.
There were a few factual inaccuracies in Marco's post. The touch keyboard does allow you to rest your fingers on the surface. It's smart enought to recognize what is intended to be an actual keystroke. Rotating the screen does show a transition too; the screen shrinks, fades and expands.
Also, in the past, Apple regulated the user-experience with the Mac (whereas the PC was open), which seems to have been too constraining. It might seem that history could repeat here, but there's a crucial difference: tablets are now a consumer device, like Sony used to make.
but ok i get it, was reading, then started skimming, then got to the conclusion tl;dr.
apple store employees handing out stupid useless flyers in the middle of the street in gangs of 3 is better of course.
microsoft is giving out muffin fragments? i'm surprised they gave out anything at all.
I get that some want the hardware upgradeability of MS PCs, but your can't do anything to Windows because its closed source. I buy Macs because I get the benefits of both a polished and (somewhat) open source operating system - not to mention its Unix. Also, in Apple hardware you actually know what you're getting - the majority of it is Intel. With other manufacturers unless you custom build your machine, its hard to know what you're actually getting inside beyond the specs on paper.
-Until now, Apple has been adamant about not releasing a smaller iPad.
-Apple has a ridiculously efficient supply chain which can probably adapt very well, considering the next point...
-Tim Cook just went on record saying that Apple wasn't concerned about product cannibalization.
-The Surface tablet is just about to stick it's foot in the door, well after Apple has established itself at the top.
Aside from the obvious (consumer demand), does anyone else think this might just be one of the most comfortable bets they can make? Put out 7" tablets while they're hot, let people forget about the Surface, by the time Surface 2 goes 7" they can push out a much newer full iPad line...
I think Amazon's "$50/year data plan" gives more heartburn to Apple strategists than anything Microsoft has put on the table or even hinted at.
That's the point, Windows 7 and 8 offer great desktop experiences and having "one system to rule them all" is the selling point ...though I'd rather have an x86 version of the tablet with the ability to use exactly the same software since the type cover is basically a usable keyboard ...hope Intel does some magic with ultra low power x86 chips soon
Can I have my UIGlassButton now?
Even Genius-blue-only would be a start.
Huh what? It looks like Marco's the one living in an alternate universe. I seriously doubt anyone would believe that. The whole "if you don't adore the iPad you're in denial" thing says more about the writer than the Microsoft store salesman. What bugs me the most about the Apple bloggers like Gruber, Siegler and Marco is their hate towards anything non-Apple, especially Android and Microsoft. It's one thing to like something, but to hate on something else because of that is very narrow minded.
Both men have a strong appreciation for usability, look-and-feel, intuitiveness and consistency in their electronic gadgets. They both get pigeon-holed as Apple apologists because Apple is the only major electronics manufacturer that seems to care one iota about these things, but when another company comes along and gets theses details right, neither Marco or Gruber will hesitate to praise them.
Gruber and Marco are tactical in their praise of non-MS products. They'll praise something they think has no chance of threatening Apple. Despite Android's flaws, there's also tons of stuff in it worth praising, but you'll rarely (if ever) hear them say a peep about Android.
Likewise, Surface is a LOT more threatening than Windows Phone. They don't view it as a cute toy, but rather a serious threat to the iPad.
Don't you find it the least bit odd that Marco does a story about his experience at the MS store, with pictures of an empty store and never references any of the stories that talked about full stores?
If Marco and Gruber actually like a new Windows device it likely means they don't think it will sell much. If they think it has potential, they'll find a way to bash it.
Why do you think they care if the Surface does well? Because it would disprove some fragile mental modle they have where they place a more importance on aesthetics and interface than customizability and price? Why are they trying so hard to make Apple look good? Do they just think Apple's awesome without really thinking about it?
How many articles do you think Marco's read about packed Microsoft stores? Based on most of his articles, he writes about his experiences without generally using aggregate data to come to some conclusion about anything. Maybe you have an issue with his methods here, but I don't think you're likely to find him talk about other people's experiences, especially people who he likely doesn't read. (ie. He's not going to do much research into other articles about Microsoft stores before writing this story.) Maybe you don't like that, but he's consistent about it. If someone wants to look up every article about MS stores, his can be one data point.
Again, why do you think Gruber and Marco are actively trying to influence the sales of Apple devices? Do you think Gruber is doing it to get rich? He has a ton of stock and is trying to bump marketshare? I just can't find a reason that Marco and Gruber would directly lie about their thoughts on a product based on their predictions of future sales.
Is this supposed to be a difficult exercise? The reasons are rather obvious IMO -- they have a lot of social and technical capital in the Apple ecosystem.
Based on most of his articles, he writes about his experiences without generally using aggregate data to come to some conclusion about anything.
Just perusing the first page of his blog seems to indicate otherwise.
Where on the front page does Marco write a long form article where he bases his opinions on the opinions of others?
For instance, Gamecenter is just terrible on iOS. Looks tacky, barely works. How you treat that in a review is very revealing of your partisan positions. You could make it the centerpiece and how it shows that Apple is losing its touch in new features and is on a downward spiral. Or you could just ignore it.
Plus there's the standard "Apple doesn't do web services well" thing that seems to excuse a lot.
When they're using and promoting iCloud and Siri as much as they do, they're in the 'web services' game.
It is a bit annoying to see apparently sharp people looking so often brainwashed, but I more or less ignore it at this point.
I doubt there's any way out of this :)
The last time I was in an Apple store (more than a year ago) I grabbed what I needed and then a kind woman walked up to me and double-checked that was what the item my MacBook needed. She scanned my card right there and I left knowing my Gmail account had a receipt mailed to it. The whole thing took 5 minutes. And the store was crowded at the time too! It was exactly how I would want a retail experience to be. She double checked, then I paid and left. bam.
Before the Apple Store, where could you go to get EVEN REMOTELY the same experience? Best Buy? Circuit City? Oh no wait, I know, CompUSA! Sure, buddy.
(I know some will try to denounce me as just an Apple fanboy. To that I would point out that for years I exclusively used Linux so I feel fine looking down on both Apple and Microsoft :P That said, it is just that in this instance, Microsoft is clearly playing catch up.)
Of course, PC margins gradually shrank until they basically became commodity items. Assembling PC's gradually got easier too. e.g. When was the last time you had to set IRQ/DMA channels via dip switches or had to worry about which side of that ribbon cable goes to pin 0? Assembling a PC today is practically impossible to mess up, so a lot more people do it themselves. As nice as many of these boutiques were and despite the care that many of them put into their work, their business model simply became unsustainable. Note that Apple's computers were also sold in some boutique stores at one point, although in the 90's stores specializing in Apple products were already not doing well because Apple of the 90's was decidedly unsexy. (The stores of the 90's specializing in Apple products that I can remember were all decidedly dingy actually...)
Please do not say that Apple "changed the way" computers are sold in person. They didn't. They leveraged their higher profit-margins to build stores similar to those that their own hardware had been sold in barely a decade earlier. This let them cut out retailers, increase vertical integration, and maximize profits. There is nothing new about Apple stores except scale and profitability in an era of commodity pricing. Don't get me wrong, that's admirable, but from a business stand-point, not from a user-experience stand-point.
We had regular customers who came by every week for a cup of coffee and to chat about what was new, and on Saturdays we came in and opened the store just to hang out with people and play games on the LAN.
Every machine was custom built for the customer. People who didn't know much about computers got an education and our recommendation for the best parts (we knew what manufacturers parts we had to send back). People who knew what they wanted got exactly what they wanted. We would even take your old machine and copy/reconstruct all the software, settings and data to the new machine.
Then the race to the bottom happened in the late 90's and there was no more margin for that sort of service. The company is still around, but they got bought out years ago by a services business and the owner left and started a business selling things made from reclaimed wood.
I miss the craftsmanship, attention to detail and customer service.
Another important point of difference was that Apple built its retail experience on such an ambitious scale. But the real innovation was to see it before anyone else and execute so consummately, and execute without any prompting. Apple crossed all the ts and dotted the is -without- any real competition to one up - just because they thought it was the right thing to do. That's why Microsoft looks so weak with their stores. Because they're only doing it to try and look cool, after someone else did it. Whereas Apple simply is cool. Real cool is effortless.
This isn't some checklist comparison, this is about the essence of how a corporation thinks and acts.
The guys running the store would give you honest opinions about the software and hardware, they would tell you not to buy something if they figured it wasn't really what you needed.
The Apple Store offers a great retail experience, it's streamlined to process sales quickly, and the staff are friendly, but I don't get the feeling they really care about what they're selling.
Apple hires sales people almost entirely on the basis of attitude. The philosophy is essentially that you can teach them the basics(and telling customers you don't know and then going to find out is strongly encouraged) but its harder to teach customer service skills. There's no commission and was never any pressure to move through customers quickly.
For 90% of the products apple sells, this strategy works pretty well. The exception is obviously macs, and even there 80% of your interactions require minimal knowledge.
So you end up with friendly staff that's not particularly passionate about the tech specs. Which is clearly preferable the unknowledgeable and commission driven model of big box retailers, but a far cry from the small shops of the 90s.
Overall it's a hard strategy to argue with. The demographics of computer users has changed dramatically since the heyday of the boutiques, and tailoring your strategy to target the enthusiast demographic tends to alienate the non tech savvy majority.
The "local" store for me was The Memory Location in Wellesley, MA.
That sure looks like an absolutely rational portrait of someone else's mind.
Your point about competing functionality is moot, because that means he should abandon iOS as well. In fact, in that case, he should favor Android, since's Apple's draconian app approval policies means that Instapaper could suddenly get kicked out of the app store without notice.
In any case, allowing Marco's blog on HN means that it pushes more other, more valuable content out of the way. By banning sites like his, we wouldn't have to waste time wading through his mindless drivel to find useful links.
So I'd be really curious to know what makes people on HN upvote this kind of stories.
The most vicious discussions come from people who cannot see the tech industry without their own biases opposite to the one in the articles. Should we ban those too?
Glad it doesn't happen with other things in real life, glad people have different tastes and preferences, else we will be living in a world with only one brand of car, one brand of clothing, one brand of ...
Plus, to compare the differences between Microsoft and Apple to rival car or clothing companies is just wilfully disingenuous. In consumer tech, they are the giants, and they are not even close to the parity in products or corporate culture that typify the markets you've chosen. Consumer tech is not a mature market. And the differences between Microsoft and Apple are glaring.
Then he concludes that maybe it doesn't suck. Maybe it's just him.
It reminds me of Winston Smith, wondering whether it's he that's insane after all.
Touch? Sure, let's do touch, but we won't consider human aspects like the size of on screen elements.
Gestures? Sure, let's make things swipe and tap and zoom. Why? Why not? The other people do it.
Animations? Sure, they are pretty. Let's animate some things. They are optional and meaningless anyway, so we can be sparse and nobody will care. They should be happy we added animations anyway!
Wooden tables with see through table toppers with t-shirted employees? It's just the natural order of things. We aren't copying anybody.
EDIT: Just to make sure, by hacker ethos I consider something in the lines of Stallman which is a staunch proponent of tinker everything.
I personally can't see anything pointing to an attitude of "if you don't adore the iPad you're in denial" coming from either the article author or Microsoft.
The article's description of the Microsoft store experience and their staff basically makes me think of a small, stubborn child covering their ears and yelling "Blah, blah, blah. I can't hear you!" when competing products and companies are brought up.
You misread the blog post. He described a lot of bad details regarding the usability. For example, sluggish rotating, the keyboard cover which is advertised as a distinguished feature isn't that good for typing.
Overall this blog tells a lot of things that I haven't seen elsewhere.
I can almost see the executives at the last company I worked for salivating over the Surface. Many, many people will always see Apple products as superficially limiting and excessively expensive (even when the PC alternative costs more). My liberal-minded art student friends? They've already got iPads.
I think the dichotomy Neil Stephenson outlines in In the Beginning was the Command Line is as true today as it ever was. Apple is Pepsi to MS's Coke, Obama to MS's Romney. Technology consumers fall into very distinct categories, and while Marco obviously falls into one of those, I think he does a good job of highlighting the difference in thought. This is why Microsoft exists and will continue to exist as long as Apple does. They are the anti-Apple.
That's not what he said, that's out of context. You're extending it to some ridiculous extreme.
Meanwhile, I do agree with Marco about the Microsoft Store. That is absolutely a strategy of copying what works in an Apple Store. It does feel a bit spooky, and I think they would have done their products a better service by showing the same innovation and creativity here, too.
The irony is that all the people hacking on Marco for giving his opinion are doing exactly the same thing right here. So let me get this straight - as long as you (or anybody) agrees with a stated opinion, then that opinion should be allowed to exist, praised even. But once you disagree with that opinion then you will come up with countless reasons why that opinion should be removed. Hypocrite.