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Scratching The Surface

So last week Microsoft had a selection of events. In true Microsoft style they managed to perplex me with what they announced. They never make it a simple choice for the consumer.

On Monday they had a super secret event and announced their Surface tablet, using the name of their multi-touch table from 2007. This device is something that looks to be completely MS from the ground up. I truly applaud them on it. Made from Vapor-Magnesium it looks wonderful and has possibly the most thought-out tablet design since the iPad. The surface comes in two varieties and here’s the rub. Two different devices, I’d be ok with this if one was wifi only and the other included mobile data too, but no. Being something that only Microsoft would do, they made one running Windows 8 RT, which is their touch optimised version of windows, it runs on an entirely new foundation and has no legacy Windows what-so-ever. The second is Surface for Windows 8 Pro, a bit of a mouthful and also literally the most stupid thing ever.

This has, in my eyes, just exemplified the fact that 11 years ago MS didn’t get tablets and they still don’t to a degree. Some people pine for the desktop class experience on their slate device, these people have never used such an environment, if they had they would not be demanding one. To think that an eco-system that is based on its core ideals of a mouse and keyboard input being something that will work with your porkie fingers is crazy. Apple have seen this, thus we have iOS and Google have also managed to create something in the same vein of thought.

In terms of the Surface, I still want one, or at least the opportunity to use it for a while. It does look interesting, but if I did get one it would be the RT version.

On another note, and making a second link with Apple. No-one comes close to the clarity and professionalism of the keynotes. They can only dream of it, aping the style and basic rhythm but falling flat with poor execution. To show off your product you must at least make sure you know what you’re going to say about it.

I doubt that I myself would be good with an audience but I would want to push the limits of my capabilities if I was showing something that I felt was a game-changer.

The middle of the week saw MS announcing Windows Phone 8. Apparently based on the same core technology as Windows 8 (inc. RT). This also means that anyone who has purchased a Windows Phone between it’s release at the end of 2010 and the present day will not get an upgrade past 7.8. Yes that’s right, they get an update that teases the number 8. What’s in the update? Well basically it looks like WP8 but it isn’t it.

I worry for the app compatibility past the end of this year, why would a developer spend time and resources creating an app for a dead system?

This whole situation reminds me of RIM. BB6 was incompatible with BB7, devices wouldn’t get updates, apps wouldn’t run. BB7 is also not going to work with BB10, phones won’t see an update and so on. Wait, I hear you cry, this isn’t the same is it? Well yes, dare you remember Windows Mobile? That got to 6.5 before it was unceremoniously dumped in favour of a whole new OS. But was it? The HTC HD2, dubbed by lovers ‘the most hacker friendly phone ever’ it launched with 6, was updated to 6.5 and was more than capable of running WP7 but never got updated. Modders got it running but never the less MS chose not to. Worst of all Windows Mobile and Windows Phone share the same basic core tech.

So that was last week, what about this week?

Google I/O kicked off today, they had a keynote too. They announced the Asus Nexus 7, a new tablet running stock Android Jelly Bean a.k.a 4.1. My Galaxy Nexus will get this update too…..

….. Oh, I bought a Nexus 7. So you’ll have worked out that I haven’t gone cold turkey yet.


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