Way back when, as far back as I dare to remember without using Wikipedia, Microsoft gave birth to Bill Gates’ baby, the tablet; a clunky, cumbersome, underpowered, and overpriced Windows-clad device that nobody wanted, bought, or used if they did.
Years later, Apple’s Steve Jobs introduced the real tablet to the world with the iPad. Sales took off faster than the iPhone, and iPad quickly became Apple’s #2 product, ahead of the Mac in both revenue and unit sales. Well, that was then and this is now, so what happened? Microsoft woke up.
Pro vs. Pro
Microsoft kicked out then CEO Steve Ballmer and replaced him with someone who has a brain and he immediately put it to use comparing Apples to oranges. Hey, it’s what Microsoft has to do. A regime change isn’t going to alter a few decades of genetic development.
Microsoft’s new CEO decided to motivate the troops with his version of Shakespeare’s “Cry ‘Havoc!’, and let slip the dogs of war.” In other words, he told his crew of engineers to make software that people wanted to use, and “be like Apple because their design ethic is worth stealing instead of spending money on R & D.”
The end result was Microsoft software on iPhone and iPad that is worth using. Oh, and a line of Surface tablet-cum-notebooks to compete with Apple’s hot selling iPads, which are not all that hot anymore. Is Microsoft the reason iPad sales have dropped in number for a few years?
Possibly. But not probably. Apple sells far, far, far more iPads than Microsoft sells Surface-whatevers. None of that stops Microsoft from digging at Apple at every turn. The past two years have seen TV commercial after commercial comparing Microsoft Surface-something to an iPad or to a Mac or to both.
Apple’s engineers and executives are doubling down on the iPad as a replacement for a PC. Not a Mac. A PC. Maybe that’s what got into Microsoft’s CEO’s crawl space. So, Microsoft responded with a comparison of the iPad Pro with keyboard to a Surface Pro 4 with a detachable keyboard, a device that runs full-on Windows 10.
Apples, Oranges, Both Fruit
Apples to apples, right? Uh, no. iPad Pro is a very capable device, and owners can choose from far more applications than Windows users will find, but the two devices are not the same and should not be compared. The iPad Pro is a tablet with a keyboard. The Surface Pro 4 is a notebook with a detachable keyboard. Both have a touchscreen, but that’s because touchscreens are all the rage on Windows notebooks these days, despite the fact they get used more in TV commercials than in real life.
Microsoft points out that iPad Pro does not run ‘full office.’ Yet, Microsoft loves iPad Pro and makes Office 365 work on the the models, including support for Apple Pencil. Apple’s thing is that iPad Pro can replace your PC. Microsoft’s thin is that Surface Pro is a tablet that can replace your laptop.
Laptop? How quaint. And so 1999. They’re notebooks, you Redmondian idiots! And so is the Surface whatever. They are notebooks with touchscreens and attachable keyboards. Attachable? Yeah, like iPad Pro. None of them come with a keyboard. That’s extra cost. However, Microsoft has been noisy about the iPad Pro’s lack of keyboard, lack of multiple USB ports, and lack of a Core i7-based CPU. Oh, and that lack of ‘full office’ thing.
But the problem hasn’t changed. The Surface Pro remains a decent PC notebook that has a touchscreen most users DO NOT USE. It’s still a Windows device. The iPad Pro is not a PC. Or, a Mac. It’s a tablet, but with a keyboard can do much of what most people use a laptop to do. Even Office? Granted, Office on iOS is not ‘full office’ as Microsoft states, but who wants to use ‘full office’ on an iPhone or iPad?
Microsoft is forced to compare Apples to oranges because it doesn’t sell anything mobile. No tablet. No smartphone (no, those Phone marketshare numbers are so anemic they do not constitute sales). So, the company put some tablet lipstick on a notebook and called it competitive with the market leader. If the Surface was such a great seller, then why doesn’t Microsoft tell everyone how many they sell? Instead, the act all high an mighty but treat sales numbers just like Samsung, Amazon, Motorola, HTC, Dell, Lenovo, HP, and everyone else chasing the market leader.