Kudos to Microsoft for reinventing the personal computer. Or, reinventing the tablet. Or, whatever it is that Microsoft thinks it did with a touchscreen Windows 10 and Surface notebook tablet hybrids, it helped save the PC industry.
Yes, the PC industry has been in the doldrums for six years. A few years ago one segment began to grow. The notebook tablet hybrid PCs led by Microsoft’s own Surface model with touchscreens and detachable keyboards. Except, well, Surface anything really is not a tablet.
To hear members of the technorati elite politburo put, the new Surface Go is the perfect device because it’s a notebook and it’s a tablet. Here’s the reality that members of the digital technology rag industry don’t get. It’s not a tablet. It’s a Netbook. With a detachable keyboard and a touchscreen. But a Netbook.
See? The Netbook. Reinvented.
Netbook is a generic name given to a category of small, lightweight, legacy-free, and inexpensive laptop computers that were introduced in 2007. Netbooks compete in the same market segment as mobiles and Chromebooks (a variation on the portable network computer).
Apple was scolded by members of the aforementioned technorati elite politburo that the company would not survive if it did not have a Mac netbook. Apple answered by introducing the MacBook Air about a year after Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone. While Netbooks sold in the sub-$500 range, MacBook Air started at $1,800.
MacBook Air was a big success and stills sells mightily for Apple, although at $999. Netbooks are dead. Right?
No. Microsoft reinvented the Netbook but added a detachable (or, attachable; depends on the model) keyboard and a touchscreen to go along with touch options in Windows 10.
That’s a Microsoft Surface Go used as a tablet with a pen. Sweet, right?
So, what’s the problem? First, Windows 10 with a handful of touch and gesture commands is not iOS. iOS even has more applications available for iPad customers to choose from than the Windows Store.
As a Windows PC notebook, Surface Go starts with 6GB SSD storage, an Intel Pentium Gold Processor (uh huh; Pentium), 4GB RAM, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, a USB-C connector, headphone jack, and a microSDXC card slot. Oh, and an HD camera on front and back. Without a cover or keyboard, Surface Go weighs more and costs more than the entry-level iPad at $329 and 1-pound.
Other than processor and display quality and iOS applications Surface Go seems like a worthy iPad competitor. A physical keyboard adds $130 to the price tag, but like iPad, Bluetooth keyboards work, too. Add that to 128GB of SSD storage and 8GB of RAM for $679 to compete with the more powerful and more capable MacBook Air at $999. Except the Mac isn’t an iPad.
Here’s the deal. The real world rules. Look around. Wherever you see a Microsoft Surface PC or any touchscreen device that runs Windows 10, what do they have, too? A keyboard. In essence, and for all of Microsoft’s promotional materials to compare a touchscreen Surface-whatever to a Mac and iPad, those devices are used more as traditional Netbooks than tablets.
Today’s iPads define what a tablet it and how it is used. Well more than 500,000 iPad-centric applications are available for Apple’s iconic touchscreen device; far more than Windows 10 Store, and far more than can run on Surface Go.
What Microsoft has done with Surface and touchscreen Windows is admirable. PC sales are up. Mac sales are down. But Surface Go is just the Network PC reinvented.