As administrators having ridden herd over such a large and disparate group of computers, a few things have risen to the top as items to remember and items to learn while planning ahead for an improved future.
First, not all hardware is created equal. Macs are more expensive but break less often than comparable Windows PC notebooks and desktops, far less often than Chromebooks, and require less maintenance and maintaining.
At the other end of the scale, Chromebooks cost less money, are relatively simple to manage and maintain, but have a problem being useful beyond a browser.
In between is the Windows world and that’s where our heartaches lie.
Most of our newer Windows PCs are notebooks, but we manage many desktops, too. Everything runs on Windows 10, so overall management has improved in the past few years.
So, what’s the problem?
Microsoft’s Surface PCs with Windows 10 can double up as tablets. Lousy tablets. A tablet so lousy it makes the iPad seem more as a gift from the digital hardware gods than the competition.
We consider today’s crop of Surface notebook-cum-tablet hybrids to be something of a last gasp, last-ditch effort by Microsoft to keep the Windows PC relevant. After all, Windows runs on virtually all PCs that are not Macs or Chromebooks or servers.
Microsoft’s attempt to make Windows more relevant to the 21st century has resulted in the Surface line of PCs which sport touchscreens. Microsoft is sufficiently vain as to promote Surface as a PC against both Mac and iPad. At the same time.
Why? Two words. Touchscreen.
OK, that’s just one word, but you get the idea. It’s all about differentiation. You cannot use a touchscreen on a Mac. Windows can, therefore, Windows runs on a tablet. OK, forget the fact that hardly anyone uses a Surface notebook as a tablet.
Ross Rubin nails it.
Surface Pro X is Microsoft’s best-ever tablet hardware. But touch app stagnation hampers it from making a stronger run at the iPad Pro today and threatens to limit the potential of the Surface Neo next year.
Simply put, Surface notebooks with a touchscreen make decent notebooks, but very lousy tablets.
On the other hand, the tablet experience is made by Apple’s iconic iPad line, which– with a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse–makes a half-way decent PC notebook. An inexpensive notebook.
Unable to develop a touch-driven ecosystem to rival the iPad’s and reacting to the market’s shift away from pure slates, Microsoft consigned the Surface Pro — and Windows that runs on it — to mostly doing the same kinds of tasks PCs always had.
An iPad is more like a PC notebook than a Surface notebook with a touchscreen that is like a tablet. It’s not. Windows apps just do not have all the necessary touchscreen functions because Windows does not have them.
If you want tablet apps on a tablet, iPad wins; hands down, no contest. If you want a pure notebook experience, Mac or Windows PCs rule. Chromebooks are a distant but sometimes useful third place. If you want a tablet with some decent and competitive notebook functions, well, it all comes in an iPad.
Surface PCs seem to be more of Microsoft’s last-ditch effort to save Windows and Office, having struggled to exist in between Apple’s Mac and Google’s Chromebook.