Microsoft’s Surface – 2

Just checked the news and now the “experts” have decided to discuss Surface so no one needs an amateur like me to say anything.

  1. who picks “experts” anyway?, esp. since they are mostly unnamed in the news articles; is there a contest somewhere or a test that determines whether you’re an expect or is it just self appointed.
  2. the experts, as usual, are boringly unthoughtful except parroting some Microsoft press release or mob conventional wisdom, but I’m so unsurprised they fall back on their usual, now directed at Microsoft instead of the usual target – Apple, that Surface is too expensive – how original and thoughtful (if it were free they’d still harp about price).

So the “experts” don’t really have much to say except that of course it will do well in business, a cheap bit of analysis since it’s conventional wisdom that IT hates Apple and is Microsoft’s shill. So, thanks experts, learned a lot.
But one tidbit of “expert” opinion does have some value is that Microsoft blew it by bringing out two different version. Now this is a bonehead move since the main thing wrong with Android tablets is fragmentation, i.e. no two tablets even vaguely resemble each other despite the “common” OS (sorta like squabbling religious sects all with their “literal” interpretation of the common text). This is not just a problem because App writers have to create dozens of versions of their app, each for a tiny sliver of an already tiny market. It’s also a problem because a user can’t just pick up a tablet and use it since whatever they know about how to use tablet X doesn’t work on tablet Y. So the design dogma, rigorously enforced at Apple, serves a useful purpose, consistency and uniformity, so if you can do one thing on an iPad you probably know most of what you need to know to do another thing. And iPad/iPhone/iPodTouch all work the same (or nearly). And this was one reason I expected Surface to succeed, actually achieving commonality, but apparently Microsoft decided to blow this opportunity.

What these experts don’t tell you is why does this happen.

Over my career I moved from from an Apple groupie and Microsoft hater to a Microsoft Platinum Partner (not me personally, of course, the very influential company I worked for). So I’ve actually roamed the hallowed halls in Redmond, been to TAPs, and such and my views (more favorable) of Microsoft really changed. As people they’re a lot more competent than their company actually seems to be, in public. But this is actually one of their problems. They have tons of money, hire some very good public who then have ideas, and of course as techie are wont to do, they come up with rival solutions. Microsoft doesn’t have a design dictator anymore and they can afford to have rival projects, so they do. So usually more than one project makes it to around beta stage and now a civil war breaks out. Literally thousands of jobs (or at least the job satisfaction of working in the group you like) are on the line. It becomes like a political campaign, work on the project stops and the selling takes over. The best spinmeisters hone their arguments why their product should be THE product. And top management is overwhelmed, faced with major dissatisfaction, dissent and desertions if they actually pick THE product.

So they release two, sometimes even three. And thus give the experts something twaddle about.

Now having previously complimented Microsoft on its skill of business basics here’s a place where they fail. There is an old adage – the internal issues of a company are not the customer’s issues. The customer could care less which group inside Microsoft gets the glory and the funding. So why confuse me with two rival products instead of just giving me one choice so I don’t have to think in order to buy your product.

So here’s the next step, based on historical precedent. Microsoft will actually start a third project (and product) that will somehow “unify” these two products they allowed to get out. Of course, now the customers have chosen sides (have to even if they didn’t want to) and now the war spills over into user conferences and the press and we all get to watch Microsoft try to make peace between their internal warring factions.

So, as a simple extension to my previous prediction:

Round 1: Apple, 0. Microsoft, -1.


About dmill96

old fat (but now getting trim and fit) guy, who used to create software in Silicon Valley (almost before it was called that), who used to go backpacking and bicycling and cross-country skiing and now geodashes, drives AWD in Wyoming, takes pictures, and writes long blog posts and does xizquvjyk.
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