Microsoft is really cool.
There really isn’t anyone else pursuing something like they are: one operating system across all devices: desktops, tablets, laptops, phones, and TVs (Xbox). It’s wild, it’s crazy, and it’s the future.
However, Windows has always been held back by bad hardware. PC manufacturers don’t invest enough care and consideration into their products. Instead, making PCs has always been about cutting corners. In their race to the bottom, manufacturers succumb to using the worst of materials, preinstalling bloatware (and sometimes spyware), and using cheap hardware that guarantees a frustrating experience. When attempting to compete on the high-end, manufacturers suffer from their lack of expertise with premium materials, driving up prices. As a result, the first generation of aluminum Ultrabooks ended up being more expensive than the MacBook Air, which they were supposed to undercut.
There has always been a deal-breaker with every PC; an “all-day” battery that lasts only 3 hours, an unusable trackpad, or unbearable build quality. Using Windows meant having to choose the device with most tolerable flaw.
In the past, Microsoft tried to fix the bloatware problem by introducing Signature, a line of computers with the bloatware removed. However, this fixed only half of the problem—no software can make up for ugly displays and wobbly plastic.
To many, the solution was obvious: Microsoft should just make hardware! But the reason they couldn’t was also obvious: Microsoft was a software vendor and had to ensure a level playing field for manufacturers and making their own computer would disrupt that balance. However, everything changed with Windows 8.
The new operating system represented Microsoft’s bold vision for the future. Steven Sinofsky, President of Windows at the time, worried that manufacturers wouldn’t be able to make hardware worthy of showcasing the operating system. Windows 8 deserved something better.
Surface is the physical manifestation of Windows. It is the culmination of the best parts of Microsoft. It leverages Microsoft Research’s bleeding edge technology and all of Microsoft’s design and engineering prowess. Surface is the computer Windows deserves.
The computer of the future is not the iPad nor is it the new MacBook. The iPad excels at content consumption, but to do serious work, you’ll have to resort to a clumsy keyboard case. The new MacBook is the inverse—it is productive, but its keyboard is always there, whether you need it or not. Surface on the other hand, can seamlessly transform from a laptop to a tablet. It will change personal computing forever.
Technology has always been about looking to the future and getting excited about the possibilities. To me, Surface is the embodiment of that spirit, and one I can’t stop getting excited about.
So I took a pilgrimage to the Mothership yesterday. It’s quite a shame that despite living in Seattle since September, I haven’t been to Redmond yet.
I assume this is Satya’s lair. (Update: It’s not.)
I met one of my favorite designers (and Surface designer) Ralf Groene (!!!) It was surreal.