What Kind of a Computer Is That?


This is the question I get asked most when I use my current iPad set up in public. ((The case is the iPad Air Folio case from Zagg)). People see my iPad and keyboard set up and assume it is some new type of computer they haven’t seen before.
From the first day I started using the iPad I have used it with a keyboard and tried to use the solution for my day to day computer needs.  With each new iPad, version of iOS, and with each new keyboard solution, I noticed the iPad + keyboard combo beginning to get closer and closer to being used as a substitute for the vast majority of both my personal and my commercial computing needs. 

A Look Back at Commercial Computing to Personal Computing

I think it is often forgotten how Windows rose to dominance.  Microsoft, and their ecosystem partners, won over the enterprise by catering to those responsible for deploying and managing PCs in the workplace. Windows became the computing standard for the commercial market.  Then, as consumers began to want a PC of their own for home or personal use they purchased a Windows based one because it was the one they were the most familiar with. They brought Windows home with them you could say. It is worth bearing in mind that Windows was what they had to use at work not necessarily what they choose to use at home due to a genuine limit of choice. ((The Mac did not support many of the software platforms and consumers were familiar with and was too expensive to be mainstream.)) This is an important distinction that helps us understand what is happening in the market today now that consumers do have more personal computing choices available to them. 

What is in question today is not computing, or the future of computing, but Windows role in the future of computing. We are not watching the PC market contract because people don’t want a computer. Rather, consumers are choosing other products than traditional PC form factors to serve their basic computing needs.  

Note the below slide of my firms outlook for the next few years in these categories.

Screen Shot 2014-01-29 at 9.58.27 AM

What is fascinating about what is happening with tablets is that consumers may not be choosing them as a PC replacement. In fact, I am certain this is not the case for most consumers, at least not yet.  They are choosing them for the very reason that Microsoft wants to mock them for.  They are choosing tablets because they primarily want to use them for consumption and entertainment.  Tablets are easy to use and they have fun and relax while using them. But what happens when they realize they can also use them for more productivity and creativity tasks? What happens when they realize the tablet is capable of the tasks they used to depend on their PC for?  What happens when they become aware, as I did, that a keyboard option (if you need it) can actually start serving their basic computing needs? What happens when they realize the touch interface and the software built for it is actually easier to use? Will they start doing more with this tablet? I believe the answer is yes.

I can’t talk about personal computing and not think about Microsoft’s role. The setup I am using could very well be considered a Windows based 2-1, like a Surface, by usage standards. In fact, often when I show people my iPad and keyboard setup they ask my why I didn’t choose a Surface. The answer is because I don’t need Windows for either my work or personal life.  How many other tablet owners have come to the realization that they don’t need Windows any longer? They already have a capable computing OS in their hands in the device they choose primarily as a consumption device.  When this settles in it could be industry changing for personal computing.  

What all of this hints at is that while there is a clear commercial computing application for the time being for Microsoft based solutions, there is a waining value proposition in personal computing (consumer) markets.  As more and more people find that their tablets with alternative operating systems to Windows meet most of their needs, the role–and value–of Windows diminishes.

During Microsoft’s rise, consumers brought Windows home with them. What should concern them about their future is that consumers are bringing iOS and Android devices to work with them.

Published by

Ben Bajarin

Ben Bajarin is a Principal Analyst and the head of primary research at Creative Strategies, Inc - An industry analysis, market intelligence and research firm located in Silicon Valley. His primary focus is consumer technology and market trend research and he is responsible for studying over 30 countries. Full Bio

123 thoughts on “What Kind of a Computer Is That?”

  1. Simple and Concise ™!

    (And true for many including myself.)

    I’m looking forward to reading the report on large tablets.

  2. i believe that those who really want a 2-1 solution will choose a future version of surface or surface pro over any IPad or Android Tablet for the same reason that you think they will stuk with their IPad

    1. Fair opinion. Windows has sadly passed its prime. Everything MSFT is doing is only relevant to a very small market, namely commercial. Android can see some success here in emerging markets primarily, but there is not enough software on Android larger screen tablets to be even remotely competitive. In developed markets the iPad has and is gaining a stronghold. We will see how it plays out in developing markets.

      1. Windows has sadly passed its prime. Everything MSFT is doing is only relevant to a very small market, namely commercial. BEN

        benbajarin you sounds alot, like the Apple doom crowd with this comments.

        any company can reinvent itself by betting on the future and that is also true for Microsoft as it did for Apple 10 year Ago.

        you need to understand the big difference between you, the majority of your readers here and the general public is the fact that you will always choose an Apple solution over any other because you guys love the company and have invested a lot in this success unlike the general population that always choose the solution that best fits their needs as they once did with Apple over Blackberry. and when it come to the 2-1 computing solution i believe the surface and even the future windows 9 will win over consumers because of the form factor and the complete package.

        1. In commercial yes. That is where Windows value is identified. You need to remember that what is happening with the PC market and folks like Sony getting out and many others who will exit, is a result of Windows not appealing to the consumer segment in relevant ways any more.

          We have discussions on this at the highest levels with execs at all the PC companies and this is a known fact. It is no longer a debate with those of us inside the industry. The PC market is contracting. This is also a fact. We are moving toward a segment that is likely to be in the low 200 or sub 200 m a unit year while tablets are moving toward a 800-900 m a year market.

          I don’t know a single PC vendor who is looking at Microsoft’s 2-1’s as being anything more than 20% of the PC tam not the tablet TAM. Unless Microsoft fundamentally builds a pure tablet OS this will always be the case. Maybe they fix it with Windows 9 but mature markets may be too late for them to recover.

          Microsoft is already unbundling their services from Windows. They know this is the future.

          I am actually very optimistic about Microsoft, and I will share that at the end of the month. It has nothing to do with Windows, however.

          I am extremely negative on Microsoft’s 2-1 form factor but think Apple and Android have a better chance. These are the things our consumer market studies reveal to us. We have a long track record of being right.

          Right now what MSFT is doing with 2-1s is not working as sales have these devices are tiny. 2014 will be the year we know they either have some chance or are a fundamental failure.

          I believe some folks, like you, may like them. As I said its a small percentage of overall sales.

          1. how many analysis predicted 5 years ago that Apple with a single product will be so successful and Android will be so dominant throughout the world my answer is no one

            the surface and the surface of pro of today reminds me of the first and second IPhone that most consumers didn’t quite sure of what to do with it until the App Store comes along.

            technology evolves so quickly that I think it is a mistake to think you can predict exactly what will happen in the next 5 years from today’s data, it is very unlikely as it was 5 years ago

            the majority of the complaint with the surface and windows 8.1 has to do with things that can be fixed with time and better execution

            The real question should be whether consumers will continue to invest in an iPad and a Mac at the same time, or opt for 2-1 solution, and who is best positioned to win this battle in the future?
            my bet is on Microsoft

          2. “the majority of the complaint with the surface and windows 8.1 has to do with things that can be fixed with time and better execution”

            The only problem with that line of thought is that would only help them catch up. To make these changes “in time” they need the changes to leap frog them. But no one else is standing still either. So the improvements need to be exponential in nature. Possible? Sure. Likely with their current track record? Not so much. But, yeah, anything is possible just like I could get hit by a plane when I leave my office this evening.

            So, yes, no one could predict what Apple and Android has done. But no one else had done it before them. In the grand scheme of things, time-wise, Android was close to iOS by comparison to MS/Windows 8. MS is working from at least a 2-3 year deficit (and that only for Surface, more for Windows), more if you consider that they are still playing catch up.

            Just a thought,

          3. It has to be said, though. Sinofsky was the right man for Microsoft. Their refusal to have two OS for a while (just as they had the 16-bit Windows 9x and 32-bit Windows NT lines) is what put the company into a tailspin.

          4. I’m not sure whether Sinofsky would have been the right choice for CEO, but based on reading his voluminous and insightful writing over the past few months, Steven seems very happy to have gotten out.

          5. The problem is Microsoft’s reputation as a shoddy software maker. They change the software at will without seeing the real needs of the end user. It worked well in the enterprise market where IT guys were on payroll to patch things up. In the retail market, the same attitude prevailed with Microsoft introducing Windows 8 and realizing that it had to eat 900 million dollars for that attitude. When Apple or Google deliver a product, it works right from the word go. A lot of people are fed up with Microsoft because for a long time there were absolutely no alternatives. It is not the question of whether a downsized laptop that Microsoft is projecting is the future or something else. One can predict how things will be five years from now based on the underlying philosophy and approach of each company. Bill Gates is still around and it is obvious he is going to be driving the company from the backseat. It was his obsession with Windows that has prevented creative products to emerge from Microsoft. Many MS techies left and joined companies like Google in frustration. If the MS management does not change its world view, there will be exodus of talent. Apple could be predicted to succeed after Jobs returned because their philosophy is totally different – make cool products and changes are incremental without shocking the customers. Google has a totally different business model. They are already trying to get into robotics and self driving cars. They may not remain as a pure software company in the long run. Unless Microsoft radically changes its philosophy and approach, their products will be looked at with suspicion. And that is where they are beginning to lose.

          6. It seems to me that Gates has a serious case of Jobs-envy, and that will translate to Microsoft. Gates was never in the same league as Steve Jobs, and I think he knows it, but he’s so competitive he keeps trying, and failing. Gates is a smart guy, certainly, but he lacks that extra bit of creativity, he can’t quite ‘see’.

          7. Shoddy compared to what other major OS/job-critical app suites?

            Microsoft has continued to err on the side of stodginess, backward compatibility, which is why IT people love ’em. Apple customers have far fewer legacy apps to keep running (maybe 90% have NONE) but I don’t know of any long-term Apple users who’d shout out Apple for the lack of bugs.

            (My perspective: I have used, often spec’d Microsoft PCs and apps at work for 30 years; maybe 8 hrs a day. Served as CIO and programmer.

            And had Macs for personal machines all the while; using them EVEN MUCH MORE than the PCs lately. Likely to buy a new MacBookPro this PM, in fact. My wife, who finds her iPad ideal, advises me correctly that my usage patterns still demand the Old Way.)

          8. I don’t imagine that many folks who accuse Microsoft of delivering shoddy software had much experience with the later versions of Mac OS. Or even System 6.0. The first version of OS X was’t exactly shoddy, just half-finished. In fact, I think the only Microsoft OS that can fairly be described as shoddy (a term that originally described fabric made from recycled wool and was probably appropriate in this case) was Windows ME.

          9. I’ve used Macs since 1984. It was always easier to use, more intuitive, nicer to look at, nicer to use. I think that’s what some people are getting at. Microsoft doesn’t make software that is a pleasure to use, they never have. Windows has always been cluttered and awkward, too complex, not elegant. Office is terrible. I don’t have much hope that Microsoft can suddenly start making great software today.

          10. Can’t disagree with that statement, but a heckofalotta work has been done with Windows and Office.

          11. True. Sometimes I wonder, if there was a way to figure out the lost productivity hours worldwide due to how poor Office is (and Windows in general)… maybe that’s why Gates quit to go off and do his foundation work, to maybe balance out that karma somehow. Although now he’s back, yikes!

          12. Bill Gates: “Hi. I’m from Microsoft and I’m here to help.”
            *everyone shrieks in horror and runs away*

          13. “the surface and the surface of pro of today reminds me of the first and second IPhone that most consumers didn’t quite sure of what to do with it until the App Store comes along.”

            It reminds me of the Zune. There wasn’t a credible competitor in the market place to the iPod, so MS took it upon themselves to screw their “partners” and get into the hardware business despite zero experience.

            They made a big deal about “squirting” being so cool, and came up with “clicking” for the Surface.

          14. LG is also getting out, BTW. If you hear that Acer/Asus is getting out, then you know it’s over.

        2. Commercial is 55% of Microsoft’s revenue and 65% of profits. That’s not small, and it’s growing.

          1. and the majority of analyst nowadays want nothing to do with these facts because they believe that the Apple way is the only way until time prove them wrong.

          2. Where is this majority? The majority I see think Apple should make large phones, Netbooks and pay billions for Nest.

          3. those who think that Apple should make large phones, Netbooks and pay billions for Nest. are primarily shareholder who are worry about the future of their investments,

            Most analysts often think that Apple’s next 10 years will be the same as their last 10 years, and if you do not believe me look no further than on this site.

          4. fascinating that is the impression you get from our editorials on Apple. Not sure we speculate much on their future looking the same as the last 10 at all. But I have been very public in stating that everything can change. What is a smartphone, what and how does a tablet do, all things are likely to look very different in 5 years. Apple, and others either future it out or they don’t. Pretty simple. But nothing is settled and the future is still up for grabs in certain areas.

          5. believe it or not most analyst are often the product of their readers and given that the majority of those who comment here are Apple Faithfull, it makes sense not to try to agitate them with some deep analisys adressing Apple weakness otherwise you might end up with the same kind of backlash as Brian s hall for his latest collum

          6. Clearly, you and I don’t read the same information. First, this site isn’t the pro-Apple site you imply. Any article by Brian Hall(no offense) will clear that up pretty quickly.

            You go almost anywhere and the news for Apple is presented as dire. CNet, for example, ran an article saying that Apple is in trouble because Google lost billions selling Motorola and is not more “focused.”

            If you can’t see how much Apple gets tarred in the pressed, I would suggest that you possess the kind of bias to which you accuse the people here.
            Except their opinions seemed to be backed by more than “I don’t like Apple.”

          7. I never said that this site was bias in favor of Apple, quite the contrary. but I think that the majority of analyst on this site are very Apple and U.S. centric and their rarely take into consideration many things that is happening around the world in the technology sector and there’s nothing wrong with that.

            also if you can go past your faith for Apple, it is easy to see why many shareholders are worry about the future performance of the company when looking at the numbers.

          8. Do you even read what you write? How does one claim that this site has a majority of “very Apple” analyst *without* claiming that the site has a bias.

            Ben has written many statements about what’s going on in the rest of the world, but the problem is that you only see what you want to see.

            That’s faith.

          9. Do you even read what you write? How does one claim that this site has a majority of “very Apple” analyst *without* claiming that the site has a bias (TheEternalEmperor)

            that is not being Bias, it’s about focusing on what you reader want, and there is nothing wrong with that

          10. While I study global markets and release many reports of the trends in China, India, Africa, Latin America, etc., I do some publicly but not as much and that is on my agenda.

            We do however already do quite a bit of these as well as dive more into specific companies challenges and weaknesses in a global market in the subscriber area of our site.

            Case in point. I outlined why Apple’s strategy sticking with premium is going to make it hard to grow outside of where they already dominate.


          11. Amen, brother. The majority want Apple to develop the same crap they get from everyone else. Thankfully, Apple management understands their bent.

            @stefnagel:disqus To your list of those who do genuine analysis, I would add several of the folks here on TechPinions.

            If you want proof of how much people don’t value real analysis, compare the number of comments to the “Insider” posts to the number for “open to the public” posts. That paywall seems to be keeping out the horde that wants to put their support behind an opinion regardless of whether it has any value or basis in fact. Let them get their analysis from Cramer and The Atlantic.

          12. Make a distinction between mainstream, useless, telegenic analysts, who are the majority, and the growing list of analysts who can think and write articulately: Dedui, Dilger, Thompson, Siracusa, Ritchie top my list of this rare and valuable minority.

      2. I disagree somewhat. Windows is still a great OS in many ways. The Windows NT core is first-rate. It’s the UI atop the core, and its appropriateness that we’re discussing.

        Microsoft still makes a server product that competes well against Linux and other server OS. That’s not “past its prime.” If they were to get inspired, they could easily design o new UI to use with that core. Combine it with a rewrite of their industry leading applications (Office) and they could rule the day.

        It’ll never happen, but it’s possible…

        1. NT core is first rate – except the damn Registry. I remember when it first appeared, and a colleague was gushing over it. My reaction was “WTF?” and I predicted it would be a source of problems. Very prescient.

          1. The concept of a registry for applications was a good idea. Allowing it to become a “system-wide” construct that grows forever is the problem.

            OS X, for example, allows key-based per-application settings, but generally there are no inter-application settings or cross-links.

            Originally, applications in Windows were supposed to create their own hives.

          2. The .plist scheme used in OS X is a lot more straight forward, in my opinion. It starts acting flaky, just delete, everything goes back to the default. The Registry has become a hiding place for all sorts of foul deeds, and one Registry being critical to everything, it cannot be deleted and started anew from scratch. As for MS’s original intent, I’m not familiar with that.

          3. As part of Longhorn (which eventually became Vista), Microsoft had an ambitious plan for a new file system called WinFS that would have eliminated the Registry by creating a file system that was a proper database.

            This turned out to be too ambitious and, among other things, Microsoft could never quite solved the problem of how to handle the legacy Registry in the new system. WinFS was, alas, abandoned, and we are still stuck with the monolithic Registery.

    2. I don’t think this will happen. I say this as someone who codes, Java mainly, on Windows. People don’t like it. And look for reasons to move from it. Plus, the iPad is a great tablet.

      Surface, simply, isn’t.

          1. I am worried about my needs, not yours. My iPad doesn’t run Java at all, I was asking how well yours runs it…

          2. If you purchased an iPad not knowing whether or not it ran Java, it sounds like you should consult someone more knowledgeable before engaging in tech purchases.

            Many people have tech-savvy friends or relatives that can help. Perhaps you should consult one next time before spending your money.

          3. Got it for my wife, she wouldn’t know Java if she spilled some on herself. She’s a tea drinker.
            Way to skirt the question though. I’m impressed.

          4. I’m not sure how getting it for your wife doesn’t allow you to know whether or not an iPad ran Java. I got one for my wife and I knew the answer to that question.

          5. @TheEternalEmperor:disqus @klahanas:disqus Guys, I think klahanas was engaging in a bit of sarcasm and it didn’t come across as well as expected. While it’s hilarious to read your snips at each other, I’d much rather hear your thoughts on the topic at hand. Now, if you guys do decide to throw down, please do it when someone has a video camera mounted on a tripod and be sure to post the video where we can all watch…

          6. Hmm! the “Techpinions’ Fight Club”! I think we may be onto a new revenue stream for our favorite tech site!


      1. On my computer, the color legend does not display. I can guess, contextually, that the red is smartphones, green is tablets, and blue is PCs?


        1. That’s because that slide is used as I articulate our forecasts for each segment. I have the install base data as a part of our presentations. That data wasn’t relevant for the shape of this column.

          1. Just to be clear here, the numbers for each category are “1234 X” in some year for smartphones, but what is X?

          2. Gosh, am I so obtuse?

            I’m simply asking what do the numbers represent? 500, 1000 or 1234 whats, precisely? Are they annual sales, number online, cumulative sales, number in active use, or what?

            I didn’t see that you anywhere referenced what the chart showed and if you think that your readers know what you were showing then you might presume that we knew better that phones are in ascendancy but PCs are sagging. The whole value of your chart’s content is about specifics, which you left out.

          3. Yes, I see what you are saying. I’ll start labeling those since I normally only use these charts when I present our data to industry execs so I talk through them.

            Those are shipments in millions annually. 1500 is 1.5b, 2000 is 2b, etc. Everything south of that is millions. PC is contracting to be mid-low 200m annually. Others are growing.

  3. Interesting article and probably a worthy prediction for the future of Windows in our lives. However, with the line between smartphone and tablet becoming ever more blurred (phablets), I feel your graph may have not taken this into account.

    1. exactly and i believe the same thing could happen with Tablet and Laptop with better a 2-1 product and better marketing.

      because it does not make sense for me to spend my money on two different product for two different use case that result in the same thing, when I can get one that can do both very well.

  4. All it takes is for a software company to create apps that function as a substitute for MS Office. I know Google docs and Apple’s own version are there. But a stand alone software company (similar to Word Perfect of the past) can step in at this time and offer its product for the tablets, using cloud based storage and a good competitive price. With compatibility to MS Office, it can make a tablet completely independent of Windows. Then Chrome based laptops themselves might take off big time. True competition will emerge. Microsoft will be forced to make Office apps for the iPad and Android based tablets. It is not a question of whether Microsoft will do it or not, but when. If Office alternative gets in for tablets, it will cause a huge dent into Microsoft’s fortunes. Hope Mr. Nadella is foreseeing this.

    1. If it were so simple for someone to create a competitive alternative to Office, don;t you think someone might have done so by now? It’s a very attractive market.

      1. Well, from an unbundling point of view there’s a ton of action in this space. Just as one example, how many writing apps are there on iOS? A whole lot. Word is no longer necessary. Office will continue to be unbundled as we go forward.

      2. There are many consumer-grade alternatives to the Office components. Apple’s Pages is fantastic, and there are MANY writing apps, each with its own benefits and detractions. Apple’s Keynote makes Powerpoint look like amateur hour; there’s no need to look any further. Numbers is good conceptually, and good for “consumer” spreadsheets. There are also a good number of mail applications that compete favorably with Outlook.

        My issue is that, so far, these apps don’t handle heavy work. For example, Pages is good for about 80 pages on iOS, then it gets flaky.

        Microsoft’s Office, coming FROM the business side, as Mr. Bajarin notes, began with high limits to its capabilities. Consumers used it because they were already familiar with the tool from work. The current crop of iOS tools are coming FROM the consumer side. Though capable, you can’t throw a 600 page document at Pages, or a 400 sheet heavily interlinked spreadsheet at Numbers.

        The “consumer” and light work market is very well addressed already. What’s needed are “Pro” apps and, with them, a “Pro” version of the iPad, with more memory and an even faster CPU/GPU complex.

        1. When I suggested that Microsoft has no real competition in Office, I meant in the commercial market. Sure, Microsoft loves to sell Office to consumers, but except for students (who really don’t need Office but are often encouraged to buy it by their schools), I don’t think even Microsoft sees this as much of a market for the future. The enterprise market, though, is a big deal, especially considering how tightly the apps are integrated with back-end services.

          1. I’m curious, particularly because you have such great perspective on the industry, what you think about Apple’s near refusal to touch, much less embrace the enterprise market.

            If I were going to make a run at Apple, I would do it with a respected enterprise platform or hardware brand (e.g. Blackberry, HP, IBM, Dell), with which it’s comparatively easy to trade money for ubiquity. Then, I would use my services to limit the potential for consumer devices to connect and perform useful work, add a little bit of FUD and asphyxiate…much as Microsoft almost did to Apple a few years back.

            I can’t believe I’m the only one who sees this as a vulnerability. Once the smartphone and tablet markets are saturated, Apple will need to drive the enterprise companies into the sea or find an endless stream of mass appeal consumer products. Meanwhile, Lenovo and Dell have already declared war on Apple. Them some hella mean SOB’s and they’re coming…like the Russians marching on Germany during World War II, raping, pillaging and plundering all the way.

          2. Apple has a funny way of not addressing the enterprise market. It is true that the company seems to make no visible effort to get its products into the enterprise, but there they are. Macs, still not so much outside the provinces of creative shops and the desktop of the odd senior executive, but iPhones and iPad are everywhere.

            The mythology is that this just sort of happened when execs tried iOS products, brought them in, and demanded that they be support. The reality is somewhat more complex. Almost form the beginning of iOS, Apple started working hard to make the iPhone and later the iPad acceptable to the enterprise. Apple took out a Windows Exchange Active Sync license and built quite decent support for Exchange into the iOS Mail apps fairly early (I forget exactly which version, but I know that iOS supported EAS and Exchange natively while Android needed a third-party app and Windows Phone 7 had no support at all.) Apple also worked hard an early to win NIST FIPS 141-2 certification for its encryption module. Without third-party products, Android qualified for FIPS 141-2 only on the a very limited range of Samsung products with the add-on–and extra cost—Knox software.

            Apple has also offered enterprise configuration tools to support mass deployments in enterprises and schools. In addition to the BYOD iPhones and iPads, Apple has done a number of multi-thousand-unit iPad enterprise deployments

            The Mac situation is more complex, but I think it comes down to a combination of the power of force of habit and, probably more important, price. I’ve lost track of the average selling price of commercial laptops, but I am sure it’s a good bit less than the cheapest MacBook, the 11″ MBA at $1,000. The desktop situation is a non-starter. I cannot imagine any corporate IT department willing to buy sealed systems, whether Mac minis or iMacs. Plus all of their management tools are Windows-only. The big problem, though, is the only way Mac could get into the enterprise in large volumes is to match Lenovo, HP, and Dell in the value market, and they don’t want to play there.

            I do think Apple will face challenges in tablets and smartphones in the enterprise, but only when someone really takes command of the software, especially for Android tablets, which are still awful. The company I would watch out for is Lenovo, assuming the Motorola acquisition goes down. More than most companies in its league, Lenovo has a lot of software smarts–the old IBM DNA runs deep–and they could do interesting things. HP hasn’t done anything really interesting since it screwed up the webOS acquisition (don’t get me started), Dell doesn’t seem interested, and Samsung’s frequent software contribution is to make so-so Google software worse.

          3. Many thanks for responding. I can’t tell you how much I value your wisdom.

            I do see Lenovo as a serious adversary for Apple. One of my clients, who is tightly intertwined with them, tells me that they see Apple as enemy number one, at their PC group, Mobile group and their “ecosystem and cloud services” group. Supposedly they are going to come out swinging, with victory defined as completely owning those three markets.

          4. Lenovo on mobile (with Android) could do interesting things, but there again we have the tension between a lack of differentiation and the desire for Google’s approval. On one end, Google loves them but it’s stock Android. On another, Lenovo Android does really interesting and cool things but doesn’t get Google’s stamp of approval.

            The questions are whether Lenovo sees Google’s approval as important. After all, if they replace all of the Google apps with high quality versions of their own and in the process have a high quality, highly differentiated Android, that could be interesting.

          5. Are we sure Apple doesn’t care about the enterprise market? The iOS activation numbers are excellent, and the corporate uses of iPad seem to pop up everywhere. Heck, just this morning I saw a report on a farm show about a grain handling company in western Canada that built a system for moving stored grain between rail cars, and it was all controlled by iPads.

            I would need data to back this up, but from what I see around me, with my own clients, other businesses I know, the iPad and iPhone seem to be sneaking into the enterprise without much help from Apple.

            EDIT: After reading Steve’s comment below, it would seem Apple actually has been working hard to make iOS devices enterprise-friendly.

          6. Dell? the company that its founder just had to take private because it was dying in the public markets? That has repeatedly demonstrated an inability to ship interesting mobile devices? Not sure Apple has to worry about them.

            Lenovo has no leverage either – even if the hardware is great, it runs Windows. If a company wants Windows it can buy Lenovo hardware (or Dell). The question is where Windows is headed in the medium term (10 years+). This is a problem with every single company you list above. HP could have leveraged Palm into something but they have zero vision and let a crap CEO kill it.

          1. A lot depends on the complexity of the document, including formatting and the number of elements included. There’s a point at which Word gets pretty bad, too, and you are much better off moving to something like InDesign or Framemaker,

          2. Ah, that’s probably it, I’m just editing text in Pages, no headers or footers, nothing fancy.

          3. All word processors eventually choke if you start adding hi-res graphics intended for printing. You need something like InDesign that puts low-res images in the working documents and links externally to the high-res version.

          4. As I mentioned above, my reality is that, since Word doesn’t support image proxies (low-res versions), and it’s inconceivable to get my collaborators to use anything other than Microsoft Office, I have very large, very complex documents to work with.

            Regardless of how unreasonable this is for a consumer product, at the enterprise level, one can’t say “Sorry. I can’t do anything with your document; you need to conform to my tools.” 85% of the business world is still on Windows/Office, as are 40% of my clients. I have been known to “fire” a client or vendor for being too retro, but I still need to pay the bills.

            Many thanks to Mr. Wildstrom and Mr. Gorilla for trying to help!

          5. Mr. Wildstrom, I am nothing, if not an InDesign fan (ex-Quark guy). However, I have the age old problem of peers and clients who do everything in Office. Word is the common ground, which means I end up using Pages unless I’m going to abandon my mobile lifestyle. I have been getting good use of the iCloud sharing feature of Pages, BTW.

            Sometimes I think the issues are exaggerated by the constant conversion between Word and Pages formats.

            I get chills thinking about InDesign or Frame on an iPad Pro.

          6. I’m not opposed to a decent version of Word for iOS, but as I’ve said, I’m not confident Microsoft can make great software.

          7. Good software, yes. Great software, no. The problem is that, file compatibility being what it is, I doubt even Microsoft can make a fully (or even mostly) compatible version of Word for iOS.

          8. To be fair to Microsoft, what they try to accomplish with their software makes it very difficult to create great software. An app like Word would need to be reworked from scratch, in a big way, to be great.

          9. Precisely. Yet, Microsoft is pushing Windows 8, but doesn’t have a fully touch first version of Office, even for its own hardware. That’s puzzling.

          10. Is it mostly text? I have very few problems with straight text documents.

            Mine tend to have a good number of images and complex formatting ( mostly tables).

            What happens? Partial page updates, flickers. Sometimes the app just goes poof and I have to relaunch it. Sometimes I can’t get an insertion pointer.

          11. Mine is all text. The most complex thing going on is a larger bold font for chapters, so I can find them easily while scrolling. I really dig editing in Pages on my iPad, it’s so focused, simple, portable.

          12. When it works, it is awesome. What’s strange is that it shines on complex documents (e.g. positioning images, entering tables, restyling, wrapping), but the simple stuff flakes out when it’s under stress.

        2. Have you seen Spotfire by Tibco? It makes a spreadsheet based data analysis software that is million times better than excel. It can make dynamic graphs and use database based analysis at an instant. If Excel is for productivity, that is the kind of usage I expect from it. But Microsoft settled much short of that. There are companies out there that can create awesome alternatives to Microsoft’s software.

          1. Spotfire is prominent in my tool chest. One day they’ll do an iPad version and I’ll use it much more often.

            It falls in the category of (non-intuitive, but powerful). I also throw stuff into Mathematica from time to time, but it doesn’t run on a mobile platform (e.g. iPad), and most of my clients would not be thrilled if I were to invite them to shuffle the numbers around unless they had prior experience with the application.

            Ditto for using it during a presentation. Spotfire works best when you generate a graph for use later. It’s not really a live, data presentation and manipulation tool.

            Very powerful, though, and a very good recommendation. Thanks for suggesting it!

  5. I fully agree with your premise. My hope is that Nadella (Microsoft’s new CEO) will throw resources at becoming the primary software providers for iOS and Android. That’s how Microsoft got started, if anyone remembers, by making software for everyone’s hardware platform. At one time, Microsoft was the biggest provider of software for the Mac; they should be doing the same for tablets, not hanging on to “Windows Everywhere” for dear life.

    It’s interesting to hear that the 2-in-1 model works for you. My experience has been that the pure tablet form factor provides ease of use and increased agility that no laptop can provide. I find that I don’t “make do” without a keyboard; I dread when I’m forced to use the keyboard.

    Siri with a headset is incredible for entering longer pieces of text. For my primary tasks: sorting through hundreds of e-mails a day, most with attachments, staying up to date on the industry through RSS and some manual web browsing, large scale project planning/management, creating and giving presentations, mind mapping, data analysis and large scale document collaboration, being able to use my fingers and directly manipulate information is liberating.

    The combination of multi-touch interface and always-on LTE connectivity to the Internet seems has many advantages. The only time I miss a keyboard is when I’m VNC’ed into a development machine.

    1. The name of the game is “winning”. MS is not alone in this game. The majority of my vociferousness stems from worry over the future of computing. Just yesterday I bought an Intel NUC and loaded Ubuntu on it. Just to stay in shape…. Tinfoil hat re-inserted! 😉

        1. Maybe as a hobbyist/specialist/embedded device. Otherwise, it’s an underpowered Mac mini without the Mac part.

        2. It’s interesting. It’s tiny. It would become more interesting when Thunderbolt is able to carry external video cards (in Crossfire or SLI) at full speed. But the same could be said for the new Mac Pro… :-). Basically, it’s like a semi-upgradable laptop without the screen. It was a snap to put together, it’s as fast as you would expect. I wish I could add a standard SSD, but the reason I got it ($359/i5) was because I already had a spare mSATA 240 GB SSD. That’s part of the beauty of upgradable PC’s, enthusiasts always have spare parts.

          1. “That’s part of the beauty of upgradable PC’s, enthusiasts always have spare parts.”

            Unfortunately not for the spouse. It’s a regular struggle to keep my wife from throwing parts out. 🙂


  6. I get the exact same question. I’ve been using a keyboard case with my iPad 2 since I got it, and it has replaced my MacBook Pro when I go to meetings with clients (and for almost all travel use generally). The first five minutes of most meetings is everyone looking at the iPad in my ZAGGFolio and then asking me how I do X, Y, or Z on it. I’m not sure Apple would need to do their own iPad/keyboard device, there’s so many good keyboard cases available. My parents just got an iPad Air, and we initially tried the new ZAGG case for it, which is terrible in my opinion, a step backwards from the ZAGGFolio. We switched to the Belkin Ultimate, it’s really cool, three different viewing angles, great keyboard, and the iPad flips around to sit on the keyboard so you can use it like a book without removing the iPad from the case. That’ll likely be my next case. I would love a 13 inch iPad Pro in a keyboard case like that. The key factors for a case, for me, are: one handed operation (I can open it, set it up, close it, with one hand), comfortable viewing/touching angle, held in place solidly at that angle (no bounce), and it should flip down easily to be held like a book (for easy vertical use, reading, or for a game like Real Racing).

    1. If it COULD replace your MacBook Pro it SHOULD replace your MacBook Pro. Not a dig. PC’s and notebooks have been oversold. That! Is the tablet (and netbook) revolution.

    2. it’s always easier to find a solution to something that make sense than to make sense of a solution,

      adding a keyboard and a mouse to a IPad that is designed only for light use and touch screen only make less sense to me than a surface Pro designed to do exactly what you pointed above.
      likewise buying à Macbook and an IPad for computing task, make less sense to me than Having a surface pro that can do both.

      Feel Free to Disagree

      1. It seems you misunderstood. I do not use a mouse with my iPad. I use the touchscreen and a hardware keyboard. The combination is very natural, very comfortable to use, it’s a pleasure really. And I use it for a lot of ‘real work’. It is the iOS focus on the touch experience that makes this possible, and I now prefer this over using my MacBook Pro. A Surface Pro would not serve me in the same way. The details matter.

        One of the aspects I think a lot of people miss is that while using touch in combination with a keyboard isn’t practical on a large vertical screen (such as my 27 inch iMac), it is a very nice combination on a smaller, angled screen. I prefer this over a mouse actually, it feels natural.

        1. my point was with the fact that you tried to make use of your IPad the way that Microsoft want you to use the Surface pro while at the same time implying that the 2-1 as surface pro form factor make no sense

          how do you know that A Surface Pro would not serve you in the same way well when you ever really invested in one enough to get use to it?

          1. Hmm, I never said anywhere that the form factor of the Surface was the problem. It’s the right idea, but there are a few details that are problematic. It isn’t designed to fit in a case, it is the case, with the flip out stand and the keyboard cover. I had the original ZAGG case which was kind of two pieces like that, it’s a hassle. The aspect ratio is too horizontal. The app ecosystem is weak compared to iOS, and the OS itself is not as good, not as ‘touch focused’. It’s difficult to explain to someone who is as biased as you are, iOS really is a pleasure to use, it’s fun, easy, intuitive, and the apps I use are great. I’m on iOS 7.0.4. If you aren’t willing to admit how much iOS matters, you’ll never understand.

            By the way, I didn’t try to use my iPad this way, it just happened. I’m paranoid about damaging it, so I wanted a case, and I write a lot so I thought why not a keyboard case. From there it just slowly happened naturally, I found more and more apps and started to do more and more work on the iPad/keyboard case, until one day I just stopped using my MacBook Pro and started taking the iPad to meetings.

      2. I do disagree. Take Steve Jobs’ metaphor of cars (tablets) and trucks (PCs). The iPad with a keyboard is like a car with a trailer. It can do truck jobs pretty well, but you can also use it without the trailer whenever you want to, and it will be much more efficient and much more pleasant than driving around in a truck all the time.

        The Surface strikes me as a truck-like car with a trailer that is permanently attached. You really can’t use it without the keyboard, and even if you tried, it suffers from a far-too-trucklike design. It’s really not a competitor to an iPad so much as a compromised laptop that mimics, in some ways, the iPad’s form.

        1. stop repeating what Steve Jobs said because last time i remember he was trying to convince many of you here to spend a lot of cash on Apple product hence it make sense for him to said that.

          compare a truck, car with computer is ridicule, last time try to make more sense by thinking on your own with real objective not some marketing soundbite

          1. Jobs is among the many people who I greatly admire. In having learned from and adopted many of his ideas, it’s only fair to give him credit when it’s due.

            Another person I admire: Isaac Newton. “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” We should all be so willing to give credit to the people by whom our own thoughts have been inspired.

            Any metaphor will break down at some point, but I think the car/truck analogy is very apt. We use our computing devices more than almost anything else in our lives, and the way they “feel” in use, and whether they give us pleasure or frustration, has become an important part of the overall quality of our lives. Apple’s products tend to be car-like. They are a pleasure, most of the time, to use. They eliminate many of the frictions that exist in using their competitors’ devices: Windows computers, for one, and Microsoft’s tablet as well. That’s why people like them better. It’s really pretty simple.

          2. i really admirer Steve Job and the company he Help created which does not necessarily mean that i have to agree with everything he said as with the car metaphor
            and i do believe that the best way of showing admiration Steve Jobs is improving and expanding on his conviction and his vision and also by being very critical as he would have been rather simply continue to repeat what he said.

      3. Disagree? But why? It won’t change the minuscule take up of WP, Surface or the “Modern” touch version of Win8.

        Most of the new users, as Ben notes, want something much simpler than Windows and Microsoft has shot itself in the foot with its messaging, support, ecosystem, etc.

        Example: when Delta announced Surfaces would be chosen for its pilots, many commenters in other sites insisted it was for Active Directory, legacy apps and full multitasking. Despite the announcement calling out the RT version that that has none of the above. Smart, experienced, tech-savvy types don’t get it and those who see themselves as less so are smart to avoid a multi-hundred dollar error.

        1. 5 years ago most of the new smartphone users want something much simpler and less complex Like a blackberry instead of an IPhone until somebody show them the real value with App and real marketing.

          The failure of Microsoft in the execution and marketing for the launch of the Surface line and windows 8 does not equate the 2-1 form factor being a failure

          it’s about what make sense

          1. I respect Klahanas greatly. That he is a Java developer/promoter in this day and age is an enigma.

          2. You’re very kind. I definitely don’t want to foster a false perception. Let me make clear that I don’t work in the computer biz at all. Any arguments I make should not be considered as coming from a “credentialed” person. I just think they should stand (or not) on their own. Beyond human factors, I don’t give a squat about ANY company, even the one’s I purchase from. Not in any advocacy sense anyway.

            There was a time I wrote software for my own purposes because what I needed wasn’t available commercially, or it would be quicker, cheaper, better to do so myself. Sometimes it was for fun and the challenge. I’ve coded in Fortran, C, and compiled Basic (mostly VB). I have been a hobbyist and enthusiast since the early ’80’s. I stopped programming altogether around the time Object Oriented languages became “mainstream”.

  7. “What is Fascinating” is that MS knows or could know how many millions of users are connecting to Exchange, MS365, Azure, thru non MS devices. Isn’t better for consumers to use MS services on a non MS device, then to not use anything MS at all?

    I’m still waiting for touch Office on any platform, MS included.

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