Besides Steve Wozniak Is There Anyone Who Likes Microsoft Surface More Than Apple’s iPad

You know what they say. ‘Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.’ There might be some truth in that regarding Apple co-founder and new Microsoft fanboy, Steve Wozniak.

From Macworld in the UK, comes this Woz observation regarding Microsoft’s recent product flops.

I’ve seen more of the type of innovation from Microsoft and you see something ‘wow.’ They really change things drastically ‘wow’. They aren’t even going in the same direction as everyone else, meaning the iPhone and Android.

We can interpret Woz rather easily in this case. He’s talking about Microsoft innovating by not copying Apple, as opposed to innovating by creating a product or feature set that is actually an improvement or better than Apple.

The former is merely different. The latter is real innovation.

Microsoft’s latest public blunders include the Windows Phone disaster and the Windows RT Surface tablet disaster. Wait. Disaster? Both products are well differentiated from standard iPhone and Android (is there a difference; Android stole so much from Apple) products; smartphones and tablets.

At first view, Windows Phone looks remarkably different than iOS and Android with those clever floating tiles of information and simple gestures to navigate. Different does not mean better. Therefore, it’s not really innovation, is it?

At first view, the Surface tablet with Windows RT looks compelling. It’s not like iPad or Kindle Fire or Nexus tablets. Is it better? Not according to reviewers and users. Instead of being the best of both worlds, PC and tablet, Surface is merely a convoluted mess that fails to deliver a compelling and attractive user experience.

Windows RT is different, but not innovative. Wozniak has been out of the game far too long. His product analytical skills are rusty. His opinions and perspectives on today’s technology are interesting, of course, but he doesn’t bring much to the game of analyzing why and where a product’s positioning becomes useful to a larger number of customers.

This is where Microsoft is failing. Rather than make smart phones and tablets that are truly innovative and an improvement over the status quo, the company resorted to creating merely a different user interface attached to the past.

Wozniak thinks Microsoft may be more innovative than Apple. The iPhone isn’t wide enough. Siri is poo-poo. Apple is arrogant. Truly, the Woz speaks his mind and doesn’t sugar coat his opinions. I simply expect more substance from one of the founding fathers of the personal computing revolution.


  1. Kate, I gotta ask: Have you actually used one of these devices, or are you just parroting everybody else?

    I’ve used a Surface. It’s got some very cool ideas. The interface is different than what I would expect an iPad to be so it felt a little clumsy at first use, but I could see myself getting used to it. I rather liked the keyboard versus trying to type on the screen.

    Would I buy one? Nope. It required a reboot during the time I was using it, trying to install an RDP client (so I could get to a Mac). They keyboard refused to respond when entering credentials in the Microsoft Store. Even after a reboot–and software update–it required clicking that keyboard in and out a couple of times to get it to actually work.

    But the concepts are interesting. I like the Tile interface’s ability to show me quick information. Weather is a great example–it’s 68 degrees outside. I don’t need to start an app (iOS) to see what it’s like outside and I don’t need a widget and app (Android) with different UIs. The info is just there. As a developer, I could see some interesting cases for where this would be useful (pedometers, for example).

    If you haven’t had a chance, make a trip into Manhattan and check one out. You can wear a big floppy hat and sunglasses so nobody recognizes you, if you want. But the Microsoft folks were pretty nice, even though I was wearing my “Introducing Longhorn” Mac OS X shirt.

    You see, if you’re going to talk about “innovation,” you should actually try some things other than Apple gear.

    Kate’s Note: I go into Manhattan every day. It’s where I work and there’s where the boys and their toys are. My fianc√© is a gadget hound so I get to use nearly every popular device, and for about as long as I want. I’ve used the Surface for a couple of hours. It’s lacking. The reviews are accurate. I’ve used the Samsung Galaxy S III. It’s nice, but the plastic feel and constant, niggling problems are a turn off. Just a few years ago I switched completely from Mac to Windows. Then, back again. As I’ve said, I like the tile interface in Windows Phone and RT, but it’s not necessarily a more productive interface. It’s just different.

  2. The Woz is a has-been. His opinions are interesting but his perspective is not one of Apple’s target customers. He’s both jaded and unpolished, and his ability to be a critical thinker has diminished as his weight has increased.

    If all it takes for Microsoft to be innovative is to do something different, then they’re innovative. But different is not better. What among Microsoft’s new products is better than the current industry standards, and compare that to what Apple did to both the smart phone industry and the tablet industry. Both iPhone and iPad are gargantuan changes in the landscape, and Microsoft was caught flatfooted and has been left behind.

    Just like Woz.

  3. I agree with Kate. Microsoft is being different, but I don’t think they’re being better. In a funny sort of coincidence, I am typing this now in a Windows 8 VM that I am using for the first time. It’s different and I like the clean visuals, but I don’t think it works very well.

    It took me too long to figure out how to get out of some of those darn tiles. Now I got to the desktop and it’s a pain in the behind. I know it’s “new” and I should expect to need to learn a few things and adjust, but honestly, this isn’t better.