Enter: Microsoft Surface Studio
Panos Panay, Microsoft’s hardware VP began to look at this dilemma and basically said, “Look. You’re going to touch your future computer. Either with your fingers or a stylus. How can one get any serious work done without a big display, ports and a full-fledged OS that can run legacy desktop apps?” Panay solved the problem Apple failed to address.
The vision was revealed on October 26, 2016. In my reading, the visceral response to this lifting of limits was:
Oh.My.God.Yes. 28 inches of Yes.
Of course, just as we have smaller iPads, Microsoft has the smaller Surface Pro and Surface Book for extreme mobility. But the problem that lingered, the specter that haunted Apple, was solved. Independent of trends in mobility, Microsoft figured out the future by having a single OS on a wide range of touch sensitive display sizes.
Now imagine how the iPad unleashed might evolve. We’d still have small, limited iPads. But. Imagine an iPad with a 28-inch display with multiple, overlapping windows, USB-C, simultaneously running iOS and (recompiled for AIM or a Rosetta-like solution) macOS apps with BT mice.
We can’t get away from a built-in display, like the early Mac did, because of the dependence on the human touch and system integration. But in every other regard, such an iPad would be, in my mind, superior to the legacy Macs. Just as we transitioned away from the Classic Mac OS (9), a family of large screen iPad Pros, ranging from 7.9- to 28-inches (or more), could make MacBook Pros (and maybe desktops) obsolete.
Apple has a profitable business with MacBooks. To fully unleash the iPad of the future means dramatic change. Apple would be competing with itself in a manner so extreme, even the most cannibalistic Apple executive would cringe.
I remember when Steve Jobs abruptly cancelled OpenDoc in 1997. It shook and enraged the developer community. Later, Apple announced that there would never be 64-bit Carbon APIs. There was developer pandemonium. But that historic, relentless devotion to making forward progress has guided Apple well.
Tim Cook has said, “The iPad is the clearest expression of our vision of the future of personal computing.” However, like the early Mac, self-imposed limits on the iPad are making this future impossible. Meanwhile, iPad sales decline and the future of the Mac is constantly being questioned. Stalemate.
Making the iPad not just equal but dramatically superior to the Mac is the visionary goal. Can Apple make that happen?