Microsoft Just Announced the iPad I Always Wanted – Surface Studio

| Editorial

Microsoft has just announced the Surface Studio, a 28-inch All-in-One computer with a Skylake Processor and a touch sensitive display that tilts. The design, operation and concept of this computer is basically a giant iPad, the iPad I always dreamed of.

The new Microsoft Surface family

Microsoft’s new Surface family. (Surface Studio on left.) Image credit: Microsoft.

I will be the first to admit that my fantasy for the ultimate computer may not be commercially viable. Even so, I’ve always had this feeling that the iPad of the future would eventually be my work computer. It would be a descendant of my Mac Pro today and its 34-inch HP display.

This future iPad would have a 36-inch (0.9 meter) display on a tilt so that I could rest my arms on the desk and create content, via touch and speech. No more “gorilla arm” effect, something Steve Jobs was adverse to when it came to the idea of reaching out to touch screen Macs. When Apple inched along to a 12.9-inch iPad, I thought, maybe this would be the start of that progression.

My fantasy has lately been further ignited by this futuristic, fictional computer used in the 2011 TV series “Terra Nova.

The computer from TV series Terra Nova

My fantasy for a desktop computer since 2011. Image credit: Fox TV.

That’s the design that has percolated in my brain for years.

Make it So

For a long time, I always felt that Steve Jobs had a technical vision that he forced down the chain. He knew what he wanted, and he made it happen. That was true for the iPod, Mac OS X in the early days, the iPhone and the iPad. These products were all commercially viable as well.

Lately however, even though Apple is in a mature phase, generating a lot of revenue and earnings, there’s been a certain lack of technical excitement. As Kelly Guimont describes it, “No MacBook Air pulled from the manilla envelope” moment. We have the same old iMacs and the same old MacBook Pros, and the same old iPads. Marry that with an agonizing delay (the past 500-1000 days) in the introduction of new Macs across the line, and one has the making of a serious technical vacuum created by Apple.

I wrote about this first here: “Hewlett-Packard Seeks to Exploit Apple’s Inattention to Technical Professionals.” Now, Microsoft is joining the fray, moving in aggressively to cater to the creative and technical professionals. This photo (below) of the Microsoft Surface Studio particularly ignited my interest and passions because it fulfills my own vision for how the next generation desktop computer should work.

The Microsoft Surface Studio in action.

This freezeframe from the YouTube video told me everything I needed to know.

Basically, Satya Nadella’s Microsoft has outsmarted a complacent Apple.

Windows 10

None of this could have happened if Microsoft had a shoddy OS to put on its new computers. But Widows 10 has come a long way since the dreadful Windows XP and Windows 8. Microsoft learned from its mistakes. Today, a technical or creative professional can get serious work done with Windows 10, Windows apps, and the supporting business infrastructure and development tools provided by Microsoft. To be sure, I’d prefer Linux. And Xcode on an iMac is awesome, but what if your company is into Java or C++ for the enterprise?

Apple has only itself to blame here for de-emphasizing the UNIX underpinnings of its macOS, going flat with real creativity across the product line, becoming complacent in the Mac upgrade cycle, and focusing to extremes on mobility. With sales of both Macs and iPads declining, can Apple afford not to be the leader in every market?

The Halo Effect

Just as car companies have Halo cars, computer companies need Halo computers. These are the very best money can buy. They inspire the customer base. They demonstrate what the company is capable of. The designs inform the thinking about less expensive computers in the lineup.

I don’t know how financially successful Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft will be with the new products I’ve written about, but it’s enough that they will have the attention and delight of the professional and creative market. These efforts suggest enthusiasm, attentiveness and, most of all, technical leadership.

Apple has hereby been challenged. It will be interesting to see what the company shows us on October 27th. Will we be be dazzled? Will Apple reassert its leadership? We’ll know soon.

14 Comments Add a comment

  1. I too, thought this was where the iPhone and iPad might be headed back in the day, I can’t believe Microsoft beat them to it. I’ll be very curious to see what Apple announces tomorrow, and am holding out jope that it’s more than just a new Macbook line.

  2. The “I want it Now!” feeling is there with this computer. Could I use it to its full potential, I honestly don’t know. The surface book was the first Microsoft product I was really wanting to get my hands on, yet did not (I have a work Surface Pro 4). The Surface studio, is a new vision, original, and that is something amazing.

  3. Let’s compare Microsoft’s iMac-killer to the year old 2015 iMac 27” 5K (which will be receiving a major update tomorrow).

    The Surface Studio has a lower resolution display than the iMac’s 5K display. It has a touch screen… But do you really want a “Gorilla Arm” inducing touch screen that large?:

    The Surface Studio starts at $2,999 for a configuration with a 6th-generation Intel Core i5 processor, 1TB of internal storage, 8GB of RAM and a 2GB GPU.

    Last year’s 2015 iMac with a similar configuration Intel Core i5 processor, 1TB of internal storage, 8GB of RAM and a 2GB GPU is $1,799 ($1,200 LESS)

    Meanwhile, the top-of-the-line Surface Studio costs $4,199, with a Core i7 processor, a 2TB storage disk, 32GB of RAM and a 4GB graphics card.”

    Last year’s 2015 iMac with a similar configuration of a 4.0GHz Core i7 processor, 2TB Fusion Drive, 32GB of RAM, and a 4GB graphics card is $3,399 ($800 LESS)

    Microsoft also updated their 13” Surface Book, which starts at $2,399.

    The 2015 13” MacBook Pro with Retina Display (which also will have a major update tomorrow) starts at $1,299.

    And TOMORROW we will see NEW Macs, with NEW pricing and options from Apple!

    Windows users who complain that Macs are “too expensive” need a “reality check”, and to see how ludicrous that opinion really is.

  4. Last week I bought a Surface Pro 4, to see if I’d like it, or could at least live with it. Yeah, there are lots of niggling frustrations with the change, but most of my software is available on Windows, and what isn’t, I’ve been able, so far, to find decent replacements–and yes, Win 10 is surprisingly usable. I’m loving the Surface capabilities, especially with some extra software–it is actually reminiscent of my Newton.

    We’ll see what Apple introduces, to know if I’ll be keeping it or not–but the fact that I bought it days before Apple’s announcements should give an idea as to how much I’m holding out hope. 🙂

  5. DaveNull

    NorthSaanichBC dismisses the Surface Studio based on specs and pricing. I thought that’s what Windows fanboys did when dismissing the Mac?

    It isn’t hard to figure out why the Surface Studio is expensive: A large, touch- and pen-enabled display with a non-standard aspect ratio was never going to be cheap. While Apple might be able to compete on the specs of the rest of the hardware, they don’t sell a product that can compete in functionality, and Microsoft knows it.

    Apple has been put on notice.

  6. @ Harvey L (@NorthSaanichBC)

    Windows users who complain that Macs are “too expensive” need a “reality check”, and to see how ludicrous that opinion really is.

    And IBM’s IT guy says Macs are 3 times cheaper to own than Windows PCs.

    Despite all this, I’ve lost hope too, as I sold some AAPL stock Monday. Product refreshes, except for iPhones, are very, very tardy, and it seems that Cook & company are spending tons of cash and the scarce time of their too few top-quality engineers on research for products that don’t come to market, like Apple car or Sapphire screens. And they brought back long-time Apple executive Bob Mansfield to say “No” to the former. If Thursday’s offering are “meh,” hope will fade even more.

  7. This may well be my next computer.

    Apple’s limited ecosystem has been squeezing me out of MacOS market. I need a good graphics card, and Apple has nothing capable of using a high end desktop graphics card. My only choices are a top-end iMac or a Mac Pro. Given that, the Surface Studio is perfectly in line with what I’d expect to pay from Apple, and it includes a Cintiq.

    While I’ll deeply miss the MacOS experience, I won’t miss it enough to make up for the benefits I’d get from either a cheap PC with a killer graphics card, or a Surface Studio.

  8. While the Surface Studio is a nice idea, I’m still not sold on the idea of a screen that collects fingerprints.

    Fingerprint buildup on an iPhone or iPad is unavoidable, but at least they’re not a large screen area to clean, and having a tempered glass screen protector avoids scratching the actual glass of the display.

    I wouldn’t be keen on trying to buy a tempered glass screen protector big enough to cover the Surface’s display area.
    (Cost & difficulty of application)

  9. What Kitsune said. Also, nice typo – “Widows”. Also, nice ad online for the Studio – but I still said to myself ‘but it’s Windows’. That knee-jerk gives my old fashioned OS prejudice away. it would be nice if Apple throws us studio bums a bone for a change.

  10. John,
    We’re pretty much on the same page. I’ve never been a fan of Cook and was worried when he was announced as Jobs replacement. Why? Because he’s boring. Lets be real, the creative genius at Apple has always been Jobs and the creative think has always been a top down promulgation of ideas. That Microsoft is out innovating Apple should be a major wakeup call. Apple is no longer attracting the creatives, but is driving them away. Their choices with software apps started that trend and their hardware designs are finishing it.

  11. Paul Goodwin

    Ergonomically, the touch screen laptops and now all-in-ones are horrid devices. Look at the position of the woman and the screen. Her eyes aren’t anywhere near perpendicular to the screen, and if they were, her arms would be stretched out unless there were huge arm supports. Use one of those surface devices all day every day for years and you’ll be a cripple.

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