A Sad Tale of a Microsoft Surface RT Customer

Recently I was in my local Staples when my wife and I bumped into a family trying to solve a problem. There was a mother, a father and their college bound daughter. The issue was the Surface RT tablet the father had recently bought for his daughter.

The discussion they were having was right next to us, so we couldn't help inquiring about what was going on. It turns out that the price was right for that Surface RT, but in the end, it wasn't able to run the X86 binaries, her classic Windows apps that the daughter had on her Windows notebook computer.

They were wrestling with what to do. A brand new Surface Pro 2 was way outside of their budget and the daughter's notebook computer was getting very old -- a principle reason for buying the Surface RT in the first place.

Surface RT.  Image credit: Microsoft

So they were in the notebook section, agonizing about possibly buying a new Windows notebook that they could afford to send the daughter to college with instead of the Surface RT. My wife and I had a brief conversation with the father. They could sell the RT on Craig's list and buy a new Surface Pro. (Too expensive). Switch to an iPad. (Nope. Tied to the Windows ecosphere.) Take it to the Microsoft store at Park Meadows Mall in Lone Tree, CO, in search of a trade-in or special deal. (Maybe.)

When we left, they we're still wrestling with a course of action that would fit their budget and allow the daughter to run her Windows apps.

Tech Complexity is Not Your Dad's Friend

Right away, I thought about how complexity is the devious manufacturer's friend. Complexity, clever price points, and the right kind of advertising can convince the uninformed buyer that the solution is painless and inexpensive -- when it really isn't.

We see that all the time, and here's a great example.

I've seen this discussion before in other contexts, and what happens is that complex offerings almost always lead to buyer's remorse. No matter which solution is chosen, a better one always seems to come to light -- after a purchase is made. That's a primary reason why Apple keeps its product line fairly simple. There is seldom buyer's remorse.

Any kind of good solution to this family's problem is going to cost serious money. Worse, it will drag them down the rabbit hole of a dying breed -- another Windows PC notebook -- as their daughter goes off to new, demanding adventures in college.

With lots to do and not wanting to be nosy strangers, my wife and I kept the interruption short, wished them good luck and went on our way. When we left, they were still pondering what to do.