Did You Ever See Geordi La Forge With a Keyboard on His Tablet?

It's one thing to say your company is going to reorganize to meet the challenges of the marketplace. It's another to be able to execute. Our estimation of Microsoft's ability to execute rests in the current tablet efforts. Rocco Pendola of The Street says, "There's no evidence it can." I bring this up because of the recent Microsoft earnings report that included a US$900 million write down for Surface tablets. Here's Mr. Pendola's spot-on analysis. "Ballmer Will Drive Microsoft to Its Death."

Seriously, when you look at the difference between the approaches of Samsung and Microsoft, you have to give Samsung some credit. Samsung is basically admitting that we're in the tablet era, that soon tablets will outsell PCs, and that they're "all in" with that. That, of course, means meeting Apple in court, but at least Samsung sees the handwriting on the wall. Microsoft is acting like a race horse owner who knowingly buys an aging horse that looks great for his brochures but can no longer compete. Where is the hard-nosed decision making that will lead Microsoft for the the next 20 years?

Moreover, Microsoft has thrown sand in the face of the tablet meme that is pervasive in our culture. Think about Star Trek: TNG. Do you ever recall seeing Captain Picard, Data or Geordi La Forge handle a tablet with a keyboard attached? Of course not. The vision of how we use tablets was instantiated long ago. The key is to leverage from the meme, as Apple has done, not fight it for the sake of past glories.

Star Trek: First Contact. Image Credit: Paramount Pictures

All one needs to do is look at the three charts in this article to finalize one's perspective of the future. "It’s not Windows’ world anymore."

Even Paul Thurrott, historically a die-hard Microsoft proponent, has a damning-with-faint-praise approach in his article, The State of Windows Tablets.

Everywhere I look there are Windows tablets that are simply too flawed to recommend. For this reason, I’d like to first throw you a bone before diving in. It’s clear to me that another Thurrottian outburst about the failings of anything related to Microsoft is simply too much for some of you to bear. So in the interests of empathy, I’ll give you this one:

While virtually all of today’s Windows tablets are worthless, many touch-based Windows Ultrabooks and other PCs are in fact quite excellent."

This is a good read. Want more? Why not? "Review: First 8-inch Windows tablet is a device that shouldn’t exist."

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Technical News Debris for the Week of July 15 (and thereabouts)

The Verge has some sharp thoughts on AT&T's new "Next" upgrade plan. "AT&T's Next phone upgrade plans are a huge ripoff." The article's subtitle punctuates it even more strongly: "No no no no no no no."

After having briefly reviewed the Nexus 10 tablet last year, I must admit a certain affection for it. So I was interested to hear some rumors about what's next in the Nexus series. "Exclusive first look: Pics and video of the new Nexus 7."

Here's another terrific read from Ryan Faas, one of my favorite tech writers. "Why I bought my new iPad from the Apple Store instead of Verizon." Customers, myself included, appreciate the Verizon network, but Mr. Fass points to some really weird Verizon business practices that give one pause.

There was a time when when we would just sit back and appreciate the security features that Microsoft and Apple woud include in their OSes. But in 2013, with a heightened awareness of security flaws, backdoors, sophisticated intruders and technical gotchas, that's no longer sufficient. "Government Officials Bring in Security Experts to Test iOS 7's Activation Lock Feature."

Apple often stumbles through its technical documentation in fits and starts. Just when you think Apple has given up some areas, like Common Criteria Certification, Apple pulls it all together. But then, it's obscure and hard to find. For those who have an interest in Common Criteria Certification and FIPS 140 Conformance Validation and Cryptography, we have this recently published gem. "OS X: Security certifications and validations." Even if you're not involved with these technology areas, it's nice to know about Apple's support.

Finally, I present this treat. The very best writing is a synthesis of two ideas or two fields of endeavor. In this case, Edward Mendelson charmingly combines a bit of religion, something we Apple fans are familiar with, and AppleScript. The AppleScript part may not excite you. That is, until you come to appreciate the overtones of computing freedom. This is a Particle Debris Must Read. "Faith and Works at Apple."

You will smile.

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Surface tablet image via Microsoft

Particle Debris is a generally a mix of John Martellaro's observations and opinions about a standout event of the week combined with a summary of articles that didn't make the TMO headlines, the technical news debris. The column is published most every Friday except for holidays.