This anecdote by Marco Arment of happening by a Microsoft store on Surface launch day is snooty and condescending, which makes me feel a little abashed that it resonates so much. On the other hand, I can appreciate how satisfying it is to long-time Apple users for the tables to be to turned on the old monopoly.
But I don’t think many Surface buyers are going to comparison-shop with the iPad, or vice versa. It’s very clear who the Surface is for, and it’s not us.
The Surface is partially for Microsoft’s world of denial: the world in which this store contains no elephants and Microsoft invented the silver store with the glass front and the glowing logo and blue shirts and white lanyards and these table layouts and the modern tablet and its magnetic power cable. In that world, this is a groundbreaking new tablet that you can finally use at work and leave your big creaky plastic Dell laptop behind when you go to the conference room to have a conference call on the starfish phone with all of the wires and dysfunctional communication.
But it’s also for people like that salesman who don’t agree with Apple’s choices: people who want to have more hardware options, more customization, more hackability, and fewer people saying “no” to what they can do on their devices.
Apple’s products say, “You can’t do that because we think it would suck.” Microsoft’s products say, “We’ll let you try to do anything on anything if you really want to, even if it sucks.”
That last bit is especially pertinent to me, with regard to design and feature decisions we’re making at work. Though all of us there admire and wish to emulate that spirit of Apple’s products, I think we have to admit that for our products, in our market, with our users, we’ll never be able to be that strict. (Of course, we’ll do our best to minimize the “even if it sucks” part.)