One Device To Do All? Microsoft And Apple’s Dissonant Philosophies Go Head To Head

Macworld’s John Moltz says there are two kinds of people; those who dream of having one computing device that they can use in every instance, and the rest of us, and that a fundamental philosophical difference currently being presented by Apple and its competitors is that Apple makes devices that it believes are better suited to particular use cases, while others, such as Microsoft, contend that one device alone can do it all.

EG: Microsoft’s Surface tablet PC that Redmond pitches as a crossover between tablet and laptop (assuming you buy the keyboard for $100 extra). Surface runs desktop applications in full-fledged Windows 8, but it is touch-enabled everywhere. Moltz maintains that Microsoft believes people don’t really want separate devices, but would rather have just one do-all device, which is why it likes to present iPad users as frustrated with that device’s inability to be the one true product for consumers, noting that in comments promoting the Surface, Bill Gates said of iPad users: “They can’t type. They can’t create documents.”

Not quite so. Your editor is a heavy iPad user. I type extensively on it (mostly on the virtual keyboard too; not an external), and create documents on it every day. They’re not Word docs, but mostly Plain Text, which suits me fine. I’ll concede that for me, it’s not yet possible to do everything I need to do, including some routine tasks, on the iPad, so in that sense, Mr. Gates has a point for folks who really insist on having only one machine. But perhaps there are not as many in that cohort as Mr. Gates thinks, given the Surface’s sales performance.

John Motz observes that while Windows 8 apologists talk about about the magic of being able to edit a document on your tablet with the onscreen touch keyboard on the go, and then edit it with a mouse and keyboard on the very same device. However Moltz observes that in the present era of Dropbox or iCloud, why not use a document format that you can edit on any device, with the input methods that are best suited to that device?

He summarizes that at least to date, the all-in-one philosophy has failed miserably at gaining traction on any platform, noting that powerhouse Google’s philosophy is more like Apple’s, ie: don’t keep your stuff on your device, keep it in the cloud and use it on any device.

Meanwhile, Microsoft was forced to write off its unsold Surface inventory, taking a $900 million hit, the Surface Pro currently sells for $100 off its original price and the Surface RT is $150 less than what it first shipped for.

Apple, on the other hand, doesn’t shy away from letting its devices overlap. MacBooks got smaller with the Air, iOS devices got larger with the iPad. But the company’s never telling you to just get one, and Moltz says he doesn’t have four Apple devices currently in service because he’s made of money, but because each is simply better suited to a different use case, and that right now Apple’s philosophy seems to have the most traction among users by a substantial margin.

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