You may not have heard about it yesterday, but while Apple was busy releasing their first time in 14 years, declining annual financial results, Microsoft held a special event in New York showing off their new flagship desktop computing system, Surface Studio. Watching Microsoft's marketing video, you can come away with only one possible conclusion; somewhere, sometime, Microsoft merged with Apple, but no one told anyone!
All the bellyaching from Microsoft apologists that Apple making both hardware and software is lame, or that Apple is nothing more than slick marketing videos, and sheek product has come home to roost. Microsoft has copied Apple's marketing of products so well, if I didn't see the Windows logo, I would have sworn this was Apple's all-new iMac. Microsoft has been accused of always copying Apple, and true enough, this video does exactly that. Showcasing exploded components slowly coming together, or copying Apple's close-up pans with a hip take on Willy Wonka's imagination song, invoke a state-of-the-art emotion rarely seen from any company outside of Apple. For all those Microsoftians, now is your time. If you love Surface Studio's design and this video it is to say you've truly loved Apple products and their presentations, you just too cowardly to admit it.
As for the product itself, Microsoft's pen tool is not nearly as responsive or sophisticated as Apple's, and time will tell if their latency issues have been resolved. Surface Studio continues Microsoft's somewhat square-ish design language, but the display specs look fantastic and the functionality of the display to convert into a massive tablet, and the way it does so, looks nearly flawless.
The Surface Dial seems like a device trying too hard to differentiate itself, where a pallet and trackpad or mouse may work just as well, if not better, but it is at the very least inventive. By all appearances Adobe's worked well with Microsoft to integrate the device, and if it does indeed work well, it will do so because it was laser focused on creative needs and an understanding of what works for artists. Apple?...
I generally love Apple products and the companies genuine thought and attention to their hardware and software integration. And while Surface Studio does not take anything away from Apple's iMac (considering it starts at $3,000), it does beg the question of how Microsoft has been able to move into Apple's macOS core computing competency of the creative space. The answer may be all too simple.
Apple become comfortable with their stronghold in the creative market, only teasing its customers with rare updates faining genuine passion and care. The Mac Pro made a great leap in mid-2006, but the design was void of major updates, and wasn't retired until 2013. Apple released the all-new Mac Pro in mid-2013, with it's quiet, creatively functional, cylinder based design. But as old and stale as the mid-2006 model had become, so too is the Mac Pro, having received but one minor update since it's introduction.
The iMac, once Apple's bread and butter desktop has seen customers shift to MacBook Pro products. Apple's special event on Thursday should reveal a much needed upgrade to Apple's laptop lineup, but the iMac is rumored to be staying put, as it is yet another macOS product that is well overdue for an update.
Call Apple's sloth-like approach to macOS hardware innovation "Taking their eye off the ball," or "Stringing customers along," or "An abuse of loyal customers at the highest order." Whatever you want to call it, it's clear Apple has lost a passion for the creative market, and has let Microsoft become the new Apple of the creative space. As an Apple macOS and hardware fan, that is truly sad.
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