Microsoft bet the farm on Windows 8. It doesn't matter whether you are talking about the Windows RT version that runs on their ARM based Surface tablets or the desktop version that runs on Intel processors (that can run your other Windows software). It has all boiled down to this for the Redmond company: Windows 8 must succeed in order for Microsoft to survive this decade of seismic shift to mobile operating systems.
Microsoft's Surface is quickly turning into another massive "failure to launch" for the Redmond based tech giant. Here's a quick rundown as to why:
Microsoft figured they would take on the full-size iPad, by out-featuring the iPad instead of staying in the familiar cheap, low-end world of PCs. But Microsoft's problem is the high-end of tech is amazingly unfamiliar territory for the company. They've always won when hardware vendors drove prices into the floor with cheap and poorly built PC's. At $499, and $599 is Surface a compelling enough product to trump the rapidly maturing iPad? Evidently not.
Apple updated all of their iOS products this fall from the new iPhone 5 to the updated iPad. They now have products with display sizes of 3.5-inch, 4-inch, 7.9-inch, and 9.7-inch. The only device that does not have a retina display is the new iPad Mini.
With so many different screen sizes, there is a size that fits most people for most uses. Display size is not the only difference to look at though. Device weight is just as important. Lighter weight products are easier to hold and carry around. The graph below shows the differences in weight between the five main iOS devices.
iBooks is Apple’s ebook reader application. iOS users can purchase and read ebooks through the application. It is comparable to Amazon’s Kindle application for iOS. Kindle does have more ebooks, but iBooks has a better book presentation. iBooks is more interactive, which is better for technical and school books.
Apple released version 3 of iBooks in last month’s keynote. The new version now uses iCloud to store the books. It also includes numerous display refinements and sharing options. Even with these improvements, iBooks has one giant problem.
ARM has announced a new processor based on their ARMv8 architecture. Current ARM processors support 32-bit software, but the new ones will include support for 64-bit as well. The Mac runs Intel’s x86 processors, which have been running with 64-bit support for several years.
ARM says these new Cortex-A50 series processors will be up to three times faster than today’s ARM chips. That would put the ARM processor at the same speed as a 2011 MacBook Air. This is a huge speed improvement. So, when will we likely see these new chips?
The iPad 4 will be released this Friday. The new version includes the faster A6X processor and the new lighting cable. This is not a major update, but the A6X processor is supposed to double the performance compared with the iPad 3.
Even though the iPad 4 has not been released, benchmarks have already appeared on Primate Labs’ Geekbench Browser. Geekbench is a testing application to measure the processor and memory performance of most devices out today. This includes both Mac, iOS, Windows, Android, and Linux. The graph below shows the new iPad, iPhone 5 and other devices to give a speed comparison.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, recently interviewed by Shira Ovide of the Wall Street Journal, stated "In every category Apple competes, it's the low-volume player, except in tablets." Ballmer continued, "In the PC market, obviously the advantage of diversity has mattered since 90-something percent of the PCs that get sold are Windows PCs. We'll see what winds up mattering in tablets."
Windows 8 launches this week. Aren't you excited? I know some people that are really amped up, but they neatly fit into the Mac-Haters-of-the-World category. Other than those individuals (which are not numerous enough to make a massive Microsoft success), businesses are going to take a very slow and cautious approach to this totally "re-imagined" operating system. That's okay with Microsoft, as long as they do take a look.
But the problem plaguing Microsoft during their lost decade is the fact that they have not had a mobile strategy. Instead they've leaned on their desktop and server strategy. When the market shifted with RIM's Blackberry, Apple's iPhone and then Google's Android OS, Microsoft was MIA. Redmond Executives talked a big game about slates or tablets and Windows Phone Mobile 7 (or whatever that horrible nomenclature was), but they didn't have a real product or strategy to address the major sea change from desktop to mobile.
Episode 85: The Sabbatical is Over: Mark, Karl and Werner talk about Apple's Special Event, iBooks Update, Apple updated FCP X, 13" MacBook Pro w/Retina Display, New Mac minis, New iMacs!, 4th Generation iPad, Lightning connector, A6X processor, the iPad mini and the iPad mini Price at $329. All this and much, much more in Episode 85: The Sabbatical is Over.