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2019: The year that Microsoft quits Surface hardware

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Happy

Re: Hmmm

Where’s the intern?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hmmm

Surface is now a $4.3 billion a year business that has grown year on year so it seems unlikely they would drop it. And bearing in mind the prices / high margins how can they possibly be loosing money on it?

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Anonymous Coward

Isn't it obvious

Surface works well and the customers like it. Of course Microsoft will drop it.

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LDS
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Re: Isn't it obvious

Right, so HP, Dell, Lenovo & C. can be back to make and sell cheap, ugly hardware...

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Re: Isn't it obvious

Apparently they don't live very long and have an inability to wake after sleeping, and always have done.

Microsoft must be using the Xbox 360 guys for their quality control on the Surface tabs...

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Re: Isn't it obvious

"Apparently they don't live very long and have an inability to wake after sleeping, and always have done."

Neither of these is particularly true, in my experience. There's some serious heat problems with the higher-spec models, though, and the Surface Book's keyboard segment is ropey as hell. But other than that, they're actually pretty solid devices. I'm also not entirely sure that anything at the price of a Surface Pro can be considered 'low margin'.

SatNad probably will drop it by 2019, though, simply because he seems determined to kill everything aside from Windows, Office 365 and Azure.

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Bronze badge

Re: Isn't it obvious

I read that article as well. I didn't agree with it then either. It was written without any regard for causality. People were more likely to return Microsoft devices because... wait for it... it's actually possible to return them. Microsoft actually has a really great return program and while I didn't make use of it, I did manage to walk into a Microsoft store and walk out with a replacement PC in 5 minutes without any hassles. Try doing that at. Best Buy in America or a Curries or Dixon's. In fact, compared to Apple in store service, it was amazing. My average waiting time for service at Apple Stores is 45 minutes. Microsoft was always better. And even better, instead of waiting 30 minutes to get an appointment with and appointment scheduler who will schedule you time with a Genius in 2 hours, the Microsoft store helps immediately.

As for broken devices, I bought three Surface Pro, a Surface Pro 2, a Surface RT, two Surface Pro 3s and a Surface Book. All of them are still in heavy use. With the exception of Microsoft's fairly poor magnetic power connectors, they have been absolutely amazing. (Apple's magnetic connectors were much worse).

Like my Macs which are still good even though I run 2011 models, the Surface Pros last and last. And I run older models because they last and last.

I am perfectly happy to pay Apple Care and Microsoft extended warranties because I love having the long term support. I always buy top of the line models as well... because if you will use it daily for 4-8 years, $400-800 a year is completely reasonable.

As for HP, Lenovo and Dell. I never bought a PC from them that had any love from the maker a few months later. Consider that ASUS releases an average of 1-2 BIOS updates per laptop. HP releases updates... sometimes. Dell has improved, but their updates don't need to come out more than 6 months later... that's because unless you bought "next day on-site service" the machine won't be running by then anyway.

I'll leave Acer out of the discussion because... we'll they're Acer. It's mean to beat up the slow kid.

Microsoft should stay in the game because if nothing else, even though Microsoft forced the vendors to raise the bar, they're still selling "lowest bidder shit". Yes, the market needs $129 laptops for the poor people... but anyone who can qualify for a credit card should be able to qualify for buying a $2500 laptop if they can't just pay cash. It's a long term purchase and investment.

As for corporations, I have no idea what kind of idiot would buy anything other than MS these days.

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Re: Isn't it obvious

@Naselus

Well "low margin" has nothing to do with "high price"

You can sell something for £20,000 and if it costs you £19,999 it's low margin. If it costs you £1,000 to make, it's high margin.

It's not clear to me what sort of margin on a unit sale of a typical surface there would be, but I imagine it is still loss making.

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Re: Isn't it obvious

"Right, so HP, Dell, Lenovo & C. can be back to make and sell cheap, ugly hardware..."

Well, I like my Dell Latitude E7470s - especially as they're fairly easy to upgrade, have excellent keyboards - and don't look bad, either. Getting them with Iris graphics, though, was unreasonably difficult, something I ascribe to a poor marketing effort: Iris has a 64MB 4th level cache, and twice the performance of non-Iris CPUs, but is largely ignored because of its 2.2GHz base clock. Silly, when you look at the turbo capability...

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Re: Isn't it obvious

"anyone who can qualify for a credit card should be able to qualify for buying a $2500 laptop if they can't just pay cash."

Maybe in your country, but not everywhere in the world.

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Re: Isn't it obvious

I agree with you 100%. But also, speaking from my perspective, I owned the original Surface Pro (2012 edition) and that bad boy immediately upgraded to Windows 10 when Windows 10 was released. And from that point worked even better than it previously had. Then when the Surface Pro 4 came out, I bought it. I was in love with it until all the issues it was having. And not just me, but almost everyone was having all the similar issues. I toughed it out and waited. They continued to issue firmware updates, and soon after, little by little, all the problems were disappearing. That device has become something truly amazing. I would never use anything else out there. Mine is still in mint condition, everything works, I consistently put it on sleep mode, and doesn't I'll my battery and wakes up in an instant. Again, I would never go back to using any other Windows hardware. And no, I strongly believe and am 100% certain that Microsoft would never stop making devices. I believe that from this point they will only get better. The writer of this article was probably someone very unlucky whom probably encountered massive problems with his Surface or has mishandled it all this time and broke or began to fall apart on him.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Isn't it obvious

In fact, compared to Apple in store service, it was amazing. My average waiting time for service at Apple Stores is 45 minutes. Microsoft was always better. And even better, instead of waiting 30 minutes to get an appointment with and appointment scheduler who will schedule you time with a Genius in 2 hours, the Microsoft store helps immediately.

Well, duh, that's because the MS stores are basically empty. No surprise there.

I am perfectly happy to pay Apple Care and Microsoft extended warranties because I love having the long term support. I always buy top of the line models as well... because if you will use it daily for 4-8 years, $400-800 a year is completely reasonable.

Good point, although it's easier to get global service on an Apple device than a Microsoft one on account of more locations. I fear that if MS pulls out from Yet Another Hardware Venture you'll be stuck with a machine you can no longer get serviced.

As for corporations, I have no idea what kind of idiot would buy anything other than MS these days.

Sjeez, thanks, we will still buy Macs. Apple has only been making those for over a decade now so I think they're a bit more stable on the hardware supply side than Microsoft and per user TCO still works in their favour.

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Orv
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Re: Isn't it obvious

There were also a lot of issues with stuff that makes sense on a desktop not making sense on a tablet. For example, you'd pull the tablet out at a coffee shop expecting to get some work done, and it would decide it was time to expend the entire battery trying to install mandatory OS updates. The user experience was pretty awful, starting with the moment you took it out of the box. A friend bought one new and reported it spent two hours installing updates before she was allowed to do anything with it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Isn't it obvious

"spent two hours installing updates before she was allowed to do anything with it."

A lot of BS in these comments.

Did they also pay you to comment, because mine certainly wasn't that quick!

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Re: Isn't it obvious

Having to install patches as soon as your friend got the unit sounds entirely reasonable to me. I'd much rather devices are fully patched as soon as possible as the device has probably been sitting in the channel for 6 months or so.

And not wanting patches to be applied at the coffee shop - I'd suggest going to Settings -> Updates & Security -> Windows Update and click the "Change active hours" link.

You can specify what time of day you want to exclude any patching. I have mine set between 7am and 10pm, so any patching gets done when my laptop isn't in use.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Isn't it obvious

That is if the user can get into the thing, what if they are using it for the first time and you are faced with "we are getting things ready"? (or whatever the current phrase is).

I'm not defending first use in a coffee shop but I'm guessing other brands/OS's may survive it better, hell you could probably install and use Ubuntu on a separate bit of kit get your work finished then spend an hour browsing while waiting an MS OS to get ready, woe betide you if you want to then quickly shut down.

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LDS
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"Well, I like my Dell Latitude E7470s"

A line which, not surprisingly, is offered in models with Surface-like features. While Dell started to deliver something better with its XPS line trying to match Apple products, without MS introducing the Surface for a long time we just saw moslty dull business laptops - Surface shacked the industry - and it was needed.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Isn't it obvious

They are unreliable overpriced garbage and users universally dislike them... Are you surface book PM???

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FAIL

Re: Isn't it obvious

"Yes, the market needs $129 laptops for the poor people... "

What a tool...

Those £129 laptops will do the same as your £2500 bling (bing) machine..... Pleb...

Do you want to buy some magic beans? £1200 each and I only have a few left

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Re: Isn't it obvious

Serious heat problems and the keyboard is dodgy. Just what you want on a 3k laptop. I think overall it's low margin because it is relatively low volume overall, especially at the higher end. Who would trust MS to support a piece of hardware enough to drop that amount of money on one.

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Re: Isn't it obvious

No offence, but you sound like a fan boy, and I am a fellow surface owner. Most people that experienced problems on a device as expensive as a Surface (I will not say overpriced because Microsoft is losing money on them) would send them straight back to the store, and this is what the return stats tell you. The return rates, combined with the cost of manufacturing at low volume, loss making business and general reputational damage of products with problems means that the cool factor is the only benefit to Microsoft.

The palpable novelty of seeing Microsoft unveil hardware, like it's a dog walking on its hind legs is tempered by the fact that they are not all-in on this business in the same way that Apple is and can leave it in a heartbeart if Satnad decides that they've made the point with Surface, i.e. they've moved the market on for Windows hardware enough when they don't need to prop it up with expensive reference designs.

NO company as traditional as MS will keep a loss making business indefinitely if it's future value does not justify it, the shareholders simply will not allow it. MS isn't going for world domination with the Surface, that's not its strategy, and to the consumer, that is a weird strategy. Watch out xbox, you are on notice.

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Re: Isn't it obvious

About the "active hours" thing... I just love the idea of having a setting to tell a computer that I own what time it should allow me to do what *I* want, subject to the limitations MS imposes on the hours that I can reserve for myself. The rest of the time is Microsoft time, and only after they have done whatever it is they want with my PC during those hours will I be allowed to have control over my own property.

The symbolism is clear-- Microsoft is the alpha, and the alpha gets to eat first. The beta gets to eat once the alpha is finished, and he should be glad he gets anything at all. Microsoft's "generous" allowance of a block of time you can set to get first shot at your own PC actually forces the user to admit, point blank, that MS is in control, because you're forced to allocate part of the day for Microsoft whether you want to or not. You can't set active hours without tacitly admitting that Microsoft is the authority who gets to dictate the terms of the deal, and you can only pick from within the choices Microsoft chooses to allow.

As Hall & Oates said... I can't go for that. No can do.

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Re: Isn't it obvious

"You can specify what time of day you want to exclude any patching. I have mine set between 7am and 10pm, so any patching gets done when my laptop isn't in use."

You also get the option to deffer to specific dates, Ive been deferring the creators update for a few months now (takes a few seconds a week to select a new date from the drop down).

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Re: Isn't it obvious

"That is if the user can get into the thing, what if they are using it for the first time and you are faced with "we are getting things ready"? (or whatever the current phrase is).

I'm not defending first use in a coffee shop but I'm guessing other brands/OS's may survive it better, hell you could probably install and use Ubuntu on a separate bit of kit get your work finished then spend an hour browsing while waiting an MS OS to get ready, woe betide you if you want to then quickly shut down."

Utter horse shit.

The "We are getting things ready" screen is windows setting up applications, user profiles etc... This is why it happens AFTER you have entered your login details for the first time.

"hell you could probably install and use Ubuntu on a separate bit of kit get your work finished then spend an hour browsing while waiting an MS OS to get ready,"

Again - horse shit.

Unless ubuntu now installs in less than 5 minutes and you have no real work to do...

My laptop is an old (4 years) yoga 2 Pro... I can do a fresh install of windows and be at the desktop in around 20 minutes... Unless you're installing it on an old 486 there is no way that you are waiting that long for windows to get ready...

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Re: Isn't it obvious

"Those £129 laptops will do the same as your £2500 bling (bing) machine..... Pleb..."

Yeah... no they wont.

Those £129 laptops will have at most 4GB of RAM, they will not have an SSD and if they do it will be criplingly small (Such as the HP Stream laptops 64GB Hdd... honestly!) they will also have (AT BEST) an i3 CPU... at worst some celeron crud from over a decade ago (Again HP Stream, Im looking at you)

Now, I know that this isnt the use case for most, but I run visual studio, SQL Server office and at least one VM from my laptop... its (as mentioned before in another comment a 4 year old yoga 2 pro - 8GB Ram with an i7 CPU) it struggles sometimes when Im working so please do tell me how a £129 machine can do the same job?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Isn't it obvious

how snobbish, rude, republican .. trump voter right there .. that's the same repub attitude, "your're poor, you're ill, you die. Your fault, I don;t give a shit." FFS, where do you get the idea that anyone can afford 2 and half grand for a sodding laptop. And besides, laptops aren't an investment, they don't appreciate in value and for personal use, they don't earn you an income - they are cost pure and simple; they break down and their out of date almost as soon as you've bought one.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Isn't it obvious

Thanks for adding your manure to the discussion " I can do a fresh install of windows and be at the desktop in around 20 minutes..." you missed

"On a fast internet connection with no updates"

People on here, OK unpaid people on here, know the truth.

Get your shovel the roses are calling.

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Re: Isn't it obvious

It's perfectly reasonable to point out that a £129 laptop is not going to be functionally equivalent to a £2500 one. You pays your money and you takes your choice. Laptops are indeed a depreciating asset but:

a) Some people like having nice things and there's nothing wrong with that, one's cloth is cut according to one's means.

b) Some people do use their laptops to actually earn money.

Most people have learned through experience that corners will be cut on cheap laptops in the form of slow HD, old CPU, low ram, poor screen, and installed bloatware. If you can only afford £129 for a laptop, you probably don't care about these things, and nor should you as there's not much you can do about it. That's the whole reason why Microsoft created the Surface line to showcase Windows on a reference design in a sea of shoddy landfill bound laptops that strangled its performance and customer perception.

People don't replace their computers or tablets as often anymore, it makes sense to raise the purchase price correspondingly if manufacturers don't want to see their profits crater.

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Re: Isn't it obvious

Actually the HP Stream has got a 32Gb Drive.

It's unusable.

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Re: Isn't it obvious

And not wanting patches to be applied at the coffee shop - I'd suggest going to Settings -> Updates & Security -> Windows Update and click the "Change active hours" link.

And this kind of thing is a major reason why I'm seriously considering getting a MacBook Pro to replace my current Windows laptop. Apple has automatic updates, too... but Apple notifies you that you have updates. If you ignore the notification, or if you click on the 'do it later' button, it waits until _you_ want to update. (You could turn 'background updates' on; then it will silently download the update, at very low priority, and only if you're not on a 'metered connection', and will install the update only when you tell it to.) Apple doesn't insist on your updating. They don't grab your connection and use up your bandwidth without first asking for and getting permission. They don't force you to restart without warning (the install will state that there will need to be a restart before it starts, and will give you the option to install at a more convenient time) and for some updates don't force you to restart at all. Microsoft has been quite irritating wrt updates for quite a long time. I foresee a future where I have an Apple laptop, and have Windows in a VM which has zero network connections on that laptop. I just have to save up enough cash to buy the damn thing. Given that a Surface laptop equivalent to a MacBook Pro would cost close to if not more what a MBP costs, and given that the Surface will be lumbered with Windows update nonsense, it is quite unlikely that I will ever buy a Surface.

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Re: Isn't it obvious

My Surface Pro 3 is still going strong after 3 years. It's the longest usage I've had out of any machine and it still looks new.

My first HP Elitebook 2730p lasted about 8 months before I had to RMA it. The replacement's keyboard fell apart after a another year and all the fake stainless steel finish peeled off. My Dell Latitude E4200 needed a replacement ssd after 18 months and always had a glitchy screen.

Anyway, my point being, my experience has been the Surface Pros are above par as far as QC and longevity are concerned. Sure there's been a few missteps along the way but my SP3 is still getting active support from MS and for that, I'll find it really disappointing if I have to go back to a provider that ditches firmware / driver support after about 18 months.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Isn't it obvious

"They are unreliable overpriced garbage and users universally dislike them"

Not sure what gives you that idea but in my experience execs and managers that can justify the cost overwhelmingly prefer them to ipads or laptops.

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Orv
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Re: Isn't it obvious

Well, they're distinctive and look cool, they stand out from the Apple stuff most people have now. It makes sense that people who don't actually *use* their tablets to do anything would like them a lot.

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Orv
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Re: Isn't it obvious

Most people that experienced problems on a device as expensive as a Surface (I will not say overpriced because Microsoft is losing money on them) would send them straight back to the store, and this is what the return stats tell you.

Yeah, that was how it ended with the one my friend bought. The last straw was buggy/laggy pen drivers. She's an artist and wanted it for running things like Adobe Illustrator on the go -- something no Apple tablet can do -- but the digitizer lacked the consistency needed for such things. Its repeated failure to wake from sleep also convinced her it wasn't going to be much good for quick use on the go, either.

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Re: Isn't it obvious

"Again - horse shit.

Unless ubuntu now installs in less than 5 minutes and you have no real work to do...

My laptop is an old (4 years) yoga 2 Pro... I can do a fresh install of windows and be at the desktop in around 20 minutes... Unless you're installing it on an old 486 there is no way that you are waiting that long for windows to get ready..."

Back at you: horseshit!

When the Gitling gave Mrs Git a Le Novo Thinkpad with w10 there were issues. So I broke my oath to have nothing to do with w10 for the second time. In for a penny, in for a pound... I installed w10 on my main desktop machine. Core i5-2500K @ 3.3 GHz, 16 GB RAM, Samsung 850 Evo SSD, Radeon RX550 graphics. Booted from the USB I'd made following original DL of w10 and I have no idea when the install finished. It was still going 12 hours after I started... It was finished when I returned to the machine 24 hours after commencing the install.

My "Ubuntu" is Mint 17.2 and took less than 30 minutes to install from DVD and apply updates.

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Re: Isn't it obvious

She's an artist and wanted it for running things like Adobe Illustrator on the go -- something no Apple tablet can do

You can most definitely use the Affinity stuff (Photo right now, Designer before the end of the year, others later) on an iPad Pro. https://affinity.serif.com/en-us/

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I see a lot of them

I keep seeing more and more of these Microsoft tablets. In fact my company just splashed out a ton of money to buy them for all the managers. They're flashy enough for the management types, but they can also get real work done.

I bet they are pricey but does anyone know how much they are losing on each one? Is a small price increase (or cost reduction) all it would take to make things balance?

At one time Microsoft was somewhat interested in selling hardware as it was a tangible product and visible for people. But it is hard for a software company (that can change their answer on a whim) to have patience for hardware. There's also the legacy cost and EOL and supporting stuff that has already shipped.

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Re: I see a lot of them

"I bet they are pricey but does anyone know how much they are losing on each one?"

Microsoft's figures aren't that detailed, but I doubt that Surfaces are actually losing money on each unit now. Most insiders suggest Surface has actually been something of a financial success story since the Surface 3, helping to hide just how abysmal a state WP was in.

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Re: I see a lot of them

For a software company, controlling the hardware is a way of demonstrating your software as you intend it to be.

To develop pen-based UIs, you need a good stylus. If MS stumbled upon a brilliant AR UI and application, a hardware wing would let them show it off.

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FAIL

SadNad should call his book Alt-F4, given the amount of closing stuff down Microsoft is doing.

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That's a spicy meatball

and a whopping $361bn dive on full year sales.

Really? Seems a tad over inflated.

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History

M$ have a golden track record of abandoning stuff. I don't see why the Surface should be any different. It is what M$ do. They enjoy shafting people and piss their pants laughing as suckers buy into the next creation.

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Re: History

"They enjoy shafting people and piss their pants laughing as suckers buy into the next creation."

all snark aside I doubt it's THAT bad. I'd just blame the usual incompetence and "bubble world" thinking.

They're trying to out-Apple Apple. It ain't working.

The *BIGGEST* problem with Surface is the 2D FLATSO Win-10-nic. If they'd just go back to a Windows-7 or Windows-XP UI, I think people would *LOVE* it!!!

But you know, they've invested SO much in the 2D FLATSO "the metro" UWP fiasco, that changing direction NOW would cause too many people (including HER) to admit they were WRONG in the process, such that it just ain't gonna happen. Dammit.

Abandoning Surface might still happen though.

Micro-shaft: Acting like Communists since the early noughties i.e. "You will take it or we shove it in anyway, because one size fits all, everyone is the same, you can't be different" and "We know best what's best for you, the proletariat" [yeah nothing like top-down dictating instead of 'customer knows best']

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FAIL

Re: History

Oh Bob....

you did so well I nearly gave you an up-vote

but it had to happen "Micro-shaft" - did the meds stop working ?

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TVU
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"2019: The year that Microsoft quits Surface hardware"

A lot of the really bad investment ideas and decisions were made during the Ballmer years and that's left a huge toxic financial legacy for Nadella to resolve. The logical thing to do would be to let the manufacturers innovate and produce these devices while Microsoft concentrates on the operating system, software provision and services, Azure, etc.

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If it's good enough for Google and Apple

> The logical thing to do would be to let the manufacturers innovate and produce these devices while Microsoft concentrates on the operating system, software provision and services, Azure, etc.

Just as Google are concentrating on services, and not rolling out their own line of Nexus phones, having bought up Motorola in 2014 and HTC in 2017 ?

Not to mention Apple, whose tight integration of hardware and software has long been the envy of Microsoft.

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LDS
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"let the manufacturers innovate"

The issue was exactly that: they weren't innovating. They were just churning out mostly dull systems.

Maybe the first HP Slate could be seen as a precursor of the Surface (Pro), but it lacked the keyboard, and of course the software.

After all the Surface forced Apple to return on its decision not to make pens for the iPad...

But Windows 10 on Surfaces is less friendly to use than Windows 8 - Nadella is mono-dimensional, he can't think about products in different dimensions at the same time, so he will kill the Surface...

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Re: If it's good enough for Google and Apple

The problem with aping another company's business model when you are not a direct competitor is that you do not understand the pitfalls of the other model as well as you understand your own. 'Little details' that Apple, Dell, Google, etc have dealt with will often trip up Slurp as these 'little details' are important to the customers of the aforementioned companies.

For example, I would not expect Apple or Google to get into the manufacturing of self-driving cars. I would expect them to develop the software and license it the automakers as the automakers already have the expertise to build a car.

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