Unchanging Microsoft

Surface Duo
Almost four years ago, MS unveiled a dual screen smart-ish phone to take on Samsung and Royale and Huwawei at the ugly of smart tablets which fold in half. Perhaps MS had better screens up its sleeve than Samsung, or access to better chips than Samsung, or a better manufacturing business than Samsung, or even an operating system which could work on a cheap commodity ARM chip?


When the Surface Duo was demonstrated in October 2019 it didn’t use an MS OS but Android on top of commodity parts: while, thankfully, it didn’t use Flash, it naturally also didn’t work. True to form with its long history of making announcements to destroy competition, MS is still struggling to emulate Apple’s business model established in the late 90s: reveal the product, don’t announce a concept.

Microfiche and Chips
Also in the 90s was an idiot fish and chip shop owner who was vomited into the limelight by Australia’s neoliberalist party. She was derisively joked about as wanting two meals: fish, AND chips. Her racist, bigoted, close-minded and witless statements still aren’t working. Perhaps a vague segue, but this joke comes to mind while wondering what MS is doing with Android on an ARM chip: MS has two meals and combines them into another MS dog’s breakfast.

MS first tried to leap at iPad’s jugular with the Samsung Q1. This boat anchor was quickly hidden in a skip as soon as Jobs revealed iPad. MS came out with Plan B, the Surface RT, complete with cringe dancing and zero information about what the bloody device actually did. Or, more pointedly, didn’t. It was a tough few years for MS: these two failures just to match iPad and then with more billions lost on the failure of buying Nokia as a present for WiMo… such sadness.


The Importance of Being Integrated
Despite losing billions more over the first half of the 2010s with developing the spinning-hard-drive-powered Surface line of craputers, Win10 gradually has become Win11. MS has slowly tidied up the x86-tailored Win16/32 + DecAlpha + WinNT + Windows Defender malware + HTML5 + DirectX to port to ARM. Win11 now runs in 64bit and on ARM chips. Over ten years late to the dance with iPad.

Apple leapt through the hoops of integration in the 80s and, although took a couple of backward steps, has leap-frogged Intel, MS, Samsung, ARM, et cetera with integrated software and hardware for its entire collection of products.

Basic M1 beats i7 chips; M1 Pro toys with Xeons all while using a fraction of the power and in less time: integrated.

My cheapest M1 MacBook Air happily, and silently, competes with WinTel/WinARM laptops three times the price and without being plugged in: integrated.

The Little Company that Could
Many paid bloggers wax lyrical about the wonders of Micrsoft without noting that advertisements have become part of their computing experience. Or wondering how the company gained so many anti-competitive lawsuits. Or even how the company originated.

This is in stark contrast to the unending derision and criticism lobbed at Apple over the decades. Apple desperately acquired Jobs and his NeXT Inc in 1997, restoring him to the nearly bankrupt company: within a few months, in 1998, Apple released iMac and then in 1999, the iBook. 23 years later, Apple is leading the tech industry with no way another Microsoft, or Google, or Samsung, can steal its core IP again. 

iPod, iTunes, iPhone, iPad, Apple’s OS’s, MacBooks a-plenty and Apple Watch prove the advantages of integrated products. Apple achieved this with much lower market share and much smaller gross and net profit than MS during this 30 year period.

Let us now swing back to the foldy-phone.

The V, the Why and the Z
Despite Win11 being portable to ARM, MS has finagled a version of Android so that two screens on one device can operate together or independently. The power needed for one processor to drive two screens is about 6hrs of battery life. Driving two programs simultaneously is about 4hrs. And to do all this with commodity parts with Android is possibly 3hours? I guess these phones do need to be so thick and heavy.

Samsung, in keeping with its explody-battery reputation, delivered a foldy-phone with a pre-destructing screen. The trouble was trying to fold the screen without it snapping or falling apart at the seams. Reliability has improved and the prices have stayed high. These devices fold out to be about half the size of an iPad mini at almost three times the price. They are the SUV of cars: lots of extra usability which rarely gets used and never efficiently.

Perhaps a device which, rather than a V, folds like a Z into something the full size of an iPad mini. Perhaps the screen will cope with such usage. Perhaps the battery can be split across two sections but be light and thin. Apple could make such a device as a halo product if they were demented. Or bored.

Universal Control
Apple delivered functionality this year which allows two screens to be used together or independently.  It doesn’t rely on easily damaged materials or snappy hinges, commodity parts or commodity software. It runs smoothly and it just works – even though it is still in beta.

The software and hardware are all beautifully integrated and it works like magic, the devices interact with no lag and set up is a swipe. There is no crashing, nor waiting for tens of thousands of developers to adjust their apps or to fix bugs, and there is no BSoD anxiety.

Once again, Apple has delivered, with just a short introduction to its users, a unique, useful, elegant and fun dual screen function. Once again, Microsoft announced several years ago a dual screen function using other companies’ hardware, which depends upon third party programs to function, and even another company’s software. And which doesn’t sell. Three years later.

Windows Everywhere was a bold 1990s plan which has culminated in MS using Android. Perhaps MS can use Apple’s M1 in a few years.