Microsoft created a Spork

Spork – (noun) : a utensil that is a combination of a spoon and a fork

While I spend most of my day working on a MacBook Air I do have a daily need to use Windows so about 2 months ago I ordered and received my Microsoft Surface Pro 3. Prior to this I used a Windows virtual machine running on a MacBook Pro but the hardware was old and the VM too slow for impatient me. I was also intrigued to see if Microsoft’s laptop / tablet combination was any better than when I tried it out a couple years ago. Two months have now passed and while I use the Surface Pro 3 daily as a laptop I have stopped using it ever as a tablet.

As a laptop the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 is fast, (especially compared to a 3 year old MacBook Air) light, compact, with a beautiful screen. However I’d still prefer a traditional laptop over the magnetically attached keyboard, small trackpad, and novelty kickstand.

As a tablet this thing sucks. It is too large, too heavy, the app ecosystem lacks most of the applications I use on my other tablets, and I keep ending up on a desktop when I want to use it as a tablet. Even Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser never seems to understand how I want to use it, popping into tablet mode when I’m using it as a laptop and vice versa. Looking back I’d rather have purchased a laptop like the Lenovo X1 or Yoga, great laptops first.

I was reminded of my experience on the Surface Pro 3 a few weeks ago when on a twitter chat the question was asked, “How should PC’s and mobile interact?” Ben Goodman @benontech had by far the best answer I’ve ever heard for this question:

“As well coordinated peers not as identical twins”

Taking that statement and looking at my experience on the Surface Pro 3 and Windows 8 it’s apparent Microsoft does not agree with Ben. In their effort to create a device that does everything and satisfies the laptop and tablet needs they’ve created a device that does neither well. Additionally in their effort to create 1 user experience across all devices and form factors (twins) they’ve alienated desktop users by forcing them into a tablet interface and “Modern UI” when they’d rather interact with their device as a desktop/laptop.

All that negativity out I am hopeful from what I’ve read about Windows 9 Windows 10 that Microsoft will finally stop fighting their users and give us back the menu we want on the desktop…but I hope they go further in controlling my user experience based on how I’m using the device. If I have a keyboard and trackpad I want to use it as a laptop, if those don’t exist lock me into tablet mode. If Microsoft can create a common platform with a single application install that adapts to how I’m using the device I’m willing keep trying Windows…until then I’m looking forward to a new MacBook Air release this fall.


4 thoughts on “Microsoft created a Spork

  1. Well said, Dan! Your experience really mirrors much of my own with my Surface Pro this year. I think Ben’s statement is correct. Good designs never were led by incorporating all the colors of the spectrum and be all things to all people. No product can ever be successful this way. Merging all colors renders you black, or in some cases completely snow blind in absolute empty white. You need a starting point and a purpose. Oh, and nothing lasts forever they say, so be purposeful in designing something that in present form lives in the now, and might just have a good life until the purpose evolves or ends.

    On the flip side this is clear in how Apple thoughtfully brought iPad to be a tablet platform, and why they do not experiment on their customers with products that just don’t give the satisfaction if a completely lived in and well thought out experience. They execute with a purpose.

    I’m excited to see a larger iPhone for example. But firstly I want to see how they purposefully made it with a plan for the bigger screen…and not just to keep up with the Joneses for the sake of being big, too. Because my iPhone 5S is so sturdy as a platform I never needed the bigger screen…it was born with the purpose that allows me to creative things on a mobile device with one hand and a finger. For example, this entire response and interaction with you and this medium was done from this device. Simple. Functional. Delightful. With purpose.

    Where is the Microsoft Zune today? It didn’t have true purpose other than to mimic the original innovation born of purpose and a lot of thought.

    We shall see with Microsoft. Their product history has a lot of milestones that were supposed to be tipping points, but they only really produced tombstones for ideas that were not quite yet fully baked or included the key ingredient. Purpose.



  2. Amen!

    As you know I’ve had an awful experience with my Surface pro 2 with hardware failures, rude and useless support, etc. I’m currently waiting for my new macbook pro and will never touch a surface again.

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