What it is: Microsoft is comparing their Surface tablet with the iPad.
Microsoft’s latest ad pokes fun at the iPad as a “toy” that is no longer suitable for older children who really need a computer like Microsoft’s Surface tablet. While Microsoft’s Surface tablets are really ultraportable laptops, they can work as tablets although most people likely don’t use them exclusively as tablets. The real appeal of the Surface tablet is the ability to run Windows, which can run a variety of programs from Adobe Photoshop and Microsoft Visual Studio to AutoCAD and Adobe Premiere.
Yet if you were around in the early 80’s, you might remember when mainframe and minicomputer users dismissed PCs as “toys” that couldn’t do what “real” computers could do. In case your memory is foggy, mainframe and minicomputer users were absolutely right in claiming PCs were simply underpowered compared to mainframe and minicomputers, and this state of affairs remained completely true right up until the time PCs were more cost-effective and good enough for most people. Then mainframe and minicomputers rapidly fell out of favor to the “toys” that were more powerful PCs.
Think the same thing won’t happen with Microsoft’s latest comparison of their Surface tablet to the iPad? Right now, laptops like Microsoft’s Surface tablet can run more variety and powerful programs than the iPad, but Adobe Photoshop is coming to the iPad along with AutoCAD. Apple even claims that the latest iPad is 92% faster than most laptops on the market today. Considering that the Surface tablet isn’t the fastest laptop around, the latest iPad’s processor is probably on par (or even surpassing) the power of the Surface tablet.
Wait another year or two and the iPad is rapidly growing in power and versatility while the laptop world of Windows and Intel (commonly known as WinTel) progresses at a much slower pace. That means the iPad will eventually surpass traditional laptops if not next year, then within the next two or three years. This is exactly the same trend that mainframe and minicomputer users fought against PCs and lost, and this is exactly what Microsoft is facing with the Surface tablet compared to the iPad.
In the long run, the Surface tablet is minimal tablet features but its biggest strength is its ability to run Windows. On the other hand, the iPad’s processing power is growing exponentially and as more apps appear on the iPad, it’s only inevitable that the iPad will soon equal and eventually surpass the Surface tablet.
So for Microsoft to compare a Surface tablet against an iPad is no different than mainframe and minicomputer users comparing their big iron machines against the “toys” that were called PCs. As we saw with mainframe and minicomputers, the PC eventually took over the computing market. That means if trends continue, the iPad will eventually take over the personal computing market despite being labeled a “toy” just like early PCs were dismissed as “toys.”
The future of computing is the iPad, which is advancing rapidly, and not the Surface tablet, which is hobbled by clinging to Intel and Windows. If you want a great laptop today, you might want a Surface tablet today. However, if you want a great computer tomorrow, chances are good it’s going to be an iPad.