At its recent event, Microsoft showcased a stunning range of exciting new gadgets, including powerful Lumia phones, the improved Surface Pro 4 and the jaw-dropping Surface Book. But it also presented a bold hardware brand that could show PC manufacturers how to build Windows 10 machines.
In some ways, there are now more parallels between Microsoft and Google than ever before: it has a killer OS and lots of companies make hardware to run it. But what about creating perfectly complementary hardware? Google partners with manufacturers every year to create class-leading devices that show just how good Android has got.
It’s not that Microsoft hasn’t been designing hardware — from the Zune to Windows Phone handsets to the Surface Pro, the company has cut its teeth crafting a range of devices. With the Surface Book, it’s shown that it knows how to make laptops — arguably better than other manufacturers.
PC makers like Dell and Lenovo create a wide range of products to suit customers with various needs and budgets — from students who need a cheap laptop for school, to gamers who want the best graphics performance. There hasn’t yet been a multifaceted laptop that does it all well and looks good to boot.
The Surface Book comes pretty close, though. It packs solid specs into a gorgeous frame, and is one of the most desirable Microsoft products in years. It has the potential to change the meaning of a ‘Windows machine’.
Until now, it seemed like Microsoft had to rely on its partners to craft droolworthy computers, and only a handful were building laptops without compromises.
Even then, these machines were geared at certain groups of customers and didn’t necessarily showcase the software within. In the world of Windows, there are great laptops for gamers, for video professionals, for on-the-go executives — but there hasn’t been a great Windows laptop, period.
Apple sees a wide range of clientele buying the same product: everyone from photographers to musicians to salespeople purchase MacBook Pros with nary a second thought.
Having people on the same device means a lot of things: loads of accessories, more people talking about and recommending a product easily, and a unified idea across the market as to what its software is capable of.
With the Surface Book, Microsoft has likely ruffled PC makers’ feathers by showing them up and adding a major new competitor into the mix, while they pay the company to build Windows devices.
However, their failure is entirely on them — it’s not like anything stopped manufacturers from developing a quality one-size-fits-all device. Switching to OS X isn’t an option, and shipping exclusively with Linux wouldn’t help their chances of winning over the PC market either.
Microsoft should take the lead in designing laptops that bring out the best in Windows 10 and include features that make computing easier, quicker and more fun.
PC makers can follow suit or figure out their niches and build computers they know how to sell. But there definitely needs to be a champion that shows the way for Windows machines, and Microsoft is in a strong position to take the lead.