Mac OS X also suffers from a much smaller range of available apps. Instead of the native apps you get on iOS for services like Netflix, Airbnb, Google Docs, YouTube and the like, Mac users have to make do with accessing these services through a web browser. That's quite a hoop to jump through to get your work done: forcing such a huge proportion of your work through one app.
Web apps didn't take off because native apps offer a much better experience. Nothing has changed recently to suggest that this won't remain the case for the forseeable future. The push via Centennial to get as many Win32 apps on the Windows Store won't help at all with any remaining aspirations Microsoft may still have to be relevant in the post-PC space. iOS is Apple's future-proof alternative to Mac OS, whereas Microsoft these days, and ever since Windows 8, seem content for Windows to thrive solely as a conventional (desktop) operating system.
During the last few weeks, I've been in the market for a premium eight-inch Windows 10 tablet with pen support that's good for notetaking, entertainment consumption, web browsing and email. To my dismay, it appears nobody is making these tablets. Not two years ago, the market was full of new, small Windows tablets running Windows 8.1 and Windows 10. In 2017, I can't find a single one that's on sale "new" from OEMs.
Windows 10's tablet shortcomings have not helped. No doubt. However I think this is more the result of the demand for smaller-sized tablets diminishing as phone screen sizes get bigger. Earlier today I tried a friend's Galaxy S8+ and couldn't believe how comfortable a phone with a 6.2" screen was to operate with one hand. The < 9" tablet has become superflous. Nobody needs a third device.
Everyone's of the same opinion on the Surface Mini after Windows Central shared images of the device. That Microsoft was right to cancel it. They're correct. The Surface phone won't end up the same because it will be meaningfully different to what else is available. Something that will give iPhone and Android users a reason to switch. I expect very few will because of software, but to get them to even consider would give Microsoft something to work with.
There are a lot of posts recently doing the rounds arguing that the iPad can't replace your laptop, even after iOS 11. But it can. Take the example of my wife. She hasn't had a laptop for more than a few years now. But she hasn't replaced it with an iPad. Nope. She replaced it with an iPhone. And on the unusual occasion when she does need to use a laptop, she finds the experience infuriating. Matt Gemmell brings to the debate much-needed perspective:
I occasionally see the phrase “laptop replacement” regarding the iPad, despite the bizarreness of both the concept and the generalisation. Intelligent people like journalists and tech pundits use it, seemingly without humorous intent, and it puzzles me.
There’s no such thing as a laptop replacement, and if there were, the iPad isn’t meant to be one.
On the very rare occasion that I boot up the MacBook to let it update and run backups, or to grab a file, I have to make compromises too — because it’s just not an iPad replacement for me.
People are interested in getting stuff done. Not in laptops. Or iPads for that matter.
People are not the same. If I'm most productive on my Surface Pro that doesn't mean my wife can't be the same on her iPhone.
I can't remember the last time I emailed someone with a Yahoo email, but there's a new Yahoo Mail and it looks pretty nice. It reminds me how badly Outlook is in need of a similar refresh. I ended up switching my primary address back to Gmail (using Inbox) more than a year ago because of Outlook's performance and design: too slow and out-of-date looking/feeling. More than a year later, nothing seems to have improved.
A more complicated answer to the branding question is that Microsoft must juggle multiple markets with different messages. If you buy a Surface PC, you likely want some official Surface accessories. It makes sense then to have Surface mice, keyboards, pens, docks, and cables so that the average consumer knows exactly what to buy.
Although Surface mindshare continues to grow, I still don't think Microsoft is regarded as a hardware company like Apple. And so it makes sense for Surface accessories to exist. But in many cases these are device agnostic accessories, and so the Surface branding can be misleading. As Dan concludes:
That is very likely the rationale behind having both a Surface Arc Mouse and a Microsoft Arc Mouse that are exactly the same except for color difference.
Again, this makes sense. But what you end up with is a confusing portfolio of accessories. My recommendation is for Surface branding to be used on accessories that work only with a Surface, such as the Type Cover and Docking Station. If something works best on a Surface, such as the Pen, then maybe include those too. Anything else should adopt Microsoft branding.
For those considering the fanless Surface Pro with Core i5, you don't have anything to fear. Microsoft did not pull any tricks, and the processor does what it is meant to do. Granted, had Microsoft put a fan into the Core i5 it could run at higher processor speeds for more than 15 minutes of 100 percent CPU usage, but for regular consumers running Windows Store apps, photo and video editing, browsing, the Pro with Core i5 behaves like any other PC.
If this model was available with 16GB RAM, I'd happily get my wallet out. Not only is the i7 Surface Pro £300 more expensive, but in Dan's testing it was observed to having one less hour of battery life compared to the i5 model.
Microsoft announced the HoloLens in January 2015. It's still not available to the general public. If you're a developer, it costs $3,000. Apple on the other hand is months away from enabling ~500 million iOS devices to go augmented reality. This single demo of ARKit shows Apple may not be the first to the AR party, but like the iPhone that won't matter. They're bringing it to the masses for free. And that's before even considering any unannounced hardware specifically built with AR in mind. The HoloLens may still be more impressive, but the technology can't compete with the accessibility and mobility of an iPhone. More justification for Microsoft to release a phone-like device.