The long held argument trotted out by so many proponents of Windows PCs is that Windows machines are better than Apple Macs because you can modify a PC and not a Mac. Who wants a machine that can't be endlessly upgraded they say? Their prayer was that if only Microsoft would make a computer that was as sexy as a Mac, as innovative, something they could believe in, something that would attract Mac owners... something they could wave in the smug, happy, confident Mac fan boy faces who don't give Windows a second thought.
Then just over a week ago it seemed their dream came true in the shape of the Microsoft Surface Studio. The keynote and the advert were both uber cool, it also got the attention of some Apple Mac fans too, it was a journalistic feeding frenzy sending them giddy. Endless posts popped up praising Microsoft for their innovation and berating Apple for losing the plot.
The sexy touch screen on an arm that pivots from the centre of the machine "now this is innovation" they proclaimed, "this is something Apple should do, not that shitty touch bar and their USBC dongle loving connectors, something really pro" seemed to be the consensus. Well let's be clear about one thing, Apple did do a screen that pivoted from an arm on the CPU, it was the iMac G4 in early 2002. As Sting once sang, it seems that history will teach us nothing.
The All In One PC
Let's assume the Microsoft Surface Studio is the winner on this one for a moment.
If it is, it means one thing; that self contained computers, the kind you can't upgrade, the kind you can't open up and fill with long HDX or UAD cards, the kind that aren't 'pro' (whatever the f**k that means), the kind that Windows PC owners hate, are now the order of the day. Let's even set aside the need to put expansion cards inside the machine, what you get with a Microsoft Surface Studio is a machine you spec at the checkout, and give or take a few possible hacks that may appear in the future, you are stuck with the chip, memory, ports, built in sound card, headphone jack and of course the monitor for its working life. That sounds like a Mac to me, in fact it sounds like the kind of thing Windows users hate about Macs, an all-in-one PC. One where the CPU looks remarkably similar to a Mac mini.
Don't get me wrong I'm not here to tell you the new MacBook Pro is the winner, or even any kind of winner - the jury is still out it seems that it has plenty of critics. As I haven't touched either the new MacBook Pro or the Microsoft Surface Studio machine I cannot possibly have a reasonable opinion on either machine for my own needs. To be fair though, if you are going to make comparisons then perhaps you need to compare the Microsoft Surface Studio with an iMac not a MacBook Pro - you can see that comparison here.
I have not ordered either machine and I'm not likely to in the near future. I have a perfectly good 15" Mac Book Pro, Mid 2014 that works great for all I need. Would the touch bar be nice? Perhaps, but I've lived this long without one so I think I'll manage fine for now.
The Heart Of The Problem
Where does this leave me on the MacBook Pro and the Microsoft Surface Studio? Well even though Microsoft have made an uber sexy machine (only a intransigent Mac Fanboy would disagree) it's still missing a vital component for most Mac users and that's the Mac OS. Like the Tin man in the Wizard of Oz, the Microsoft Surface Studio is missing the one thing that Mac lovers want, the heart of a Mac.
Last week I had to install Windows 10 on my MacBook Pro with Bootcamp so I could do some work for a client. Using Windows 10 (despite the paint job) still seemed as painful as I recall when I switched to Macs over a decade ago. Are Macs and their OS perfect? Of course not only an idiot would even think, let alone say that, but when it comes to an OS that makes sense I'll take Mac OS every time - even with some of its infuriating idiosyncrasies.
Despite the sexy ads and the wow factor of the new Microsoft machine, when you scratch below the surface (no pun intended) there is still a huge elephant in the room, it's running Windows and that for many Mac owners is the reason they love their Macs. In fact it's the reason they tolerate Apple's sometimes puzzling design decisions. Furthermore my Mac can run Windows on Bootcamp, so if I really need to use the Windows OS I can.
What the new Microsoft Surface Studio seems to show is that when it comes to making a Windows machine to win the hearts and minds of those looking for 'innovation' then making one like a Mac seems to be a winner. Will it succeed? Only time will tell but innovation... really?