With Microsoft unveiling the Xbox One yesterday, the next generation of game consoles has officially arrived. Now that we have entries on both sides, I thought I’d give some first impressions.
I just watched Microsoft’s first commercial for their Surface tablet. It sucks. I get it: you’re so very proud of that “perfect click” sound you engineered – but that’s not what you center a commercial around.
This is the Microsoft Surface commercial that I would make.
Opening shot shows an iPad on its home screen. “This is an iPad,” starts the voiceover. “All your apps are laid out, ready to launch.” The camera zooms in on one of the icons, “You tap here to see your appointments for today.” Switch to another icon. “Tap here to get updates from your friends.” Switch to another icon. “And you can tap here to see the weather – because it’s not actually 73 degrees and sunny.”
Camera switches to another tablet. This time it’s Surface. “This is the new Microsoft Surface,” says the voiceover. “All your apps are laid out, ready to launch.” The camera zooms in, showing all the information right on screen that would have required tapping and hunting on the iPad.
“But you don’t need to. Looks like I’ll need an umbrella for the football game today.”
Sure, Apple’s new iPod commercial is just as useless as the Surface commercial. But they can get away with that because everyone knows how an iPod works. The Surface is still an unknown to most people. I hope Microsoft gets more serious about their marketing as time goes on.
As I type these words on my Macbook Pro, there is an iPhone 4 in my pocket and an iPad 2 propped up on its Smart Cover in front of me. If you had told me a couple of years ago that I would be using three Apple devices at the same time, I would have laughed at you. (In a nice way; I don’t like hurting anyone’s feelings.) So I couldn’t help but ask myself recently: what happened? Why have I turned to Apple when, traditionally, Microsoft has been the one to satisfy my geeky gadget needs?
The answer doesn’t lie with Microsoft alone. Microsoft is predominantly a software company. They write
the OS, the productivity software, the games, or the utilities that run on your device. They provide a solid platform that anyone can use in any capacity that they desire. This is something that has always appealed to me: if you want something in a small form factor, then you can build it that way — and you can be sure that the OS of your choice will run on it.
But what happens when your beautiful software gets put on ugly, underperforming hardware?
A couple of years ago I got the Microsoft Sidewinder X8 mouse. It seemed like an awesome mouse at the time – rugged, enough buttons to be useful but not overwhelming, and the “works on anything” BlueTrack technology. It was a little big, but I have big hands, so I wasn’t too worried about that.
Well, it sucks. The receiver has to be really close to the mouse, or it doesn’t track smoothly. The feet on the bottom of the mouse (any of them! it comes with three sets of interchangable feet!) don’t glide smoothly on my mousepad. The battery doesn’t hold much charge anymore; and, to make matters worse, the charge cable doesn’t seat snugly on the mouse and will sometimes stop mid-charge. It was also awkward to hold – not because it was large, per se, but because it didn’t really attempt to fit your hand.
I finally got to my breaking point with it and decided to use some of my Christmas money to buy a replacement: the Logitech Performance Mouse MX. I’ve only had it for a few days, but so far it is blowing the Sidewinder out of the water. The receiver is tiny, but even from all the way at the back of my computer, it flawlessly picks up the signal from the mouse. The feet on this mouse are incredibly smooth, letting it glide easily on the mousepad. And the contours on the mouse make it easy to grip.
So, like I said, it’s still early days, but I have better hopes for this mouse. We’ll see how it goes.