Microsoft Is Winning The Race To Be Exciting
Microsoft is having a hardware event in Beijing tomorrow, where it is expected to reveal a lightly upgraded Surface Pro 4. It will be the most disappointing Microsoft event in years. Not because the product is bad or the upgrade is weak, but because it is an iterative upgrade of an existing product which doesn't move the game on significantly.
If Microsoft doesn't sneak in something which hasn't been previously leaked then the buzz around this event will be small. And that's become unusual for Microsoft as it has continued to deliver suprising new products which garner column inches in both the tech and non-tech press, has people talking about Microsoft more and more often and has raised the profile of the company significantly.
In fact if you review Microsoft's releases over the last few years - Surface 3, Surface Pro 3, Surface Pro 4, Surface Book, Surface Studio, Hololens and Windows 10 in all its versions - you'll find that Microsoft has leapt over both Apple and Google to become the most exciting of the big technology companies. Each one of those products has had an increasing 'wow' factor.
So when the Surface Laptop arrived - and let's face it, other than being Microsoft's first traditional laptop it wasn't an earth shattering product announcement - the reception was hugely positive.
In the same time period Apple has only had one really successful and innovative product - AirPods - and a number of dull iterative updates or complete misses. The Mac Pro has flopped and Apple admitted it had made mistakes, the MacBook asks for an enormous trade off to gain its svelte chassis and the MacBook Pro received a rather hostile reception.
Google has wowed us with a lot of vaporware and the camera software in the Pixel smartphone, but has it really done anything really exciting? Yes there has been the arrival of Assistant and Home, neither of which move the game on, even if they are part of a long term strategy to do so. Android on Chromebooks has been poorly executed and will spend even more time in Beta.
Of course being exciting and getting lots of press doesn't actually drive any profits out of a business, so Microsoft needs to turn excitement in products into greater profitability. And let's face it, Microsoft isn't doing a bad job of that either.