So, Microsoft and Apple both had events a few weeks back to show off new hardware. Apple is usually the belle of the ball at these things and people usually leave these things, knowing they were just going to buy the latest Macbook soon as it dropped. This year, not so much.
Apple unveiled three new Macbook Pros at the show and they were, well, underwhelming. As you’d expect,there was a slight spec bump. As you’d expect too, the new Macbooks were light, thinner. There was the smaller 13 inch version and two 15 inch versions, with more power. Macbook Airs were not announced this year because it looks like the 13 inch Macbook Pro will take over that class since it was similarly sized and specced like an Air, even though Macbook Pros are usually associated with power. Finally, for the first time ever, Apple introduced a touchscreen to their Mac hardware, sort of. On the higher specced 15 inch Macbook Pros, you get a Touchbar where the function keys are which changes, depending on what software you are using and what your desktop is showing. While that in itself is cool, you wonder why Apple can’t just make the whole screen touch capable. Also, in a confusing move, the Macbooks do away with SD card slots and regular USB ports, instead going H.A.M on USB-C and Thunderbolt ports. Want to connect your old hard drive? You need a hardware dongle for that. Want to connect your iPhone to your brand new Macbook Pro? Dongle! Want to transfer pics from your cameras SD card to your Mac? There’s a dongle for that! Another thing too. The iPhone 7 was released a few months back. The phone finally came with waterproofing but it seems at the cost of the ubiquitous 3.5mm jack. One begins to wonder if Apple is trying to push us kicking and screaming into the future way of doing things or are they incapable of introducing new features without taking away another feature and doing that making it look like THE feature and not just a lack of ingenuity. I mean, really, Samsung have waterproofing without getting rid of the headphone jack.
Meanwhile, over at Redmond, Microsoft has been knocking it out of the park with their new hardware offerings. They unveiled a new Creator Update (which is free) where a new 3D capable version of Paint called Paint 3D would be released. The Holo Lens that brings 3D to life keeps on getting better and better every time I see it. There was a new Surface Book this year with a new Performance Base that showed you did not have to sacrifice device thinness for power. Never has a laptop and tablet combo being so powerful. The show stoppers however was Microsoft’s version of the Mac which they called the Surface Studio and an accessory for it called the Surface Dial. The Studio is a thing of beauty. Thin, chrome, a powerhouse, a touchscreen and everything nice. The thing is practically all screen, you barely notice the base where the computing innards are housed. The Surface Dial, as the name implies, is a dial that you can use on the Studio that does all sorts of stuff that cannot be fully explained without the help of a video.
Microsoft, it seems is trying to get into the media creation market, a space Apple has controlled for years. Go to any graphic designer’s studio or music studio worth anything and you are sure to see a Mac or Macbook around. It has been a few years since Apple have made a new Mac. Microsoft keeps on bringing out new software (Office Lens) and hardware (Surface Book) that keeps on blowing my mind. This is not your dad’s Microsoft, no. This is a new, reinvogarated Microsoft for this generation and the next. Apple, on the other hand, keeps on releasing stuff after stuff that just comes off as boring and lazy. I mean, really, dongles? Of course, Apple will always sell a ton of product but with Microsoft finally making their hardware and great hardware at that, is it only a matter of time before they become old, boring Microsoft? Maybe. Let’s see if they can figure out waterproofing and bring back the 3.5 mm jack at the same time.