Reference Design

Jack Wellborn:

As a long time Mac user, I have no qualms saying that Windows has gotten leaps and bounds better in the last 5 years, but those significant improvements have been largely erased by mediocre hardware, penny pinching IT departments, and the continued horrible practice of crapware. I am sure no one is more frustrated by this fact than Microsoft, who I believe has been desperately trying to elevate the PC back to respectability. I think the Surface exists as part of that strategy to help the rest of PC industry with a unique reference model not entirely owned by PC’s oldest and now biggest competitor.

This observation is nearly entirely echoed by Consumer Reports’ findings as to why Apple’s MacBooks are far more reliable than their Windows-based counterparts. Robin Harris, for ZDNet:

When I left Silicon Valley for the mountains of northern Arizona 10 years ago, I was startled at how differently “everyday” people saw computers. It’s binary: work; or, not work.

They don’t say – “oh it’s a hardware problem, no bad on Microsoft.” No, they say “my Windows notebook stinks ’cause it broke.” CR is doing the absolute right thing. […]

If I were running Microsoft’s Windows customer sat group, I’d be on this like a dog on a bone. MS is only supplying the software, but their OEMs are killing the MS brand with reliability that is half of what Apple achieves.

The prose is worse than Wellborn’s, but the sentiment is the same: by choosing to license their operating system in a loose way, Microsoft places the reputation of their software in their licensee’s hands. Those licensees are part of what is corrupting Microsoft’s reputation, and the Surface partially exists for Microsoft to gain greater control of that.