back to article Apple CEO: Microsoft Surface 'compromised, confusing'

Apple CEO Tim Cook hasn't got his hands on a Microsoft Surface yet – which, frankly, would have been difficult, since it was formally announced just this Thursday – but he already doesn't like it. "I haven't personally played with the Surface yet," Cook said during a conference call with reporters and analysts after Apple …


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  1. Chris 171

    Well it would be to Tim....

    Wouldn't it?

    Shit moves about on the screen without me using my eleven finger multi touch input man! This = Confusement.

    Where's itunes = Compromised.

    Obvious really.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I knew Steve Jobs...

      Steve Jobs was a friend of mine. Tim Cook, you're no Steve Jobs.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I knew Steve Jobs...

        Yeah me too. I had dinner with the queen last night. She's not Steve Jobs either. I don't think anyone is anymore...

        1. Jon Double Nice

          Re: I knew Steve Jobs...

          I'm Steve Jobs

          And so's my wife

  2. Esskay

    I'm curious

    He neglects to mention *how* it's confusing, or what's been compromised, or even what it's trying to do...

    Sounds like FUD 101 from the chapter "How to diss your opponents product when you don't even know what it is".

    As for flying and floating - I believe seaplanes manage that pretty well (although the "car" bit is obviously lacking).

    Also, how many more quotes are we going to have to put up with from CEO's and product leads about how "fabulous", "groundbreaking" and "amazing" their own products are?! They're hardly going to come out and say "I wish we'd made the surface tablet, they've done a much better job at rounding off the corners than we have".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm curious

      I'm surprised he even bothers to comment on it at all. Right now it has 0% market share, unless it starts competing with Android for second place in tablet sales it should be pretty much a non-factor to Apple.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm curious

      FUD company #1 throws mud about products by FUD company #2, who in the past have thrown mud about products by FUD company #1. Why not just let them all rot ...

    3. Lusty

      Re: I'm curious

      "He neglects to mention *how* it's confusing"

      I'll be downvoted for this, but here goes...

      The Surface is idea for the Android type market where stats are all important. The fact that the iPad doesn't have SD or USB is exactly what he's talking about, they chose to leave them out because they are not core to what the product is for. In Apple land, you shouldn't need to plug anything in to use it day to day.

      What he was referring to (I suspect) is that:

      1) There are 2 completely different, incompatible architectures under the same brand

      2) There is a tablet only version which can't run Windows apps and so will dissapoint

      3) There is a "laptop" version which will be underpowered for running Windows apps and so will dissapoint

      4) The full version will make a poor laptop AND a poor tablet because it tries to be both

      Whether he's right or not is us for discussion, but I had a customer try to explain why iPad can't be used for business the other day because it lacks multi user support and doesn't have mouse input - this is the kind of thing that leads Microsoft astray. Tablets are not computers with touch screens, they are a different type of computing which is successful because it is different.

      1. localzuk Silver badge

        Re: I'm curious

        Last I checked, an i5 chip in one version and a decent arm chip in the other are not underpowered.

        Their OEM channel may be implementing Atom chips but they aren't MS themselves.

      2. Steve I

        Re: I'm curious

        How dare you come here with your rational arguments! (Or, to be honest, even a point of view). This is el Reg, don't you know?!?!

        Get your coat.

      3. mike_ul

        Re: I'm curious

        Not convinced about your argument for 3) Have been seriously checking out kit like Acer Aspire W700/S7 as well as Samsung Ativa smart PC Pro. All these units look like they really fly under Windows 8 together with full HD in an 11.6 inch screen (I like compact kit). The S7 is cool but lacks ports etc. Have a search on Youtube and see what you think.

        I agree , though, that tablets aren't computers in the sense that I'd use it for work. Here, a mouse is (in my view) a neccessity when dealing with multiple windows etc. I would hate to have to prod a screen all day long!!

        Horses for courses, I say.....

      4. g e

        It's confusing

        So, he's stating he's confused by a device he's never laid hands on.

        Presumably he's VERY easily confused, then. Or perhaps just confused in general in a sort of senile dribbly way.

        God knows WTF he means by 'compromised', perhaps he thinks it's populated internally by David Icke's lizard people or communists or Samsung employees.

        What a twat.

        1. tirk

          @g e

          "So, he's stating he's confused by a device he's never laid hands on."

          You'd never find anyone on el reg commenting on a product they'd never used, now would you?

    4. LarsG

      Re: I'm curious

      It is neither a pure tablet or a pure laptop, the surface is confused about its identity. There will be some sales, I'd like to try one but I think it will have limited appeal.

      Pick up a well designed tablets for the first time and use it, it will make you smile. Pick up a quality laptop and use it for the first time, it will make you smile.

      Pick up a Surface for the first time and you will wonder whether to use it as a tablet or use it with the key board, you will wonder if you need to take the keyboard out to the coffee shop with you, when you go on holiday, will you need the keyboard........

    5. Arctic fox

      @Esskay Re: "I'm curious" It is interesting to contrast Cook's attitude to Cupertino's rivals..... that of Windows Division head Sinofsky towards his. This from Anand lal Shimpi opening his review of Surface RT:

      "A week ago, I sat in an auditorium and listened to Steve Sinofsky talk about the tablet market. He talked about how the iPad was a great device, and a logical extension of the iPhone. Give iOS a bigger screen and all of the sudden you could do some things better on this new device. He talked about Android tablets, and Google’s learning process there, going from a phone OS on a tablet to eventually building Holo and creating a tablet-specific experience. He had nothing but good things to say about both competitors. I couldn’t tell just how sincere he was being, I don’t know Mr. Sinofsky all that well, but his thoughts were genuine, his analysis spot-on. Both Apple and Google tablets were good, in their own ways."

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I started to watch the Apple iPad Mini webcast on Tuesday but couldn't take the smug fakery for more than a few minutes. Tim Cook needs to learn the difference between pride and hubris. How on earth does he imagine anyone would care what he has to say about different product design philosophies?

    1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      Re: hubris

      You're absolutely right. The problem is that marketing droids seem to think that pretending to be Jobs is the thing that works, so they give someone who is VERY clearly an introvert the script of an extrovert. It literally *screams* FAKE to anyone who knows a little bit bout reading non.verbal clues, and I'm positive the audience must have felt that (you cannot hide that for too long unless you practice daily like politicians, actors and presenters do).

      Message to Apple marketing: it is the PRODUCT that sells. The script MUST match the presenter or it looks brutally insincere - which it does. Just watch the mismatch between body language and the spoken word. No enthusiasm, no facial movement, no muscle tension or power behind movements.. I can understand if the lack of facial accord could be down to a metric ton of Botox, but in that case I would have started looking for a different presenter.

      IMHO, the words were still written for Jobs, but the body language was more a match for Jobs as he is now..

      1. Steve I

        Re: hubris

        Agree - always found the Steve Jobs' keynotes entertaing - the man really knew how to present and the original iPhone announcement was a masterpiece. This is the first time I've watched Tim Cokk and it did come across as fake. The words were right, but the delivery...

  4. Eric Hood

    I am an iPad fan but I hope the Surface does well, it looks different enough to carve out its own market space driving competition and innovation which will ultimately benefit us all.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      And I want someone to port OSX to the Surface, just to watch Tim Cook's head explode.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Compare and contrast...

    ...Cook's opinion, not having used a Surface, with Simon Sharwood's, who has.

  6. Tom 35

    Most of the problems with Surface

    Were popularized by Apple first. The lockdown, single source, my way or the highway system used for the Surface was first popularized by Apple.

    Apple don't need to worry about the Surface, because MS also copied the price of the iPad. If MS pull a playbook and slash the price then Apple might have something to worry about.

    1. RICHTO

      Re: Most of the problems with Surface

      Surface already provides a lot more than the iPad for less.

      1. Paul M 1

        Re: Most of the problems with Surface

        Such as? And please don't say "Office" - I refuse to believe that there is a great, untapped horde who would have bought a tablet if only it would run all their Excel macros.

        Don't get me wrong, buying something simply because it's not Apple has its justification but other than the SD and USB slots you're still getting the control-freakery and lock-in.

        So "does a couple of things the iPad doesn't" maybe.

        1. JimGinhio

          Re: Most of the problems with Surface

          er...Multi User?

  7. El_Fev

    You know the end days are coming...

    when the posters on the reg strt defending Microsoft lol

    1. Quinch

      Re: You know the end days are coming...

      Well, the devil you know and all that.

  8. gkroog

    Wow. A CEO praising his company's products. amazing.

    "I think people, when they look at the iPad versus competitive offerings," he said, "are going to conclude they really want an iPad."

    They don't always, Mr. Cook. That's why the competition exists...

    It seems that Apple soesnt like competition it seems, that they feel once they walk into a market, all the current players there should just leave. But Apple claims that they want innovation in the market, just not the way Apple has always innovated, by "stealing great ideas." Grab someone else's IP, make it shiny, and patent it as your own. They didn't patent it, so its fair game. Apple patents it, so anything anyone else does better not even RESEMBLE it. The shiny won't win everyone over. It won't win over people who "Think Different," since Apple is now the major influence to differentiate from (no wonder we don't hear that slogan anymore).

    It won't win over people who can't afford it. That's why Android and even Symbian dominate the market in China, for example.

    It won't win over all the people who have just never been big fans of Apple. As Apple's lawyers claimed a while ago to an Australian court, once a customer uses a Galaxy phone or tablet, Apple feels they've "lost them forever." As El Reg pointed out, that sounds like Apple doesn't believe their product will withstand competition. This reveals something important: Apple isn't a company that makes something vastly superior and more advanced. They make tech that's appealing to people who couldn't be bothered to understand tech. That's why Steve Wozniak said he gets more out of Android because you can configure it more, whereas iPhone is for people who just want it to work.

    What is all this about? Just that people shouldn't be taken in by the shiny just because Tim Cook says its the best. He isn't going to say anything else.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wow. A CEO praising his company's products. amazing.

      In fact, the Apple claims in Australia and the Cook comments reveal a deeper truth: despite their massive market share Apple is really worried about competition. Doubtless at some level they are thinking about what happened to both Nokia and RIM.

      They now have a growing collection of more or less similar products with variations on a feature set. That works well in time of economic uncertainty when people want things that are reliably mainstream and yet seem aspirational - look how well Audi is doing at the moment. But if economic conditions change for the worse or the better, Apple could be obsolete in a couple of years, the life cycle of a phone contract.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Apple worried about competition?

        Obviously! Why else would they be shitting bricks over Android? Steve Jobs admitted as much in his rather public falling out with Eric Schmidt.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    enough hyperbole already

    After spending so much time with awesome, beautiful, amazing things, the rest of Tim's life must be pretty underwhelming.

    Why can't Apple execs talk normally?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How's no SD slot and no USB port for compromised, Tim?

    How's iPad 2, New iPad, new New iPad, iPad Mini for confusing, Tim?

  11. Admiral Grace Hopper

    All products are compromised

    Consumers choose the set of compromises that they can live with best.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: All products are compromised

      Stop being rational. This is El Reg —rant about something!

      1. Admiral Grace Hopper

        Re: All products are compromised

        Sorry about that, normal service will be resumed when conditions permit.

  12. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

    It's pretty tragic..

    .. when people adapt hyperbole to talk up a product that should sell almost by its design alone.

    To me, this talking down of the competition is weak, unstylish and an expression of a serious lack of confidence. Having said that, their elections tend to take that tone too.

    First of all, Tim doesn't strike me as someone who normally talks in hyperbole, so it works incredibly artificial (or fake for people that cannot handle long words) and if you know a little bit about body language you can see that it doesn't match the enthusiasm the words attempt to convey. The guy is trying to ape Jobs instead of being himself. In this respect, Ballmer actually has an advantage because he is genuinely extrovert.

    Secondly, it makes you start wondering why Apple bothers to talk down a product. They don't need it. This just makes it look like they're worried. Even if they *are* worried (which is intelligent, always keep an eye on the competition) I would not air that.

    As for Microsoft, I found it a bit weird they presented the Surface with training wheels :).

    I'm sitting back - Microsoft has tried many, many things over the 3 decades that didn't work so the jury is out. The market is there and the tech can handle it now, but they should not try to change everything at once because it denies them the benefit of the vast co-dependent (aka "locked in") eco-system they have built over the years. Let's see what happens - it is *FAR* too early to declare winners IMHO..

  13. ratfox

    Product doing two things at the same time

    I remember, after buying my first smartphone (a Palm Treo) being told by somebody that if you tried to have a single device do the job of both a PDA and a phone, you ended up with a bad PDA and a bad phone (the guy bought a Treo for himself later). I wonder what he would have said to a device doing the job of a phone, PDA, GPS, web browser and game console… he's an iPhone freak now, of course.

  14. Martin 47

    Who is going to be laughing a year from now? My guess would be Samsung with the googlie one acting as straight man.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What does Tim Cook know? what brand new genius product has he released since taking over from Jobs? nothing, just new versions of existing products.

    In fact, he released a product that Jobs thought was dead on arrival.

  16. localzuk Silver badge

    Possibly different markets?

    The Surface Pro fits within the existing enterprise ecosystem, so on that aspect alone it will be more popular than the iPad in business.

    Add in the funky keyboard lid and you're onto a winner. There is this amazing thing that business people do quite a lot of - typing. A tablet is not suited to that, and MS seem to understand this.

    Sure, they also want to get into the consumer market, but that market is driven by style and, to be blunt, idiocy. The iPad is a crippled device - you have so little flexibility. If MS can build up a quality consumer app ecosystem, then I think it should work nicely for them.

    1. Tom 35

      The Surface Pro fits within the existing enterprise ecosystem

      No it will be way too expensive.

      Like XP tablet, and Win7 tablets, they will be limited to a few specialized uses, and executive toys.

  17. Confuciousmobil
    Thumb Up

    Much as...

    I don't think a lot of Tim Cook, I think he is actually right on this one.

    Time will tell.

    As this is vaguely pro Apple I expect a barrage of thumbs down from all the Apple haters out there.

  18. This post has been deleted by its author

  19. Idocrase

    Wait wait wait... A car that flies AND floats? Well, I have some NEWS for Mr Cook.

    Flies, floats, is a RACECAR, and that styling, woah, that is something I would LOVE to have parked in my drive.

  20. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Nothing that Apple's not doing with OS X

    Only Microsoft made the mistake of doing it all in one version, whereas Apple have changed 10.7 and 10.8 little by little and doubtless will do a little more in 10.9 and then by 11.0 people will wake up and realise what's happened, that their desktop machine has turned into some dumbed down full-screen vTech which only allows you to work on one task at once.

  21. Philippe

    I didn't really see a direct talking down of the competition in his Surface remark?

    He was asked about the Surface and he said: "I didn't use it but what we read is that it's a confused and a compromised product".

    Well, i've read several Surface articles, and the conclusion is most often than not ,great hardware bar to , poor software, no app. and in my world that's a confused and compromised products.

    The flood of "amazing, great, fantastic etc etc" by the Apple management is indeed becoming really annoying but what would we want a CEO to say? "This is the most average product we've ever built ."

  22. Anonymous Coward

    iPad mini

    "I didn't use it but what we read is that it's a confused and a compromised product".

    Funny, its the same as me toward the mini. Tim, you were talking about Surface or it was a Freudian slip over the mini?

  23. hollymcr

    flies and floaters

    "I suppose you could design a phone that makes calls and has maps," he said, "but I don't think it would do all of those things very well."

    There, fixed that for you.

  24. Anonymous Coward

    Sounds like...

    Mr Cook is suffering from that new Medical Condition, it's called "Surface Tension".

  25. 2Fat2Bald

    Thing Is...

    You can argue about specs and design all you want. At the end of the day people don't work that way. What people do is decide what they want, and then look for the arguments to back up that decision.

    It really doesn't matter which is the "better" machine because 90-odd percent of the purchasers won't understand or care about that, really. What they want is the "top" machine. The one people gush about, the stylish one, the one that was on the news.

    Apple know this. And make nice products that are simple to use and stylish and product lines that are simple to understand. Microsoft have stuffed up the surface - badly. The product is too fragmented. In their efforts to be "all things to all people" they've crashed down between two stools and left everyone confused.

    Nah. This time next year it will be in the Bargain bins. What we needed from them was a cheap product, that did something the competition doesn't, and was simple to understand for the mass market. We didn't get it - it's game-over before anyone has even inserted the first coin.

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