Microsoft Surface Lineup

As Apple Moves Forward with iPadOS, Microsoft Drops the Ball Again

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Microsoft Surface Lineup

Some of you may have noticed this before, but for those who aren’t familiar with this site, let me start off this article by saying that I’m a lifelong Windows user on the desktop side. This makes me a bit of a rare bird as a writer for an Apple site, but if you look at device ownership statistics, I actually write from a perspective that is quite common among iPad and iPhone users, overall.

I use Windows for work because I don’t have a choice. The apps I need to use for work aren’t available for any other OSs, so moving isn’t an option. It is what it is. While I don’t dislike Windows, I also don’t have any great love for it or devotion to it. Windows 10 gets the job done for work and that’s fine. I do think Microsoft has at least done a good job of making Windows 10 more secure and stable over the last few years.

As for the Mac, since I use my iPad Pro and iPhone for anything personal and have a work laptop with me most of the time, including at home, I just don’t have any incentive to introduce yet another OS into my life. I may try out a MacBook one of these days, but it seems like a lot of money to spend on something I don’t need.

I bring all of this up to say that, despite what you may think of the title of this article, I’m not just an Apple fan taking a cheap shot at Microsoft. I write this as a long-time Windows user who has gotten very used to disappointment over the last 10 years.

We’ve had a few weeks now to get familiar with the new trackpad and mouse support that Apple added to iPadOS 13.4. If you recall, several fans of and writers who are focused on Microsoft took their shots at Apple afterwards, claiming they copied the Surface and admitted that Microsoft’s tablet philosophy was the right one. I found these shallow, hardware-focused arguments to be quite flawed, as pointed out here. There isn’t anything about Microsoft’s software philosophy and implementation for tablets and touch that has been even remotely successful. Apple certainly didn’t copy any of that.

Despite the shots and shade, the reviews of iPadOS trackpad support have been overwhelmingly positive. Ironically, this includes notable Microsoft-focused writer Tom Warren, who wrote one of the articles mocking Apple, and noted Microsoft expert writer and podcaster Paul Thurrott. While many Windows users will contend that Apple still hasn’t brought their tablets to a level of full parity (and I still agree that they have plenty of work to do) pretty much anyone who has used this new iPad feature agrees that it suits the platform very well and is easy for an experienced mouse user to just pick up and work with.

The tables have turned a bit

This week brought bad news for Microsoft fans. Microsoft expert Mary Jo Foley wrote that the coming Surface Neo dual-screen device has been delayed. Considering that hype around the device when it was announced by Panos Panay last year, this certainly comes as a disappointment for some. It also can’t be completely unexpected because of the impact of COVID-19 on the tech sector and its supply chains. Just to be clear, I don’t fault Microsoft at all for this.

However, the bigger issue is the Windows 10X OS variant that is supposed to power the Surface Neo. I listened to the latest What the Tech podcast and Paul Thurrott’s take on the coming Windows variant was much more negative than I expected. Basically, he swept Microsoft’s marketing spin aside and revealed that there are still fundamental issues with this coming version of Windows.

According to Ms Foley’s article, Microsoft isn’t shelving Windows 10X, but will focus it more on “single-screen” experiences. In fact, the dual-screen support will be completely withheld until next year, meaning that third-party manufacturers also won’t be able to make use of it, either. The thought from experts like Foley and Thurrott is that 10X will be geared toward devices that compete with Chromebooks for now

However, Thurrott’s take on 10X went deeper than Microsoft’s projections and spin. According to the discussion on the podcast, there are problems with 10X that could hinder adoption. He said that the early focus on associating 10X with dual-screen devices was in fact to limit the scope of early adoption so that it could be brought up to speed slowly and the best features migrated over to Windows 10 over time.

Shifting gears

However, now Microsoft is having to shift gears and find another way to soft-launch Windows 10X in a way that doesn’t expose the issues with legacy compatibility. Maybe they can find that with cheap laptops that compete with Chromebook, but Microsoft has stumbled here before. Remember Windows 10S? The origin of Windows on ARM? Windows RT? We have been here before and this hasn’t worked out well yet.

According to Mr Thurrott, Microsoft still needs to take this limited release route with 10X. Legacy app compatibility and sandboxing are not working  all that well at this time and it may be some time before they do. He specifically said that legacy virtualization and high-end PC games will likely never work with the new container system. Those kinds of resource-intensive apps will have to be re-compiled into a native versions for the new 10X container system.

In other words, the supposed advantage that Surface devices have today, that you can have some kind of “best of both worlds” experience combining legacy apps with touch and pen input, will go out the window to a degree with 10X. It isn’t a short-term fix to modernize the Windows UI. It is a long-term transition that will eventually force developers to rework their applications to remain relevant. Windows 10 won’t disappear while 10X evolves, but the implications are very clear- eventually it will be phased out as it exists today in favor of or merged together with the new. Well, if Microsoft doesn’t repeat their previous transition mistakes, that is.

Speaking of transitions

Now, Apple has already been down this road, as well. They went from Classic Mac OS to OS X. Later on they transitioned from PowerPC chips to Intel. Now, developers and users have the option to transition to iPadOS, as well. However, the advantage that Apple has over Microsoft is that they are ahead of the game. Apple handled two of these transitions successfully and many developers have brought their wares over to the iPad and App Store over the last 10 years.

The transition story for the iPad has been more about the capability of the OS to handle powerful apps in a professional setting. The hardware has been there for a few years now, especially in the Pro models. However, the software lacked features that many pros need to make an iPad Pro their primary computing device. As much of a fan of the iPad Pro as I am, I get that.

I will be the first to admit that Apple struggled to find a new identity for their tablets for a few years as the device’s original positioning as a third device between laptops and phones was squeezed from both sides. Apple eventually got things on track though, and now we have iPadOS and a fast-evolving set of features specifically geared toward tablets.

Holding back

While the Surface lineup of hardware (with the exception of the Go) is very impressive, I think that success has held Microsoft back on the OS side. Windows 8 and RT were their original transition plan to a newer UI and the original Surface devices were central to that vision. Unfortunately, while the hardware ultimately succeeded, the software was a complete and utter failure. There’s no other way to say it. Customers who had it complained and many actively avoided it and stuck with Windows 7 well past its intended lifespan.

That failure was made complete when Windows 10 rolled many of the ideas of 8 back to a completely desktop-centric UI with touch and pen merely bolted on. The whole experience seemed to scare Microsoft away from considering making any real, substantive changes to Windows for a long time. It’s been 8 years and Windows 10 is largely the same experience now that it was at release. It has never been easy or enjoyable to use without a keyboard and mouse.

Moving forward

Microsoft’s failure to evolve over the last 8 years will be magnified by the growing pains that experts believe are coming for Windows 10X. While it has seemed that they were ahead in some ways in providing a platform with touch and pen options that could still run legacy pro apps, Microsoft is just getting ready to start trying to move Windows forward again. And before it’s even out, we have more delays and re-calibration. Add to this the fact that Microsoft has clearly been focused on the development of cloud and services over Windows in recent years and there is just so much reason to doubt that they can pull this off. There is just too much failure to transition forward over the last 10 years to dismiss.

Forget the comparisons to Apple for a moment. Rather than make fun of Microsoft or poke at their failures on the heels of a big success for Apple, I am simply expressing disappointment and a lack of faith in them. As a Windows user, it will benefit me if they can effectively move the OS forward in a way that makes sense and doesn’t restrict the software that pros like me need to run. Also, real competition in the marketplace is a good thing and right now Apple just doesn’t have any in the tablet sphere. The Surface is terrible as a tablet and the only device in the lineup that competes in any way with the iPad Pro is the super expensive and limited Surface Pro X.

I want to believe, but I don’t

I want to believe that Microsoft will get its act together and start moving Windows forward. I would like to think that they value their OS enough to put the time and effort in to make it a great experience for touch and pen input, rather than staying focused on older paradigms. I would love to dismiss the past failures of Windows 8, Windows RT, Windows 10S and Windows for ARM and see that things will be different this time. However, if Microsoft fans and experts like Mary Jo Foley and Paul Thurriott aren’t excited about what’s going on at the moment and don’t seem convinced that it’s the right direction, then why would I be?

Hardware delays due to COVID-19 are understandable. I get that. However, as a Windows user, I will never give Microsoft a pass on how they have handled Windows 10 and moving forward. A current pandemic doesn’t excuse 8 years of inaction. It’s time to get serious again and get your act together. Come on, Microsoft. Pick up the ball, get out of your own way, and get going.


James Rogers

I am a Christian husband and father of 3 living in the Southeastern US. I have worked as a programmer and project manager in the Commercial and Industrial Automation industry for over 19 years, so I am hands on with technology almost every day. However, my passion in technology is for mobile devices, specifically Apple's iOS and iPadOS hardware and software. My favorite is still the iPad.

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16 thoughts on “As Apple Moves Forward with iPadOS, Microsoft Drops the Ball Again”

  1. My Windows at work, IPhone/iPad at home is similar to yours. My advice is never try to move to a Mac at home. I did it and it was a horrible experience. What I learnt is that my hands and fingers have a mind of their own; they know their way around my Windows apc keyboard. But a Windows PC keyboard is not the same as a Mac (as I discovered, painfully). Even with keyboard remapping, it still was borderline painful. My advice – if Windows PCs are what you use all day at work, then stick to that at home. If only Apple was as willing to make its hardware work with other OEM hardware, but then that is another pipe dream.

    1. If you are talking computers, sure. But for those who like a quality touch interface, I would recommend using an iPad at home over a Windows machine. The touch experience on Windows just doesn’t cut it for me.

  2. Me, I’m using iOS, Android, macOS, Windows and Linux, with a larger iPad as my default device at all.

    I see one point in particular where Windows will continue to have a drawback: the mounting of storage. Specifically: the assigning of drive letters.
    While under the other operating systems mounting storage is transparent, Windows (like DOS preceding it) assigns letters. Partly fixed: A for the diskette station booted from, B for the alternate diskette station, C for the hard drive partition booted from. Starting with D it becomes more dynamic. (I’m omitting the semicolons for readability.) Windows defaults to assigning each following storage device mounted the subsequent letter, but if you want to mount storage in a controlled way, you must assign it a fixed letter. Dynamic and fixed assignment of letters may interfere, and besides you need to remember what fixed assignment had been assigned what letter. Example, though it may be a wrong one: I have two Microsoft accounts, each with associated cloud space. What letter can I find either one under today, or what letter did I reserve for which? Or, originating before my current use of the cloud, I used to move the photos from the card in my camera to two external hard drives plus a low-resolution copy to a memory stick. Makes four devices connected. Would likely be assigned letters E through H, but which one this time?
    It’s not insurmountable (seems like a pun here), but it’s back to coal-firing days when you’re used to the other operating systems.

    1. Definitely, and that’s a great point. There’s an umbrella of just dealing with legacy in general that your argument fits under, as well. I talked about it in regards to applications, but both are part of the legacy that Microsoft is still trying to bring forward into more modern computing. It slows and weighs them down. Apple can move faster right now because they really don’t have to worry much about maintaining older features and apps on the iPad and iPadOS.

      It would be interesting if Microsoft did away with drive letters in Windows 10X when it’s released. That seems like a small thing, but it would be a huge change for Windows in general. It would show me that they are making changes that go below the just the UI and surface-level features. I still have my doubts, though.

      1. Having some experience running CrossOver for Linux, and noticing (the news of) Microsoft gaining interest in Linux, I could well imagine “Windows as a package” becoming Linux with a shell resembling Windows and incorporating some Wine-like emulator. And optionally mapping storage to drive letters (with the volume names as a clue for the system as to what letter should be suggested).

        Coming to think of it, such a move would propel this new Windows from the rear to at least the middle of the pack.
        But then, Apple and Google could follow suit, and we’d end up with all “current” operating systems as shells around a shared (and still open source) kernel.
        Sounds good to me, but would it be wise?

      2. Great article and take.

        Offering a small correction as Apple News picked up this article. “Use of disappointment should be disappointed” “and I lack faith in them.”

        “Rather than make fun of Microsoft or poke at their failures on the heels of a big success for Apple, I am simply disappointment in them and a lack of faith in them.”


        1. Thanks for pointing that out. I was actually going a different direction with that sentence and it just didn’t get put together. I must have been interrupted mid-edit or something. It was supposed to read “I am simply expressing my disappointment and lack of faith in them.”

          Thanks again.

  3. “The Surface is terrible as a tablet…” See I never really understood this, and no one has really quantified it in a way that makes sense. Personally to me it is the absolute best tablet due in large part to the kickstand. The kickstand makes it incredibly functional, whether on your lap, in bed, on the breakfast counter or in the office. I rarely reach for my ipad because I just can’t prop it up and it just ends up laying flat on a table or my lap, or slipping down my thighs when in bed. Sure there are cheap flimsy covers for it, but they are cheap and flimsy and add thickness. Even the new type cover for the pro introduced this year looks like a nightmare in weight distribution and looks like it adds significant bulk/thickness/weight. My one wish for the ipad world is that Apple would just get it over with and copy the kickstand.

    But beyond the clearly superior “tablet” hardware of the surface pro is the OS. If you are using your surface pro as a tablet then there is nothing you are missing over an ipad, nothing. I’ve never really had anyone successfully answer what apps they would not have on Windows, whether it’s through a windows store app, a legacy program, a web app, a UWP app, etc. Maybe there are some rare niche apps that are only on iOS, but not any mainstream apps. In fact the opposite is true, millions of legacy programs on windows are not available on iOS. Of course let’s not forget about the big ones such as Microsoft Office, Adobe products, etc. Yes these are available on iOS, but as watered down “apps” Personally I feel that “apps” are often too simplistic and either lack features and/or are actually more complicated to use due to their simple design. When consumers say even a baby can use it, to me that is not a compliment.

    The only advantage the ipads have currently is battery life, and that’s only with the current generation as Microsoft dropped the ball and the surface pro 7 has less battery life than the 6, a major error in my opinion. You have to understand the ipad was a necessary evil when tablets were huge, thick, had very bad battery life and a terrible UI, and the ipad was a godsend in those times. But the days of having to have a watered down OS are over. Of course Apple would never port MacOS to a tablet as that would cut into their paradigm of selling you 2 devices, a laptop and a tablet. Apple won’t even make MacOS touchscreen compatible.

    So just my opinion but the ipad is the “terrible tablet” No kickstand, trying to hard to be a PC but failing at it. It’s a good consumption device, but can’t do anything the surface pro can’t match as a consumption device.

    1. Just to clarify I also think Microsoft dropped the ball really bad in terms of software. They have steadily improved Windows 10 for tablets and personally I have no issues using it on a tablet in a touch paradigm, but I can certainly admit that it still needs lots of work. Microsoft is dropping the ball on these mobile OS’ they release every few years which all end up failing. They really just need to get their ARM strategy right and instead of alienating developers every few years with failing OS’ they just need to get them on board with ARM64 apps. Running legacy x86 in containers will always be a thing, there is just no way all of these programs will ever be migrated, and MS would lose a huge advantage if they moved past this. The Pro-X was a move in the right direction, but it’s really a beta product which isn’t ready for prime time. The battery life is not sufficient for the trade off the ARM processor brings, the surface pro 6 had nearly as much battery life when using x86 programs but performs much better without any of the compatibility issues. The surface pro 7 is a huge downgrade in battery life (around 30% if you read the benchmarks in various reviews) and that really hurts it as a tablet.

      I would have had high hopes for Panos taking over, but the entire Duo/Neo paradigm is a huge dud right out of the box. The Duo uses a design that ZTE released almost 4 years ago, MS won’t even differentiate it with Windows but will use Android instead. Huge bezels, huge hinge in the middle and just Android, nothing to see move on. The Neo might be interesting but we don’t know much about Windows 10x, but to me it will just be another watered down Windows OS that developers will shy away from because they know MS will pull the plug on it in 2 or 3 years. The Neo also still has a hinge, the future is in foldable screens (even as flawed as they are today). Microsoft really needs to make a device that can be a full fledged Windows device when connected to an external display, and be a mobile device when disconnected. But they can’t even connect a cell phone to Windows successfully.

      Just as an aside, look at their recent announcement and how proud they are that you can wireless transfer files from your Android phone to windows. Yet Dell has an app that lets you control and view your iphone, as well as wireless transfer files, view and compose text messages, get notifications, make phone calls, etc. This is MS’ issue, they are always behind the ball, pushing too many projects which don’t make sense and not putting enough emphasis on the ones which do make sense.

      1. I agree with most of what you say here. I don’t really feel like W10 has improved for tablet use, but that’s just me. I think you are on the money with the rest.

        I use some specialized industry-specific applications for my job and I can’t imagine they will ever be ported to ARM. Not for several years. They don’t work well in emulation because they all require a decent amount of processor and memory. Virtualization, which I need, currently doesn’t work on ARM. I just don’t see how MS moves forward without forking Windows and keeping W10 alive for people like me. Devs for enterprise and industrial applications are not going to jump on board with changes like these willingly.

        There is a real possibility that developers could jump over to iPadOS if MS screws this up, because it has a head start moving forward, doesn’t have legacy to hold it back and will keep evolving quickly over the next 5-10 years. Even if devs don’t switch, if they take a dual development route and port apps to both “modern” platforms, which really isn’t happening right now, it would be a big shift in the enterprise market. If MS doesn’t nail down a transition strategy this time, it could really hurt them in the end.

        1. Yeah I can see if you have specialized software that runs the best on iOS, you really have no choice but to use that paradigm. Although I disagree that forking Windows 10 is the answer. It seems like MS has attempted to make mobile versions of Windows multiple times and keeps failing. I’m not sure of the count but we have Windows RT, Windows S, and now Windows 10x with various subsets of things such as UWP, I’m sure I’m missing a bunch of them. Windows strength lies in x86 Windows and watering it down or forking it will always result in failure. They just need to hunker down and use all that wasted R&D into making Windows 10 function in both paradigms, much of that would simply be revisiting Windows 8. I’d say that might not be true for mobile solutions such as a surface phone, but I still say even a phone should be able to run full windows when connected to an external monitor. It’s a bigger disaster if you consider devs who get more and more gun shy every time they have the rug pulled out from under them.

          I could also certainly see a big jump from devs to ipadOS, but I think much of what holds them back is actually MacOS. Apple’s strategy to make the ipad more PC like is disjointed in many ways and the reasoning for that is they are trying to juggle MacOS and not eat into that market. Not only not eat into it, but continue to convince customers they need 2 devices. It’s a shame because of this Microsoft is in a unique position to really advance past both MacOS and ipadOS, but they just continue to tippy toe around these issues and let the market pass them by.

          1. I would argue that Apple has done that in the past with macOS, but there is a shift away from that philosophy happening now. They are making no bones about the fact that they are positioning the iPad as a complete computing experience. It isn’t 100% there yet, but it isn’t being sold as Steve Jobs’ “third device” anymore.

            Just 4 years ago they added larger screens, stylus support and split screen app support. The pace of new features has increased since then and the fact Apple would release something as substantial as trackpad support as a point release to iPadOS means they know they still have a lot of ground to cover. I have a feeling we will see full multi-screen support in iPadOS 14 and more multitasking options either this year or next. At that point, you have all the basics. The iPad spent its first 6 years as the “third device” you mentioned, but that time is over.

            Here is where Apple is running laps around Microsoft- even though all of these new features are arriving and the positioning of the device is changing, an iPad Mini user who doesn’t give a crap about any of that and still just wants to read on a tablet wont be bothered by any of it. Apple has done a far better job of transitioning from one thing to another without compromising the original experience. That’s what killed Windows 8. It gave traditional desktop users a new UI that was harder to use and unnecessary for them. That’s one advantage of the dual-OS philosophy. It’s just easier for Apple to do it because macOS is only tied down to the legacy certain industries and some of them are less adverse to change than commercial and industrial customers on Windows.

    2. Interface is everything on a tablet and the Windows 10 tablet mode keyboard-less interface is pure garbage. There isn’t a redeeming quality I can’t think of. It’s laggy, poorly laid out and the touch targets are too small. And that’s just for starters. I’ve been debating iPad vs Surface as a tablet for a while now and you are the first and only Surface user to even try and defend this. Most just agree that it’s trash without a keyboard and trackpad or mouse and extol its other virtues. I know from plenty of experience with my own Surface device how bad it is.

      If the Surface were a good tablet, then the Surface Go would be a success. I would suggest that you not attempt to prop that up, as it has easily been the second biggest flop in the lineup next to the RT. The Go cannot stand toe-to-toe with the iPad on this price turf because it isn’t good enough as a tablet. It is anemic and too slow. It doesn’t run legacy apps that well. The Microsoft Store is empty. It just can cut it as a tablet and is too weak to be a great computer.

      I like the kickstand, but it’s not an end-all, be-all feature. It prevents the use of most cases and covers that can actually provide protection. It adds thickness that can never be removed. If you haven’t found an adequate iPad case to perform the same task, then you just haven’t looked. There are many good ones out there. If you prefer this as a feature, great. Personally, I like being able to leave it behind when I don’t need it.

      As for apps, I really don’t have time to fully go down that rabbit hole, but there isn’t a PDF annotation app I’ve seen that works worth a damn on the absolute joke that is the Microsoft Store. Unless you want to pay Adobe a fortune, you are stuck. There are thousands of good ones for the iPad, many of which are free. Even the ones that cost are just a few dollars. I can freely use the superior Apple Pencil for my annotations, rather than an inferior app on Windows and a lesser, slower Surface Pen. Note taking apps are much the same. OneNote is ok, but when I tried it, it dumped and didn’t same some critical job notes on two occasions. And that was two too many. There are hundred of great notes apps that combine pen, keyboard and voice input for iOS and iPadOS. And they are made to work without the need for a physical keyboard if you don’t want one. Bottom line- when I’m at work and I need to take notes or work with blueprints, I stop using my laptop that has a pen right in the side and pick up the superior device for the job, an iPad Pro. Windows can’t touch it in either of these categories for me. I’ve tried and it just isn’t nearly as good.

      Legacy apps are always going to be a sticking point for Apple, but Microsoft is now going to be in the same boat. They will have to convince devs to re-write or compile most of these existing apps for Windows as the transition to a new architecture begins. Will they all follow, considering that Microsoft sat on its hands for 8 years and hasn’t done a damn thing with Windows? Now they will start down the road of a new architecture with 10X. Again. They screwed this up with Windows 8, Windows RT, Windows 10S and tripped out of the gate with Windows for ARM. Do you really think they won’t screw it all up again? They don’t really care about Windows. They’ve made it clear the focus is on cloud and services. They couldn’t even be bothered to attempt to do something with the phone again, which was such a cop out. Two of the biggest Windows experts there are seem to think they are off to a bad start on 10X. I trust them.

      I’m glad you enjoy your Surface Pro. That’s the most important thing. But you are literally the only person that’s ever attempted to prop up its inferior touch experience when talking about it as a tablet. As for what I use at home, I’ll stick with the OS that’s moving forward and actually evolving, rather the one stuck back in 2013 and the one that’s actually enjoyable to use without a keyboard when I don’t need it.

      1. I think Windows tablet mode is garbage as well, I rarely if ever use it. Part of that is because I find Windows 10 works rather well in tablet/touch mode without using tablet mode. It’s far from perfect, but in my opinion what makes it difficult to use is on the opposite spectrum of what makes iOS difficult to use. Windows is more difficult to use because things are not as simplified, where iOS is difficult to use because things are too simplified, so they should meet in the middle. Microsoft should really take all of this R&D and dev power they use to make these mobile OS’ and just apply all that power to making Windows 10 work. They have already massively improved it these past few years, but really need to accelerate this and get rid of all the legacy UI stuff. But some of the legacy stuff is necessary in order to have x86 compatibility. If you are using your surface pro as a dumb tablet for consumption these issues rarely come up.

        I think there is a marked difference between the surface pro and the surface go, and a large part of it is size. I have a 8″ Xiaomi MiPad 2 which runs Windows 10 and I hate it because 1) the interface is truly too small for Win10 and 2) it runs Win10 too slowly. Neither of these points are true for the full sized surface pro. If we were debating a Go versus an ipad mini then I’d choose the mini all day long, and in fact I do just that when I need that size. But also consider that the Go is a real PC, you can connect it to an external monitor and run anything you want on it, but that’s outside the scope of our discussion. I do think there is a place for a mobile Windows OS and devices like the Go would be one place.

        I also highly disagree on the kickstand, but just my personal opinion and not trying to denigrate your opinion. It adds what maybe 2-3mm thickness? And only partially across the device, otherwise where there is no kickstand most likely gives MS room to put a tiny bit more battery in there. Now compare that to any ipad cover which gives the same (although very inferior) function and you are talking about a much thicker and bulkier solution. The kickstand was pure genius and personally I think it should be on EVERY tablet and even larger smartphone out there. Conversely the ipad does a great job of lying flat on a table, flopping over with the Apple case, tipping over with the newer type case, etc. The kickstand is the epitome of functionality for a tablet.

        PDF I have a few I like. I do have Adobe DC through my company, but it’s not free and I see your point there. MS Edge does great with PDF files, although there are free apps such as Xodo which are quite good as well. (All support the pen and work well with it). Reading and annotating research is something I do every day and I’m more than satisfied, where with the ipad I have always had issues with things such as file storage, importing items, building PDF files and collections, etc., iOS is just way too limited. I also use OneNote a ton and find it far superior to any solution I’ve seen on iOS, especially when paired with the pen and again the kickstand just elevates note taking to an entirely different realm, but once again it’s all the stuff around it that makes Windows magical. The ease of multitasking, handling files, having custom sized windows and a custom desktop, custom file managers, and such that iOS will most likely never have. I could go on forever on customization and how it’s markedly improved my work flow, but that would be a much longer topic.

        No argument on what you say about legacy apps, that’s why I personally do not think the solution is to fork Windows 10 for the surface pro or anything larger. Your entire paragraph I totally agree with. These are HUGE mistakes Microsoft continues and continues to repeat and in my opinion are a large part of why the ipad has such a large market dominance over the surface pro.

        Lots of us users who don’t have issues with using the surface pro as a tablet. For me the ipad is what is stuck back in 2011 because it was a necessary evil back then. Apple only takes little tiny steps forward because they don’t want to cannibalize their MacOS market, but in the end it only leaves their OS in the past. There is a reason they are pushing trackpad and keyboard support, and even a pencil driven UI in some recent examples. So yeah I suppose iOS has pushed past 1968 with mouse support.

        1. The Surface line is a great choice for anyone who doesn’t prioritize a great touch experience. It is a great portable computer. I just can’t see it as a great tablet. I just can’t use Windows without wanting to throw things without a keyboard and mouse.

          All I can say is that I push my very nice Lenovo Yoga and its docked pen aside in favor of my iPad Pro and Brydge whenever it’s time for PDF annotations or meeting notes at work. I’ve never seen an app as good for notes as Notability, not even OneNote. And being burned by bad sync on OneNote was enough to get me to trash it permanently. If I can’t trust it on my phone in the field with iffy cell signal, then I can’t trust it period on any platform. With Notability, I can record a meeting or presentation and take notes and then fast forward the audio to the point in the presentation where I took the note. When I tried OneNote, it didn’t have that feature. Most notes apps that I’ve tried don’t, even on iPadOS and iOS.

          As for file management, that’s really a problem that’s in the past on iPadOS. I’ve used Box cloud storage for years, but I can plug any external drive I want into an iPad Pro now.

          Look, I actually left the iPad for almost 2 years because I was bored with the platform and didn’t see it going anywhere. Some still see it in that light now, but that just isn’t the case anymore. IPadOS is currently evolving faster than Windows, iOS, Android or ChromeOS. That may not last forever, but it is the case today. I would love to see Microsoft join the party, but I just can’t agree that I’ve seen any substantial improvements made to W10 other than maybe security and stability over the last 8 years.

          1. It’s all good, just a difference of opinion, nothing wrong with that. The iPad is a great tool, I’m not trying to put it down at all, it just doesn’t really do a good job as a tablet for my personal and business needs. I highly prefer the much more modern, open, accessible, touch friendly and customizable Windows platform, as well as finding the kickstand an incredibly invaluable hardware feature that I simply refuse to live without on a tablet.

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