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Microsoft as Hardware Innovation Leader and: HW Is More Innovative Than SW

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Frequent readers of my blog know that I'm not quite a fan of software products by Microsoft. However, I was a fan of hardware done by Microsoft since decades. I was using the very same Microsoft mouse for probably twenty years. Yesterday, I was able to briefly test an Microsoft Arc Touch Mouse. Impressive device with brilliant design solutions, particularly for mobile workers. I own a used Microsoft Surface Pro 3 running Windows 10 which is a great concept and a remarkable piece of technology. Only to mention a few examples.

Now, Microsoft announced Surface Duo and Surface Neo - very unusual - over a year in advance.

These devices are scheduled for the holiday season of next year. I'm not addressing hands-on experience and I also can not comment on the various details that have yet to be analyzed on the final product.

From the pure concept point of view, it seems to be the case that Microsoft has taken over hardware innovation leadership from Apple some time ago. This may not have effects in our lives and for our everyday desktops. For example, although Surface Studio offers some clever new functionality, hardly anybody will invest that amount of money. Early adopters may be using these devices, helping to get experiences with the additional possibilities.

Furthermore, it's a very clever strategic decision by Microsoft on the mobile sector. Instead of going into a disaster with foldable mobile displays, Microsoft chose to use to use 360-degree hinges instead. This way, they are able to come up with the necessary user experience and workflow adaptions while being able to sell foldable devices without hardware issues.

Let me be clear: we are still in the stone-age of the information age as I have stated, e.g., in this blog post. We're still stuck in "Application-Centric Systems" while we should strive for "Information-Centric Systems" or even "Application-Less Systems". Concept-wise, we should focus on a decentralization in order to avoid nowadays omnipresent lock-in effects. A few multinationals occupy the market and do not allow any substantial change.

This all comes down to a very ironic situation. Everybody tends to have a certain level of respect when creating hardware. Nobody seems to have this kind of respect when creating or modifying software. "Hardware can not be patched" is a common saying. While this still being true, hardware is the only domain we are really making progress. There is no such thing as a backward-compatibility from an end-user perspective except the bad user input devices. We are facing a huge lock-in effect with the established software landscape. Therefore, it seems to be impossible to expect any evolution in software. This is quite unfortunate since we know for decades that our current systems are not even close to be good.

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