October 26, 2016 Last Updated 11:31 am

Microsoft preempts Apple with Windows 10 Creators event

The Redmond software giant today unveiled its Surface Studio, with very impressive specs, a $2,999 price tag, to be available in limited quantities this holiday season

Tomorrow Apple will hold a hardware event, one where they are expected introduce new models of their MacBooks, ones with a touch panel added to the keyboard. The prospects are not good that anyone will be wowed.

This is certainly an ongoing problem at Apple, one any long time Detroiter would be familiar with – we call it the General Motors effect. It is when a company gets overly conservative, and leaves their best ideas on the drawing room floor.

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Today, Microsoft held a Windows 10 event that was pretty difficult to watch. It began as an over-the-top promotional mess that had me wondering if anyone had read the script before the event. It could have used serious editing.

But when it finally came time to roll out the Windows 10 Creators update the tech press proved to be pretty impressed.

You can read all about the new hardware and software elsewhere on the tech websites, but suffice it to say, Microsoft is finally providing the kind of competition to Apple we have needed to see for a while.

I think most Mac and iOS device owners are happy to see this. Apple is stuck in the mud, and in need of a good kick in the rear. It looks to be getting that.

We’ve seen this before, however, and there are some lessons to learned from the last time Apple appeared to be in a funk.

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When I joined Cahners Business Information – soon to change its name to Reed Business Information – the company had just made a decision to move from Macs to PCs. Its logic was faulty, it state publicly that it believed Apple would be going out of business and didn’t want to get caught with hardware and software that was not supported. Besides, Adobe had made a commitment to creating its software solutions for Windows, as well as Mac, and so most art directors shouldn’t have too much of a hard time making the move over to PCs. They hated it anyways.

Apple, of course, didn’t go out of business. But it is true that it took the company a long time to get back in a groove. The creation of the iMac didn’t really help convince anyone that Apple was serious about powerful work desktops, and by the time the company made the decision to go with IBM and end the “PowerPC” era, Apple had already lost Reed and other companies that had abandoned the Mac work environment.

It took a long time for Apple to reverse course. I think it will take a long time again.

As for Microsoft, it was evident a little over a year ago that it was serious about wanting to address the creative end of the business. It became a major partner with Adobe during Adobe Max, even giving out Surface tablets to attendees.

I thought that was cool until I learned that Microsoft wanted to make sure the press didn’t get their hands on the machines, however. And when I received an IRS form saying what the value they placed on the tablet I could see that the whole promotion was just a tax write-off, and effort to dump early versions of the Surface, and claim the promotion as a marketing expense. I was, to be sure, disgusted with Microsoft.

But I’ll try to keep an open mind about today’s event. I never hear from Microsoft, but then again I never hear from Apple. So, who is to say who really is serious about serving out industry. All I know is that we’ve been down this road before, and I wouldn’t make too many hasty decisions.

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