Apple's Mac moves take advantage of Windows 8 hardware uncertainty

Apple's Mac moves take advantage of Windows 8 hardware uncertainty

Summary: Apple's hardware lineup is easy to understand and clear cut. Microsoft's Windows 8 throws various form factors against the wall to see what sticks.


Apple launched a new 13-inch MacBook Pro with a Retina Display that weighs in at 3.57 pounds, will start at $1,699 and starts to ship on Tuesday. The move is designed to trump Microsoft's Windows 8 launch and take advantage of a lot of hardware uncertainty.

Phil Schiller, marketing chief at Apple, unveiled the 13-inch MacBook Pro that is "super thin and light." Those last points are worth noting. The latest MacBook Pro isn't MacBook Air or ultrabook light, but it's not far off.

Apple's message is that it'll continue to innovate with the Mac, but the broader theme is that the company's line-up is easy to understand. Apple launched the 13-inch MacBook Pro, new iMac and Mac Mini. The Apple Mac portfolio features an iMac that's tablet thin too (photos via CNET's James Martin).

More: Apple trots out 13" MacBook Pro with Retina; upgrades Mac Mini, iMac


The contrast between the Mac launch today and Microsoft's Windows 8 rollout is intense. Microsoft is hitting the market with dozens of form factors. You have convertible devices, tablets, laptops with touchscreens and a lot of uncertainty. The star of the Microsoft show---the Surface---is largely a missing.


Indeed, at the Gartner Symposium in Orlando, Microsoft's Windows 8 booth was bustling. Tech execs were playing with a bevy of devices, but largely seemed uninspired. Microsoft reps gamely walked people through Windows 8 and a Windows 8 RT tablet. Then a man asked about the elephant in the room.

IT pro: "Where's the Surface?"
Cheery Microsoft rep: "You can preorder one, but they won't appear until Friday."
IT pro: But I don't care about these. I want to see the Surface.
Cheery Microsoft rep: I know but you'll just have to wait.

There are thousands of CIOs passing through Orlando this week. Some of them see the Surface as a convergence device. Microsoft should work that angle.

Gartner analyst David Cearley said one of the biggest questions around Windows 8 is whether notebook/tablet hybrids will be compelling. Intel CEO Paul Otellini noted that it may take a year for Windows 8 to have a hero form factor.

"Our customers are designing entirely new categories of PCs," said Otellini, adding that there will be more than 140 core-based Ultrabooks rolled out next year -- more than 40 of which will have touch capabilities and more than a dozen will be convertibles.

In other words, the Wintel world is throwing form factors against the wall to see what sticks. Apple has Mac clarity. It's going to be an interesting December quarter for client computing.

Also: Windows 8's competition is Google first, Apple iPad second

Topics: Hardware, Apple, Microsoft, Tablets, Windows

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  • Apple's Mac moves take advantage of Windows 8 hardware uncertainty

    I am now dumber for having read this. You need to learn the difference between a form factor and the number of devices. 140 or 40 devices DOES NOT equal the same number of form factors. I don't really see how you can be so confused on what Microsoft Windows 8 will run on. I'll give you a hint, here are the 5 major form factors. PC's, laptops, ultrabooks, convertibles, phones.....

    ZDNet quality scale:

    1 10
    ^ you are here
    Loverock Davidson-
    • Forgot one thing

      You forgot to quote Gene Munster too.
      Loverock Davidson-
    • Lovey, you're giving this one credit.

      I forgot how to type for about 4 or 5 minutes before I finally hit the reply button.
    • I don't quite get the "hardware uncertainty" argument.

      Pretty much anything that will run Windows 7 will run Windows 8. When I got my technet copy of windows 8 I installed it on a laptop I bought in November 2006 (yup, 6 years old, 2 Ghz core 2 duo and 2 GB RAM and originally came with Windows XP). All the hardware is recognized and everything works fine. I have a number of beef's with Windows 8, but hardware isn't one of them. Where is the uncertainty of which he speaks?

      So a surface tablet "won't appear until Friday"? So what? If you had asked an Apple person one week ago when the iPad 4 would appear, not only would they not have told you, they would have denied its very existence.

      "various form factors and see what sticks"??? Ooooohhhh. Now I get it. He is talking about surface tablets but confusing the issue by lumping them in with the discussion of the new Mac lineup....which is totally unrelated. Larry, you know the difference between Windows 8 and Windows RT right? Kind of the same difference as iOS vs Mac OS?

      Larry, it's not Microsoft that's confused, its you.
      • You'll see

        Go ahead buy a Sony convertible and try a Dell one and tell me they are roughly the same. They're not. I saw a Fujitsu hybrid thing that was a disaster last night. There will be a few winners, but multiple losers. The form factors fall into a handful of categories, but every vendor has a slightly different approach. Some of these form factors will be horrible bombs. I've played with a dozen of these things and at least 9 of them aren't worth buying. The other three would take some more thought. It's messy and that can't be good for adoption. Remember the market audience isn't you.
        Larry Dignan
        • That is precisely, why MS

          is comming out with Surface line.
          Now you will be able to compare Apple to Microsoft, not Apple to clone. And there will be no more bad clone to good original comparisons, as anyone doing that will be understood as a noncompetent.
          Surface is comming out on Until then one can only speculate.
          • Good or Bad?

            "Now you will be able to compare Apple to Microsoft, not Apple to clone."

            Not sure whether this is a good thing, or a bad thing. For years now, MS fans always had the excuse that such and such was the fault of the computer manufacturer rather than poor MS. When MS is the ... ahh.. they will design but not actually produce the things. So it can still be somebody else's fault. They should still be safe.
          • There's plenty of clones out there

            HP, Samsung, Asus, and others are all coming out with their versions of Windows 8 "tablets" so yes, there will be plenty of competition for Surface, not just with Apple, but with 3rd party hardware vendors as well.

            Surface RT as of this writing is already dead. Only 1 million shipped in the last quarter (note I said shipped, not sold), and that's after MSFT halved production orders from the factory.

            Surface Pro is simply MSFT's answer to the Macbook Air which has remarkably similar specs. Surface Pro is a laptop with a touchscreen. It runs on Intel chips, runs all Windows legacy apps, and is designed to be used in landscape mode (ever see anyone use Surface in portrait mode? I didn't think so).

            So why would anyone spend $1,100 for a high end Windows laptop, when they can save hundreds by going with a solution from HP, or Asus, or Dell, or whoever that will offer similar specs.
      • Right

        Me neither
      • won't appear until Friday

        Only the man didn't say which Friday, you know, there are 52 in a year. He also didn't mention the year....

        Pathetic. Is this the proper word?
  • This is true for the Apple's PC's...but no longer for iPad/iPod

    The tablet side of Apple's business just got really confusing and muddied a bit, without the benefit of truly competing with Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD pricing....confusing.
    • That's Apple for you

      They can't compete on price, anymore than BMW would match the price of a compact sport sedan from Ford or Toyota. Doesn't mean BWM wouldn't launch a competing compact sport sedan, only that, as a luxury brand, they're not going to lower themselves to that direct a competition.

      Apple's making huge profits because they have convinced a pretty large number of people to pay more for their boxes than they would for other folks boxes with exactly the same stuff inside. And sure, pretty boxes, no doubts. But others make pretty boxes, too.

      Apple will keep their prices high because they can. Most people have no idea about what's inside a computer, a smartphone, a tablet, a TV, etc. If it's more expensive, there must be reason, eh? I'm likely to get branded a troll if I happen to mention that Apple's charging $140 more than Google for less resolution and 1/3 the CPU performance of the Nexus 7. But only Apple can offer iOS, and if that's what floats your boat, if that's the value added for that $130, the Nexus 7 isn't even an option.
      • Very nice post Hazydave

        I agree 100%. Apple has created this grand illusion that their products are superior because they cost more. Folks, computer hardware is computer hardware, no matter what sort of shiny box with an apple logo on it that it get puts into.

        It reminds me of this time at BB when I overheard an apple sales guy trying to pull one over on this poor old couple. He had the nerve to say that the 4GB of RAM in the Mac was like running 8GB in a PC. No you idiot, the Mac does not magically make 4GB of RAM run like 8GB, RAM is RAM. I was happy to see that the couple did end up leaving the store with an HP AIO.
        • way wrong

          That is not right. Different operating systems use memory differently. There is a big difference in the way OSX and Windows use RAM, leaving a Mac running on 4GB a comparable experience to a Wintel running on 8GB. This is fairly accurate.
          • Yes it's accurate

            For iSheep.
          • But not so accurate

            for all the MSheep who are pre-ordering Surface RTs
          • C'mon

            @proeger. I will give you different OS use RAM differently but to say "a MAC running on 4GB a comparable experience to a Wintel running on 8GB" is just false. The performance experience on both is comparable with the same amount of RAM. Using Win7 with Bootcamp on the same hardware for example does not result on any degradation in performance compared to OSX.
          • osx ram

            No..its not. That is ridiculously wrong man. Application utilize the RAM far more than the os itself. What you may be thinking is how Windows with Aero uses up more GPU power than osx, which is accurate, OSX is a lighter OS. But to say that it handles RAM like that is a flat out lie, Photoshop does not run better under OSX than Windows. I say this because I have used Photoshop for over 6 years under both operating systems than there is NO performance difference.
            Jordan Burke
        • "computer hardware is computer hardware"

          While that statement is in itself correct and does not say *anything*, everyone knows that not all computer hardware is created equal. Nor is software created equal. User experience, which is a combination of those two, plus a lot more is even way more varying.

          So no, Apple are not selling things "just like everyone else, only more expensive". If you think so, you are utterly deluded. They are selling what Apple makes and apparently what Apple makes continues to be better, so people want it, even if it costs more.
      • What

        A 16 GB Nexus 7 is not $199 it's $259 get it right please. Bought a Nexus 7 took it back fast,
        got a better tablet Blackberry Playbook 16 GB $99 on Sale Staples. Yes Nexus has fast CPU,
        couldn't care less thats why I have a PC & laptop. Guess I should have bought a vehicle with 500 HP instead of 300HP I plan on getting a Ipad mini great App's & quality. I guess that's why we don't all have the same things, It's called choice, there is no right or wrong product just what is best for each individual. If you don't want an Ipad don't buy one, for some reason you seem to think you are smarter or better than someone who does.