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Can Microsoft’s Renaissance Return it to the Top of the Tech World?
Jim Rapoza
OCT 09, 2015 16:03 PM
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Can Microsoft’s Renaissance Return it to the Top of the Tech World?
by Jim Rapoza 
Often in daily life, you’ll see examples of the surprising turnaround, such as a bottom-of-the-barrel sports team finally putting the right pieces together for a title run. Or an actor known mainly for stoner roles and rom-coms experiencing an acting renaissance (or McConaissance) that transforms him into a multiple award-winning superstar.
But in the world of technology vendors, this kind of turnaround is pretty rare. Once a company gets a reputation as a purveyor of mediocre and uninspiring products, it can be pretty hard to overcome.
However, it looks like Microsoft may be actually pulling off their own renaissance (Microsonaissance?).
When Microsoft announced their new lineup of products, including a lot of impressive hardware, it turned a lot of people’s heads. For anyone who follows tech, it’s pretty hard to not compare this to Apple’s recent product announcements and come to the conclusion that Microsoft is, at least right now, doing more interesting things than Apple.
Of course, this transformation didn’t happen overnight. For several years now, starting with the release of the first Surface devices, Microsoft has been pretty visionary in understanding where tablets, laptops, and computing related to, you know, actually getting things done, is heading. But given Microsoft’s reputation, the initial Surface announcements didn’t get a lot of love.
However, the recent lineup of Surface 3 devices changed a lot of minds. Many people found these devices to be a perfect blend of portable and useful for work. So much so that even Apple is now following Microsoft’s lead with its newest iPad and MacBook.
And with the releases this week, Microsoft may finally be getting the respect it has been deserving. The biggest news from the announcement was the release of the Surface Book, a Microsoft-made laptop that turns the Surface “tablet that you can use as a laptop” around by being a “laptop that you can use as a tablet.”
Technically, the Surface Book looks to be an impressive piece of machinery, combining high-end performance and capabilities with style and functionality. Microsoft also announced the new line of Surface Pro 4 devices, which by themselves would have been an impressive announcement. And they displayed new Nokia smartphones which can be used as full Windows 10 systems themselves.
Lots of people have focused on the fact that Microsoft has now fully transitioned into a hardware company, but the software is still the driver here, and all of these devices do a good job of leveraging Windows 10, which at least so far is proving to be the best version of Windows in a long time.
One other development that isn’t getting a lot of attention, but is of interest to me, is how Microsoft is also boosting the amount of storage available on these devices. In recent years, the move has been to smaller drives on devices with the belief that all necessary data will be in the cloud. But reality is proving that the cloud isn’t all that reliable a place to keep the data and media that you want access to all the time. And with Surface devices supporting up to a terabyte in drive space, we may finally see a move back to devices having enough local storage for most of your files and data.
And while Microsoft is definitely seeing a rebound, it isn’t all the way there yet. For example, the general media still pays a lot more attention to mediocre announcements from Apple than they do to major products from Microsoft.
Still, it’s good for the world of technology to see a leader finally regain its footing. And for many users, when given the option to purchase a new product from Microsoft, their response may even be “alright, alright, alright.”
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