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Microsoft Surface Studio: Does It Out-Mac the Mac?

COW Library : : Ronald Lindeboom : Microsoft Surface Studio: Does It Out-Mac the Mac?
CreativeCOW presents Microsoft Surface Studio: Does It Out-Mac the Mac? --  Review


Co-founder, Creative COW
©2016 by Ronald Lindeboom. All rights reserved.


The day before Apple was to take the big stage in Cupertino to make their new announcements, Microsoft let loose with some news of their own, and it was news that sucked a lot of the air out of the room from what Apple was about to announce.

Microsoft's Next Big Thing™ was in some ways like seeing the Mac for the first time, years ago -- you know, a machine sold on feelings and imagination, longtime Mac intangible abstract staples that now oddly felt quite comfortable in the hands of Microsoft. Say what!$#@! They had reawakened the dream that was once so much a part of the Mac Experience but had quietly faded over the years. That Microsoft chose to introduce the new Surface Studio with the theme song from "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" -- the beautiful "Come with me, and we'll be, in a world of pure imagination" -- only helped to further coalesce (from this longtime Mac user's point of view) into a Microsoft that actually understood how creatives felt about the tools that gave them the means to truly express themselves.

But Microsoft didn't stop there, they also succeeded in tearing another page from Apple's playbook...they had kept it all Top Secret right up to the very moment of the announcement. And they announced it perfectly, not on stats and facts and figures, but on what you could DO with this magnificent new idea -- and how you would feel as you brought your ideas to life.

That message of emotion and pure imagination, resonated with many of the COW's most respected voices in the Mac professional community -- longtime COW leaders and members like Marco Solorio and many others, hardcore Mac power users -- were talking Microsoft. And they were deadly serious, too. If you missed it, here is the introductory video that Microsoft released just ahead of Apple's planned announcements...



Microsoft's video introduction of Surface Studio


The sizzle seen in the video just above is something that the old Microsoft left to Apple for years -- but they've clearly taken their lessons well and even the most dedicated Mac diehard has to admit that video is one serious introduction. And while Tim Cook would the next day introduce what many Apple users felt to be an underwhelming roll-out -- though many here in Creative COW find find Apple's Thunderbolt 3 support to be just what the doctor ordered and some even said it was reward enough for their patience -- Microsoft took the stage and rolled out something that even those devoted Apple users would have given a standing ovation to, had this presentation happened in Cupertino.

Here's what happened when Microsoft officially introduced the Surface Studio...



Microsoft's official corporate introduction of Surface Studio



Why the Surface Studio Makes This Longtime Mac User Drool
As a guy who has been drawing and painting since I was a boy back in the 50s, a tool that lets me interact with the machine the way that I've interacted with paper and canvas over the years, is a no-brainer. Touchscreen interfaces make so much sense in my world.

Not every user has use for a touchscreen but to deny their usefulness is disingenuous in my opinion, especially when tactile interfaces like that of the iPhone and the iPad are just so intuitive. But here we are in 2016 and the only company I can think of who isn't in the business of giving their users a touchscreen computer, is Apple. Sure, I could use a Wacom, and I have even seen users draw and paint with touchpads and the mouse -- but how much more effective is it to draw and paint and interact on the screen in the exact position in which you are working? A Wacom tablet is just not the same, sorry. My brain has to split-process between the screen and the Wacom.

I joked as I watched the Surface Studio video that, "Man, where is my old copy of Painter?" This machine is truly an artist's tool.

Throw in the wheel controller and you really have me drooling -- though I have to be honest, you had me at the gravity-free fold-down touchscreen.


At 1:12 Into This Video, Check Out 3D Drawing
3D drawing and projecting your strokes into space is not something that I have ever seen before but in the following video, you can watch it in action in Surface Studio -- but before you get there, you will also learn about how the wheel and pen interact together to give artists live "color flow" powers they've never had available on the computer or in the analog world.




There's a Giant On the Beach*
Microsoft has clearly elected to go after the very market segment that Apple once devoted themselves to, then all but abandoned years ago, choosing instead to mostly focus on tools for the masses -- which makes perfect fiduciary sense to the world's largest publicly-held company. But that perceived product lethargy -- however true or false that perception may be in your own experience (which is the only one that really matters after all), has left a door open for products like Microsoft Surface Studio to make a strong case for themselves -- especially when Microsoft Surface Studio enhances Adobe Creative Cloud and other powerful graphics, design, and video tools, with new powers and capabilities that few users have had access to in years past, on any system at any price. Your mileage may vary.

We run in a multi-system environment here at Creative COW and in our experience OS flavors are less important than they once were. What you can do with a system is where it's at for many. Here at the COW we work with Macs, iOS devices, Windows machines, Android devices, Chromebooks, and our network runs under Linux -- and our TVs are supported by Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast and Android TV. We are techies who, like many, buy the right machine for the job -- and when it comes to graphic arts, imaging, video, computer animation, 3D and other creative arts, the Surface Studio appears to be setting new high watermarks. We'll see as things shake out.

Microsoft isn't likely to change the minds of those whose incomes, productivity and artistry have long been tied to Final Cut Pro, but for those whose Mac experience has been built around other tools and especially in environments where multi-systems are commonplace, their outlook towards Microsoft's new baby will be much warmer and with much more open arms.

# # #


*with a nod and a wink to 1939 and the Fleischer brothers.

Comments

Re: Microsoft Surface Studio: Does It Out-Mac the Mac?
by Craig Meeks
FYI Microsoft is shipping now. I got shipping confirmation today for the pre orders.

Craig Meeks
http://www.bluefortressmedia.com
+1
Re: Microsoft Surface Studio: Does It Out-Mac the Mac?
by John Trauscht
I've been a Mac advocate for 25 years and have considered Microsoft negatively for nearly as long. The Surface Studio announcement blew my socks off. Apple needs to either respond with a competitive product or write us pro-level users off for good.

All of my critical apps have sufficient counterparts on Windows, now. Color management is not as much of an issue any more, either. To switch, I no longer need to repurchase any apps since I'm mostly on subscription models. The ones that are traditional purchases have tech support that allows me to download Windows versions.

The only significant thing still keeping me from switching is my extensive pre-OpenType PostScript Type 1 font library. This means that there is only one software innovation left before I have no reason to remain blindly loyal to Apple.

Come on, Apple. Dance with who brung ya.

John T
Graphic Designer and After Effects guy
Sometimes Musician
+1
Re: Microsoft Surface Studio: Does It Out-Mac the Mac?
by Craig Meeks
It looks promising. I pre-ordered the new Surface line and accessories for my business, very excited to get to work on it!

Craig Meeks
http://www.bluefortressmedia.com
@Craig Meek
by Craig Meeks
Oh, and Microsoft is paying you for your old Mac's.

Craig Meeks
http://www.bluefortressmedia.com
@Craig Meek
by Tim Wilson
Alas, the $650 trade-in discount only applies to the Surface and Surface Pro, ie, the ones in the laptop form factor, NOT the Surface Studio shown here.

No need for Microsoft to do so, either. The December allotment has already sold out, so if you haven't ordered yet, you're looking at early 2017.
+1
Re: Microsoft Surface Studio: Does It Out-Mac the Mac?
by Jon Draper
Absolutely true... I've been a long time Mac user and this week I've decided to leap back to Windows (something I never thought I'd be saying).

3 months ago I bought the first Windows PC for our studio. The 1st in 10 years, we've been tinkering with VR and the HTC Vive (PC only) plus we 'needed' the power available from the latest series of Nvidia cards and their Cuda cores. (Running some complex Element 3D scenes within After Effects)... The scene stuttered to preview a frame in 10 seconds on a top end 5k iMac... where as on the £1500 PC with the Nvidia 1080 it ran super smoothly with zero render time... (*with a 2nd hand HD monitor)

However.. I still loved the iMac on my desk though and kept coming back to do everything else...

Then I saw the Surface Studio promo and thought... 'What are my reasons for using the iMac'..... Apart from being at one with the OS, knowing they're solidly build and having access to ProRes encoding... that was it... all the software is cross platform.

Windows 10 is actually pretty nice to use.

So this past week I've moved email, plugins, everything over to the PC... and today took receipt of a 32" 4k screen from Philips. (£660).

The iMac will soon be up for sale...

Then hopefully once they put a 10 series Nvidia card in the Surface Studio I can one day make the leap to one of those... (or the rumoured similar style devices coming from other PC manufacturers). I still draw sketches and storyboard everyday so there's some real arguments for getting one... (I think, that's a good enough excuse anyway :-)

Jon Draper
Professional 2D & 3D Animator, Corporate Video Designer and Creative ideas man.

http://www.stormystudio.com
+2
@Jon Draper
by Jiggy Gaton
Good to know. I think I'll also be selling my iMac as well. I wonder if the used market will soon be flooded with them...

Phoenix Consulting and Training Worldwide, helping you help the world @ http://www.pcatww.com/training
+1
@Jon Draper
by Ronald Lindeboom
Well stated comments, Jon. I was a guy who loved to draw and paint but when I got onto computers, I put it on hold because my brain never took to the "split visual" of keeping an eye on the screen and an eye on the Wacom pad and pen. I never got used to it and so I did many other things but the Surface Studio looks like a solution I could really enjoy. I would love to be able to sketch, draw, and paint on the screen -- especially the 3D drawing that you see in that third video down on this page.

Thanks for the feedback, Jon.

Best regards,

Ronald Lindeboom
CEO, Creative COW LLC

Creativity is a process wherein the student and the teacher are located in the same individual.
+1
Re: Microsoft Surface Studio: Does It Out-Mac the Mac?
by Mark Suszko
So nice to hear from you again, Ron! If you pull the trigger on a purchase, consider trying this screen out with Synthetik Studio Artist.

Me. I'd like to try it with Lightwave and Toon Boom. The low screen position mimics an animator's table.

"Oh, you wanted to RECORD that?"
+1
@Mark Suszko
by Ronald Lindeboom
Nice to hear from you, Mark. I have followed your adventures from time to time, so I haven't been completely gone, just silent. ?

I have wondered if Synthetik is even around anymore. Studio Artist was a great tool.

I hope life has been treating you kindly, sir.

Best regards,

Ronald Lindeboom
CEO, Creative COW LLC
A 2011 FOLIO: 40 honoree as one of the 40 most influential publishers in America for 2011

Creativity is a process wherein the student and the teacher are located in the same individual.
Re: Microsoft Surface Studio: Does It Out-Mac the Mac?
by Scott Tuchman
Great article Ron but I fail to understand with the effort to redo the site why Cow still wants to ignore all of us that consume most of this type of content on mobile; and this website is still not optimized for mobile viewing. ??????

tvnoyz
+1
@Scott Tuchman
by Ronald Lindeboom
I am not ignoring anyone. I hired a guy a few years back who cost us almost $100,000 and who took the money, but did little for the COW. In the end, the redesign work I hired him for was not done but our coffers were drained. (I can sometimes be too nice and supportive for my own good.)

In the wake of that, I almost had a nervous breakdown among other very serious health issues and so I had to bow out and heal up. Thankfully, I did.

Now, I am focusing on cleaning up the site for the 85% of people who come in on the web interface. In 2017, I plan to do the coding changes to enable the site to perform correctly for the 15% of our members who come in on mobile devices with smaller screens. (I hope you don't mind me removing your image, I did so because my response was so far removed from your question that I am sure many readers would have been confused. Your point is well taken and I am very aware of the issue.)

Tim Wilson, Abraham Chaffin and I have all been meeting to discuss what needs to be done -- and thanks to Adobe Muse which is a godsend for things like this, it will be done beginning in the first quarter of 2017. I wish I had better news for you but I have so many things that I have been cleaning up and fixing that my plate is very full and I have to learn Adobe Muse on top of it all. I appreciate your understanding.

Thank you for your feedback. We are indeed listening.

Best regards,

Ronald Lindeboom
CEO, Creative COW LLC
A 2011 FOLIO: 40 honoree as one of the 40 most influential publishers in America for 2011

Creativity is a process wherein the student and the teacher are located in the same individual.
@Scott Tuchman
by Ronald Lindeboom
BTW, if you would like to help us test some of the work we'll be doing, Scott, please get hold of me after the first of the year and we'll see that you are made a part of the beta and get to experience all the wonders and glories of all the bugs that will appear to be squashed.

Thanks again for your feedback.

Best regards,

Ronald Lindeboom
CEO, Creative COW LLC
A 2011 FOLIO: 40 honoree as one of the 40 most influential publishers in America for 2011

Creativity is a process wherein the student and the teacher are located in the same individual.
Re: Microsoft Surface Studio: Does It Out-Mac the Mac?
by Jiggy Gaton
Utterly amazing product and a great review as well Ron. I am blown away by the new MS, and in comparison to the babbling of Jony Ive going on about watch bands, the presenter in this video was speaking my language. For sure this will be my next "iMac." Apple is dead to me, with it's reduction in ports, chimes, and the shear lack of inability to bring touch or pen into my professional world. While Apple seems to be more about reductive design these days, MS is all about intuitive design, or so it seems on screen. Can't wait to play!

Ps. Love the site makeover, very sharp.

Phoenix Studios Nepal: A small A/V Production House in Kathmandu.
+1
@Jiggy Gaton
by Ronald Lindeboom
Thank you for the kind words, Jiggy. They are gratefully appreciated.

I agree with you about this new machine, which as I said about being someone who loves to draw and paint -- as well as being a user of the Adobe Creative Cloud suite, etc. -- it really speaks my language, too.

I have loved my Macs since buying my first one way back in early 1985, but this new machine from Microsoft is truly hard to ignore. I was joking with Tim Wilson that I know my copy of Windows Painter is here somewhere, now I just have to find it. ;)

Best regards,

Ronald Lindeboom
CEO, Creative COW LLC
A 2011 FOLIO: 40 honoree as one of the 40 most influential publishers in America for 2011

Creativity is a process wherein the student and the teacher are located in the same individual.
+1
@Ronald Lindeboom
by Jiggy Gaton
Do you mean the Painter program that came in a paint can? I had that as well, but I thought it was an Adobe product? It had like 15 3.5" diskettes in a real tin paint can, along with a user's guide stuffed in. I thought that was so cool back then...

Phoenix Studios Nepal: A small A/V Production House in Kathmandu.
+1
@Jiggy Gaton
by Ronald Lindeboom
Yes, I was referring to Painter, the one that came in a paint can. It was meant more as a joke that anything else, Jiggy. But when I first saw Surface Studio and the wheel, I did have the thought that Painter would have been a remarkable tool for this machine, especially with automated brushes that could play in 3D as seen in that 3rd video in this article. But Painter is long dead, and if I remember its fate, it fell into the hands of Corel and died of neglect there. (I could be wrong but that is how I remember it.)

Best regards,

Ronald Lindeboom
CEO, Creative COW LLC
A 2011 FOLIO: 40 honoree as one of the 40 most influential publishers in America for 2011

Creativity is a process wherein the student and the teacher are located in the same individual.
+1
@Ronald Lindeboom
by Jiggy Gaton
Yes, that's it. Mind-blowing in the day. I once used the very late version of Corel Painter (V12), but not so much now during my sunshine years of retirement. But I hope that magic wheel winds up working with Creative Suite and others like C4D. That would rock, somehow. I'm already starting to save some pennies for the $4k version of Studio. I'll probably have enough in the bank by the time they work the kinks out in version two. Sooner if my upcoming book (see my Mayday stuff on MPUG.org) pays off.

Phoenix Studios Nepal: A small A/V Production House in Kathmandu.
+1


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