Microsoft Surface Studio: Does It Out-Mac the Mac?
COW Library : : Ronald Lindeboom : Microsoft Surface Studio: Does It Out-Mac the Mac?
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...
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...
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.
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*with a nod and a wink to 1939 and the Fleischer brothers.