Microsoft goes head to head with iPad. An epic failure?

Microsoft has unveiled the Surface, a PC tablet that will run Windows 8, an operating system yet to be released. The tablet is the first commercial PC Microsoft has directly designed and sold, and it features the now standard 10.6 inch high-definition touch screen and front and rear facing cameras, in a 9.3 millimeter, 1.5-pound frame.

The tablet has drawn mixed reviews. Some say Microsoft’s Surface tablet is superior to the iPad in some ways. But not everyone is convinced.

A California software engineer gave this week’s edition of Surfin’ Safari an exclusive insider’s look at Microsoft’s foray into the tablet business. And it’s not good news for the software giant. He says it’s “dead on arrival.”

Tom Johnson, founder and head of Capitol Designs in Sacramento said Microsoft has a less than sterling history of producing hardware-based products – XBOX aside – and the recent release of Microsoft’s Surface tablet product has Microsoft dancing on Apple’s coattails yet again.

Johnson says though most people may not realize it, this is not Microsoft’s first foray into the tablet PC business.

“Bill Gates demonstrated a similar prototype back in 2000,” Johnson said, “yet the product was never released because it was obvious the market for the hybrid concept was just not there.”

Johnson continued, “There’s an adage that says, ‘Those who do not heed the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them.’ Someone should relate this to Ballmer and Company. Despite record sales globally of their Windows and Office products, looking back on their hardware endeavors displays a track record which is not kind to Microsoft – especially in product markets dominated by Apple.”

Johnson gives examples: “After Apple releases the iPod and revolutionizes the music industry (along with single-handedly saving the company from irrelevance and possibly insolvency), Microsoft counters with the Zune. Ever heard of it? Most people haven’t and the product was a colossal failure.

“The iPhone is met with the Windows Phone,” Johnson offered as example No. 2. “While not a terrible device, Microsoft’s product debuted almost three years later and has yet to make a dent in the lucrative mobile device market. Despite continued dominance by Apple; Samsung, Nokia and even BlackBerry all have greater adaption in mobile device usage than the Windows phone. Add in minimal third party developer support, and this product is relegated to a future of withering on the vine as Apple’s IOS-based app store continues to dominate industries ranging from music and gaming to digital publishing.”

“The Surface, announced almost three years after the ‘original’ trendsetting iPad tablet device, is being released into an already saturated market of fledgling tablet products (Samsung, Asus, etc.) on an unproven o/s and with no additional technological improvements/features outside of a MicroSD storage and USB port,” Johnson explains. “At a time when storage technology is migrating online ‘to the cloud’ and peripherals are almost entirely wireless/Bluetooth/Wi-Fi enabled, these ‘enhancements’ are simply obsolete from the onset.”

Johnson injects humor into his dour assessment, noting that if the clinical definition of insanity is expecting different results from static behaviors, “It’s time to get out the white coats and lock up the Microsoft executives for their own benefit, not to mention that of their frustrated shareholders. They continuously dive into established and impacted technology markets thinking that they can just outspend their rivals into relevancy. The Microsoft Surface is just another example of this, and is in my opinion, subsequently dead on arrival.”

Johnson’s advice?

“Microsoft should stick to what they do best, releasing nominal updates to their operating systems and productivity software suites while trying to convince the world they’re still relevant as a tech company,” he says. “Unfortunately right now, they’re just not [relevant]. Outside of Windows, the world’s most popular operating system still to this day, not one other product or service Microsoft offers is considered a market leader in its respective field. For a company that once effectively defined what a personal computer was, that’s a pretty epic fall.”

Speaking of epic fail … forget the presents. Send us your money instead!

Obama says, “Send me the money you’d spend on a Waterford crystal wedding gift.”

Do you find this jaw-dropping? Is this a joke? Does this have the smell of desperation?

Imagine a new mother-to-be opening up a gaily wrapped baby shower gift to find a note inside wrapped around a baby rattle that reads, “In lieu of a baby gift, a donation has been made to the Obama for America campaign.”


How about this instead? Put your political money where your tweet is.

Tweet your non-gift-allocated bucks to your favorite candidate. According to The Blaze, “Chirpify, the relatively new Twitter e-commerce platform, makes donating money to campaigns as easy as tweeting. Not only that, but ‘Tweet a Presidential Candidate’ also lets users of the microblogging site track donations coming into each campaign. It’s ‘ChirpPolitics.’

Sex offenders, social media

Is your state among those that require sex offenders and child predators to register their e-mail accounts, Internet addresses or profile names to social network and other web sites to the authorities?

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Illinois and Texas are among others that, as a condition of parole, even prohibit sex offenders from accessing social networking websites.

Louisiana is taking it a step further. According to a CNN report, a new law in effect Aug. 1 will require child predators and sex offenders to display their criminal status on their Facebook or other social network page.

Republican State Rep. Jeff Thompson is confident his law will stand up to constitutional challenge “because it expands sex offender registration requirements, common in many states, to include a disclosure on the convicted criminal’s social networking sites as well.”

Spy bill passes committee

FISA lives. The House Judiciary Committee last week green-lighted the continuation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the Bush administration’s warrantless electronic eavesdropping power.

Last month the Senate Intelligence Committee voted to reauthorize the FISA Amendments Act, which authorizes the government to “electronically eavesdrop on Americans’ phone calls and emails without a probable-cause warrant so long as one of the parties to the communication is outside the United States. The communications may be intercepted ‘to acquire foreign intelligence information.'” The measure extends the spy powers until Dec. 31, 2017.

The rationale?

Committee chairman Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, said, “We have a duty to ensure the intelligence community can gather the intelligence they need to protect our country. Terrorists ‘are committed to the destruction of our country.'”

The FISA Amendments Act, the Obama administration’s top intelligence priority, requires the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court to, according to a report in, “rubber-stamp terror-related electronic surveillance requests that ensnare Americans’ communications. The government does not have to identify the target or facility to be monitored. It can begin surveillance a week before making the request, and the surveillance can continue during the appeals process if, in a rare case, the secret FISA court rejects the surveillance application. The court’s rulings are not public.”

The measure now goes to the House floor for a full vote.

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