‘Tis the Season to… Weigh Gear!

Now that I’m traveling a fair bit again I find my mind turning back to “total kit” weight. Just weighed my entire travel set and it came out to 8.75lbs. That’s:

1 MacBook Pro Retina 15
2 Nexus 7 2013 with cover
3 iPad Air 128GB LTE with smart cover and back cover
4 iPhone 5S with Mophie Plus
5 85W Magsafe 2 brick for MBPr
6 accessories bag with pretty close to anything Id ever need
7 2 USB wall chargers

Funny thing is I did a similar exercise back in 07 or so when I was dragging around a Fujitsu P1610, iPAQ HX4700, and Treo 700W (living the old school MSFT dream yo!) and the kit weighed in at 6.3 lbs. So total travel weight is trending up, which is bad, but I think there is certainly more “value per pound” in the new kit which is good.

Another interesting thing is that the ’07 kit was 100% Microsoft while the ’13 kit is 0% Microsoft! Now that is a fascinating thing to me considering that it is in no way deliberate!  It just sort of happened.  As chronicled here I clearly have a massive investment still in Windows (the GTX Titan tri-SLI alone is a larger investment than the mobile devices combined), but for the gear I carry around daily, that is arguably the more integral part of my life, I’ve just sort of organically evolved away from Microsoft.  Apple simply makes better notebooks at this stage than anything you can find in the Microsoft ecosystem and, once you’re using a MacBook pro, there isn’t much reason left to throw Windows on it.  Office compatibility is “close enough” (most of the time) and there is always Office 365 if it falls short.  Omnigraffle has replaced Visio for me which, while jarring at first, turned out ok.  And Eclipse, while horrible compared to Visual Studio, gets the job done for the level of development I do.  The rest of what I’m up to the vast majority of the time is cloud based anyhow (GMail, iCloud, O365, SkyDrive, Skype, Facebook, Twitter, Evernote, LinkedIn, DropBox, WebEx, etc)

In the mobile space, while Surface and Windows Phone continue to get a bit more interesting, there really is a huge gap to bridge and perhaps the biggest challenge for Microsoft is that Apple and Google just really aren’t leaving a lot on the table.  There just isn’t much wrong with IOS or Android.  I recently went back to the iPhone from the Galaxy Note 2, but that was entirely a hardware decision.  Apple was smart to make the iPhone 5S a true LTE world phone and their imposition of unlocked devices on the carriers is fantastic.  Android, like Windows Mobile before it, is a disaster in this area with a confusing plethora of multi-region device versions, locked SIMs, and carrier fragmentation.  On the software side, however, I do like Android well enough and the Nexus 7 in particular (recently updated to 4.4 KitKat) is just a phenomenal small form factor tablet.  The absolute best of them in my opinion.  Similarly, the iPad continues to just put distance between itself and pretty much anything else when it comes to large form factor tablets.  I recently traded up from the iPad 3 to a 128GB LTE iPad Air and the device is really an excellent overall experience.

I know there are some who continue to attempt to make an “anti-tablet” argument, just as there are folks continuing to make “anti-cloud” arguments (I recognize the same tone from the “PC is a toy!” debates of the 80’s and it’s kind f sad), but the numbers speak for themselves.  I use both tablets for work, including content editing and even creation, quite frequently and, in my role, I generate a lot of content.  At AWS I even used the Android tablet to follow along with my students at an EC2 Operations class I co-taught.  SSH, SCP, S3 clients, solid browser support, a JSON editor… Everything I needed was there on the Android tablet.  The idea that you “need” a “real” laptop all the time, is hopelessly outmoded (much less needing a Windows laptop).  I carry the phone and the 7″ tablet every single day (the N7 is pocketable in a sport coat) and I alternate between bringing the MBPr or the iPad depending on what I’m up to and if I’ll be doing heavy content creation or needing lots of intranet sites built on various old versions of IE.

None of this bodes well for Microsoft if they can’t crack this space.  There was a time when “mobile” was a curiosity.  Then it became a “nice to have”.  Then it clearly became a “red alert”.  At this stage, Microsoft is devolving potentially into a niche player selling legacy devices to diehard stalwarts and to normal folks on a 6+ year refresh cycle who either don’t want an OSX device or find them too costly. Meanwhile, mobile continues to grow and the devices are refreshed far faster.  As cloud continues to proliferate, this trend will accelerate.

As a 10 year veteran of Microsoft, and as evidence by many entries here, I do a lot of thinking about the various challenges Redmond has faced and how they might chart a course forward.  Purely anecdotally though, my own personal experience, is not a  healthy sign.  One thing I can at least say is that I am getting closer to wanting an Xbox One, so all is not lost!



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