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Microsoft plays creativity card in Windows pitch to consumers

Gregg Keizer | Oct. 27, 2016
Unveils new premium hardware, but goal is to boost the whole Windows enchilada, says analyst

Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, put the Surface Studio in a narrower frame. "It's definitely different.... The display is beautiful..., but I think it will resonate with creative types," Moorhead said in an interview after the Microsoft event ended. "It's not competing with a workstation. This is for artists, and folks who are doing creative sketching."

Although many analysts, both industry and financial experts, have urged Microsoft to stick to the more lucrative commercial business of serving software and services to enterprises, today's event and focus made it clear Microsoft doesn't agree.

"Yes, I do think that Microsoft's focus is on productivity, whether that's for business or for consumers," said Moorhead. "But they still do consumer."

Nothing said that better than when Microsoft chose to brand the next edition of Windows 10 or introduce the Surface Studio. "The timing of this was to give a lift to the holiday selling season," Moorhead argued.

Not for Windows 10 Creators Update, which will only be in beta testers' hands by year's end. And not really for the Studio; the desktop will be available only in "limited quantities" throughout 2016. But it could provide some juice on the consumer side for Windows 10 in general -- new hardware specifically -- even if it isn't Microsoft's or comes with a huge price tag.

The consumer PC business has been in the doldrums, or worse, as people have held onto their aging machines because they have shifted so much of what was once done on notebooks and desktops to phones and tablets. It's unclear whether Microsoft's creativity push can turn that around, even though making things remains the purview, more or less, of the PC.

Moorhead, for one, was encouraged. "This is the first time in about 15 to 20 years when Windows premium PCs are selling at about the same price points as Apple [Macs]," he said, pointing not just to the Surface line, but to OEMs like Dell and HP.


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