With its recent product and software announcements and PR moves, all signs point to comeback for Microsoft, but it just hasn't quite gotten there yet. Over the last year or so, and especially with its recent product additions, Microsoft has impressed the techies (mostly), upped its PR game and even attempted the Apple-esque super-secret event, which arguably worked, since the tech scene couldn't stop blogging about it. All it has left to do is woo the masses and sell some gadgets. We know: Tall order.
Microsoft has been coming back since at least as far back as the Windows 8 announcement last fall, where the company impressed the tech-heads with its new operating system. Some even called Microsoft's vision an iPad killer. Since then, the company has worked to keep us interested. In the meantime, it has announced the Xbox Live streaming television service with Kinect, put out a witty ad campaign, fought some crime with its Digital Crimes Unit, and now has made two announcements that excited the tech soothsayers. Gizmodo's Jesus Diaz couldn't stop gushing about the Surfact tablet, calling it "beautiful and functional and simple and honest." PCWorld's Melissa Perenson said it stood up to the hype. The Verge's Dieter Bohn called it "incredibly well designed." You get the idea. Then just two days later, it rounded out the vision it gave us last fall, with its Windows 8 Phone, another gadget that will have a "shared core" with Windows 8.
Everything feels like it's coming together. "The Surface, and now Windows Phone 8, merely feel like the culmination—or maybe the fulfillment—of what Microsoft has been poking and prodding at for the past six years when it first introduced the Xbox 360," writes Gizmodo's Adrian Covert, who calls Microsoft "hands down" the most exciting tech company around. We agree, writing a similar sentiment a few months ago, before these last two events further proved Microsoft's shift.
Yet, we don't want to cry comeback quite yet. First, Microsoft hasn't quite perfected anything at all. Yes, the PR has gotten better. The commercials are hipper, Microsoft doesn't look like an evil tech overlord. But that event on Monday was kind of a mess. From the late notice, to the late start, to the actual event, it was disorganized, if not a bit familiar. It felt like a cheap copy of Apple's signature deal, a point this clever ReadWriteWeb mash-up video drives home. "I found the presenters far less rehearsed and the presentation far less cohesive than an Apple event," adds Daring Fireball's John Gruber.
Beyond its event issues, Microsoft left out some key details that will determine the success of the product -- like, you know, price. And isn't the "success of the product" the real indicator of a comeback? Even those who lauded the tablet only got to touch it for a little bit. Without a price or a ship date, we can't lust for (or pre-order) this thing. The phone has an estimated arrival date. But the product isn't finished yet.
We haven't given up on Microsoft, but we don't want to call this one too soon. Check back with us when it has killed the iPad. Or at least sold a competitive amount of Windows 8 devices. Then, we'll call this a comeback.