updated 06:20 pm EDT, Tue April 24, 2012
Apple CEO slams Windows 8 ultrabook idea
Apple CEO Tim Cook during his company's fiscal Q2 results call slammed the idea of merging touchscreens and ultrabooks. When asked by Sanford Bernstein's Toni Sacconaghi why Apple wouldn't merge the iPad and MacBook Air like Intel and Microsoft wanted Windows 8 and ultrabooks to unite, he described it as a matter of inherent tradeoffs. Trying to appeal to everyone ended up pleasing no one, Cook said, saying that just having the option of converging doesn't mean it should be forced.
"You begin to make enough tradeoffs that you please no one," he said. "You can converge a toaster and a refrigerator, but the result likely won't be pleasing to the user."
Pure tablets like the iPad worked because their usage cases are "broad," letting education, enterprise, and other markets find new ways to use them and make apps meaningful. The MacBook Air would appeal to people who had slightly different needs, but trying to combine it would likely require sacrifices. "To make the compromises, we're not going to do that... others might join that party," Cook said in a direct allusion to Microsoft.
Microsoft has tried to position Windows 8 in just the opposite light, calling it a "no compromise" OS where users get all the ease-of-use benefits of a touch-native interface but the app support of a PC. Observers have already portrayed the OS as inherently compromised, however, as it often has to lose the touch interface and revert to a traditional Windows desktop for some apps, while those who don't have any touch input still have to use the same interface. Those using Windows 8 RT on an ARM tablet or notebook, meanwhile, won't have access to any third-party, pure desktop apps, giving them a feature set closer to the iPad but without the existing app ecosystem.
When Apple introduced the second-generation MacBook Air in fall 2010, the company also singled out the comfort issues. A touchscreen on a traditional computer has to sit upright and can trigger arm fatigue. Touchscreen Windows notebooks and desktops aren't new, but to date they have largely remained niche models.