Microsoft’s Mac to Surface Assistant Leaks, is Pulled

Posted on March 21, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Microsoft Surface, iOS, Windows 10 with 8 Comments

Microsoft's Mac to Surface Assistant Leaks, is Pulled

Microsoft has created a software utility that will help Mac switchers import data into a Surface or other PC. After a short leak window, however, the utility is no longer available.

As is so often the case these days, the existence of the utility comes to us via Walking Cat on Twitter. It was immediately trumpeted as big news by tech blogs big and small, especially those in the Apple or Microsoft spheres. But I don’t really see this as a big deal. Nor do I believe this utility is all that special or even useful to most.

But then I can only guess at that because the download link is coming up dead for me this morning. Microsoft, it seems, has pulled the utility offline. Most likely because it wasn’t ready, or because the firm simply wanted to reveal it on their own schedule.

Image courtesy of Technobuffalo

Based on the screenshots I’ve seen—Technobuffalo has a nice collection—the utility is called Mac to Surface Assistant. It runs on the Mac you’re about to dump for a shiny and expensive new Surface device, helps you transfer documents, photos, movies, and music. But if you’re storing your important information in the cloud, and you should be, this is all superfluous because that data is already available from anywhere. Right? (That said, you may be moving from Apple’s iCloud to a more open and pervasive solution like OneDrive, so this tool still makes some sense.)

Anyway. No big deal. And I suspect an official release could happen at any time.


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Comments (8)

8 responses to “Microsoft’s Mac to Surface Assistant Leaks, is Pulled”

  1. nbplopes

    I don't really see the big deal either. I believe people should be allowed to chose the tools they feel more productive with. If this tool makes it really simply for Mac users move to Surface if they want, I think its great!

    Having said this when I moved from MacbookPros's to Surface in 2014 and than came back in 2016, I had not difficulties either way.

  2. maethorechannen

    I think the big deal isn't this app so much as it's Microsoft fight for the "creative" market - Apple's home territory.

  3. Mharm

    Some of us have the privilege to not have to choose - My Surface Book and MacBook Pro peacefully co-exist over OneDrive and Adobe Creative Cloud... This utility is purpose-built as a marketing tool for those in the non-tech-savvy populous that think they use a Mac because it's "easier"... This tries to create a "just works" experience for moving over to a Surface device.

    The reality is that few people fully understand EFSS storage like OneDrive and even fewer have the discipline to store everything in that bucket on their own... Unless their IT department has redirected their Documents, Downloads, Desktop, and Pictures folders to OneDrive by default.

    Also, if Microsoft would change the OOBE to be more guiding to some key preferences, these misconceptions about Windows being "too technical" would go away quickly. In fact I think Microsoft and Apple have done great disservices to their new users by hiding away key desktop icons and mixing up where apps are properly pinned - The Windows Store needs to go in Start, not on the Taskbar, for example... The Start Menu should auto-pin new apps from the store (UWP apps only) to a special Start Menu tile group called "New" - This would eliminate the need for the kludgy "newly added" section of the already overcrowded All Apps list.

    There are others, but Windows could make some simple tweaks to the OOBE wizard AND the default user state to solve for some of this... Cool tool tho! :)

    • Waethorn

      In reply to Mharm:

      "The Windows Store needs to go in Start, not on the Taskbar"

      You already explained that away with this statement: "This utility is purpose-built as a marketing tool"

      "these misconceptions about Windows being "too technical""

      That's not a misconception - what you're stating is a misconception. Windows is more complicated now than it ever was. Users are getting pushed into being guinea pigs with the Insider program because Microsoft can't handle having internal beta testers and quality assurance (and they don't want to pay for it). Users can't really get around using Windows without at some point getting hit by some Win32 functionality. You also didn't need to know about software permissions, application compatibility settings, and so on, when Windows 3.1 was around. Now you have things like software containers, hypervisors, and the necessary hardware functionality to run it. Windows isn't getting easier to use either - not really. Malware is getting worse, namely because almost all security vendors (including Microsoft) won't grow a spine and go after social-engineered fakeware like the fake security and tuneup programs, and browser hijackers. This won't stop unless Win32 is expunged from Windows. Until then, they're going to keep piling on layers upon layers of extra "stuff" on Windows to try and augment the legacy core.

    • nbplopes

      In reply to Mharm:

      My experience is that overall Macs are simpler to use because its features are not only more consistent but also work in band far more often than not. Unlike my experience with the Surface line and Windows 10 with weekly if not more out of band behaviors..

      I have abandoned Onedrive abut 6 months ago, probably it is better now. But back than Onedrive would drive both my Surface devices crazy, fans spinning after boot for long periods of time so on and so forth. So much so that I simply disabled it. Added to this I have MS nagging me all the time to activate it and I have to go and read the manual to disable this constant nagging.

      As I've said things may be much better now with Onedrive, don't know. In contrast when I got my new Mac unit, I subscribed to 50GB of space to back up the Documents, Desktop and other stuff (I know MS gives me 1TB with Office 365 that I also subscribe) and it has given me absolutely no problems, up to now, but fundamentally does not cap the system potential with sporadic out of band background processing beyond what I think its reasonable for personal usage (its imperceptible, transparent ).

      Having said this I agree with you that enabling OneDrive on main users folders such as the ones you mentioned should be a no brainer feature in Windows 10, I think its there, isn't it? Apple does precisely that with iCloud storage and backups. Once enabled a list if default folders is preselected, including Documents & Desktop .... For instance all my code is inside a folder called gitbox or spike box inside the Documents folder and it gets synced flawlessly.

      Still none of these solutions are good to backup my amateur photography photos. For a few hundred GBs of JPG family photos it is ok, but not for terabytes of photos. For this kind of prosumer need still in my experience Apple wins due to ease of use. Pair TimeMachine with a Sinology DiskStation DS216j and its fundamentally plug and play on a networked home or small office. (there are other options and this also works with windows but setop is not as plug and play and still seams to tax more Windows than a Mac). With Time Machine your entire system is backed up, not just particular folders, to the point one can reinstall the Mac from the NAS/TimeMachine touch of a button. Furthermore from the NAS you can then sync to Onedrive, Dropbox ... even to Azure. The benefits is that the effort to sync the cloud (slow) is offloaded to the NAS, consuming even less resources of the Mac or PC. But this is really an overkill for consumers and prosumers, one really needs terabytes of data for it to be worth the money, but hey if one has the money and can buy peace of mind. I understand this can be done with Windows too, I've done it, but honestly did not feel the need to read the manual in the Mac to decide between file history backup, or system backup, to backup just some stuff. Heck, backup everything with history, its really about total system recovery and protection in case of crysis at this level, not about giving users options if you know what I mean.

      I think its natural that OS get more complex as they allow users to do more stuff. Yet if added to this, they become even more complex by allowing users to do stuff that they don't really do, don't work consistentely from day one (or close to day one) , that becomes a problem. In Windows 10 with Surface we waited months if not years to get something totally fixed.

      MS seams not to care at all about this, they keep on adding more features, more features, more features, while taking a long time to features that are broken. Sometimes giving people options is more a way to say "I don't know what the f* I'm doing" rather than anything else, but hey, it ticks the feature box.

      In Science there is a thing called variability. If you want to understand something and build an effective solution one needs to reduce variability to the shortest set and learn in the process. MS seams to be doing the opposite, it is constantly introducing variability ... worst, it is introducing more and more variability without fixing the previous set in a convincing way more often than not. That is the way I feel. Some people may find this approach amazing, I think its amazing too, especially considering that the cost of variability is being totally transferred to the the paying consumer through a myriad of programs including Windows Insider under the umbrella of "Innovation", "Flexibility" and "Pseodo-Optionable" world. Very few companies could pull this one off. Very few companies. Apple with such an intensive approach would be dead in the water.

      Anyway, all this because you mentioned Onedrive.

  4. DaveHelps

    Perhaps this kind of thing makes more sense for enterprise users making the switch. Assuming their stuff is not in iCloud and won't be in OneDrive, a device-to-device migration would be useful.

  5. joeaxberg

    But even if your files are stored in iCloud, transferring files isn't a big deal either. Install the iCloud utilities on the Windows machine and all your files,photos,etc. sync. Or at least it works for me. I'm primarily a Mac user at home and like the tight integration that iCloud offers between iOS and Mac. I do have a Windows gaming machine in the basement. It has the iCloud utility installed and all my files are there.

    Interesting that they felt the need to do this. But there are probably people out there who believe that if they are on one platform or the other, that it will be hard to switch.

  6. Angusmatheson

    1) Why did this take so long to build? Apple has had a PC to Mac for years. Even if it doesn't lead to more switching making life easier to switchers makes all the sense in the world. Microsoft should have made this years ago. 2) the name shows much much Microsoft is throwing the OEMS under the bus. "Mac to Suface" says the only Windows based machine that matters to us is Surface. The OEMs should see they are being quickly abandoned by Microsoft. "Mac to PC" or "Mac to Windows" would have been the name if Microsoft saw (or wanted) a future for any PC builder except themselves.