The Andromeda Strain (Premium)

We expect Microsoft to release a Surface device, code-named Andromeda, sometime in 2018. Given the events of the past few years, we should reset our expectations accordingly.

If you follow me on Instagram, you may know that we recently got a dog. In doing so, I was quickly reminded of the differences between dogs, which I grew up with, and cats, which we've had as adults. Where cats are mostly standoffish and inscrutable, dogs wear their hearts on their sleeves. When anyone leaves the house, our new dog freaks out, like she's never going to see them again. Every time someone returns home, they're treating like a returning war hero.

This kind of behavior is endearing to some---I'm sure this is why most dog people love their pets---but I think it's pathetic. Have some self-respect, dog, I often think.

The dog and her behavior remind me of tech enthusiasts. Or, more specifically, those Microsoft/Windows enthusiasts who just can't wait to see Microsoft's triumphant return to mobile, as they see it, with Andromeda.

The problem with being an enthusiast, especially one of the Microsoft bent, is that you're just setting yourself up for disappointment. I am an enthusiast, of course. But I'm not a cheerleader, and I'm not delusional about Microsoft's product, services, or strategies. I am, if you will, more cat-like. Reserved. A watcher, not someone prone to jumping up and down and clapping.

You might try being this way when it comes to Andromeda. This one has "Microsoft's next failure" written all over it.

The problem with Andromeda isn't that Microsoft has been dropping consumer products and services like the bad habits that they are. Andromeda, like any Surface product, isn't technically a consumer product anyway. Like any Surface, it will be aimed largely at business users and power users. What Microsoft calls creators these days. I prefer the term doers, but whatever. Creators works fine too.

No, the issue here is tied to how Microsoft is confining itself with Surface generally. And that it has basically ensured that anything it does with this product line will essentially be niche by definition.

I know. You're probably thinking that Surface is successful, or profitable, or competitive. I'd point to the fact that Microsoft, at most, sells some single-digit millions of Surface PCs each year, and that its biggest success, such as it is, was getting half of the PC industry to copy the design of Surface Pro.

But that also neatly highlights the problem, too. The industry has not copied any of Microsoft's other Surface PCs. And yet Microsoft keeps pushing forward with new form factors. I feel that this is preventing it from just making great PCs. Which is what the rest of the PC industry is doing. Microsoft believes it has a leadership role to play here, instead of just being a partner among equals.

I've complained previously about the myth that Microsoft and Surface have somehow reinvigorated the PC industry. That's an...

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