Links and articles about technology, design, and sociology. Written by Rian van der Merwe.

Surface and the perils of “no compromise”

Jim Dalrymple in The Surface and the iPad:

From what I’ve seen, it seems to me that Microsoft is trying to do a similar type of dance with the Surface that it did with previous tablets. The company is trying to convince consumers that this device can be a computer and a tablet at the same time. Based on the sales of the iPad, I’m not sure that’s what consumers really want.

Exactly. This is the core of the problem with Microsoft’s “no compromise” strategy. As Kieran Healy pointed out in his response to that approach:

Uncompromising designers make products that will not appeal to everyone, or be of equal use to everyone, or do everything equally well. On the other hand, IT products advertised to consumers as having “no compromises” try to please everyone all of the time. From the perspective of the Dieter Ramses of this world, Sinofsky’s repeated use of the phrase “no compromises” means exactly the opposite of what it says — and more or less guarantees that the product will actually be riddled with design compromises, all made in an ultimately futile effort to keep everyone happy.

Or to summarize using John Gruber’s words:

[C]ompromises enforce simplicity and obviousness in design.

Maybe we’ll all be proved wrong about this. But I just don’t see how a tablet that doesn’t know if it’s a tablet or a computer won’t be confusing to users.

(By the way, speaking of Jim Dalrymple — you have to check out this Tumblr site dedicated to his awesome beard)