Yesterday, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates appears with Warren Buffett on CNBC's "Squawk Box."
During the program, it wasn't surprising that Gates was bullish on the prospects of the Surface family of tablet computers and Windows 8.
There are two quotes that everyone is talking about. Here's the first:
""If you have Surface or Surface Pro, you have got the portability of the tablet but the richness of terms of the keyboard, Microsoft Office, of the PC," Gates said."
And now, the second:
""With Windows 8, Microsoft is trying to gain market share in what has been dominated by the iPad-type device," Gates said. "But a lot those users are frustrated. They can't type. They can't create documents. They don't have Office there. So we're providing them something with the benefits they've seen that has made that a big category but without giving up what they expect in a PC.""
Both of these quotes have Apple fanboys crying foul. For staters, Mr. Gates has better head over to a local Best Buy or Staples. Assuming that he does, he will see the myriad of keyboard solutions for the Apple iPad. So as far as I'm concerned, the keyboards for the Surface and Surface Pro are accessories, just like the keyboards for iPads, and as a result, is a wash. If Microsoft put one of those Surface keyboards in the box as standard hardware, I'd give him the point over Apple.
But the second quote, some would say -- and I agree with -- is a little self serving and misleading.
First of all, I'm not frustrated with my iPad. I love it.
Second of all, I can type. The iPad has a large on screen keyboard, assuming that you are using a full size iPad. And even if you don't want to use the on screen keyboard, Apple and others make full size keyboards that connect via Bluetooth. I choose to use the Apple mini keyboard with my iPad. But, fine, I really don't care.
Thirdly, and this is the misleading part in my opinion, we can create content on our iPads. We don't need Windows 8 PCs and we sure don't need Surface tablets. For people who want to create general productivity content, that is to say word processing documents, spreadsheets, and presentations, there are at least three very good options.
There is Apple's own iWork products: Pages, Numbers, and Keynote. Not to mention, iPhoto, Garage Band, iMovie, and even Cards if you are into that sort of thing. (Cards is the weakest of Apple apps in the list, but I have used it a few times, so I've included it here.)
If you want to be able to work with real Microsoft Office documents, you don't have to wait for Microsoft to eventually get around to releasing a native iOS version of Office. You can create and edit Office documents -- in their native formats -- right now with Documents To Go from BlackBerry and QuickOffice from Google. I've used both apps in the past on other mobile platforms and still use Documents To Go occasionally on my iPad.
So is looks like Gates was doing a lot of squawking and not much in the way of persuading the educated consumer about the merits of Windows 8 and Surface tablets. The numbers are clear. iPad sales continue to climb with millions of units sold each quarter. So do the numbers of units sold for the Microsoft Surface. With 1.6 million units sold, maybe they will reach 2 million this year.