The Case for the Kickstand

The most notable hardware feature on the Microsoft Surface line of computers in the kickstand. Not a single commercial for a Surface will go by without them showing you that sweet kickstand at all sorts of crazy angles. While I’m far from the biggest Windows fan, I have to get something off my chest:

I love the kickstand.

And one more thing while I’m emphatically stating things:

The iPad would be better with a kickstand of its own.

Whew! That feels good to get out there, but I fully believe it. The kickstand accomplishes a few things for me that the iPad simply doesn’t do today.

First, the kickstand being built into the tablet itself means that I can stand the Surface up on its own and I don’t need to have a cover or case with me. I like to use my devices naked (the devices are naked, to be clear) and that means I’ll find myself using the iPad and want to stand it up in front of me, which means I need to get up and find the keyboard case. The keyboard case is wonderful for typing, but it’ adds significant bulk to the device, so I don’t use it unless I’m actually using it. The comparative simplicity of flipping out the stand on the Surface is so much easier.

Second, the kickstand allows me to stand the Surface up at ONE MILLION different angles. Okay, maybe not that many, but anything from closed to 165 degrees possible and works great. Whatever angle I need it at now is possible. So if I’m typing away on an article, I can have it tilted slightly up towards my face. If I want to slouch down a bit, I can pull in the kickstand a bit to face a little lower. And if I’m using it in the kitchen and want to lean over it, I can open it up all the way and have it sit at a very pleasant drafting table-style angle. And if I want it totally flat on a surface like the iPad, I can do that too.

Finally, and this may just be a me thing, but I find the kickstand to be a pretty decent way to hold the Surface in the air when I’m just using it to watch something. I can’t quite explain it, because I don’t think physics is necessarily on my side here, but I really like being able to flip out the kickstand a bit and hold it from there.

The bottom line is that I really enjoy having a stand built into the Surface Go, and it might be my favorite thing about the entire product. Yes, the Surface Go is a lot thicker than the newest iPads, and some of that may be attributable to the kickstand, but it’s really just a millimeter or two thick and feels like nothing. Maybe it would add too much bulk to the iPad and would make Apple retreat too far from the thin and light form factor the iPad has today, but I think I’d still be okay with the trade off. Or maybe there’s another way to do this whole thing, but being able to stand your tablet up at all times? Yeah, that’s a great idea and one Apple should steal.

Windows on Chromebooks will Burn Microsoft?

Android Central has this piece on why allowing Microsoft Windows to dual boot on Chromebooks will end up ruining, uh, Windows’ reputation.

The touted advantages of a simpler, faster and smoother Chrome experience on inexpensive hardware not optimized for Windows may be exaggerated when Windows is “unfairly” assessed in a “side-by-side” on-device comparison. One can imagine users’ complaints as Windows drags on such hardware as Chrome zips along “proving” Google’s claims.

I mean, maybe this happens, and considering how poorly lower end hardware can run Windows 10 today, this very well may play out. But the impact on Microsoft will likely be very minor. I suspect the few people who use this feature will feel like it’s a bonus feature. And if they find that they can do all of their work on Windows, including all the things they can on the Chromebook simply by running Chrome in Windows, then it could also hurt Google.

Not to mention that there is aa very good chance that people blame the Chromebook for Windows being slow. It is the hardware’s fault, after all. If one’s computer runs slow, whether the person blames the hardware or the software is a bit of a toss up.

It’s also worth remembering that Macs have allowed dual-booting into Windows for years and it hasn’t hurt Microsoft at all, as far as I can tell, almost no one does it even though it’s pretty easy too do. Maybe it’s just not knowing about it. Maybe it’s about no normal human being wanting to dual-boot anything. Maybe it’s the $100+ entrance fee to get a Windows license? It could be a million different things, but I don’t see dual booting Windows and any other operating system something that’s going to move the needle much for any company.

Office, Netflix, and Web Browsing (podcast #120)

The Windows-centric tech press is talking about the Surface Go’s perfjoamcne in terms of “what more could you expect from a $400 tablet?” The answer is incredibly obvious, the $329 iPad, and I think makes the Go look worse than it would in a Windows-only vacuum.

Ghost Blogging Platform Hits 2.0

I  was a big supporter of Ghost, the open source blogging platform when it launch years ago, and they just announced they’re releasing their version 2.0 today (well, yesterday).

I haven’t used them in years, and I never stuck around for too long since it lacked a lot of third party integrations and app support. I’m intrigued by their new changes (their editor looks very nice), but frankly WordPress works perfectly fine for me and it integrates with every writing app on the planet (well, on some platforms, at least) so changing would lead to a bunch of compromises out of the gate. Not to mention BirchTree recently hit 1,500 total posts, which is a massive library to bring over.

Oh god, will I ever use anything besides WordPress?

Is this it?!

Oh my, well this has been “Matt’s Existential Blogging Crisis” for the week, have a great day!

Amazon Ends 20% Off Game Pre-Orders Deal

Amazon is ending it’s 20% off deal on video game pre-orders and I can’t say I’m surprised. Video game software sales are a low margin segment anyway, and discounting new games by 20% absolutely made it so Amazon was losing money on every game sold.

My suspicion is that this promotion was implemented to get more people signed up for Prime and/or to improve Amazon’s share of the video game-selling industry. If you get your games from Amazon, you’re more likely to also get your accessories from them, which is where the real profit margins lie.