Apple iPad Pro 2015
Apple iPad Pro

CEO Satya Nadella has turned Microsoft around. It is relevant again. Things didn’t look that way when he took over the company. His switch of focus to the cloud was timely and has been a huge success. Much of what he says and does is sensible.

Much, but not everything.

In November, Nadella made a playful, off-the-cuff remark about an Apple iPad not being a proper computer. The comment should not be taken too seriously. But as Sahil Mohan Gupta notes at Tech Radar, Nadella’s words speaks volume about where Microsoft is heading and how it views computing.

Real computers

No doubt Nadella thinks all computers made by Microsoft are real computers. Even if some of those computers share a lot with the iPad Pro. Microsoft’s Surface models have many good points. They also have well documented flaws and angry customers. Making too much of a comparison with iPads could backfire on Microsoft.

Nadella’s comments got me thinking about the iPad, especially the large 12.9-inch iPad Pro. I use one now as my main mobile computer.

As far as I’m concerned it is a proper computer. It seems the best computer for a technology writer on the move, although others may not agree with me. Apart from anything else I find writing long documents on the iPad Pro is at least as easy as working on a Mac. There’s something about iOS 11 that helps me focus more on the job in front of me.

iPad Pro ready for serious work

A year ago the iPad Pro was not ready for serious use. The software didn’t handle files outside of application silos. Moving text from, say, a word processor to a text processor or a web-based app was simple enough. But opening a document in a different app was often tricky.

Dealing with attachments that arrived through mail was just as hard. There were basic things the iPad could not do. My router needed a firmware update. The new software arrived as a zip file, needs unpacking and uploading. The old version of iOS couldn’t handle that. The new iOS 11 makes it all possible.

While there are still times I need to reach for the MacBook, those ‘need’ times are fewer and fewer. It’s already a real computer.

There is a Windows computer that is mainly used for games, for running digital audio workshop software and for testing Windows apps. Increasingly Windows looks old-fashioned and iOS looks like the future.

This isn’t everyone’s view, many people reading this will scoff at the idea.

Yet despite Nadella’s comments, Microsoft takes the iPad seriously enough to make sure its key productivity apps and OneDrive all work on the iOS hardware and stay bang-up-to-date. I’d argue that Word is better on the iPad Pro than on a Mac and possibly even better than on Windows. What could be more serious than that?

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5 thoughts on “Time to take Apple’s iPad Pro seriously

  1. Hi Bill. Why ‘iPad Pro’ and not just ‘iPad’? All the features you refer to are Ios11 available on both. 2017 iPad is amazingly cheap, and with a keyboard case is v powerful.

    • That’s a very good point. One of the criticisms levelled at the iPad is that it isn’t powerful enough for some tasks. While that maybe true it is powerful enough for most tasks that most people want to perform. So yes, it should be taken seriously. But the iPad Pro should be taken more seriously because it’s at least as powerful as most PCs.

  2. Great article Bill. The addition of file management, the ability to use iCloud, OneDrive, DropBox et al all pretty seamlessly makes the iPad pro my laptop replacement. Sure, there’s a need to have a big screen device/connectivity at my home or office. But rather than have a ‘plus sized’ smartphone squeezed into my pocket, I decided to ditch the laptop and travel with the iPad. Having an Office 365 subscription means I can always ‘play nicely’ with whatever Office files I get sent. Definitely the best of both worlds, and I’m sure more and more CIO’s now see this as part of their BYOD policy.

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