No Escape? Microsoft is About to Eat Apple for Lunch

The new Surface Studio

Apple announced it’s new MacBook line, and as they seem to do with every major product release, they’ve dropped something people take for granted and can’t imagine life without. This time around it’s the escape key.

They’ve replaced it with the Touch Bar. It’s so disappointing after anticipating a touch screen for years, I’m not even going to annoy you with a photo.

People are losing their minds. Like many MacBook fans, I’m feeling seriously let down. I’ve been waiting a long time for a great MacBook Pro with touch screen. Instead, we get the Touch Bar, which to me is a great big cop out. It’s like they’re saying, “we still haven’t figured out how to give people the touch screen that they want, so here’s this tiny strip of touch screen, instead.”

But the whole point of a touch display is to directly interact with the content, which provides a dramatically superior user experience in a lot of ways. It’s hard to do that through a tiny little sliver of a window.

What’s pissing off MacBook users though is not that there’s still no real touchscreen, they’re up in arms about the escape key. Talk about missing the point.

Apple, the escape key hubbub is the least of your problems.

While you were busy announcing your revolutionary touch bar, Microsoft dropped this bomb:

That’s a huge amount of gorgeous screen real-estate for only $2,999. And it’s a touch screen. And it has an amazing interactive dial that you can place directly on the screen. You can draw on it with pens.

Every pro graphic designer on earth is going to be throwing their money at this. Every music producer, too. Every architecture firm is busy placing preorders as you read this.

These were industries that have been mostly dominated by Apple. Until today.

Today, Apple lost a huge part of their user base.

And with all that real-estate, and all the amazing potential of such a cool machine, every software developer should get one, too. Imagine the apps you could build for it.

It’s the most revolutionary machine I can imagine short of full-on augmented reality glasses. Which reminds me. Microsoft is leading that charge, too:

So if you’re just losing your mind about the missing escape key on the new MacBook Pro, you could check out one of the most dependable laptop lines on the market, the Asus ZenBook series (which seems obviously inspired by the MacBook Pro, and can be boosted to better-than MacBook specs):

… but if you’re really smart, you’ll be saving up for a Surface Studio and a HoloLens.

Advice for Developers

What do these new technologies mean for developers?

Well, for one thing, if you think every possible app has already been written, these new immersive technologies are opening the doors for new kinds of apps that haven’t even been imagined until now.

The new level of interactivity possible with huge touch screens and augmented reality open up all sorts of options. I can’t wait to see what you build.

What Does This Mean for JavaScript?

If you want to start learning how to develop apps for HoloLens, check out the Windows Holographic Academy.

Good developer support for 3D and gesture APIs will eventually come to JavaScript and the web platform. Lots of smart people are already pioneering the way, but it’s going to be a while before JavaScript catches up.

JavaScript Will Survive

JavaScript is still the standard language of the web platform, and I have very strong faith that the web platform isn’t going anywhere. The web offers too much value to ignore, and frankly, it may be another 5–10 years before these new technologies are in the hands of typical consumers.

That means that the web apps you build today are still going to have a shelf life of several years, at the very least, but I don’t think it ends there for JavaScript.

My prediction is that all possible apps will eventually migrate to the web. The web will catch up. The web of the future may be a holographic, 3D, augmented reality web, but it will still be the web, and JavaScript will still be important.

The web of the future may be a holographic, 3D, augmented reality web…

In the not-so-distant future, I am hoping that we’ll get good API access to the surface dial and surface pen (see the WebUSB API). But it’s going to be a while for browser support. Be patient.

For now, your apps are still going to need service APIs and other server-side things, and for that, Node will be a great fit for many use-cases.

JavaScript is still the most popular programming language in the world, and I don’t see that changing any time soon.

“Any app that can be made in JavaScript will be made in JavaScript.” ~ Atwood’s law.

Here is my addendum and prediction:

“Any app that can be imagined can be made in JavaScript.”


Eric Elliott is the author of “Programming JavaScript Applications” (O’Reilly), and “Learn JavaScript with Eric Elliott”. He has contributed to software experiences for Adobe Systems, Zumba Fitness, The Wall Street Journal, ESPN, BBC, and top recording artists including Usher, Frank Ocean, Metallica, and many more.

He spends most of his time in the San Francisco Bay Area with the most beautiful woman in the world.