Microsoft continues to try and stir-up interest in its tablet offerings, taking the latest step of putting up a page on its site to let visitors do a spec-by-spec comparison between the iPad and a number of Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets. A small controversy has ensued following the page’s publication, as some people try and claim that Microsoft is misleading the public, especially when it comes to the screen sizes on these devices. Just what is it doing, and is there really anything untoward about it all?
Microsoft’s page runs down a number of key factors for this head-to-head: battery life, price, connectivity options, and the like. Of course, that list is going to include screen size, which puts the 9.7-inch iPad against tablet screens in the 10.1-to-11.6-inch range.
The problem – at least according to people who are taking issue with this page – is that for smaller tablets measuring-in down closer to the 10.1-inch point, the iPad’s display is still going to be bigger. By nature of its 4:3 aspect ratio, it’s improper to directly compare diagonal measurements against screens with other aspect ratios, as a means by which to judge overall size.
For instance, the iPad’s 9.7-inch display has a surface area of a little over 45 square inches. The 10.1-inch ASUS VivoTab Smart or Dell XPS 10, both featured on the page, have surface areas of under 44 square inches.
OK, so that could be a little confusing, but is it misleading? Well, on the surface it might not be – after all, it’s up to the consumer to decide what aspect ratio they prefer for a tablet, and raw measurements themselves aren’t going to deceive. The problem is how Microsoft interprets them. For instance, it states flat-out in regards to the iPad and that VivoTab, the latter “has a bigger touchscreen.” That’s just not true.
Also, while it doesn’t offer resolution specs for any of these models, it does show icons that clearly demonstrate the difference in the aspect ratios between them. The problem is, they’re not to scale, and make the iPad look smaller than it is.
To an extent, this just feels like the same problems anybody’s going to face comparing regular widescreen tablets to Apple’s 4:3 eccentricity, but Microsoft definitely appears to be making things worse for itself.
Update: Microsoft seems to have just removed both the offending “has a bigger touchscreen” text as well as the not-to-scale icons. A tacit mea culpa?