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Some other tablets you may have seen

One of the uncomfortable and mildly offensive quirks about the Microsoft culture is that they never acknowledge competitors. This was particularly obvious this week: in all of the Metro videos and developer talks that I’ve seen so far, I don’t think they’ve said “Apple” or “iPad” once.

Instead, they painfully dance around to avoid it, equivocating and genericizing even the most iPad-specific references with “other tablets”, “some competitors”, “you may have seen”, “out there”.

They know they’re talking about the iPad. Everyone in the auditorium knows they’re talking about the iPad. All of us on the internet know they’re talking about the iPad.

This awkward avoidance betrays a lack of confidence in their innovation and an internal culture of severe denial — two deep-rooted traits that Microsoft is famous for. So when the Microsoft people speak like this, it’s not serving them well: to everyone outside of Microsoft, it’s painfully obvious that they’re either delusional or trying very poorly to bullshit us.

And I’m honestly not sure which it is.