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Microsoft needs a Movie Maker 'X' to lure Apple creators and MacBook Pro fans

Surface Book 2
Surface Book 2 (Image credit: Windows Central)

Microsoft has a lot of iconic and memorable software in its very long history. One of those is Microsoft Movie Maker, aka Windows Live Movie Maker. For many, it was their first foray into making videos, which helped kick off the age of YouTube.

Microsoft sadly retired Movie Maker in 2017. It was replaced by Video Editor, which is part of the Windows 10 Photos app. It's quite good, as we recently reviewed, but it still pales to Movie Maker and, more importantly, Apple's Final Cut Pro.

Apple's Final Cut Pro X sets the bar for semi-pro and prosumer video creators and Windows 10 has nothing like it. Adobe Premiere and Rush exist, but they're expensive and bring their own problems. If Microsoft wants to lure creatives to its platform, it needs a Movie Maker X for the modern age.

It's hard to explain

YouTubers and creatives really love Final Cut Pro

I'm by no means a video editor, but I do hang out with a lot of them. Many of them routinely review PC laptops and enjoy them, but they rarely make a switch to Windows 10 permanently. Instead, they all fall back to the typical space gray MacBook Pro 15-inch (and now 16-inch for 2020), and they do it for one reason: Final Cut Pro.

Michael Fisher, aka MrMobile, is one of these. He recently reviewed the latest MacBook Pro and was very honest about his displeasure with Apple regarding its disastrous keyboard design. And yet, as soon as that problem was fixed, he plopped down $6,625 for a new decked-out sliver editing machine. The justification? Final Cut Pro. Watch his video as he concisely explains the matter.

Talk to any editor: the stability and the intuitiveness of Final Cut Pro is unrivaled.

Talk to any video editor and they will tell you the same thing. The smoothness, the stability, and the intuitiveness of Final Cut are unrivaled. Adobe's Premiere, which is technically more sophisticated and robust, takes longer to render videos, is more cumbersome to use and suffers from instability.

Work with any video editor using Premiere and wait for the swearing to begin. It won't take long.

Non-video editors will be confused by a lot of this. That's fine. But anyone who covers tech knows Apple's Final Cut is what keeps many creators on the MacBook Pro.

Built for Surface, runs on Windows 10

Microsoft needs a Movie Maker X

Adobe Premiere Pro

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

The solution is simple — kind of. Microsoft needs to engineer a Movie Maker X (it loves "X" these days, so why not). A decked out, prosumer-level video editor that is optimized for Surface devices and Windows 10 PCs.

I say simple, but I jest. Making a video-editing suite that is above the current Video Editor, but below that of Adobe Premiere, is one hell of a serious project. It's a monster of a task loaded with years of coding, a large team of developers, patience, and something Microsoft sometimes lacks: dedication.

But if Microsoft and the Surface team want people to take its PCs seriously, it needs an answer to Apple's Final Cut Pro dominance.

Microsoft Video Editor and Adobe Premiere are not getting the job done. That's just a fact. You'll be hard-pressed to find influencers and the tech-glitterati switching to a Surface Book 2 for editing video and enjoying it.

Surface Laptop 3 15

Source: Windows CentralSurface deserves a better video editing experience in 2020. (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Adobe does have its new app Rush (see our review), which looks to fill this void. But, like any new video editing app, it is light on features, and being Adobe, steep on price ($120 per year). I'm also just leery of Adobe building something that is intuitive, open to the masses and works seamlessly with Surface hardware.

Instead, I'd like to see Microsoft build out its own entry-level Movie Maker X app and, via subscription model with Office 365, let users add-on to it with more pro-level features. Maybe even give it ARM64 support out the gate? I'm just spitballing here.

If Microsoft and the Surface team want people to take its PCs seriously, it needs an answer to Final Cut Pro.

Such a strategy is a win-win. If Microsoft builds a strong competitor to Final Cut, it can realistically lure those creators away from Apple to its Surface line (and other premium PCs), and it gets a recurring revenue stream to help pay for it. Microsoft could even give the app some special Surface-love with optimizations and pre-packing it with every device sold.

Will Microsoft be up for the task? Unfortunately, I have my doubts. Microsoft doesn't have a solidified strategy to lure creators to its platform. It nails half of it by releasing new and intriguing hardware. But when it comes to the software side relying on Adobe has not resulted in success. It's time for Microsoft to do it themselves.

The original Microsoft Movie Maker proved Microsoft is capable of this endeavor. But if they don't double-down on this problem, Apple will continue to dominate the video-creator market, and nothing will change that.

Daniel Rubino
Executive Editor

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

  • Totally agree. It will surely push people to try out this app and maybe make video editors use Surface devices more often as a professional daily driver.
  • I agree but I have a better solution. Microsoft should just buy shotcut and make it pre-installed on win 10. It is already free, multiplatform, simple yet effective and would be a solution today, Probably just rename it and presto!
  • Actually Davinci Resolve would be way better for Microsoft to acquire and optimize for Surface devices.
  • After trying both I ended up using shotcut as it was 'Free' not 'Free*' (note that asterisk) and just much more simplistic like Apples FCP. With that being said I am using it for youtube videos, if I were trying to make real movies then yes I agree with resolve. Basically I think shotcut is more of what should be included because of it's simplicity.
  • This is spot-on! I can't count the number of Mac enthusiasts that when I pry into their love respond with this and a few other Mac-special software titles. I am a [business] software developer and all I can say is, "That's just software." There's no reason that a Windows machine shouldn't be able to do the same thing, given the right programming. Instead people are willing to pay out the nose for "premium" hardware for a few 1s & 0s in the shape of a program.
  • soo much yes, Microsoft needs to put that surface hardware level of polish into w10, w8.1 was the for me the apex of refined & stable software, w10 meanwhile is just mediocre, and anything "UWP" looks clunky and unreliable to me until proven otherwise(mytube, unigram, etc) and my apps today are like 95% UWP, and 99% of them 3rd party, Microsoft really needs to show some effort here
  • GarageBand/Logic Pro competitor as well. Praying that Affinity fills the void.
  • What about DaVinci Resolve that you can get for free?
  • starting package is $0 but with additional stuff and for real pros it costs $399
  • It's $299 for the studio version.
  • Moviemaker is fine for simple home movies, but this has been an issue for a long time. With Surface, though, it makes sense to offer something better.
  • The first question here is the level we are talking about since I clearly remember that Apple got a lot of flak when they "dumbed down" Final Cut Pro in comparison with older versions, despite it being debated. The original strategy of theirs were to offer iMovie for consumer editing and FCP as a competitor to Adobe Premiere. That's why the question is whether to follow the original two-flanked Apple approach (iMovie + FCP) or trying to make a "prosumer" movie editor. The best idea would be to make two editors: Movie Maker for consumers and Movie Creator or Movie Maker Pro as a Premiere competitor. It is also necessary to point out that the Mac has been a video editing system for decades and that "dethroning" it require some serious work. Despite the later changes Apple made (i.e. moving toward a "luxury" segment with the iMac rather than the typical consumer ditto as they did with the original CRT-iMac), Microsoft should rather "emulate" the concepts of early 2000s. The Apple strategy of that time was to offer "iLife" with iMovie, iDVD, iPhoto and light "office productivity" with AppleWorks (ex ClarisWorks) together with professional tools such as FCP. A Microsoft package with Movie Maker, Photos (similar concept to their PhotoGallery) and some light productivity suite (Microsoft Works revival) together with heavy duty editing tools would be a great solution. Surface Go could be a great "vehicle" for such a package by creating a "Surface Go Productivity Bundle". It must be stressed that Final Cut Pro were not totally uncontroversial when it landed - question marks regarding reactions from Adobe were raised. My memory tells me that a key driver behind its creation were the sad state of Premiere on the Mac and an increasing Windows threat (FCP landed at a time when "throwing out the Mac" had been a popular movement for a few years and "switching to Windows NT" were mainstream. It turned out to be necessary for Apple to start releasing their own tools rather than rely on Adobe.
  • DaVinci Resolve is free
  • Free doesn't make it great or even preferred.
  • I'm with Mr Frank on this one. DaVinci Resolve is free and popular among professionals already, making Daniel's article a bit pointless. Why would MS bother to compete with that? Invest a couple of hours watching their tutorial videos and off you go. It's much faster at rendering and more stable than Adobe Premiere as well. If a more casual user simply wants to make a slideshow then the Photos app takes care of that.
  • 100% agree. I have all three, and use FCPX the most. It is the best, especially with Command Post, for most users. Premiere is not near as performant and I even paid for Resolve (to get all the features and best performance), and it is just not there yet. I'm sure it will be one day, but I much prefer FCPX over all of them.
  • I am confident that in the near future the situation could change in a positive way. Because? Of course, now Panos Panay is in charge of the Windows and Devices division!
  • I am a professional video editor -- we love Resolve on our workstations. We also have Premiere, but use it less and less as it's so damn laggy. MS should buy a piece of software, like Shotcut and spruce it up to compete with Final Cut X. Other names that come to mind: Magix Vegas and HitFilm. I highly doubt Blackmagic Design would sell to MS -- their owner is an Apple fanboy of the highest degree. I love all of BMD's products though. Quality company!
  • Final Cut Pro is probably a very valid reason to buy a Mac, but it’s not the only reason people buy a Mac. The continued disinterest in the consumer. The shuttling of business such as Zune, Grove Music (both of which I used). The craptastic apps in windows 10. The photo’s and mail app are just bad. The nagging to rate or recommend Windows 10. The *adds* in the apps or suggested apps are a hassle to turn off. Oh, he quality is no longer top notch. Two updates a month and hoping it doesn’t break something else. Installing Windows for a fresh start and I spend how much time uninstalling apps I didn’t ask for. You could also go on for third party windows computers. There’s the fun joy of getting drivers, having a driver from windows update break operation.
    Oh, the integration with my iPhone and iPad is great. No windows tablet available and no Windows Phone any more. I owned a Samsung and Lumia 920.
    I’m not done with Windows. I have a Surface Book 2, but it’s a lot less interesting to me that it used to be. Apple is not perfect. Some of the windows complaints are a one time event during the life cycle, but this doesn’t matter.
  • I agree with others are saying. Microsoft should purchase a competent editor and skin it to match their design philosophy. I'll even go a step further and suggest Microsoft should establish one big umbrella studio that focuses on editing software. What I disagree with is Microsoft should compete with Final Cut. I think Microsoft's software should compete with iMovie, Garageband, and adding more traditional photo editing features to Paint 3D. (and maybe not calling it Paint 3D)
  • But Daniel, Windows10 is already for 'Creators'
  • How about making the rest of the Windows 10 apps not terrible? Given how awful most Microsoft apps are, I have a hard time believing they are going to take on Final Cut Pro. Maybe Panay can help fix this, but I am not hopeful. This is a really huge issue for them to overcome. But native Win10 apps are usually garbage.
  • It’s not just Final Cut Pro. In order to appeal to creative types - people who appreciate design and style - Windows itself STILL needs a major makeover. As far as looks and style, Windows peaked with Windows 7. Aero Glass was stunning. That was followed with the garish and kiddie looking 8.1, with blue and green and red squares everywhere. Windows 10 is just a mess. No style at all. A horrible mixture of old and new. It looks exactly like what it is: 30 year old software, patched and duct taped into its current form. Designing hardware is totally different from designing software. Most of the Surface PCs look just fine. But they are still running old, creaky, barnacle clad Windows 10. Frankly, Windows 10 is embarrassing, coming from “the world’s largest software company”. Let’s face it. MacOS is a Ferrari. Windows 10 is a Willys Jeep. Both have their uses, but one has zero chance of being confused with the other. Until Windows 10 can at least look like a Jeep chassis with a Ferrari body kit on it, it will have no chance of attracting “Apple creators and MacBook Pro fans”.
  • Agree 100%. Glad that you're voicing this, Dan...I hope someone at Microsoft is reading and thinking about this. Movie Maker unlocked so much creative potential in the early years of YouTube, and it's sad to think that Movie Maker on XP was a much stronger tool than whatever is built into the Photos app today. So much for the "Creators" Windows 10 update.
  • MS should stop continuing useless projects like the Orchard Project, and instead open up an open source project for this movie editing app.