Watch Apple BRUTALLY roast Microsoft's spectacular Windows Recall AI failure

Daring Fireball WWDC Apple interview
(Image credit: Daring Fireball (YouTube))

What you need to know

  • Microsoft announced its flagship AI feature, Windows Recall, at Build a few weeks ago. 
  • The feature records everything you do on Windows 11, and lets you ask Copilot to recover and remember previous tasks you performed on your computer. 
  • Showcasing Microsoft's historic ineptitude when it comes to marketing and public relations, the internet quickly slammed the feature, calling it creepy and a privacy nightmare. 
  • Microsoft has since postponed the feature after security researchers discovered a wealth of problematic vulnerabilities. 
  • Apple announced its own AI features at its WWDC event, with a "privacy first" narrative at the forefront. 
  • In a recent interview, Apple openly mocked Microsoft's failings, showcasing how much of an own-goal this whole snafu has been for the company. 

Oh Microsoft, you had one job. 

Microsoft's Windows Recall has been recalled, after a broad privacy backlash coupled with damning security research into the feature. 

Windows Recall was set to be Microsoft's flagship AI product set to ship with the first wave of Copilot+ PCs, including the Surface Pro 11. Alas, it was not meant to be. Disturbed by the broad implications of Microsoft watching everything you do (even if they claim none of the data gets uploaded to their servers), the internet started picking Windows Recall to pieces. Security researchers discovered a wide array of potential exploits of the tech, given that Windows Recall screenshots and records everything you do so that you can "recall" it later. 

In theory, Windows Recall is a pretty cool feature, but I think anyone with a shred of self-awareness could've seen how much of a backlash Windows Recall was going to cause. Microsoft didn't, apparently, which accentuates how out of touch it has gotten in recent times. Apple is right there to reap the benefits. 

During a WWDC talk, Apple's global marketing SVP Greg "Joz" Joswiak had some mocking words for Microsoft and it's spectacular Recall PR failure. 

Asked by the host if Apple was frustrated by Microsoft's inability to build trust in these types of features, Joswiak joked "are we frustrated by the failings of our competitors? The answer's no," after a round of laughter from the panel and audience. 

Indeed, Apple debuted its own "Apple Intelligence" at WWDC, joining the hype train with a wave of its own AI experiences. Many of these are also set to be powered by OpenAI's products, including ChatGPT, which the firm is apparently getting for free. Microsoft paid billions for similar access to the tech, although it also comes with profit sharing deals and other exclusivity arrangements. 

OPINION: Microsoft has lost control of its AI narrative

Windows Recall

Windows Recall creates an on-going timeline of everything you've recently done on your computer.  (Image credit: Windows Central)

It's a stunning turn around. Microsoft was among the first companies to take the initiative when it came to generative AI, but it goes to show how easily a lead can be screwed up with bad messaging and a lack of platform control. 

The biggest irony is that Apple's own AI features aren't far removed from things like Recall, but it simply positioned them better when communicating them publicly. You only get one chance to make a first impression, they say, and it all accentuates how little Microsoft's own users seem to trust it these days.

Apple reclaimed the top spot in global market share cap from Microsoft after WWDC, as investors begin to realize that it will be Apple, rather than Microsoft, who plays kingmaker when it comes to AI. Microsoft may end up simply providing the cloud infrastructure for these types of experiences, as users doubt Microsoft's own Windows efforts and continue to move the majority of their daily leisurely computing tasks to devices like the iPhone. Apple might be relying on OpenAI today, but that certainly won't always be the case. 

RELATED: Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella "concerned" about OpenAI, Apple partnership

Microsoft will doubtless find success with more business-oriented applications like Github Copilot, alongside gaming features like Auto Super Resolution, which is doubtless coming to the next Xbox. But so far, the Windows AI features have been total slop, which in my personal view, suffer from a borderline negligent lack of innovation and a near-total dereliction of duty with regards to user feedback. For every AI feature Microsoft has put into Windows so far, there are a vast array of competing solutions that seem to do it better. From AI video editing, to graphic design, communication tools, email features, basic photo touch-ups, and Copilot itself — Microsoft is falling behind, and falling behind rapidly. Even my Samsung phone has more interesting AI features than Windows 11 right now, and that's a huge problem. 

Apple is poised to lead the way with superior integrations as Microsoft's unfocused and siloed app teams operate without a shred of synergy. And without a mobile platform of its own to speak of, Apple and Google are ready to shut Microsoft out of the equation completely when it comes to consumer AI solutions. 

It didn't have to be this way, but today's Windows division suffers from a total lack of direction and cohesion. Throwing money around can only get you so far. 

Jez Corden
Co-Managing Editor

Jez Corden is a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by tea. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his XB2 Podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

  • GraniteStateColin
    Come on Microsoft. Learn the lesson. ALL OF YOUR PROBLEMS STEM FROM A COMMON SHORTCOMING THAT IS EASY TO FIX: think of your fans (like those in the Insider program) as your advocates and work with them and listen to them. When you remove products they love, you alienate them and hurt the brand (Windows Phone, Duo, Kinect, etc.). When you proceed to market without their input, you risk failure (Windows Recall, Kinect, etc.).

    Even if you only think about these things in terms of IRR (internal rate of return), recognize that keeping a fan and customer to do more business with that person or entity is much cheaper than winning a new customer or fan, especially if that party is already in another ecosystem. As such, a greater focus on your fans as your loudest supporters and best word-of-mouth marketing tool you have, is the most cost-effective way to grow your market share and increase the profitability of your existing customer base.

    What I don't understand is how MS continuously gets this wrong. This is basic tech marketing. There are hundreds of books written on this subject and they all make some version of these points. It's like MS' financial success (which does indeed demonstrate some excellent strengths on their part) blinds them to their weaknesses. In general, I would say leveraging your strengths is far more important than fixing weaknesses, but in MS' case, they are pissing on one of their strengths (their large market share and fans) as if they don't understand how market share is only a strength if reflects loyalty over inertia (think of AOL living on its inertia as market leader straight into nonexistence). If they could just address that one core weakness, it could immediately flip to a potent strength, making MS an amazing company, far more valuable than Apple or its other competitors.
    Reply
  • ad47uk
    I don't really care about AI, keep it off my computer I say, I don't want it baked into a OS, be it Apple OS, windows or Android, which are the three main Operating systems I use., I have no requirement for it on my computer, if I do use AI for any reason it will be online in a browser.
    Reply
  • Laura Knotek
    GraniteStateColin said:
    Come on Microsoft. Learn the lesson. ALL OF YOUR PROBLEMS STEM FROM A COMMON SHORTCOMING THAT IS EASY TO FIX: think of your fans (like those in the Insider program) as your advocates and work with them and listen to them. When you remove products they love, you alienate them and hurt the brand (Windows Phone, Duo, Kinect, etc.). When you proceed to market without their input, you risk failure (Windows Recall, Kinect, etc.).

    Even if you only think about these things in terms of IRR (internal rate of return), recognize that keeping a fan and customer to do more business with that person or entity is much cheaper than winning a new customer or fan, especially if that party is already in another ecosystem. As such, a greater focus on your fans as your loudest supporters and best word-of-mouth marketing tool you have, is the most cost-effective way to grow your market share and increase the profitability of your existing customer base.

    What I don't understand is how MS continuously gets this wrong. This is basic tech marketing. There are hundreds of books written on this subject and they all make some version of these points. It's like MS' financial success (which does indeed demonstrate some excellent strengths on their part) blinds them to their weaknesses. In general, I would say leveraging your strengths is far more important than fixing weaknesses, but in MS' case, they are pissing on one of their strengths (their large market share and fans) as if they don't understand how market share is only a strength if reflects loyalty over inertia (think of AOL living on its inertia as market leader straight into nonexistence). If they could just address that one core weakness, it could immediately flip to a potent strength, making MS an amazing company, far more valuable than Apple or its other competitors.
    It doesn't matter because Microsoft is entrenched in enterprise. Enterprise has no other ecosystem that would be realistically viable.
    Reply
  • Opinion
    Apple mocks Microsoft for something which was not even a product, was never released, so couldn't harm anyone, as nobody used.

    In the meantime, Apple does this and nobody says they should be ashamed of themselves: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2024/06/13/cheating-husband-sues-apple-sex-messages/. I am pretty sure that Apple fans will say this is the user's fault, and not Apple's. What then about the phantom deleted pictures coming back from the shadows of some Apple cloud service? Same story. This is the entirety of it.

    Apple is such a marketing-oriented company that they can announce something called "Apple Intelligence" and their customers and the Apple-friendly press go and applaud them. They prefer to mock Microsoft than to admit that they have zero AI technology and had to look at OpenAI to bolt something together not to look too bad in front of investors. Perhaps they should mock their own lack of business acumen, provided that their Vision Pro doesn't made investors as happy as the AI strategy Microsoft worked on during the last few years.
    Reply
  • Ron-F
    The executive was not as harsh as the headline had led me to expect. Moreover, he is correct, and Microsoft alone is responsible for the mistake. Additionally, Apple has introduced a range of AI services powered by its own technology, enhanced by ChatGPT. In contrast, Microsoft, possessing language models similar to Apple's, opts to depend solely on ChatGPT for its messaging. The underlying message is evident: Apple offers solutions to user issues with a focus on security and privacy, while Microsoft depends on external providers for solutions, resulting in an implementation that is flawed and insecure.
    Reply
  • naddy69
    Laughing at Microsoft as they redefine "shooting yourself in the foot" is hardly "brutal". Because they did not just shoot a foot, they amputated an entire leg.

    I'll say this again. Microsoft needs to quietly abandon this "recall" idea. Now that it has been delayed, it is much easier to just kill it.

    "And without a mobile platform of its own to speak of, Apple and Google are ready to shut Microsoft out of the equation completely when it comes to consumer AI solutions. "

    Why are you STILL expecting "consumer solutions" from Microsoft? Are you also looking for business solutions from Apple? Hoping for pizza solutions from Burger King?

    Your life will be SO much better if you just accept reality.
    Reply
  • GraniteStateColin
    Laura Knotek said:
    It doesn't matter because Microsoft is entrenched in enterprise. Enterprise has no other ecosystem that would be realistically viable.

    These are not mutually exclusive. We, as an enterprise, use MS for many things, but in some cases use their competitors (e.g., MS Planner is a terrible project management tool compared with Jira or Trello or even Asana because you can't paste screen captures in the comments and MS' high end package, MS Project, is really no good for agile software development, also too expensive and doesn't merge with Teams like Planner does). Most IT firms that use MS are fans of some sort. The ones that aren't are the ones that push Linux, or they use Windows as the OS, but avoid MS for apps. And even MS-focused IT teams often push Apple for mobile with the iPhone.

    None of that really matters for the problems I described. EVERY company should leverage their strengths as the core in defining their strategy. There's a map or table taught for strategic planning called SWOT analysis: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Microsoft doesn't seem to recognize one of its chief strengths, and as a result they fail to plan properly.

    Further, I would warn any company that ever considers itself safely "entrenched," as you put it, to kick itself out of that complacency. There is no such thing as "entrenched" if that market leadership position is not nursed and cared for. For any company to sustain a leadership position for more than a few years on that inertia, it needs to remain hungry and pursue and constantly court even existing customers with a zealous fear of losing them. The company that doesn't do that will lose its customers to an upstart competitor. That's true regardless if the market is consumer or enterprise. Enterprise might be slower to move and shake free of that inertia, but only by a bit.
    Reply
  • DestructoDisk
    Opinion said:
    Apple mocks Microsoft for something which was not even a product, was never released, so couldn't harm anyone, as nobody used.

    In the meantime, Apple does this and nobody says they should be ashamed of themselves: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2024/06/13/cheating-husband-sues-apple-sex-messages/. I am pretty sure that Apple fans will say this is the user's fault, and not Apple's. What then about the phantom deleted pictures coming back from the shadows of some Apple cloud service? Same story. This is the entirety of it.

    Apple is such a marketing-oriented company that they can announce something called "Apple Intelligence" and their customers and the Apple-friendly press go and applaud them. They prefer to mock Microsoft than to admit that they have zero AI technology and had to look at OpenAI to bolt something together not to look too bad in front of investors. Perhaps they should mock their own lack of business acumen, provided that their Vision Pro doesn't made investors as happy as the AI strategy Microsoft worked on during the last few years.
    You realize the reverse of what you are saying is the actual truth? Apple has on device AI that is completely their own. After that Apple has AI servers that are completely their own. They both use their own models. OpenAI is an optional part of Apple Intelligence that users never need to use unless they want a third option.

    Microsoft is the one who relies on outside AI to run Copilot. Copilot is running on OpenAI’s GPT 4 model. There is no Microsoft only option. They killed Cortana because they couldn’t keep up with developing their own models. I guess you are the only one who fell for marketing… Microsoft marketing.
    Reply
  • Opinion
    DestructoDisk said:
    You realize the reverse of what you are saying is the actual truth? Apple has on device AI that is completely their own. After that Apple has AI servers that are completely their own. They both use their own models. OpenAI is an optional part of Apple Intelligence that users never need to use unless they want a third option.

    Microsoft is the one who relies on outside AI to run Copilot. Copilot is running on OpenAI’s GPT 4 model. There is no Microsoft only option. They killed Cortana because they couldn’t keep up with developing their own models. I guess you are the only one who fell for marketing… Microsoft marketing.
    Whatever Apple runs on device is, at best, generations behind the state of the art in AI. You talk about Cortana, so I guess you also talk about Siri... Welcome to 10 years ago! If you think it's a fantastic product, that's great, but I'm sure Apple's management must be thinking differently, otherwise the entire "Apple Intelligence" campaign and the deal with OpenAI would not make any sense. If the product and strategy you praise were winners, why on earth would they look at connecting their customers to OpenAI? :)

    About Microsoft not developing models and Apple doing it... You are so wrong... Small fact for you: Hugging Face hosts 2.5x more models developed by Microsoft than those developed by Apple. Microsoft develops, shares, and serves a whole lot of models that have nothing to do with OpenAI. It does so with its own models, and with pretty much any useful available model. It does so with large scale models, small scale models, everything in between: cloud, edge, whatever. OpenAI has been running a great part of its infrastructure on Azure. So, yeah, I don't know what kind of marketing you're talking about, I'm just reading the news.

    Also, my nickname is "Opinion", I am not suggesting that my words are "the actual truth", but that doesn't make your so so argumentation and lack of fact checking any closer to "the actual truth". :)
    Reply