If you missed the news, Oprah Winfrey found herself in the embarrassing situation this week of praising the Microsoft Surface tablet in a tweet sent from her iPad. Hey, Oprah, if you love Surface so much, why aren’t you tweeting from it? The answer is that she can’t. OK, she can, but the lack of an official Twitter app for Surface, for Windows RT or Windows 8 makes it harder.
Oprah & SurfaceGate
Oprah made headlines by saying this:
“Gotta say love that SURFACE! Have bought 12 already for Christmas gifts. #FavoriteThings,” she tweeted.
But for those using some Twitter clients, they could see she sent her tweet through an iPad, as this screenshot captured by Zagg shows:
The Unofficial Twitter Apps
As said, there is no official Twitter app for Microsoft Surface. That’s problematic for people who want to use an official app, because they may feel it’s more secure or simply provides them an experience they’re used to on other platforms.
Consider what you’re presented with if you search for a Twitter clients:
Which one of those leaps out at you as the obvious choice for tweeting? Sorting by rating is no great help, plus some of these like FlipToast are more for consumption — reading socially-shared content — than for actually sharing.
At the very least, an official app makes it easy for people to get started with Twitter. They might eventually want a more custom client, but at least they aren’t having to waste time guessing at how to begin.
Problems With The Apps
Today, this is what I get with Tweetro:
It’s not that Tweetro can’t connect to Twitter. It’s really that the free version it originally offered is no longer supported, and no paid version is out yet. As we covered last week, Tweetro closed its free version because of Twitter’s API rules that limit how much data clients can pull for free from Twitter.
Rowi still works for me, and it’s an app that Microsoft currently features within the “Social” section of its Windows Store:
However, I found today that sometimes, it would take ages for the tweet box to appear in Rowi when I would click “new tweet.”
I just downloaded MetroTwit, and that works well. I actually like the simple design more than what Tweetro and Rowi offered:
But with Twitter’s crackdown on clients, how long can I depend on this or other clients being around? At least the offer of a paid version already provides some encouragement.
By the way, if you’re looking for clients, here’s a tip. Forget searching. Instead, browse the Windows Store to the Social area, then click on the “Social >” link above the spotlighted apps to get a “Noteworthy” view:
You can also try clicking on the “Top Free” tile for a list of top-rated apps just from the social area:
The Official App Cometh, Eventually
Twitter is promising that a Windows 8 app is coming. Twitter posted this at the end of last month and tells me this is still the latest word:
#Windows8 needs a great Twitter app. So we’re building it. Looking forward to sharing it with you in the months ahead.
Months ahead? On the bright side, anyone with an actual Windows 8 tablet can run any Twitter client out there now. It won’t run in the “Metro” or “Modern UI” mode, but it will run like any other old-school Windows program.
It’s the Windows RT people who are really stuck, which includes those with the current version of Microsoft Surface (after the New Year, a full Windows 8 version of Surface will be out). Windows RT users can’t run regular Windows apps. They can only run apps specifically written for Windows RT.
Window RT users can, of course, use Twitter through the web. It’s pretty easy:
But while it’s easy, it’s still not as nice as being able to flip from one app to another in the way people are used to tablets allowing.
Blame Oprah, Yes — But Twitter, Show Some Hustle!
I totally agree with TechCrunch and others that Oprah could have tweeted out her Surface love on the actual Surface itself, if she really wanted. Not doing so suggests the tweet was just part of some promotional deal rather than born from any real love Oprah has for Microsoft’s tablet.
But it’s also a good opportunity to for Twitter to perhaps reconsider its hostility toward clients. We get it. You want to control the end-user experience as much as possible. You’ve told developers for ages that making clients isn’t the way to go.
But here’s the thing. Twitter’s let people down on Windows RT, and to some degree Windows 8, and developers could be filling that gap. Tweetro was already doing it. It seems fairly dumb to be rate-limiting the third-party Windows 8 and Windows RT clients while there’s no official Twitter app. But even better, why not find a way to to let those and other clients live?
That’s probably wishful thinking. The way third-party Twitter clients will likely live is because people want them so much they’ll pay. But if I’m wishing, let me wish for one more thing. Provide an option for us all to see again what Twitter clients people are using.
Twitter took that away on its web site and it its mobile apps, though it remains in some third-party clients. It was nice to see. Let those of us who want to see it enable this as a display option on the web. Who wants to miss the next Oprah-like story?