-Funny that walking in an MS store felt like sinning. Feels like slumming to me, but it's because there's so little attention to detail, they do not have a fanatic and never did. Now that Win 10 has been shoved down users gullets, the newest version are set up to slurp all sorts of data as you use them and it cannot be fully turned off. On a Mac you can use Little Snitch and catch Apple doing the same thing but prevent it or let it go.
-Touchbar is a reuse of Apple Watch tech, since those aren't selling well, Apple is trying to get something out of it. Typical product-guy thinking, but it might yet find a use. Meanwhile it presents a hazard of Apple looking a bit more lost than they are. But sometimes forgotten are all the preious misfires and how they just kept releasing things until they got better.
-When I worked as an Applecare support guy, I fixed a lot of mistakes over the phone that "geniuses" made in person. I find the Apple Store experience to be a bit like a church store, everyone inside is a believer and there's a hushed solemnity. I never ever buy anything there, but sometimes visit to check on something for someone I support. I've had Apple training, there are two ways to do something, the Apple way and the right way, not always the same.
-The Surface issue does sound like power to the USB ports not being enough, try a powered drive (separate power supply) and see if it persists.
-Was reading the story of Bugatti automobile this morning, after Ettore passed on the company floundered and was absorbed by another company; plenty of energy and capacity but no vision and so no sales. They were relying on old obsolete chassis and so forth because of sentiment towards Ettore and Jean Bugatti. We can all find examples of this in any human organisation. We saw it in Leica for some years (the Franklin Mint of camera companies), now the M10 looks great, my hands can practically feel it from here.
-Right now all operating systems work well enough, but none of them are really very good. Apple's has been declining for years, MS are trying but clearly swamped by organisational and legacy issues, Linux is amazing in some parts and exasperating in others, because devs work on what they want to.
-Apple won't merge iOS and macOS code until the devices use the same chips. But of course they are reusing parts for various reasons.