Tablets

Can Microsoft be right about tablets and Apple, Amazon, and Google be wrong?

If you haven't realized it yet, Microsoft is trying to do something different in tablets. But, the strategy has three big question marks.

Microsoft's Panos Panay shows off the Microsoft Surface tablet. Photo credit: Microsoft

I've said it many times before, but I'll repeat it. I don't really like tablets.

I've carried all three iPads, several Galaxy Tabs, the Kindle Fire, the BlackBerry PlayBook, and the HP TouchPad. I always run into the same roadblocks. Almost every time I use a tablet I end up trying to do something like sharing a story to a social network or emailing a photo to someone and I get frustrated because it's just a lot more efficient to do it on my laptop. Plus, on a laptop I can control the experience a lot better. For example, for social sharing I can shorten the URL with the service that I prefer so I can track analytics or I can quickly and accurately crop and edit the photo the way I want before sending it.

Microsoft thinks it's got the tablet solution for people like me.

The software giant is building Windows 8 with a full-screen reading and app experience like the iPad (and its competitors) while also offering the ability to jump into a full desktop experience to do the kinds of things that I was just talking about.

I think it's great that Microsoft is turning its attention to users like me, and naturally I believe there's an opportunity there. But, there are three big questions marks.

1. How many people want a no-compromise tablet?

Microsoft either believes that current tablet owners would like to do a lot more with their tablets or that there are many more people out there who would buy a tablet if they could do more with it. Or both. Two years ago when Apple first released the iPad, I believed the same thing.

However, usage of the iPad has confirmed that a high percentage of people are mostly reading and viewing things and only occasionally have to do much typing, input, or creation. For these users, the fact that the iPad is so much more convenient and easier to use for viewing things than a laptop far outweighs the fact that it's a lot less convenient for data input, content creation, and the kind of stuff I mentioned above. For most users, the iPad is good enough for most of the stuff they want to do and it's a heckuva lot easier to operate than a PC.

Most of them aren't ditching their computers altogether, but an increasing number of iPad users are spending more time on the tablet and less time on a computer. I think this is the mainstream and these numbers will accelerate in the years ahead. Heavy content creators like myself, programmers, and other kinds of specialists are likely to become the equivalent of CAD workstation users in the PC world. Remember when we all used to spend $2000 or more on a computer tower? Now, the CAD specialists are the only ones doing that.

2. Is Windows 8 doing it right?

In theory, Microsoft is going to offer the best of both worlds. Its ARM-based Windows 8 tablets (the ones running "Windows RT") will cost a little less and will not run all of the Windows applications that currently run on Windows 7. Meanwhile, the full Windows 8 tablets will run on traditional x86 hardware and will boast the full desktop operating system embedded within the tablet experience.

There are going to be power users who like the idea of having more flexibility and capability in a tablet and the might love the x86 Windows 8 tablets. The challenge for Microsoft is that in trying to have it both ways, it is creating extra complexity that is going to confuse and frustrate a lot of regular users.

For example, instead of making its ARM-based tablets "Metro-only" and focusing on making them a great tablet experience that is separate from the desktop, Microsoft is still falling back on the crutch of the desktop environment for certain settings and utilities. Sure, that will be fine for power users on an x86 Surface tablet with a full keyboard and touchpad, but trying to fiddle with that stuff on a touch-only tablet is going to result in yelps and screams from average users.

While that full desktop environment on a tablet could be the killer feature for power users, it could also be the crutch that kills the Windows 8 tablet experience for everyone else.

3. Are Apple, Amazon, and Google wrong?

What Microsoft is doing in tablets is essentially a more refined version of its original stylus-based Tablet PC approach, adapted for a multitouch world. Microsoft still believes one machine can do it all and can excel at multiple experiences and multiple use cases. With Windows 8, it's betting heavily on the convergence of tablets and laptops.

Meanwhile, the iPad has mostly been about addition by subtraction. It has purposely removed the complexity of a desktop operating system. Sure, it also threw out a bunch of capabilities along the way. That makes it a deal-breaker for people like me, but the majority of users are shrugging it off. They seem to barely notice or they consider it a reasonable trade-off for a machine that is easy to operate and offers instant-on, long battery life, minimal malware worries, and lots of cheap software.

Amazon's Kindle Fire and Google's nascent Nexus 7 follow the same tablet model that Apple has established and both are seeing some success with it. While Microsoft is taking a few cues from that model -- like the low-cost software app approach -- overall, it is going in a different direction. It is sticking to its original tablet strategy from a decade ago by betting on a more powerful, multi-use device that harnesses all the power of a PC but just delivers it in more friendly and portable hardware.

Bottom line

Most people don't need a tablet that can also act like a workstation. They just want a tablet that can perform really well as a tablet. Microsoft is building the CAD workstation of tablets. It could be awesome for the people who want that kind of thing and are willing to pay for it.

But, just as people no longer pay over $2000 for computers like the ones CAD workstation professionals use, it's unlikely that the masses are going to pay $800 or more for a high-end tablet. And while many enterprise companies are going to like the ability to easily connect Windows 8 tablets to their backend Windows infrastructure, the higher price tag and the added complexity of using them could limit the number of users who will get a Windows 8 tablet from the IT department.

Now, if Microsoft changed course and went with a Metro-only, ARM-based Windows 8 tablet that cost less than $500 and could seamlessly connect to Active Directory and other backend Windows systems, then I believe a lot of enterprise businesses and individual business professionals would be interested. But, that's not the product we're going to see this fall.

About

Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

78 comments
razor1984uk
razor1984uk

The Bottom line for me as a power desktop user is that windows 8 sucks like hell and will mess up alot of things for 3rd party developers like valve, so for me win8 is nothing more than the latest vista... if not WORSE!

David.King
David.King

While I find the form factor and ease of tablets apealing, they just seemed too limiting. I want the best of both worlds....an easy touch interface with the familiarity and functionality of Windows if I so need it....and I know I will. I really don't care if it ends up being a little more than a iPad.

five.cent.family
five.cent.family

but all I know is I want one. I'm much like the author. I like the idea of a tablet, but it doesn't seem like it has enough "oomph" for the stuff I do online. I still find I do alot of typing (like now), and a traditional tablet isn't a very good option for typing more than a few words. I want a tablet computer that I can take with me most everywhere, but when I'm at home, it's ALMOST as good as a laptop, which means it can do most everything except high-end gaming. I would be willing to pay a laptop price for a tablet IF it delivers on what Microsoft is promising (and provided I can massage the household budget to get it :) ).

55gac
55gac

The real question is Windows 8. If they don't have the OS to go with the hardware Apple still Wins. At one point they had an OS developed off the X-box platform for the Surface tablet and killed it. The real question then becomes has Windows out lived its life cycle? The other is are the consumers ready for the Cloud? I'm not sure running an application from the cloud is going to work without a network connection and yes there are still places without network connectivity, How prehistoric.

Gem in VA
Gem in VA

Well, if average users are anything like me (and judging from my conversations with many of my fellow iPad users, they are), they will welcome the ability to do full computing in a very portable format. Myriad are the meetings I attend at which someone laments the inability to switch into this or that application to accomplish something or display something that would further the meeting, on the iPad they're taking notes on. If Microsoft's product turns out to have the low learning curve of the iPad and they can ramp up quickly to supply lots of apps, I would switch. I'm a long-time PC user anyway.

InsightNow
InsightNow

Make no sense to have a Microsoft tablet ! Windows 8 is not well supported yet. Business is still Windows 7. Just use a Android or IOS tablet ( at $200 ) and connect via a VPN Remote desktop and you have a Microsoft desktop. Power users will continue to use Laptops. The point is a Andriod or IOS tablet can be portal to a business MS machine ( virtual or not ) and still be used for your social needs. We are in a world recession IT shops / businesses are budget aware, the best option is stated above. No brainier ... Microsoft is not going to like it ... but the tablet market is gone to the competitors already ! You don't need a $1000 tablet to send a email / browse the net or watch a movie ... Or remote to your business machine !

MattPV
MattPV

Before writing something like this.

Ingmgr
Ingmgr

In reading the above comments, it's obvious there is still a misunderstanding about the mobile evolution. First I'll admit I'm coming from a user perspective as my background and expertise is not in IS&T. It's a fact that technology is evolving in how users interface with devices. The old way is still very much evident and computors being used today support this. As things evolve, the way users interface with PC's is changing and software, hardware and websites are all being adapted to support this transition. Each month, I see applications and websites being released that make a touch screen experince incredible and in fact, using a keboard and mouse would be the reverse and not much fun. So yes, one does need to go through a transition period to use Android and iOS devices effectively for creating. It took me at least 6 months of forcing myself to use before I felt comfortable and effective. Today, except for a very few applications, I can do everything on an iPad or Android device and it's way more than just games and viewing. Finally, the prediction of going paperless has come true for me. Company I'm working for has moved into the implementation phase of deploying close to 100 iPads in support of field activities. This is a game changer in how we will be doing our work. It's not a fad as some have stated as we've proven and documented the efficiency improvements and value these devices can add. In the last 3 months, every company I've talked to in the same industry is either evaluating or has already deployed 100's of these devices. As for the Surface, well I'm not going to predict whether it will be successful or not as I just don't know. I will say that it's mostly the old guard or IS&T personnel who seem to be excited. Others like me who are only users and who are embracing the new way of interfacing, just shrug and have no interest in what seems to be just a different form of a laptop.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

Thanks to everyone who is adding useful thoughts and insights to this discussion. I'm impressed by the high quality of the discussion on this topic. You are why TechRepublic is the best place to have these kinds of conversations online!

rhon
rhon

A laptop will be much more convenient if you want everything. A tablet is simply a different thing with a different user experience. Microsoft had it wrong a decade ago and as often with companies that are managed as a government their thoughts do not evolve.

dshcpa
dshcpa

I have an ASUS 300 Android tablet. In order for me to be able to do tasks using remote desktop into my work, I had to buy a docking station for it, as Windows is not very user friendly without mouse capability. And, the touch keyboard on the pad takes away too much screen. I am still in the process of getting all of the work apps onto the tablet, but the Windows tablet seems attractive, and I may go that direction if I can't get what I need out of the Android.

tom
tom

If the OS really works like it seems to work on desktops, microsoft just made the biggest mistake it has ever made. Why they do not understand they are a back-office company I will never fathom. They risk killing that business which is what made them what they are. One better be able to switch to the old windows interface or Microsoft market cap will take a very nasty dive, and potentially the economy with it as it kills the upgrade cycle.

Komplex
Komplex

Mrs. Finkle came in and asked the price for hamburger. John told her it was $4.99 a pound. Mrs. Finkle shook her head and said "No, No, No, Lehman Butchers across the street sells it for $2.99 a pound." John was perplexed, that was below his wholesale price, admitting defeat, shrugging his shoulders he said that she should buy her hamburger from Lehman Butchers. Mrs. Finkle replied she couldn't because they were sold out. John smiled and said, I sell my hamburger for $1.99 a pound when I'm sold out. We've been dealing with the Tech Versions of Mrs. Finkle and Lehman Butchers for the last 30 years. And instead of us learning our lessons, we just keep on getting sucked into the hype machine. The "content creators" who after every Manufacture's demo will declare "This time the non-Apple Tablet has got it right!!!" And every time the device fails to meet the expectations set up by the demo. HP, Samsung, Google, RIM and countless others have promised a mountain and delivered an avalanche prone molehill. But the "Content Creators" must create content regardless of the quality.

jim
jim

Bought my wife a Kindle Fire and she loves it. I like it for what it does (search, reading, viewing, buying from Amazon, and learning and fun apps to share with our 2 1/2 year old granddaughter who has just about mastered it) but could not use it or other Android or Apple tablets for my business. I need full use of Word, Excel, Access and SQL database applications local and through our Citrix connection. I have an Android Citrix app that is ok for viewing and minor input but not useful for a power user. The idea of a workstation tablet based on a full version of Win 8 has my interest and I will research for my business. Jim

Independent Voter
Independent Voter

I completely agree with how limited the iPad is. On one hand, it's elegant, smooth, and brain-dead simple - and in today's world of technology where the stuff that doesn't work right is as common as the stuff that does, that is no small feat. On the other hand, I think a lot of the reason people are only surfing and watching videos on the iPad is because it's just too hard to do anything else! In other words, people are doing limited things only because of the limitations, not because of a lack of desire. The question is whether Microsoft can build a better mousetrap. Historically, they have been the "me, too" company. Zune, Windows Phone, and even Windows itself have all been clones of existing technology, that were "better" but somehow manged to be ridiculed and/or loathed at the same time. Can MS rip off the iPad and make it better without screwing the pooch again? I doubt it, but I also hope they prove me wrong.

primartcloud
primartcloud

I have been waiting for this moment for a long time. I paid 600$ for a Notion Ink Adam, gave it to a relative after 2 months, tried the HP Touchpad and finally settled for an Asus Transformer. Finally it seems MSF has put it together and I cant stop stumbling around with Android or, heaven forbid, an Apple IOS product. Just having one instrument to carry around even if it only has an old fashion LCD screen will be a great relief. For me it is all about mobility and access with compromise.

christian.verstraete
christian.verstraete

Most people only read and view things on an iPad. Is that because of the fact they think they require a third device to do that, or because the iPad is not really useful for doing more and so they end up with three devices (the phone, the tablet and the PC). Traveling a lot, I'd really like a tablet that could also function as a PC. In that case I could live with two devices and wouldn't need that third device. I believe that's the real question. Apple took the market from the bottom, from the consumer end, Microsoft is taking the market from the top, the professional end. I believe that to be very smart. And as we are going to conversion of devices, I frankly believe the Microsoft approach has more chances to succeed than the iPad.

bwallan
bwallan

As a developer we've had little use for the current crop of tablets, in fact we have none. BUT a tablet with true Windows XP or 7 has some REAL potential! If we can carry a full operational development environment to a client site in a small package, now that is the future. At present that package is a laptop. I believe a tablet has the potential to replace a laptop if it is done right... and it hasn't been (done right) to this point. Just maybe Microsoft has the talent to get it right?

edmerc
edmerc

The bottom line sums it up well. Most people don't need or even wan't all that power/fuction. They want simplicity. Apple deliveres that. That's why they have been so succesful. I suspect that the Surface tablet will be another product that fades away into oblivion.

OldHenry
OldHenry

Intel announced they want Ultrabooks for $699 by October. Since part of the problem with most laptops is that they are boat anchors, if I can get a sleak, light fully powered ultrabook with long battery life for $699 that will remove a bunch of objections to laptops. Tablets will still be better for somethings but a bunch of objections will be gone. Like you, most tablet owners I know still have PCs of one kind or another.

cbeckers
cbeckers

I use an Acer W500 tablet running Windows 7 Home Premium, because I have legacy programs that I would rather not move to an Android environment. The physical configuration of the W500 is very similar to the recently announced Microsoft tablet, right down to the keyboard docking station. I have no clear idea of what Windows 8 will or won't be, but I can tell you that there are some distinct advantages and disadvantages to Windows 7 on a tablet. Clearly Windows 7 was not developed for a touch-screen environment and that is its major deficiency on a tablet, but I expect Windows 8 to have those limitations solved. If not, then Microsoft will have bombed with their newest OS.

MobileAberdeen
MobileAberdeen

At its expected price point, Surface is not an iPad / Kindle / Nexus killer; however, it could be an Ultrabook / laptop killer. Not sure this would make the folks at Intel very happy...

brian.catt
brian.catt

The large majority don't create, they consume content or complete forms created by the elite to do what they need to on line. Creative apps are not necessary for them, nor are full power data entry and navigation features. KISS applies and is wanted. You and MS are thinking about what the the clever IT literate do. Jobs understood what the less intelligent but flash mass market ICT bluffers want and do, and how to minimise functionality to match while maximising elegance, price and profit. The logical single device for me to do both is a dockable Smartphone shadowed in the cloud which becomes a full function PC when docked, or a dockable iPad perhaps, but they are really for girls , gays and geeks - and a single user transformer phone would hit sales of the other desktop, laptop and tablet devices. IMO

minstrelmike
minstrelmike

Most people are consumers, not producers. Apple is trying to market to the consumer with its iPad the way they used to market Apples to the layout artist producers last century. They got both markets right. Micro$oft tried to market to everyone and did NOT get the marketing right but they forced the OEMs down consumer throats and thought of it as a consumer strategy instead of a monopolistic advantage. Now they don't have that advantage and consumers are realizing they don't need a productive laptop to merely like people on the fBook. Yet M$ won't be able to quite hit the right spot because they don't really believe consumers and will end up spending most of their time keeping the security-conscious CIOs pleased thus they will continue to provide 'business-ready' hardware that consumers will not tolerate and businesses will eventually quit buying because their own employees will continue to BYOD (Bring Your Own Device).

JoeyBurke
JoeyBurke

There are a lot of companies out there that have a lot invested in Windows, and want a tablet-like solution without having to deal with the abyssmal (for large businesses) Apple model for apps and updates. I think Microsoft is banking on it's relationship with these businesses by presenting an option that fits within the existing MS managment structure. Isn't it safe to say these devices will be on the test benches of many larger companies, particularly those with SOX and HIPAA compliance concerns, as soon as they are available. I'm fairly certain that will be the case with ours. Speaking personally, I have an iPhone, my wife has an iPhone and a new iPad, and there are a couple of desktops and laptops, all Windows, in the house. I seldom use the iPad for most of the same reasons as Mr. Hiner. I'm ready for a content creation friendly tablet. Maybe MS got it right. We'll see.

ckelly
ckelly

The tablets all have some sort of shortcoming. iWhatever has nice apps, but doesn't run some things I have to have. Kendle, et al are more for reading and I need more than reading. Also, some of the mags I read don't come in Kendle, iXXX, etc formats or Zinio won't run on the tab. I have a HP slate running Win 7 - it would be better if the screen would roll around like an iPad but you have to re-set it, so it's a real PITA to use most times. And ALL are a PITA to type on because I'd 6'1" 210 lbs and have big hands. The HP is the worst by far to type with, and it's running real Windows LOL. So yea - I want to get my hands on a Win8 tab with a decent keyboard and see what. Yes, I have a chicklet keyboard for the slate and iPad, but the point is to not carry more crap around, eh? for all that, might as well grab the bag with the Latitude and take it.

Cayble
Cayble

And its a valid question. The answer itself isnt so difficult, its a simple two parter, firstly, if the surface costs a whole lot more to buy then an iPad 3, then it could easily have a detrimental effect on the Microsoft tablet solution. On the other hand, if the Surface is relatively close to the same price as an iPad 3, there should be no question that Microsoft has very appropriately decided to fill a genuine void. There is always the problem that if people are just buying tablets for "fun" then at the iPads price point, it may be just about as far as people are prepared to go for fun. Having the extra ability of the Surface would come as a very welcome and relatively free benefit of going with the Surface if it cost about the same as an iPad. I believe your absolutely right when you say "usage of the iPad has confirmed that a high percentage of people are mostly reading and viewing things and only occasionally have to do much typing, input, or creation." Because quite frankly, it isn’t very good at much else. On the other hand one has to consider the dynamics of this observation; "For these users, the fact that the iPad is so much more convenient and easier to use for viewing things than a laptop far outweighs the fact that it’s a lot less convenient for data input, content creation". One has to remember here, an iPad is something that will frequently be left lying around the house. I have seen it. For the times I have actually seen an iPad the most its been sitting on a coffee table or end table like an old magazine, turned on and simply ready to be scooped up, just like an old magazine and quickly flipped through to check something that just came to ones mind. The laptop in similar circumstances isnt even on and is often closed up either in another room or in some bag or briefcase. Thats what makes the tablet more handy. Not a whole lot else. I do think that people would actually like to get more use out of a tablet. Right now its a toy for the well off, or a gadget for the geeky must haves out there, or its a lightweight work tool for a very limited number of jobs. A full fledged tablet that could do some real regular computing would at least have the potential to begin to change that. All this mindless chatter about the post PC world is never going to see the light of day until or unless there is a tablet like the Surface in existence. While thats not something the Apple fanatics want to hear, it dosnt matter, its simply a fact. There is no post PC world in a world where people still use PC’s for the vast majority of their computing. And that is currently the case despite all the tablets sold to date. But price is the real issue. A great deal of the world still dosnt understand some of the plainest issues about computing. Trust me, I know iPad owners and they were all bought (the owners I know) thinking that the iPad was just like a laptop, only a tablet. They were a little unhappy to find out it was not. Now, if MS comes out with the Surface, MS has absolutely got to make it plain plain plain as day that the Surface is what most people were hoping what they were getting when they purchased an iPad. Otherwise, if the Surface does cost any more at all, people will just go on thinking "why spend the extra on this Surface thing when I can get an iPad for less, do I really need anything extra the Surface can do?". Many will say no, unless its made quite plain that this finally IS the device that can replace a laptop. The public has got to be made 100% aware. Too much tends to go right over their head. Microsoft really has to impress on the public what the Surface truly is and what it can do. Believe it.

paul
paul

I can't wait for Microsoft Surface tablet/laptop to come out. I've noticed people go through several iterations of iPads and other tablets only to end up not really using them that much...they end up collecting dust. People value them because they see the POTENTIAL in the technology - instant on (relatively speaking), large buttons - easy to read - simple interface. Sure they work great for browsing/reading/watching video, but if you have to do anything that requires more input than what your pointer finger can do, it's painfully inefficient. Last night I spent far too long on my tablet trying to book a hotel when I could have popped open my laptop and been done in 10 minutes. Now enter MS Surface. Flip it around/drop down the keyboard and you've got both a laptop and a tablet. All the power of a PC but in a tablet. That rocks! And tWindows XP Tablet Edition sucked because of the UI...Windows XP didn't map to touch very well. But Windows 8 UI is designed for touch. I am using the preview version on a laptop and find myself wanting to swipe the screen occasionally to scroll/etc. If I can easily and seamlessly switch back and forth between touch and standard keyboard/mouse input, I am 100% on board. I'm not sure the argument that the price is going to be a deciding factor is fair since MS Surface really is much more than just a tablet too. If it was just another tablet, then I would agree that the price point would need to stay @$600 or less. But since the higher-end version is really a hybrid convertible, then I believe it warrants a higher price tag. If it ultimately specs out to be a decent laptop and the quality proves to be excellent (discreet GPU, i5 or i7 proc, 16GB RAM, SSD, etc), I'd probably shell out $1500-2000 for the experience. Microsoft has a big mountain to climb to get their UI message across though. I think once people "get it" and get to try it out, they will be on board too.

TsarNikky
TsarNikky

The keyboard built in the cover is a start in the direction to making a truly touch-typist usable keyboard. Of course, if it is much smaller than a desktop or, say, a 15" screen laptop, it will relegated to "useless" status. Only touch-typists can judge that. "Hunt-n-peckers" don't count. So the "Surface" could be classed as a "potential winner." Regrettably, the same can't be said about Windows-8's Metro UI. Microsoft's obsession with touch screens along with the seemingly abandonment of traditional laptop and desktop-oriented UIs puts the Windows-8 OS at risk. Companies are just not going to put up with two OSs--one for tablets (W-8) and one for laptops and desktops (W-7).

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"Just use a Android or IOS tablet ( at $200 ) and connect via a VPN Remote desktop and you have a Microsoft desktop." You forgot to include the cost of that Microsoft desktop you're connecting to.

TNT
TNT

I think your analysis is right for most consumers, but business is not happy with Apple or Android devices as it is difficult to secure and implement in a Windows environment. A Windows tablet allows the enterprise to leverage its current security and support methods. Since the enterprise market has always belonged to Microsoft, a MS tablet is a great idea. Does it make more sense now?

Ingmgr
Ingmgr

What are you referring to? If you are suggesting Windows RT is comparable to Android and iOS, well lets see when it's released. I honestly thunk they are a year, at least, away from even being able to consider as alternative to the iOS and Android devices on the market.

TNT
TNT

Is that why Windows runs on 88-90 percent of all desktops? Because Microsoft is a "back-office" company? Is that why MS Office is THE office suite for business, government and education?

WinTard
WinTard

Don't you know Apple is only good at perception and illusion thanks to the formidable hype machine they cultivated? Much style and no real substance. Obviously some of us do, and have learned our lessons. ~~~~~~~~~~ c u m hoc ergo propter hoc

blarman
blarman

And that's the real question: can Microsoft deliver a product that is better than their competitors? Their history isn't very encouraging, but we'll reserve judgement until we see the actual product. A couple of things that are going to hurt them are their lateness to the market and the price point. The other one is going to be the UI and how many apps that redesign themselves for a touch-based interface, because let's face it: for anyone needing to edit a document or spreadsheet, the touch-screen interface is currently a nightmare. I totally agree with Jason on this one. Now we'll wait to see what actually gets delivered.

dl_wraith
dl_wraith

I held off from purchasing a tablet for a couple of reasons. I hate the way the iPAd is tied to iTunes (and the lack of control) and early Android efforts seemed a bit pants in the hardware area. As for the PlayBook.....where do I begin with THAT? :) I needed a platform that not only could do excellent browsing, media consumption and mobile entertainment in an efficient way, I wanted something easy to create content on. Drawings, documents, spreadsheets, reports.....nothing too heavy (no CAD :) ). In the end it took the arrival of good quality keyboard docks to make me plunge in and replace my Windows mobile device. For me, the arrival of ASUS's excellent TF101 allowed me to replace my laptop completely. The only thing I miss is silverlight support. The Surface seems to take the bits that made the TF101 a good contender and up the ante a little - that is very promising for me. As another commenter has said, this is very much a 'me too' device and those of you expecting some sort of tablet revolution may be disappointed. Don't take me wrong though - this is still a good step in the right direction, as long as the full OS is snappy and responsive once it's running the various apps users will undoubtedly just click and install. Is this an iPad killer? Unless it's relatively invulnerable to slowdowns and crapware whilst being priced to kill the iPad, no. If MS compete in the iPAds own playground then Apple's marketing machine will eat this up and spit it out. Apple have had a few years of unchallenged dominance now, building up the reputation that their product is the premium product and the best thing on the block (even when it may not be). Never underestimate the effect of sheep that have been well marketed to on your bottom line - even when you have the superior product.

bwallan
bwallan

"taking the market from the top, the professional end" is a smart move on Microsoft's behalf.

johncymru
johncymru

Though considering the Pro version is Intel inside, they win either way. In fact, one of the reasons I am waiting to see what the Surface Pro finally looks like, spec wise that is, is thinking of it as a combination Tablet/Ultrabook depending on need at any one time. Considering its likely size and weight, even with the keyboard attached, I would happily pay around the same as some of the Ultrabooks I had been looking at recently. Now I am waiting to see what the end product is. So in that sense, as I imagine that we two are not the only ones who have thought along these lines, Intel might not be too happy with those of use who are waiting around to see what the final Surface Pro actually is actually like. But once we have decided, they win either way, except of course for those now considering the Pro who might then decide that the ARM version is good enough for them.

jdb
jdb

I am a content creator. While i prefer my Win7 HP with 10 GB RAM and an i7, I can do most of what I need on my iPad. In fact for a few years now I don't use a laptop. The iPad and a Zagg keyboard case does it all for me. I find myself annoyed that I can't swipe when I have to use a Laptop. That said, I'm all in on the Surface. Some lucky family member is getting the New iPad as soon as I can get one running Win 8 (which I run on my "Frankinstein" PC). I can't wait to have Office 2013 the Surface! If it's not unreasnable to do so, I may go buy a touchscreen for my HP.

fhrivers
fhrivers

...will include whatever pop song is hot at the time and some ambiguous pictures of the tablet in a 30 second spot. They need to show people using it for work and play and that the keyboard comes with the tablet and that it's not an add-on.

minstrelmike
minstrelmike

Good points. Everybody has a television. Very few people have motion-picture quality cameras. Two different uses, two different markets that just happen to coincide at the product level.

smfrazz
smfrazz

Windows 8 is fine as a desktop OS....those that complain don't spend much time using it or haven't really used it. I use Windows 8 everyday on my work laptop and while I do spend 90% of my time in Desktop mode it's nice to have Metro for those apps written to benefit from the UI. This is especially nice on a docked laptop or desktop with multiple monitors where one can run Metro and the other the Desktop UI. I've found this a very positive experience. By the time the final release of Windows 8 comes out I suspect a few more additional tweaks that will make it a great OS for BOTH tablet and traditional desktop users.

charcarson
charcarson

They already do put up with it for the most part. Android/iOS for tablet and Windows 7 (or XP still in many places) for desktop.

fhrivers
fhrivers

For every iPad that needs to connect to an app on a Windows server, I need a Citrix license and server licenses to run Citrix. So the price to support iOS and Android in the enterprise ends up being higher than just going with a Surface tablet.

Ingmgr
Ingmgr

No, it doesn't make more sense. Mobility today is not Like yesterday. Solutions to address security and support in an enterprise world is changing. If MS can adapt to this, great. They will have a shot. If not, others will continue to evolve and not be held to the old way of using computing devices.

Komplex
Komplex

only once. That's why there's a new latest and greatest Android phone/Tablet every six months. That's why we are subjected to thousands of ipod/iphone/ipad/MacBook Air killer articles. Look at a failed hollywood blockbuster, it gets a ton of hype, it has the entertainment weekly version of Jason Hiener telling us how Hollywood is a buzz, the stars are about to take off to another level and possible Oscar and record breaking box office. Then it opens, millions of people see it. Realize it sucks and tells all their friends. The movie is quietly dropped the next week. Over the last ten years, we've heard the exact same thing from you and your ilk. The Ipod doesn't have enough features like the Creative MP3 players. Sure the ipod dominates now, but just you wait until Zune. The Iphone is going to be a failure. RIM is too strong and too established. Android is going to eat Apple's lunch Windows Mobile is the iphone killer. And do we really need to remind you of what was said about the Ipad?

rhonin
rhonin

MS will need all three and in something a bit more substantial than a 30 second spot....

jk2001
jk2001

Back in the day, people bought these reel-to-reel tape recorder/players that were basically similar to the ones used in recording studios. The listener market and the recorder market coincided in one product for a while, but eventually diverged, with cheaper, lower-quality cassette tapes taking over the consumer market. The hi-fi people dissed the quality, but the average consumer was much happier with the portability and durability of the hard-shell cassette tape. Putting a reel-to-reel or a record player in a car was a losing idea. The average business user does things on the web, writes, enters data, reads reports. They don't crunch number or write code, and can get by with a tablet-like computer instead of a laptop. Those handful who do, will have big monitors, dockable laptops or desktops, and special software. The average consumer watches video. They don't edit video, at least not with the precision demanded by After Effects or FCP or Vegas. They'll be able to do this on a tablet. It's entirely possible that the new trend won't be putting desktop apps on the tablets, but creating desktop apps that work just like the tablet apps.

non-biased
non-biased

Windows 8 works for you and you like it, great. Don't make assumptions though that those who complain haven't used it enough. I won't make any judgment on Windows 8 because I have not used it at all but know a number of people that have really tried to like it using it a lot and have still come to the conclusion they don't want it. What works for you or you like doesn't automatically apply to everyone else.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

took half the money they set aside for advertising and hype and spent it on product development. Then they may end up with something worth half of what they charge for it.

dl_wraith
dl_wraith

........the ghost of Steve Jobs. Seriously, Apple's timing and marketing for the iPod, iPhone and iPad are what made these killer devices. Look at how everyone thinks of them despite their many and well publicised limitations. MS are too late to hook the timing angle so the marketing of this thing needs to be scorchio. EDIT: I've just imagined MS using the funds set aside for ads to instead build a giant glass house a-la Thirteen Ghosts to trap and use the ghost of Jobs instead. That'll amuse me all afternoon :)