Microsoft Surface

Poll: Would you buy your next tablet from Microsoft?

Microsoft is taking a bold gamble with the Surface tablets, but they didn't really have a choice.

Something happened yesterday (June 18, 2012) that will have repercussions for technology development for many months to come. With more than a little showmanship, Microsoft announced that they were going to manufacture and market two Windows 8 tablet devices. This is a major shift for what is typically considered a software company, but I don't think Microsoft had a choice. It had to be done.

Inept partners

Normal PC manufacturers specializing in Windows-based products are just not going to give Windows 8 tablets the technological kick in the pants required to compete with the elephant in the room -- the Apple iPad.

Microsoft has learned this harsh lesson from the lackluster reception smartphones running Windows Phone 7 have received. Leaving the manufacturing to barely interested partners gets you nowhere, even if the product is decent and deserving of at least a look by the average consumer. It requires a certain amount of will to make a marketable product.

Microsoft had to make a bold move and bypass foundering PC manufacturers like Dell and Hewlett-Packard. Both of those companies are reeling in a market that has devolved into a commodity play based on the slimmest of margins. Neither Dell nor HP would be willing to take on the risk of developing a truly competitive Windows 8 tablet. Only Microsoft had the will to make the Surface a reality.

Surface

By most accounts the Microsoft Surface line of tablets is going to be devices worthy of consideration by anyone looking to purchase a tablet. Now, that doesn't mean that the Microsoft Surface RT or the Pro are going to displace the iPad in the near future, or ever even, but at least they will be in the same ballpark. If Microsoft waits for Dell or HP to get to that ballpark, they lose by forfeit.

So let's start considering the potential for the Microsoft Surface. Are you more likely to buy your tablet hardware from Microsoft now that the company has jumped in with both feet? Do you have relationships with Dell or HP? Will those relationships have to be reconsidered now?

Also read:

About

Mark Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.

78 comments
rkliwon650
rkliwon650

What happened to Microsoft's TABLETOP?

rkliwon650
rkliwon650

I don't want to move too fast, but then again... It's all about ROI for me. Am I getting my money's worth? For a product that is "new ground" even for Microsoft, how well will their support be? Asus does have a windows tablet that has the "muscles" to run Adobe CS, but with relatively low battery-life and an Android-tablet that has exceptional battery-life (almost 16hours). If Microsoft can take that processing power, battery life and keep it thin all in one package with an attractive price tag, they will give their competitors a run for their money. And they'd have a customer in me.

drfaisal
drfaisal

Maybe... depending on what other manufacturers have to offer. As it is now, my company has rolled out using Fujitsu T580 Tabletpc running on Win 7 pro; and everyone is loving it due to the seamless integration...

peacock_eric
peacock_eric

OK, the Surface Pro is an Intel CPU and full version of Windows 8 pro, right? I can't wait to see how this will run our .net apps. If it does that and the price is under $800-$900, then we will be deploying this tablet. Why do so many headlines label this as "iPad knockoff", etc. Its a tablet computer... iPad is not the first ever tablet... come on....

james.vandamme
james.vandamme

...it runs Ubuntu and it's available next week for $300.

ckelly
ckelly

Was looking hard at the iPad (wife has a 2 that works well), but I need something more than just apps sometimes. Was hot for a Kindle but came to dislike how Amazon-centric that device and it's apps/books/etc really was. And it's kinda small for reading glass requiring eyes. Have a HP Slate 500 running Win7 - it's OK but can get awkward without the keyboard (To pause system resume, press the space bar - eh?) and the separate keyboard kills the simple portability of the device. Not everything I do is mouse/touch centric either - still a lot of command line things going on for me.

camcost
camcost

Microsoft... keep the price below $800 (preferably $700) for a bare-bones offering. $1000 is not low enough. Remember, you've already failed us at least twice by offering good tablet devices that were over-priced (HPC Wince and Tablet PC). I believe both of those platforms could have stood a chance if you had offered them at a low price (like the iPad). Otherwise most of us won't really be interested in your latest offering. Keep the price low and reap the sales!!

Slayer_
Slayer_

Its probably the first tablet I'd seriously consider. But I'd prefer if it came with both versions, normal and RT. So you could boot the RT version for those web browsing and small tasks, or boot to the real OS meat for serious work. Why? Because, as we all know, Windows, and Windows programs, do not support touch, and do not work well on devices that can sleep or run out of battery at any time. Few people write programs that check battery levels before performing their auto updates. Or check for network availability first. Are we going to boot windows, and every time have it complain it cant find network drives cause your using a telco network? So when I only have touch available to me, I'd rather run the touch oriented system. If I am at a desk and want to plug it in, then I'd probably want to use a desktop OS.

sales
sales

Microsoft will price it like Apple & price itself right out of the market. For a New player in the Tablet market to compete & gain enough market share, it will need to priced like ASUS, low $ with very good quality.

ycc
ycc

I have been using this intel i5 machine with windows 7 pro and office 2010 pro with no issues. My entire business runs from my device and, although the nominal battery life is 4 hours, I go most days without a mid work recharge. If this runs windows 8 well, and I assume it will, then that's the path I will be taking. It is fast and powerful and the best thing since sliced bread :)

johncymru
johncymru

I have a Xoom 1, and while I like it, its many limitations, limitations that are also present to one degree or another in iPads I have played with, means that whenever I have anything remotely serious to do when out and about I have to take one of my laptops instead. So the Surface Pro is exactly what I have been after and means that my next purchase, instead of being a replacement laptop for my ageing and showing it HP TX2000 laptop come tablet and a separate tablet, all else being equal and a not too ridiculous price, now looks like it could well be a Surface Pro.

Gisabun
Gisabun

I'd rule out the RT edition. The other one will be more compatible and you don't know how long Microsoft will support RT. Look at the Windows Mobile/Phone/... stuff. Older phones are barely supported after a year or so.

tjsobieski
tjsobieski

I'd love to use a W8 tablet. I'm tired of Apple being (what most people think) the only game in town. My first MP3 player was a Zune and it's PC software had iTunes beat all the way. Only reason I don't have it now is I dropped it in the toilette, and it never recovered. I have 3 Android tabs, they're very good, but I think the integration of having Windows soft is going to be a big advantage. it comes with a thin, sexy keyboard and case. With Android or Apple, these are almost must buy accessories. Advantage = MS

wyattharris
wyattharris

Heck yes! It's about time Microsoft. I really have no desire to deal with Apple's strong arm philosophy again after using this Iphone. Gimme my PC and get out of the way.

lpsebay
lpsebay

It seems Microsoft has been doing their homework and staying up late. I like what I've seen so far and if they can deliver at a decent price then I will buy a Surface Tablet for sure. I have an IPad but to get any real work done I'm always back on my desktop or laptop, because that's where my real productivity software is. As far as the OEMS are concerned well, where have they been with innovative products to run Windows 8? Most of the tablets I've seen so far have been smartphones on steroids. So now they have their work cutout for them to deliver. To me it's not a matter of Microsoft Surface vs Apple iPad. It's all about being able to use the software tools I need to get my work done and most of those run in Windows! I hate Android base tablets, they are useless to me!

GSG
GSG

I have a tablet now, but if I didn't, I'd be investigating the Surface tablet and comparing it to the Android tablets that are out there in terms of functionality, usability of the software, and price. The iPad is a definite no as I don't want to get stuck in the Apple culture. Apple is like the old mines and farms from the early 1900s where you worked there, lived in their house, shopped in their store, and the company got their workers so in debt to them that they could never quit. Then the company could treat them as rotten as they wanted to and the workers couldn't do anything. The problem with Android is that I may think I'm getting the Ice Cream Sandwich OS, but each Hardware manufacturer can customize it to the point that a decent OS is completely ruined on that device. What may work great on one device, might be slow and buggy on another (yes, I am a voice of experience here). The problem with Windows is that Microsoft is like IBM was in the early 90s. They've been so big for so long that they're stagnating, and have lost their edge. They need to take a look at IBM and see how they managed to pull out of their funk. They aren't listening to what people want and need, and since XP, seem to just be making random changes to their products for the sake of making changes, rather than to make things easier for the average consumer or even the IT professional.

mjc5
mjc5

This tablet bears a resemblance to the Macbook air. But the biggest problem I have with it is that it runs Windows. Sorry, I've just had too many Windows induced train wrecks, and have no hope that they are going to get better. Now for those who have a vested interest in keeping the things running, they will probably like this device.

bwallan
bwallan

We've held off acquiring any tablet products simply because none on the market mesh with our Windows development environment. An Intel based, Win 8 tablet might just be the ticket!? It sure looks like a winner from initial specs and discussions.

James-SantaBarbara
James-SantaBarbara

Excellent design and manufacture. Everything the iPad can't be with Apple's closed ecosystem. And with Windows 8 and all of the third-party developers involved it is a sure hit for Microsoft.

oliver
oliver

The real reason Microsoft will make it is that they will sell a business product, everything else out there Apple or Android is designed for the end user / retail market. I almost bought a Samsung tablet with i5 CPU a couple of months ago (???800 + VAT Trade), instead I got a Vodafone branded one from Vodafone running Android so I could wait to see what Microsoft was going to offer, The Android Exchange client and third party apps are rubbish (ICS might be better) nothing there supporting mail folder hierarchy. Many Apps on Android can and do take some serious liberties accessing private data including business contacts etc... I still have an iPhone 4, I need to turn it on sometimes to talk a customer through settings changes, hopefully soon people will realise it was never designed for business use and change for something which was (windows Phone). I have a Samsung SIII for personal use and a Nokia Lumia 800 (900 not available in Europe yet) for business use, it took Apple four generations to get the iPhone working (3GS) and five to get it right (iPhone 4), besides a couple of slight anoyances Microsoft and Nokia got it pretty much 98% right first time around (a miracle considering Nokia was involved), best of all I know if an App is trying to steal my personal data from my Windows phone. As an IT support provider I am looking forward to the day I will have convinced my customers to move to Microsoft based smart-phones and tablets for business use, at least then we will be able to configure the devices to be user friendly, secure and reliable, if there are any gaps Microsoft WILL allow third party developers to fill the void, this is because Microsoft has positioned it's products in the middle between Apple and Android. Controlled but not completely locked down, it worked for them with Windows 3.11 and NT, I hope it works again. I disagree that Apple products don't give any trouble, if you hand over the deeds of your house to Apple and do everything the Apple way with no understanding of how it goes about acheiving what it does then you will probably have an easy life. My customers prefer to have their hardware and software investment work for them rather than the other way, this is why I have been waiting for Microsoft's offering. Configurable products which can be supported in a business environment!!!! I do hope Microsoft get the price right though, most people are not going to ditch their laptop for a tablet they want both, I wouldn't dream of rebuilding a databse or testing software on a tablet, tablets are also useless as remote access clients (at least for support).

richcobrien
richcobrien

I love it. Surface is dropped like a bomb on the industry and we see journalists scramble to explain their emotional reaction. Surface represents scalability of purpose like no other. Microsoft designers absolutely killed it! (this one rocks). Metro Window RT think Cloud Office 365 or Google docs.- why do you think Chrome is available for Metro in record time. Window 8 Pro to have it all - Display, Development, Entertainment, VoIP, Portability, Notification & Cloud. Showed my wife the picture, she didn't know what it was but she wants one. I trust my wife. nuf said. I would ponder the only real question is "can I afford one?, or two?"

parker51
parker51

I would love to have a tablet but do not like the OS. I will surely consider the Microsoft tablet because of the Windows OS. My Bible program, MS Office, etc. List can go on. Thank you in advance Mr. Microsoft

jfuller05
jfuller05

This tablet will give me uniformity which is what I want in a tech environment and for my personal tech environment. I currently run a mango phone, I run Windows 7 at home and if this tablet is truly everything I think it will be, then my tablet will be a Surface tablet. The only other tablet that excited me was the asus transformer pad, but this surface tablet has taken #1 spot in my possible buys list.

n6xhh
n6xhh

At first glance, the Surface offerings look intriguing. I'm not too interested in the RT... too limiting in terms of compatable software. As far as the Intel version is concerned I need more details of the hardware configuration. I know that there will be 64GB and 128GB... but what are the proportions of Ram/Storage? is the Storage flash that can be augmented with the microSD or is it perhaps a SSD? I know the CPU is apparently a core 5. What speed? Does the GPU support resolutions higher that the 1080i resident resolution via the mini video connector? I already have a fully expanded Nook tablet (32GB microSD installed) that has become my Tech library... I've loaded all pertinant pdf files from Cisco and buy other books in either ebook format or packages including the print versions. It's been a life-changer.

JJFitz
JJFitz

I would consider Surface Pro for work. It has AD integration It can be managed through Group Policy. It supports individual user profiles. It has a digital pen, Micro-SD, keyboard cover, mini DisplayPort, and USB. It runs lightweight apps and more robust Windows programs. It supports Remote Desktop and VPN. I can get to a file browser. (Windows Explorer) It will work with almost any printer. It doesn't require a computer to set it up. I would consider RT for my teenage kids because I believe it supports individual user profiles. It has a Micro-SD, keyboard cover, HDMI and USB.

SgtPappy
SgtPappy

One that I don't have to Root? One that I can install a Cisco Client on? One that I can use a native remote desktop application? One that can join and be managed by a domain? One that I don't have to use iTunes to manage my file system? No brainer!

tsnow
tsnow

Assuming the OS's are bit-compatible across the phone, tablet, laptop, desktop and server, I think the Win8 might be a game changer in terms of ubiquitous data access. If they get it right, I will run Win8 everywhere. I assume MS will build an equivalent to iCloud for the mass-market to leverage the value of "same everywhere". Also, I assume you'll see Cloud apps to also take advantage of the consistent OS. We'll see, I guess.

Charles Bundy
Charles Bundy

Or how much do I have to spend as to which tablet I'll be buying! &lt= $500 go with the iPad (good enough for business use, great for content) &gt= $800 go with the SurfPro (good enough for content, great for business integration)

billfranke
billfranke

What I've seen of the Surface Pro looks really good to me. I'll be happy to use that instead of my 14" ASUS notebook (good but too slow even with a Core i5 & 8 MB RAM, & battery life ain't great neither -- only 5 hours). I used to do real work on an ASUS Eee PC. The 7.5" was too small, but the 9" was good enough -- except for that tiny keyboard -- until the 10" came around. I need Windows, MS Office, & maybe Acrobat Pro (or Nitro Pro 7 PDF) and a basic graphics program -- but not Photoshop, thank goodness -- for my work. Win7 is excellent, but I hope for more from Win8.

FilipVW
FilipVW

(Also) no message on the availability of the new Surface in Europe (I live in Ghent - Belgium)... As a long time Windows developer of LOB applications (and MS ISV Gold Partner), I can't wait to get one myself. Even my wife, who was thinking of getting a new apple laptop, is really excited about the new Surface... We decided to wait for it to come out, and most probable get an additional one for our oldest daughter who's going to highschool next september (she "prefers the red one") ...

ITOdeed
ITOdeed

Because of Microsoft's gluttony for change, just for the sake of change, they will probably put the Enter Key on the left side of the keyboard on next year's model. Then in 2014 it will be in the middle of the keyboard.

Walthy
Walthy

This is what I have been looking for, and I really think Intel missed the mark with their ultrabook. My last purchase of a notebook for myself was an HP tx2120us. HP missed the mark here by having so much trouble with the nVidia chipset and heat problems. I paid over $1200 for a machine that HP didn't support for an upgrade to Windows 7. Never again, HP is off my list. Samsung seems to get it and I suspect that is who built this Surface for Microsoft. I want desktop power in a tablet and it looks like it took Microsoft to accomplish it. I wish there was also an AMD option as I don't trust nVidia after the heat fiasco in the 6150 chipset and the poor engineering from HP, and Intel just hasn't kept up with the graphics side of the equation, but I'll probably be stuck with an Intel i5 or i7. It would be nice if the i7 comes in under $1000. Lack of a hard and optical drive shouldn't be a problem because of the ports available and SkyDrive. I'm hoping that Microsoft didn't abandon an ethernet port like Apple did as I still need to manage my infrastructure from inside, not through wireless. I want a Gb ethernet, USB3, displayport for my large external monitor and my aging eyes, and would like an eSata III, but will manage with iSCSI if I have to. 802.11n+ wireless is great for connectivity and the internet, but not for managing systems. Microsoft pioneered the "Slate" concept a long time before Apple and now has decided to do their own because no one else stepped up to the plate. There was a time when HP would have been there first, but David P.and Bill H. are gone forever. HP needs some innovative engineers at the helm who care about their employees. Their incompetent board needs to be replaced in toto. I think Microsoft got this right, even if its late. Now let's hope they can make it happen soon. They still need to include a Windows 7 style interface in Win 8 though, but we will find a way to make this work and I'm sure there will be people who can innovate around the Metro interface if needs be. Another winner sure looks like the Vizio All-in-one. I love my 22" Vizio 1080p HDTV/Monitor. It has performed flawlessly for over two years now. I hope they even make a larger model than the 27".

xangpow
xangpow

If you ask me the deciding factor will be price. As cool as the features of any of the tablets out there are, the general population will always have "price" be the deciding factor in the final purchase. If Microsoft prices this at or below the other tablets out there they are going to have a winner. Remember money is still tight for the majority of the people so they wont spend big buck for something unless they are getting a good deal. As for the rest of us tech-heads, "price" is one of the last things we look at. Then salavate when we have to save up to buy the new stuff. lol

lvincent7
lvincent7

For crying out loud.. release this to the market any sooner! I've been looking for a tablet that is capable for more productivity and I believe this is just the right product. Android and Ipad have so many apps but many of them are games and office productivity are for sale which doesn't have full features of office documents. Productivity wise, if MS office works for this tablet + adobe photoshop.. that would be superb. I just hope the price is right too.

wwgorman
wwgorman

Yes, I know there are several Windows 7 tablets but they have been reported not to work well. I want a Windows tablet so I can integrate it with my home wireless network of three computers and work with Microsoft Office (Probably Office 2003-----I currently use Office 2007 but hate it. I also want to coordinate my emails with either Outlook in Windows 7 or Outlook Express in Windows XP. I am not sure this coordination can be done on currently available tablets but there may be an App for that purpose unknown to me.

jfuller05
jfuller05

[i]Showed my wife the picture, she didn't know what it was but she wants one[/i] At lunch, I showed my wife the Surface website. She was like, "Oh I want a pink one!" :)

Charles Bundy
Charles Bundy

for what I read as a well thought out list of purchasing factors. My only quibble is at lower price points the iPad 2 is probably a better choice for the kids. Do we know for certain if RT supports profiles? Not certain about yours but my kids usually just use the profile of whoever is currently logged on! :)

JJFitz
JJFitz

since it has a USB port, you can use any USB keyboard you want.

oliver
oliver

Why bother with a built in ethernet port when less than 1% of people need it, it is an expensive extra to include also something else to go wrong and totally unnecessary, the Pro will run Windows OS, just buy a low cost USB Ethernet adapter.

ChrisHyche@AlabamaOne.Org
ChrisHyche@AlabamaOne.Org

I kind of agree with you on the ethernet port. Where I work the have Wi-Fi but it is internet only and seperated from the main network. ethernet or VPN is the only way to connect to the internal network. That said I like that the Surface has a USB connetor. With that I should be able to connect a USB to ethernet adapter if required.

mjc5
mjc5

How do you know this is the one that will finally work? We've heard an awful lot of promises from Redmond over the years. I'm more inclined to very skeptical.

craigc
craigc

seem like Zune - The sequel

DNSB
DNSB

We evaluated the Samsung Slate here and it was a nice piece of hardware but the 3 hour battery life and cost put them out of our plans. As for emails, both ios and Android support using an Exchange server out of the box as do the newer updates to Windows Phone 7 ( I don't consider a version that required me to use a simple password that is not permitted by corporate security policies as working). AFAIK, they allow syncing your emails, calendar, contacts, reminders, etc. If you are going to use a Windows tablet, you are not going to be very happy trying to use Office 2003. You'll want the newest version when it is released to obtain a somewhat touch friendly interface.

JJFitz
JJFitz

I am not sure but the RT screen in the demo had a MS XBox avatar and a username in the upper right corner just like Win 8 for the dektop.

Charles Bundy
Charles Bundy

The Zune was trying to compete in the consumer arena. Microsoft is notoriously poor at that but they are hell on wheels in the business market. Name an Android/iOS tablet that runs MS-Office.

oliver
oliver

IOS and Android do not support using exchange server they only support limited connectivity, IOS does allow folder hierarchy to be viewed but not by default and it doesn't allow storage of emails in those so off-line use is impossible. Android only supports a flatview of emails and folders, no hierarchy, and again will not cache sub folder data for off-line use, for both the default exchange client and third party apps. (I have read somewhere that ICS might have fixed this but don't know if it is true). No synching of notes either.

DNSB
DNSB

Not by what Microsoft themselves stated. The fact that the original release of Windows Phone 7 did not support the use of alphanumeric passwords with Exchange ActiveSync made that rather clear. I don't know about your organization but those that I deal with require complex passwords which makes a simple numeric password a non-starter.

Charles Bundy
Charles Bundy

Wasn't aware of the exchange bug, we don't really cross the streams (so to speak) between iCloud and Exchange calendars. Thx for the heads- up tho! If by [i]horses for courses[/i] you mean use what works for you, I couldn't agree more. The intent behind my reply was to bring balance to the force. :)

oliver
oliver

Firstly let me say I'm not a Microsoft evangelist, we support multiple OS's and programs from many vendors. By the way you are actually proving my point in my post below, the iPhone is a consumer product, the Windows phone is a business product, that's the way they were designed... and I think the same applies to iPad V Surface Pro tablet. I don't use IOS 5, after clients upgraded to it we had to contact two APP authors to make changes also we had to re-write a server program which runs on all versions of all browsers in order for it to run properly on Safari in IOS 5. Not sure of the exact cause but Safari started inserting weird characters in the middle of strings and paths after IOS 5 upgrade. Has IOS 5 taken away the restriction of 200 messages max to Synch with exchange server? My iPhone is set to "No limit" on Mail days to synch, however emails start mysteriously dissapearing after a few months, they download again when opening the folder when connected, I have at least 20GB of free space, not much use if you are on a flight! The default option shows all my emails from all POP accounts and Exchange in a flat layout, I want POP emails delivered into a sub folder of my Exchange inbox directly through a POP connection not through the office server. I have spent hours on flights using my laptop (in flight mode) to put tenders together and catching up with emails, off-line mail is useful to some people, when connectivity is restored all the work is sent off. This could just as easily apply to a tablet. Are you aware of the iCloud bug when responding to a changed apointment to an exchange user? Have Apple fixed this yet? It doesn't save the change when you accept it, something to do with Apple using their own format. My needs are for business as are the people we advise so I guess it's down to horses for courses.

Charles Bundy
Charles Bundy

doesn't track with your iOS comments. I can see any and all mail folders w/o any other setup. Isn't that the definition of "default"? For grins I just added a folder called Test by hitting the [new mailbox] button and selecting [Exchange]. By golly I can also move messages to it using ye olde iPad. Yup it's there under OWA too. :) Folder data is cached as well, at least wrt to the latest updates I did before going off WiFi. You are correct in that I only see latest activity cached offline but I don't really think e-mail is useful w/o network connectivity. Calendar works well too, tho the iCloud/Exchange bullets get a tad colorful (our family shares calendars both ways)