It looks like the new Microsoft Surface is going to be expensive and very expensive, depending on which version you get — apparently there’s no inexpensive sub-$500 version — so, it looks like Microsoft will do the same stupid thing that Motorola did with it’s too expensive Xoom. The lesson is: if you want to win the tablet wars, you’re going to have to take a wash on the retail price — at least until you build even 1% of market share. Otherwise, the iPad is your master and you’ll always be Apple’s bitch in the tablet (and smartphone) wars.
Based on what Microsoft has said, however, the one thing Surface may be missing is the consumer-friendly entry-level price point of $500. That appears to be the magic number for people to buy iPads, and tablets that have been initially priced above that have failed to gain much traction: i.e., RIM’s BlackBerry PlayBook and the HTC Jetstream.
Perhaps Microsoft will still meet the $500 price with the 32GB version as does the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime TF201, but we won’t know for sure until Windows RT Surface tablets hit store shelves.
Microsoft is off to a good start with Surface, but we’ll have to wait a few months yet to find out if the company’s promises will meet consumer expectations.
A frustration for many users of the iPad and other touchscreen devices is the keyboard. While it’s possible to get somewhat proficient at tapping spots on a flat screen, most acknowledge it’s impossible to get e-mail and other documents written as quickly as with physical keys.
Sure, there are third-party keyboards you can buy to add onto the iPad, but they can be clunky.
The Surface keyboard will be part of its Touch Cover, which is connected with magnets and flips open. There will be a version with pressure-sensitive flat keys and another with more traditional raised keys called a Type Cover.
They’re both sleeker and thinner than many of the third-party offerings for the iPad. The Touch Cover is 3 millimeters thick, and the Type Cover is 5 millimeters.
And for the style-sensitive among us, they’ll come in a variety of colors, including black, pink, red and blue.
Some folks see the inclusion of a keyboard as the Surface’s big selling point.
From ABC News: Microsoft’s ‘Surface’ Tablet Aims for Productivity
One version of the Surface, which won’t go on sale until sometime in the fall, is 9.3 millimeters thick and works on the Windows RT operating system which was made for tablets that run on low-power chips designed by British chipmaker ARM Holdings PLC.
It comes with a 0.7-millimeter thick kickstand to hold it upright and a 3-millimeter-thick touch keyboard cover that snaps on using magnets. The device weighs under 1.5 pounds.
The size is similar to the latest iPad, which is 9.4 millimeters thick and weighs 1.3 pounds.
Surface has a screen that measures 10.6 inches diagonally, compared to 9.7 inches for the iPad, but it comes in the 16:9 aspect ratio, which is suited to watching video in the widescreen format. The iPad’s screen size ratio is 4:3.
Microsoft said the Surface’s price tag will be similar to the iPad, which sells for $499 to $829, depending on the model.
A slightly thicker version — still less than 14 millimeters thick and under 2 pounds — will work on Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 Pro operating system and cost as much as an Ultrabook, the company said. The pro version comes with a stylus that allows users to make handwritten notes on documents such as PDF files. It will be released about three months later.
Those who attended the Surface launch and got the chance to handle the tablets praised them for their sleek design. Of course, the tablets on display amount to prototypes – the fine print on the spec sheet posted online says the devices could be altered before they actually go on sale. And it’s telling that Microsoft wouldn’t actually let any of the journalists attending type on the Touch Cover, the tablet cover that doubles as a touchscreen-like keyboard. It may be cool, but it’s apparently not ready for a critical appraisal.
Windows 8 itself has drawn decidedly mixed reviews, with many critics disliking its hybrid nature – part traditional Windows desktop, part touch-based, mobile OS. Surface helps get around that because the first tablet to be released will be the one running Windows RT on an Nvidia-made ARM processor, which deprecates the desktop – you can’t run legacy Windows software using it. A Surface tablet that uses an Intel processor, which will run “classic” software, won’t come until three months after Windows 8 is released.
I suspect the creators of Windows 8 would love nothing more than to throw out the old-school Windows desktop and go with the new Metro interface alone, but the change-averse Windows customer base wouldn’t stand for that. Keeping the Windows desktop is like training wheels on a new bicycle. Eventually they will come off, but not yet.
A Surface tablet that forces users to the Metro side of the house – particularly one that has an aura of cool – will help that process along. In that sense, Surface is more about Windows than it is about being a hot hardware product.
- Microsoft’s Surface tablet revealed (thesun.co.uk)
- Is this the ‘iPad killer’ at last? Microsoft unveils new Surface tablet designed to work with Windows 8 (naijaintellect.wordpress.com)
- Who is the Microsoft Surface for, exactly? (cbsnews.com)
- Microsoft unveils Surface tablet (photos.mercurynews.com)
- Microsoft Surface Tablet: 5 Questions (pcworld.com)
- Microsoft unveils ‘Surface’ tablet computer (bostonherald.com)
- Microsoft announces new “Microsoft Surface” tablet (magnaefamae.com)
- Microsoft Surface vs Apple iPad: the battle of the specs (venturebeat.com)
- How does Microsoft Surface compare to the iPad and Kindle Fire? – Geek (geek.com)
- Three ways Microsoft’s Surface tablets may beat the iPad in enterprises (blogs.computerworld.com)