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Microsoft Portables Windows

With the Surface Pro, Microsoft Is Trying To Recreate the PC Market 379

Posted by Soulskill
from the can't-lose-if-you-don't-fight dept.
An anonymous reader writes "An opinion piece at ReadWriteWeb makes an interesting suggestion: Microsoft's efforts in the tablet market aren't aimed at competing with the iPad or any of the Android tablets, but rather inventing a new facet of the PC market — one Microsoft alone is targeting. Quoting: 'Microsoft wants everyone to think the Surface Pro 3 is a tablet, but its pricing gives the game away. Microsoft wants to recreate the lucrative PC market that made the company billions of dollars by repackaging a PC into tablet clothing and then hammering away at the Surface product line until everybody believes that PCs never really went anywhere, they just got a touchscreen and a cellular connection.' This is also supported by the lack of a smaller Surface tablet, which many analysts were predicting before this week's press conference. Microsoft is clearly not pursuing the tablet-for-everyone approach, but instead focusing on users who want productivity out of their mobile computing device. The Surface Pros are expensive, but Microsoft is hoping people will balance that cost against the cost of a work laptop plus a personal tablet."
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With the Surface Pro, Microsoft Is Trying To Recreate the PC Market

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 22, 2014 @12:28PM (#47067333)

    Price!

    The steps from tier to tier for processor, storage, and memory options are too convoluted and expensive. Apple is bad enough when paying for upgrades, but this is even worse.

    $129 for keyboard is insane.

  • by NewWorldDan (899800) <dan@gen-tracker.com> on Thursday May 22, 2014 @12:29PM (#47067345) Homepage Journal

    They're a fantastic business machine. They really are.

    But at the same time, Microsoft is losing a whole generation of users who are learning that they don't need Microsoft. I would argue that a lot of Apple's success today stems from the fact that they were the dominant machine in schools 30 years ago.

    Kids today are running around with 7" tablets. Sure, they're infotainment, but they do everything on those tablets. Web, Skype, Netflix, they type up homework, and of course, play games. It is a major strategic mistake to ignore the 7" tablet market.

  • by symbolset (646467) * on Thursday May 22, 2014 @12:49PM (#47067605) Journal
    Keep pitching that "Windows is for real work" idea. It is destroying the Mobile/CE business.
  • Re:Go die (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 22, 2014 @12:50PM (#47067621)

    For one, though you will undoubtedly disagree, they ensured the popularization the PC. The computing world, like it or not, would not be what it is today without the efforts of Microsoft.

    Now, you'll probably try and disagree (as other people have done in later discussions on this topic), and claim that Apple did that. I would suggest you go and do your research, and then actually try out Integer Basic in an emulator and then try AppleSoft Basic. The "soft" in "AppleSoft" is from Microsoft. The Apple ][ was a piece of shit (source: I owed one. I suffered the pain.) before they paid Microsoft to write the OS for them. Virtually every other early computer, that I'm aware of, ran some version of BASIC, and most of them were coded by Microsoft. And like it or not, being able to develop simply for a computer is what made them popular back in the early 80s.

    So yeah, you should be grateful for what Microsoft has done for you.

    cue flamebait tag.

  • by erp_consultant (2614861) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @12:55PM (#47067683)

    and so too is Surface. It's trying to do too much and ends up not doing anything very well. Who wants a 12 inch tablet? Nobody. How about a 12 inch laptop? Could be ok for some tasks but it's a crappy keyboard - and it runs Windows 8.

    The Macbook Air, which it's being compared to, is a far superior productivity device than the Surface. It has a real keyboard included (and a good one too).

    Sorry but I just don't see Surface as best of breed. I can see people buying them hoping to have some sort of magical all in one device and ending up bringing another tablet along anyway. Because the Surface doesn't cut it as a tablet.

    7 inch tablets are the way to go if you're going to have one and MS made a huge strategic miss by not offering one. Larger tablets are dying off in popularity now so who is this thing marketed to?

  • by aussersterne (212916) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @01:23PM (#47068083) Homepage

    The Windows battle is largely over, and they have lost.

    On mobile devices, which are the most ubiquitous form of computing on the planet today, they are effectively out of the game for this round. Their only shot there is to become the next big innovator launching the next paradigm of computing—something that MS has never been able to do before.

    In productivity computing, a decade ago it was still a Windows world, but I've seen shop after shop effectively go Mac in recent years. First the door is opened—and once employees and/or departments are able to opt for Macs to do their work, the balance goes from 90/10 Windows to 90/10 Mac in the space of one or two upgrade cycles. Apple significantly outpaced the PC industry overall in unit shipment performance over 2013 (particularly 4Q) and this matches what I'm seeing in business meetings across partnerships—senior reps from four companies are in the room and now the Windows guy is the odd guy out and everybody snickers a little. Or you're in a multi-hour videoconference on GoToMeeting and the one guy that's sharing a Windows screen rather than a Mac screen stands out like a sore thumb. It's the opposite of what you'd see over the '90s and '00s.

    But Exchange and Office remain ubiquitous—more and more people in business are using a Mac but their Mac is invaribaly outfitted with MS Office (because iWork simply doesn't compare) and their entire business lives are accessed from Outlook. Finding ways to better integrate mobile Android/iOS offerings into their Exchange/Office universe would open a natural space for strong growth and continued dominance in critical business infrastructure. The focus on Windows and hardware is a head-scratcher.

    The most worrying thing for Microsoft is that I've started periodically receiving OpenOffice/LibreOffice/Google Docs/Drive word processing and spreadsheet documents over the last year or so. That never, ever happened for the first decade and a half of my life in business (since about 1997) and now, suddenly, I've received about 20 documents like this this year from people at five different companies—without anyone mentioning it or even apologizing ("Hope you can open this!").

    I don't know if the investment required to make a plausible attempt at reversing Windows' downward slide in market position is worthwhile. I suspect it's far more important for MS to shore up and grow their Exchange/Office business. Nobody is really challenging them yet in this space, but if a viable competitor were to emerge, the forces and trends related to Windows now pull *away* from Microsoft platforms rather than irresistibly toward them.

  • by lgw (121541) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @01:24PM (#47068097) Journal

    It still amazes me that you can't just run normal Windows on the ARM-based surface. The Windows kernel has always (well, the NT fork that is modern Windows) been built for multiple processor architectures. The whol C# infrastructure is as cross-platform in architecture as Java is (if not in CLR implementation availability). Ballmer must have really been off his meds when they didn't leverage those advantages to have "real Windows software" on the ARM.

    But of course Ballmer's MS was all about ignoring the fact that legacy apps are all Windows has ever had going for it. People wrote for it because people already ran it for their legacy apps, and the cycle continued. Now what?

  • Re:Right. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Wdomburg (141264) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @01:41PM (#47068331)

    You're missing the point - "still essentially be a PC", "full power laptop which can have the keyboard removed" and "runs Office" are the selling points here. Just because you are not the target market for a product does not mean there is no market.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 22, 2014 @02:06PM (#47068691)

    Part of what killed SGI, HP, and other RISC vendors was the fact that commodity hardware became "good enough", and 3D graphics went from the realm of high end workstations to part of every single bargain basement PC. High-end SCSI controllers made way to "good enough" ATA-66 drives, then SATA drives.

    Another part was that application makers ended up standardizing on Windows as "good enough", where before, they would make versions for Solaris, Ultrix, UNICOS, Dell UNIX, BSDI, IRIX, and AIX. At best, an application vendor might support Linux, but Windows has become "good enough" for most things.

    "Good enough" is what describes computing in the past decade. Even though archival-grade tape drives are arguably one of the best ways of backing up a machine, hard disks are "good enough". ECC RAM was the standard for workstations, but it got dropped. Computer cases that could withstand almost any post-SHTF scenario gave way to plastic enclosures, as they are "good enough".

    Things may change. Right now, there is so much lipstick on the 8086/8088 pig that it is a wax model of a race car, but eventually there is only so far that that architecture, even with AMD's 64 bit extensions can go. Eventually computing will move to emulating legacy code and using low level architectures with hundreds of registers, but it may be a ways away, especially with the fact that we still have not gotten to the "lets add tons of cores" phase yet.

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