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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 gstoddart (321705) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @12:20PM (#47067213) Homepage

    To Microsoft, everything is a PC which is going to run Windows and Office.

    They've never really been able to see past that.

    My personal desktop has never had Office (or open Office, or any office suite on it), because for personal purposes, I have simply never needed one. I use my tablet for infotainment and looking up stuff on the web when I travel. I don't use it for heavy work.

    I'm not sure that most people want what Microsoft thinks is the tablet market. In fact, given the sheer number of less-powerful tablets out there that people are happily using.

    Microsoft has ever really predicted much in the way of new markets or products, or led the way in innovation. They have mostly stuck with their tried and true "all roads lead to Office".

    If I wanted a laptop, I'd buy one. I'm not convinced that what they're selling is what most people are looking for.

  • Right. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Wdomburg (141264) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @12:21PM (#47067235)

    Don't think iPad. Think Macbook Air with a detachable keyboard.

  • by tepples (727027) <tepples AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday May 22, 2014 @12:24PM (#47067273) Homepage Journal
    This article about post-PC devices [theplatform.io] separates computing into "work", which it defines as focused activity, and "relationship-centric computing", essentially the digital version of social grooming [wikipedia.org]. Phones and tablets are purportedly better for "relationship-centric computing", while PCs are better for "work". It appears Surface Pro is intended to be portable enough and to have a mode simple enough for "relationship-centric computing" while being able to shift to "work" as needed.
  • Re:Right. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @12:28PM (#47067325) Homepage

    Don't think iPad. Think Macbook Air with a detachable keyboard.

    I've got a $30 bluetooth keyboard I use with my Nexus 7.

    Other than essentially trying to sell a full power laptop which can have the keyboard removed (and which will likely have crappy battery life and still essentially be a PC) ... what are Microsoft bringing to the table?

    Oh, that's right ... a full power laptop which can have the keyboard removed, which will likely still have crappy battery life AND it runs Office.

  • by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @12:29PM (#47067347) Homepage

    What was that about doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result?

    Dogged determination and perseverance?

  • by symbolset (646467) * on Thursday May 22, 2014 @12:33PM (#47067383) Journal
    Meaning it is best at neither. Just muddled enough to offend everyone.
  • well (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Thursday May 22, 2014 @12:35PM (#47067403) Homepage Journal

    duh.
    MS is leading the way to a place where you carry you computer all the time and just drop it into a cradle when you need a bigger screen.
    Something that works for well over 80% of the populace.
    I'm not a fan, but the iPad would be horrible to do that with. With it's in ability to shop more then 1 window at a time.

    And I own an iPad, and I like it.

  • by mmell (832646) <mmell@hotmail.com> on Thursday May 22, 2014 @12:37PM (#47067429)
    ...in this instance, they're actually pushing towards a lucrative market. There are many professionals (myself among them) who have long wanted what we once referred to as a "stylus form-factor" PC. They existed as far back as the early '90's, but at a ridiculously high price and with no effort to write software to take advantage of the stylus form factor. Obviously, it never took off back then.

    Personally, the Asus Transformer got 90% of the way to what I was looking for back in the twentieth century. Microsoft's latest offering appears to go the last 10%. I'm a Linux geek personally, but I do need to be able to run MS-Office compatible software on whatever platform I use. Microsoft's pitch -- "runs all your favorite MS software on your device of choice" is actually a powerful incentive for marketing to professionals. If they are addressing the perceived shortcomings of the tablet form factor, I suspect they may well be onto something.

    Not planning on ditching my Android devices anytime soon, nor installing Windows on my Linux PC's - but I can sure see a lot of professionals doing so just for the ability to more or less seamlessly integrate their mobile devices with organization infrastructure. I may not like MS software, but nothing integrates with a Windows-based infrastructure like MS-Windows - hardware platform notwithstanding.

  • And So? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by crackspackle (759472) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @12:39PM (#47067463)
    The tablet PC is not new. It preceded the iPad and Android tablets by several years but the technology sucked. It's better now to the point that a tablet PC is workable and for my money, MS is proving the point well with the Surface Pro line. The iPad succeeded where the previous tablets failed because they reduced functionality down to media consumption only while taking advantage of the then more advanced technology to create a far more elegant design. It’s still not suited to real work while the Surface Pro actually is. I welcome it. I have an iPad and I hate having to switch to my laptop every time I think of some small bit of work I need to do. There is a huge market for a device like this among business users and less casual home users like me. I hope they succeed and if it brings them a windfall of new money. That’s exactly as it should be.
  • by avandesande (143899) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @12:39PM (#47067469) Journal

    Sure, these kids won't need Microsoft until they get a job. The surface is for corporate folks that need a portable computer to do work and are aware that carrying a laptop will make them look out of touch (pun intended).

  • by CaptainOfSpray (1229754) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @12:41PM (#47067511)
    but I don't want a separate device just to do Office...I want whatever device I use to be able to run "everything I use" so I can combine stuff, rework, sort, juggle, scrape and reformat all that stuff into one coherent work output. If, like the Surface, the other apps from other suppliers are either not present or unusable with a touch screen, it's dead in the water. And it's dead in the water if I have to buy again software I've already paid for on another platform. And don't say Cloud. Cloud is dead because using it makes me legally non-compliant.
  • by jkrise (535370) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @12:42PM (#47067521) Journal

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

    How so? What fraction of business users have even considered Windows 8 and above for their desktops / laptops? Less than 5%, if that. A business machine that cannot run Windows 7 or Windows XP is dead on arrival.

  • by tysonedwards (969693) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @12:48PM (#47067591)
    Except, Microsoft is no longer making that much money from Windows. Their bread and butter is Office followed by their various server and software development products. Office gives them 16.2 billion in profit, Windows gives them 9 billion. So, office is *close* to double Windows in terms of supporting Microsoft's vision well into the future. Windows ubiquity is great for Microsoft as it makes things far easier for them, hence why Windows is now free for 8" and less devices as a way of trying to grab a portion of the Android marketshare. Xbox is cool, but then it only provides them with 800M. It does however create truckloads of good will towards them as it is a product that people really *WANT* to own. Try as they might, I doubt that they will ever get anyone lining up at their local BestBuy for a midnight Office 2015 launch. That want creates a halo for them where people are more willing to take a risk on one of Microsoft's other emerging offerings like Windows Phone or Surface.
  • by jkrise (535370) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @01:00PM (#47067751) Journal

    I do need to be able to run MS-Office compatible software on whatever platform I use. Microsoft's pitch -- "runs all your favorite MS software on your device of choice"

    Ever tried running MS Office apps without a mouse?

    Ever tried running your favourite MS software (I mean software developed using older versions of Visual Studio) on Windows 8+ versions?

    Ever tried connecting a Surface Pro to your company's Active Directory and implementing GPO?

    A $300 desktop does it very well, and a $500 laptop does it better, and is portable besides.

    A tablet that doesn't win Windows 7 or XP is useless for business users.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 22, 2014 @01:07PM (#47067865)

    Nah, there are hipsters and those who want a Mac because it has an image of cool that they want to emulate.

    And there are those who want a Mac because the hardware is decent, well designed, and it ships with a Unix and a GUI OS that works quite nicely?

  • Re:Right. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by timeOday (582209) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @01:34PM (#47068239)

    Don't think iPad. Think Macbook Air with a detachable keyboard.

    That's a good starting point but not the hard part. The basic the problem with that is how to converge the touch-based and pointer-based (mouse/trackpad) paradigms. Apple hasn't even started yet. Microsoft took the plunge with Windows 8 and has taken a lot of bruises. Maybe it can't be done well; maybe Microsoft will make all the investment and then Apple will swoop in and beat Microsoft over the finish line with a breakthrough product. Or maybe Microsoft's convergence strategy will win. But sticking a keyboard on a touch device full of apps all designed around touch does not work well, and the same goes for sticking a touchscreen on a pointer-based OS and applications. They are fundamentally different because touch is less precise and so much slower to enter text.

    I think the Surface Pro version of Office should have two modes: (1) "real" Office applications (not a re-write) for use with a keyboard and trackpad/mouse, and (2) Office Apps for viewing and light editing. Documents should open with the right one based on whether the keyboard is plugged in, and could get fancy about switching when the keyboard is folded out, etc. Other applications should follow this pattern.

  • by gtall (79522) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @01:51PM (#47068483)

    "Microsoft is more laissez-faire." Uh, then how come MS has to have Winders everywhere stomping on anything perceived as competition?

  • by cusco (717999) <brian,bixby&gmail,com> on Thursday May 22, 2014 @03:39PM (#47069547)

    Ruggedize these things and every lineman, every CCTV installer and every warehouse forklift driver will want them. No, I don't want to have to use a touch screen on my desk, but when I was out in the field I would have killed to have something as light and portable as this while standing on the top of a ladder.

  • Re:Go die (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jedidiah (1196) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @04:29PM (#47069959) Homepage

    > For one, though you will undoubtedly disagree, they ensured the popularization the PC.

    No. IBM associated their monopoly with the PC. Microsoft just took advantage of IBMs good name.

    Also, Apple and friends established the microcomputing market. IBM just came in as a johnny-come-lately spoiler.

    Ultimately IBMs marketing muscle and Microsoft's subsequent dominance RETARDED the industry and delayed the introduction of better hardware and better operating systems.

    Fixating on Apple II misses Macintosh, Atari, Amiga & Acorn.

    Compared to the DOS that lurked beneath any Microsoft product leading up to 1995, AppleDOS is not so bad. Even VMS is not so bad.

  • by vux984 (928602) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @06:34PM (#47070817)

    Ever tried running MS Office apps without a mouse?

    Turns out being adept with keyboard shortcuts plus the touchscreen/ribbon actually works quite well.

    I wouldn't want to go without a mouse and use a touchscreen on the the 24" screen on my desk. But a tablet on my lap on the couch... works a treat.

    Ever tried connecting a Surface Pro to your company's Active Directory and implementing GPO?

    Its exactly the same as the new win 8.1 dell optiplexes scattered around the company. EXACTLY THE SAME. It works fine.

    Ever tried running your favourite MS software (I mean software developed using older versions of Visual Studio) on Windows 8+ versions?

    That's why we have them. Because iPad doesn't run them at all, and nearly everything we need runs fine on them. We do have a few XP laptops kicking around for hardware interface stuff that just won't run on anything newer than XP but that's a separate issue, and nothing to do with Windows 8 or Surface Pro, as they won't working on Vista onwards. So a laptop with windows 7 pro isn't going to be any better.

    A $300 desktop does it very well, and a $500 laptop does it better, and is portable besides.

    And a surface pro 3 is just a smaller more expensive laptop, that is even more portable, and has a better battery life.

    A tablet that doesn't win Windows 7 or XP is useless for business users.

    No. Windows 8 is far better than Windows 7 is on a touch device. "8.1 update 1" is thoroughly decent and I don't personally really prefer 7 to it at this point; and the stuff I've seen with the "start menu" planned this year will pretty much end virtually all my complaints about it.

  • by chipschap (1444407) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @08:42PM (#47071505)
    Microsoft has become largely irrelevant and they're trying to get back to their glory days. The same happened with IBM some years back. Both companies expected their users to go where /they/ were going, instead of the other way around. Then, to no one's surprise but their own, they lost their edge in the market. "We're so big and we're so important our users have to follow us wherever we go." Windows 8, anyone? Sic transit gloria mundi.

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