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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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  • Stated the way it is in the lead in, that opinion may be the only logical conclusion.

    MS needs hardware and needs an exclusive.

    Surface tablets may be the ultimate crossover if it clicks.

    • by NewWorldDan (899800) <dan@gen-tracker.com> on Thursday May 22, 2014 @11:29AM (#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.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by avandesande (143899)

        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 lgw (121541)

          Your both right of course. MS is making a powerful play for the business market at the expense of the casual computing market. So far, anyhow - who knows what else they have brewing.

      • by jkrise (535370) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @11:42AM (#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 ADRA (37398)

        Nah, there are hipsters and those who want a Mac because it has an image of cool that they want to emulate. The large majority of Apple users though are those that moved iPod->iPhone->iPad and have been tethered to that ecosystem for the past 15 years (or gathered into it at some point). Mind you, these are also people that have never used Mac's for work and are more or less forced to learn MS tools in high school, university or in the work force.

        These factors aren't changing any time soon. Companies

        • Apple is very user-focused, while Microsoft is very business-focused. Apple wants to control your experience very thoroughly, whether you like it or not. Microsoft is more laissez-faire.

          You can't change three characteristics of current tablets: their form factors are convenient, but not that of a notebook or desktop, their keyboards have gradients of: suck, and their native power is curtailed for general purposes because of the form factor. As battery technology gets better, you can sustain more CPU vs batt

        • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 22, 2014 @12:07PM (#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?

          • by sgbett (739519)

            This is absolutely correct. I don't doubt the hipsters and the cool-seekers exist, but the fact that some people don't even grok that there is a whole archetype of other mac users says mare about them than the 'mac users' they claim to know so much about.

            After ~9 years of a painful linux desktop experience I switched to OSX. Been ~6 years now and I've never regretted it.

        • by unixisc (2429386)

          I agree that the majority of Apple users ain't the people who had them in school - those are probably Mac users. The majority of them are people who picked it up when iPads were introduced, got hooked on them, and spread the word. It's not so much the hip aspect here, as much as the fact that there are apps for just about every need on the iPad - which is more than can be said for Windows RT.

          Microsoft surfaces would have to match or better the prices of laptops for them to take off. People ain't gonna

        • by Lumpy (12016)

          Actually in the high end Automation and Smart building world most of us doing the programming use macbooks.

          Why? best bang for the buck, and the ONLY way you can get a 1920X200 screen on a 15" laptop with 32gig of ram and enough i7 speed to run several VM's.

      • by MtHuurne (602934)

        They tried to go for the infotainment market with the ARM-based Windows RT, but it found very few customers, mainly because there are not many apps for it. A "Surface Mini" would only have a chance if it runs on x86 and I don't know how feasible it is to produce a small light x86 tablet that gets a decent battery life, while also being affordable and powerful enough to run Windows 8.

        So I don't know if I would call this a long-term strategy or just facing the realities of today.

        • by lgw (121541) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @12:24PM (#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?

          • by 0123456 (636235)

            You can. There just aren't any apps for it (OK, I guess there are a few .Net apps that don't call native code).

            Besides, Windows is old-fangled and dull, whereas Metro^H^H^H^HModern is the New Shiny.

      • As someone who had the macs in school as a kid, as well as macs in the school I'm at now, I think it's the sexy packaging more than anything else. All the school's computer's now are loaded with bootcamp, and are almost entirely run on the windows side. This is in a design school, where apple always had a foothold with the students. The shift came not from exposure while you, but from a smart understanding that computers don't need to be a bulky, beige box, and can be a status symbol.
        • What app are they usually using that makes then need to use Windows rather than OSX?

          • It's a mix. Partially due to it being an architecture school, there's a need for the cad drafting programs (autocad, revit, rhinoceros), but even during times where rendering, layout, and diagramming (using adobe suite products that used to be the mac's bread and butter), no one bothers to change to the mac side.
      • by PopeRatzo (965947) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @12:41PM (#47068329) Homepage Journal

        Not just business.

        I use a surface pro for music production and live performance. It's the only tablet that can run a full version of Pro Tools (or in my case, Cockos Reaper) including VSTi's and VST's. I've written control programs for mixers using Cycling 74 tools and the touch interface is spectacular, not to mention I've got a keyboard right there built into the cover. Right now, I'm in the process of trying to get the WIFI n interface to offload effects processing chores (using ReaMOTE), but the damn thing has enough power that it can handle almost all of the native effects for live performance. I have friends who have tried to incorporate their iPads in music production, but the peripherals are mostly toys and the software consists of badly crippled versions of real tools.

        I honestly don't understand why Apple hasn't come out with a full Mac tablet. Artists and musicians would eat them up.

        I can't speak for using it as a business machine, but I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be ideal. As a creative tool, there is nothing else like it.

    • Honestly, my only issue with them is the price. When you're looking at over $1k, I would prefer to just use a Nexus 7 for $250 and buy a cheap ultrabook for $400-$500.
  • by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @11:20AM (#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.

    • by tysonedwards (969693) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @11:48AM (#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.
    • >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

      Kids and people just looking to be entertained don't, but those of who want to get work done away from home and the office absolutely see the value in these full PC tablets.

      With a non-Windows tablet, I have to remote into a home PC to do any actual work remotely, which creates the opportunity for my home network to be hack
  • Right. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Wdomburg (141264) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @11:21AM (#47067235)

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

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by gstoddart (321705)

      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 ArhcAngel (247594)

        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)

        Are you familiar with the Lenovo ThinkPad Helix? [lenovo.com]

        • by unixisc (2429386)
          Around $1400 compared to Microsoft's $800?
          • by ArhcAngel (247594)
            $799 gets you the i3 with 64 GB and no KB. the i5 128 GB [microsoftstore.com] costs $999 and the KB will add another $129.99 so the difference isn't all that much when you factor in all the things the Helix has that are not offered or cost extra on the Surface Pro 3.
      • Re:Right. (Score:5, Informative)

        by Missing.Matter (1845576) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @11:59AM (#47067741)
        Battery life is at 9 hours, enough to get you through the day without recharging. Plus there is a keyboard with an extra battery in it that bring battery life up to ~13 hours. Even with that, the Surface 3 is still thinner and lighter than most laptops.
      • Re:Right. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Wdomburg (141264) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @12:41PM (#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 jkrise (535370)

      Think Macbook Air with a detachable keyboard.

      How many Macbook Airs are used as business machines? Less than 2% at a guess. So the Surface Pro 3 can aim for less than 1% marketshare in the business machines, since unlike Apple, the brand has less charisma than a donkey.

      • by drjzzz (150299)

        How many Macbook Airs are used as business machines? Less than 2% at a guess..

        Yippee! I'm in the 2%!

        (Mostly I use Citrix to connect to the corporate environment but also Word and Excel on the Air. Mine is over 3 years old -- (still) a great laptop; instant on/off with the cover, reliable, good keyboard, very light weight.)

    • Re:Right. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by timeOday (582209) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @12:34PM (#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 tepples (727027) <<tepples> <at> <gmail.com>> on Thursday May 22, 2014 @11:24AM (#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.
    • It can do what it looks. For $900 I can buy a tablet and a notebook, with money to spare.

      • by timeOday (582209)
        But then your data is spread out across multiple devices, or worse yet, stuck in some proprietary Cloud. Secondly, if you look at the hardware in the Surface Pro 3, the pricing isn't crazy. It's no $500 laptop. An i7 in a device less than 1cm thick is impressive (although that one is almost $2K).
  • What was that about doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result?

    • by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @11:29AM (#47067347) Homepage

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

      Dogged determination and perseverance?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 22, 2014 @11:28AM (#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 symbolset (646467) * on Thursday May 22, 2014 @11:33AM (#47067383) Journal
    Meaning it is best at neither. Just muddled enough to offend everyone.
    • Not as muddled as Microsoft marketing.

      My wife is smart and technical, although she doesn't follow the same tech news I do. A few weeks ago, we went through a Microsoft store at the Mall of America. When we got out, I found she didn't know the difference between the Surface and the Surface Pro. Personally, I think this is a pretty big difference, but Microsoft seems to think it's not worth worrying about.

      If Microsoft were clearer on these things, maybe people would be interested and buy more, and in

    • News at 11. Glad to see the circle-jerk here is just as strong as ever - gotta reassure ourselves that MSFT is (still) on the brink of doom after all.

      Some people don't want 2 devices for 2 separate functions; there's a real market for one device that can scale up when necessary, and the Surface 3 Pro is aimed at those people. Not everyone of course - some people enjoy having multiple devices, but a decent chunk, myself included just want one that you can accessorise into a full-on power PC if you want, whic

  • False dichotomy (Score:4, Informative)

    by pla (258480) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @11:34AM (#47067395) Journal
    Microsoft is hoping people will balance that cost against the cost of a work laptop plus a personal tablet.

    I think Microsoft's target audience here started pretty damned small, and shrinks every day as "normal" tablets become more and more compatible with 3rd party peripherals.

    Increasingly, I see people using a tablet exclusively, with some form of docking station to make it more convenient to use as a desktop device. They don't lug around a laptop and a tablet, they just have the tablet and maybe a PC back at the office if they need either some serious horsepower or multiple feet of screen real-estate. So okay, for more than the price of a tablet plus a PC, the top of the line Surface Pro 3 config addresses the horsepower issue, while still having a tablet-sized screen - Too little for too much and targeting too few as a bonus.

    Don't get me wrong, I think MS has the right idea on this one, and may actually have led the curve for a change; but until they can also do it for under $300, they may as well not even have tried.
    • Yea, all that you said is true...

      The key is the price, if this were not so expensive, I'd be a customer... but $1,299 for the model that I really would want, plus $130 for the type cover...

      Yea, no thanks...

      If it were half that price, I'm a customer. It is MS's job to figure out how to deliver that for the price customers want to pay.

    • by King_TJ (85913)

      Well, one real obvious reason the "MS hopes people will balance the Surface's cost against the cost of a work laptop plus a personal tablet" claim is false is this:

      Employees don't pay for their work-supplied computer! And by contrast, your employer isn't financially obligated to pay for your personal computer or tablet needs.

      If the best argument for a new Surface is the idea it replaces both a work PC and a home tablet ... then they've got nothing. The rise in employer-supplied computers actually helps dr

  • well (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geekoid (135745) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `dnaltropnidad'> on Thursday May 22, 2014 @11:35AM (#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.

    • Except that the Surface Pro 3 with keyboard is going to cost a lot more than a medium-quality laptop and medium-quality Android tablet, both of which will be able to run Microsoft Office. Moreover, desktops are cheap. How is that cradle going to compare with a real computer? It spreads files out, but file-syncing services like Dropbox are also cheap.

      It's a nice product, but it isn't obviously cheaper than each of its uses separately, and it's not going to be the best tablet, the best laptop, or the be

      • by geekoid (135745)

        And by cradle I mean dock, my bad.
        The tablet it powerful enough to run everything office workers need, and its portable.
        Corporation already use Microsoft, and MS has some good support for them.

        If reality used you argument, we would all by running Linux.
        Sadly, we are not.

        • by jkrise (535370)

          Corporation already use Microsoft, and MS has some good support for them.

          You haven't lied, yet stayed away from telling the truth as well. Corporations use Microsoft software, but very very very few of them have gone with Microsoft Windows 8. The reason is that Windows 8 sucks big time in the corporate environment, it irritates the hell out of everybody. MS has stopped supporting XP, and tablets run only 8, so it's useless for them.

      • by jkrise (535370)

        a medium-quality laptop and medium-quality Android tablet, both of which will be able to run Microsoft Office.

        Some mfrs still offer tablets with Windows 7, so you can run a proper version of Microsoft Office on it. But the Surface Pro comes welded with Windows 8+, and that is useless for business users and business applications.

    • 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.

      Actually it would be fantastically good with a slight tweeking of the iOS UI. All you do is detect that the device is hooked into a keyboard dock and show the running tasks bar at all times. Unplug it from the dock and the tasks bar disappears.

      • by narcc (412956)

        All you do is detect that the device is hooked into a keyboard dock and show the running tasks bar at all times.

        The obvious problem with that, of course, is that iOS apps aren't designed to handle any change in size. A permanent task bar, then, would unhelpfully cover up some part of the app you want to use.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 22, 2014 @11:35AM (#47067405)

    I bought a Surface 2 (RT, not Pro), and I've been very pleasantly surprised at just how good a work device it is.

    My uses, as an IT manager:
              note taking in meetings with OneNote
              reviewing documents (Word/Excel/PDF)
              presenting (PowerPoint)
              email (Outlook or Mail)
              web browsing
              cloud storage (OneDrive)
              Remote Desktop (Citrix Reciever)
              entertainment on airplanes: video, ebooks

    Surface 2 does all of these well. Better than the iPad I had previously for the pure-work tasks, albeit somewhat worse for the 'entertainment' tasks. Since my focus for this device is work, I've really enjoyed it.

    I think I'd like the SP3 even more, because I'd get all of the above plus Visio, although I'd have to check out the size/weight for myself.

    If what you want is more 80% entertainment / 20% business, or if you are in a business where MS Office/Exchange/etc. are not critical, the iPad is hands-down better, but I think that for many business-types, Surface deserves a look.

    • So, what does a surface RT do better than an android tablet?

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        So, what does a surface RT do better than an android tablet?

        Matlab, Mathematica, Mendaley, Lyx, Cubase, Photoshop, etc. Anyone who is doing non-basic stuff is probably using some specialty programs, and the ones that are not for a Mac/PC tend to be dumbed down, useless and buggy, or simply non-existent. Sure, for a few years I used Terminal IDE on my Android tablet (Thinkpad Tablet, got it because I wanted the pen and it was amazing!) to program and open up things on the cluster through an X11 terminal or a Linux installation I put on there, or compiled Latex and ra

    • by fermion (181285)
      Agreed, but the needed to do more work. For instance, they compared the Surface to a 13" Macbook Air because they could not get the specs down to an 11" Macbook Air. In fact the 12" Surface is about halfway between the Macbook Airs. The fact it leaves the 13" Macbook in the dust, as all the ad talk has said, is not that relevant.

      More often than not, the choice of machine is going to depend on workflow. If you are MS products, then this machine is a good choice. If you are on Google Drive, then an Andr

      • by BaronM (122102)

        Absolutely: Surface (RT/Pro) is a product for those ALREADY tied in to MS systems, not a product to entice new customers.

        Thankfully for MS, in the business world, that's a pretty big market, so take it and run with it:

        1. Remove the silly restrictions on joining the RT Surfaces to a domain and using them for business purposes.
        2. Introduce Surface 3 (non-pro) @$500. Sell it at cost, if cost is less than $500. I don't care if it's ARM or x64, but keep everything that makes Surface 2 good and cut price to t

    • by jkrise (535370)

      My uses, as an IT manager:
      note taking in meetings with OneNote

      IT Manager that takes notes? Interesting.

      reviewing documents (Word/Excel/PDF)

      For every Manager that reviews documents, there are a 100+ business users that create and edit them. Very painful on a tablet, even a Surface Pro.

      presenting (PowerPoint)
      Again, a small fraction of business

      • by BaronM (122102)

        My uses, as an IT manager:

        note taking in meetings with OneNote
        IT Manager that takes notes? Interesting.

        Serious question: what do you think managers do? How do you think we juggle multiple projects with varying requirements, deadlines, staffing needs, and status changes without taking careful notes?

        Regarding Surface: I've offered my thoughts based on 6+ months of daily real-world business usage. I gather that you disagree, but I'd like to know: have you actually tried using one?

        • by jkrise (535370)

          I gather that you disagree, but I'd like to know: have you actually tried using one?

          I tried a Surface RT when it came out, could not join it to the Active Directory.
          The Surface Pro2 was too pricey but the boss got one. Running regular MS applications on Windows 8 gave me a dirty guilty feeling, I didn't feel comfortable at all.
          Atleast on a desktop with Windows 8, you can escape to the classic interface with some effort, on a tablet it is futile.

    • by unixisc (2429386)
      If someone has a Surface 2 Pro, can one run the legacy Wintel apps under Windows 8?
    • by ImprovOmega (744717) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @01:15PM (#47068775)
      Lucky for you your work wi-fi doesn't use an Enterprise CA certificate or you'd be out of luck. Surface RT refuses to talk to anything that's not signed by a public certification authority that it trusts, and it doesn't seem to do wildcard certs either. We had one for testing and couldn't even get it on the network. iPad and Android devices at least let you just click through a warning.
  • by ADRA (37398)

    Try again MS. You have plenty of cash reserves to burn through, so good luck with that.

    On the flip side, I want to say they third party market of tablet add-on's (cases/keyboards) is just horrible. Walk into any consumer electronics store and see 60000 ipad items, maybe 1-2 Samsung specific items, a few MS ones, and literally nothing else for any of the countless Android devices. It just means I don't buy a keyboard or whatever and these companies continue to believe that there's no market for them.

    • by oodaloop (1229816)
      Try shopping on the interwebs. I have a Nexus 7 3.0, and have had no problems finding a wide range of accessories on Amazon and ebay.
  • by mmell (832646) <mike.mell@gmail.com> on Thursday May 22, 2014 @11:37AM (#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.

    • by jkrise (535370) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @12:00PM (#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 vux984 (928602) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @05:34PM (#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.

      • If by "without a mouse" you mean "with a trackpad, like the Surface covers all include" then yes I have. It works fine. Touch is fine for reading the docs, but for creating them, yes, you'll want the keyboard+trackpad cover. That would be why Microsoft sells them. Crazy, right?

        I run legacy Windows software on Win8 all the time. I really don't even begin to understand your complaint there. It works exactly like it does on Win7 except the corners of windows are sharp and the borders aren't transparent. Oh, an

  • And So? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by crackspackle (759472) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @11:39AM (#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 CaptainOfSpray (1229754) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @11:41AM (#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 Karmashock (2415832) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @11:54AM (#47067663)

    I can build a PC from components that can be purchased. If I could the same with a tablet then microsoft might be able to get somewhere with recreating the PC.

    Let me buy a tablet motherboard, a tablet CPU, a tablet memory chip, a tablet enclosure... and then push a tablet OS onto it... and yeah... the tablet might become very much like the PC.

    But if I can't buy the components to build one then it never will be the PC.

  • 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

    • by Anonymous Coward

      A camal is a word used by illiterates like you

    • As an Air owner, I have to agree. I can't see the point of touch, unless you're walking around with it I'd much rather use a keyboard/trackpad. And my Air is light enough that I can walk around and use it for short periods if I need to. For actual productivity, the laptop form factor is far superior, I can actually type on it in my lap. And as noted, I've found Windows 8 to be an exercise in pain. I do know people who really like the Pro, but I just don't see it.
  • My greatgrandfather invented a trunk and a radiator to hook onto a horse.
  • by BLToday (1777712) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @12:05PM (#47067825)

    Looks like a great product if I only look at the specs and pitch. But unfortunately I already own a Surface with Touch Keyboard, and that has tainted my impression. The original Surface is slow, keyboard is doesn't work well, Surface needs a flat surface to actually work well, and the UX.

    Improvements:
    * Slow => fixed by using Intel.
    * Keyboard => no longer the mostly useless Touch Keyboard
    * I'm hoping it's actually usable in my lap

    Still issues (general experience with Win8; 1 desktop, 1 Surface RT):
    * UX: there's no way getting around it, Win8 is schizo. In theory, on a Surface, I would never need to go to the desktop. But I have to switch to the Desktop to change settings like sleep mode timer and the built in version of Office. Win8 will some time let applications will install tons of random icons to the Start Screen, but not include the important ones such as the actual application link. Weird.

    Hover over Flash elements is a serious usability issue. It works maybe 30% of the time in touch interface, the other 70% I would have to reach for the keyboard and hover my mouse over the element to control it.

    The color of tiles does not make any sense. The tiles waste too much empty space and the text is too small for quickly identifying applications. I'm not 18 anymore so I don't have eagle eyes.

    Trying to restore even the Surface back to "factory" takes 2+ hours. Then at least another 2 hours getting it updated. Why?

  • ... was its Office productivity software. Once this was not needed, then Android, iOS and any other platfor would do the job. To properly use Office apps, you need a keyboard. I don't mean poke out the occasional e-mail on a tablet. I mean create documents, diagrams, etc. in an environment where productivity counts. The attempt to push a touch screen interface on to content creators was demonstrated by the 'Windows Hate' reaction.

    Tablets and PCs (OK, laptops too) are different markets, best served by diff

  • It might seem fussy, but I don't really think it is: the biggest trouble with MS's claim that the Surface can double as a laptop is how poorly it fits on your lap. Barring a keyboard hinge, you have to hike the thing in close so that you can use the stand on the back, which, for me, is too close (arms bent like I'm mocking a chicken). Also, it doesn't allow me to get the proper angle of the screen, plus the whole device is really wobbly.

    I guess this doesn't matter if you never put your laptop in your lap, b

  • by giltwist (1313107) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @12:15PM (#47067985)
    I had used a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 all through graduate school. It was great for me then because I did all my typing at my home desktop or in one of the university's many computer labs. I did not need a full computer to be mobile, especially when I've lost several laptops to damaged power jacks over the years. Now that I'm in the corporate world and need to be able to work on a report in a hotel or at a client's place of business, I needed something portable. However, I still wanted a tablet for personal use. The Surface Pro 2 filled exactly that niche. It's got honest-to-goodness Microsoft Office for when I need it and a pretty decent keyboard (if you disable the glitchy trackpad) to boot. At home, I disconnect the keyboard and watch Netflix in bed. The pen is even better for drawing than my Wacom tablet, because I can draw right on the screen. I'm a young, technologically-savvy professional. I'm the target audience for the Surface Pro line.
  • ...is obvious. This is why I don't visit /. as much as I used to.

  • by aussersterne (212916) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @12:23PM (#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.

  • I've avoided tablets, laptops, and smartphones until now, purely because I can't possibly get any work safely done on any of them, and I've got zero interest in infotainment as recreation. I don't need to watch youtube videos of concerts -- I just go to the concerts.

    But this is actually suitable as a minimal desk when I'm on vacation -- which means that I can stay on vacation longer with less cover. All I need is a car adapter and I'll be done.

    Look at me, I'm finally buying a portable computer. Wow, 2014

  • by EmperorOfCanada (1332175) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @12:32PM (#47068201)
    I have seen many combo products in my life fall flat on their face. Basically if you try to be both you usually fail at being either. At this point people want their tablets for the consumption of things too big for their phones. So books, movies, slightly bigger games, and better web surfing. Few people want much more than basic consumption. With their laptop/desktops people want to create. This means a bigger screen, great input devices, and enough horsepower to handle the tools as most people are in a hurry to create content for school or work.

    So people don't mind so much if their laptop is a bit big if it then doesn't get in their way of getting things done, such as hesitating, not being able to run some critical work related application, or running out of juice. And with this being a business/school tool cost is not a huge factor.

    But with a tablet most people are doing one thing at a time so sheer horsepower is not needed, plus they are doing simplistic clicking and swiping so more than a touch screen isn't usually needed. So they want battery life, they want lightness, and generally not being work related it needs to be cheap.

    So it looks like the new surface is the worst of both worlds, a compromised battery, compromised screen size, compromised input devices, compromised ability to run all applications, and a huge compromise on the price.

    So I suspect that they are going to aim this at the "mobile professional" the reality being that the mobile professional who can afford a dataplan will not be doing much along the lines of content creation as they have people for that. So for the mobile professional they will want the lightest coolest tablet or large screened mobile phone around, with gobs of battery life.

    This leaves the non-mobile professional who should just buy a laptop or desktop.

    But I foresee a huge number of bought off news outlets blah blahing about how the surface will change the face of computing, and I also foresee a bunch of 2nd rate broadcast TV shows where they pull out their surface to show the crime photos or whatnot and one of the second rate stars will say, "Hey that is cool, I didn't know you could click the keyboard on like that, how very cool and available June15th."

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