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Microsoft Handhelds Windows Technology

Why Microsoft's Surface Pro Could Fail 442

Nerval's Lobster writes "Microsoft's Surface Pro boasts one feature that could rapidly become an Achilles Heel, especially if Microsoft intends for the device to compete against Apple's iPad and a host of lightweight Google Android touch-screens. In a Nov. 29 Tweet to a customer, the official Surface Twitter feed claimed: 'We expect it [Surface Pro] to have approx. half the battery life of Surface with Windows RT.' That means Surface Pro will have roughly four hours of battery life. That's roughly half the battery life (if not less) of Apple's various iPads, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, Research In Motion's PlayBook, Hewlett-Packard's now-cancelled TouchPad, and Motorola's all-but-forgotten Xoom. In other words, pretty much every tablet currently on the market. Nor can the Surface Pro compete with other tablets on price. The 64GB version of the device will retail for $899, with the 128GB version coming in a little higher at $999."
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Why Microsoft's Surface Pro Could Fail

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  • by Guspaz ( 556486 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @12:22PM (#42142473)

    It competes with ultrabooks. Unfortunately, it doesn't compare all that favourably to ultrabooks either (about the same price, same weight, smaller screen, no keyboard included), and stealing sales from Wintel ultrabooks doesn't really help Microsoft or Intel.

  • Stupid (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 30, 2012 @12:22PM (#42142485)

    Only a stupid person would think this. It is by FAR the most powerful tablet on the market, so obviously the battery life will suffer. To run full x86 applications will drain battery - its the best that it could be at 4 hours without being financially unviable. It's the same amount of battery life that laptop/tablet hybrids that already exist have.

    The iPad may have more battery life, but it can't replace a laptop. Pro Surface can, and that is it's killer feature. Battery life at 4 hours is fine (plus, since it supports USB 3.0, how long until someone makes a USB charging block that gives you a full charge that you can carry around with you? Not long is the answer)

  • *facepalm* (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 30, 2012 @12:22PM (#42142491)

    It's a full-blown Windows 8 laptop in a tablet form factor, stop comparing it to the iPad, the Galaxy Tab, the Playbook, the TouchPad, the Xoom, the Transformer Prime, etc....

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 30, 2012 @12:26PM (#42142563)

    Decent CPU, memory and hi-res display. Four-to-five hours is good commuting/coffee shop time, so while its a not a perma-road-warrior machine, its not horrible.

  • by ischorr ( 657205 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @12:30PM (#42142629)

    Then this is clearly the wrong device for your needs, and it's not intended to be. The Surface RT would be a device aimed closer at you, though it'd be too expensive as well per your criteria.

  • Re:*facepalm* (Score:5, Insightful)

    by marcosdumay ( 620877 ) <> on Friday November 30, 2012 @12:32PM (#42142649) Homepage Journal

    Ok, so let's compare it with full-blown laptops, that are both more powerfull and cheaper.

  • by omnichad ( 1198475 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @12:38PM (#42142771) Homepage


  • by mystikkman ( 1487801 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @12:46PM (#42142953)

    Anyone else tired of the constant negative stream of non-sequitir flamebait summaries and articles on Windows 8 or even Microsoft/Apple on Slashdot and any and all positive or neutral news being totally ignored?

    After driving away all the folks with half a clue, even the echochamber seems to be losing interest in constantly talking to itself on Slashdot, with only 33 comments after half an hour of posting inspite of the flamebait title and summary, just hastening the steady descent of Slashdot into irrelevance.

    Last one out turn off the lights.

  • Re:*facepalm* (Score:2, Insightful)

    by oGMo ( 379 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @12:52PM (#42143071)
    When you're tethered to a power outlet, that's not "more portable". That's less portable.
  • by Sir_Sri ( 199544 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @12:55PM (#42143141)

    They aren't supposed to really compete on any point.

    Surface are deliberately overpriced so that the 3rd party manufacturers can make the same product or better for less money.

    It's a kick in the ass to the 3rd party guys to stop making shit, not a serious effort by microsoft to own the tablet space hardware and software.

    Besides that, the battery life is why they have an ARM version at all. The biggest weakness of surface (either of them) is that it has windows 8 on it, and windows 8 is terrible.

  • by TheMiddleRoad ( 1153113 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @01:03PM (#42143299)

    Have you used Windows 8 for more than 30 seconds in a store? I'm using it right now on a 6-year-old laptop. Windows 8 is just fine. It's certainly superior to IOS in every imaginable way. My only disappointment with the Surface is its low resolution. I've been rocking 1920x1200 for 6 years, and just got 2560x1440 on the desktop. I don't want to go backwards.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 30, 2012 @01:05PM (#42143345)

    Sometimes a duck is a duck.
    Sometimes Microsoft shit is Microsoft shit.

    Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

  • by SomePgmr ( 2021234 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @01:08PM (#42143385) Homepage

    Yeah, people are still emotionally involved in microsoft's failure. It's a hold-over from when they really mattered, and behaved horribly.

    Of course that's not so relevant anymore and there's no rational reason to get so worked up over "yet another device" or "yet another windows". I think even microsoft knows that getting traction with a brand new line of tablets with a new tablet-y UI on a new windows, in an already saturated market, is a difficult and risky thing.

    We'll see what happens, but I'd guess (only guess) that the surface line will end up being like google's platform references while other companies produce their own, less expensive, more capable tablets with a breadth of options more like we're accustomed to in laptops.

    Fire to Nexus to iPad to Surface... it'll be nice to see options filling in the cracks. You'll note the new, larger Nexus and new, smaller iPad. They're each trying to push out from their respective beachheads.

  • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @01:19PM (#42143599) Journal
    Then who is the device intended to be sold to? The same people who've been buying Windows tablets for the last ten years, and were unpopular?
  • by thesandtiger ( 819476 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @01:22PM (#42143649)

    I'm on the opposite end - my use case recently changed and I needed a more powerful tablet (I was using an iPad2 for walkaround site visits), so I grabbed a ThinkPad X230T. With decent factory specs and some upgrades bought from Newegg (ssd, more RAM) it ran me $1030, and I get a battery life of 9.5-11 hours with the extended battery.

    Surface Pro just seems like a product stuck in the not-so-sweet spot. People who need just a tablet can go with any number of choices (iPad, Galaxy, whatever) and people who need a tablet+, which is what the Pro seems to be going for, can just get a much better device for around the same price.

  • Re:Stupid (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Missing.Matter ( 1845576 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @01:23PM (#42143671)
    The difference for people interested in the surface is that it can become laptop-like, while a laptop cannot become tablet-like. They have some that do: convertibles. But they never lose the bulk of their keyboards is tablet form. So there's a continuum here.... for people who want more tablet than laptop there's the surface. For people who want more laptop than tablet there's convertibles all the way to full laptops. No reason to knock the surface because it doesn't fit into the category you prefer; there are options for you and this is not one. Doesn't mean it won't sell to those who want this option.
  • by poity ( 465672 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @01:28PM (#42143765)

    GP is right in some respects though. Slashdot will nurture even the shittiest open source projects (Openmoko anyone?), and rarely dare print harsh truths about them. Imagine an article that told us Openmoko was destined to fail as it did. That article would have "called a duck a duck", but I can guarantee it would have been deemed FUD, astroturf, written by someone with a grudge, etc. Some of us have a higher expectation of Slashdot, because nerds are supposed to be more intelligent and thoughtful, and we are disappointed when its behavior doesn't rise above the fray.

  • by nebular ( 76369 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @01:29PM (#42143799)

    I have an ExoPC. It gets about 4 hours of battery life. With current x86 mobile chips, that's about all you're going to get without killing the performance

    The surface pro isn't competing with the ipad or the android tablets. It's targeted to those who need to be able to run existing windows applications, but want the convenience of a touchscreen tablet. That's what I wanted when I bought the Exo and it's why I'm interested in the surface pro. I didn't expect as long battery life.

    If Microsoft knows anything they aren't expecting huge surface pro sales.

  • by mystikkman ( 1487801 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @01:35PM (#42143907)

    Anyone else tired of the constant negative stream of non-sequitir flamebait summaries and articles on Windows 8 or even Microsoft/Apple on Slashdot and any and all positive or neutral news being totally ignored?

    Let's see...

    Monday - Windows 8 PCs Still Throttled By Crapware

    Tuesday - Hello, I'm a Mac. And I'm a $248 Win8 PC.

    Thursday - NPD Group Analysts Say Windows 8 Sales Sluggish

    Friday - Why Microsoft's Surface Pro Could Fail

    Also, note how news on Tuesday that Microsoft has sold 40M Windows 8 licenses so far completely missed Slashdot's front page... only to be briefly mentioned two days later in the NPD story summary. But when there was a rumor that Windows 8 sales were below expectations, there it was [] hanging on the front page.

    Also Slashdot totally ignored the following:

    The NPD survey didn't include the biggest sales day of the year, Black Friday.

    Black Friday boosts Windows 8 net use in US above 2% []
    Windows 8 sells 4 million copies in 3 days. 40 million in a month. Some apps get more than 1 million downloads and some apps go over $25K revenue.
    Windows 8 overtakes all of Android web traffic in just 10 days []

    New tagline:

    Slashdot, Fox News for tech zealots, Stuff that doesn't matter.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 30, 2012 @01:39PM (#42143953)

    It's great for artists and for non-techies who can't type very well. For people like us, there are also two types of keyboard covers we can choose.

  • by mystikkman ( 1487801 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @01:56PM (#42144291)

    Can your iPad run Eclipse or Visual Studio? Or the real Photoshop and not the super crippled lite version? Or the real Matlab?

    Does it have a full USB 3.0 port? Can you connect a Nexus to it and debug your Android app that you're developing in Eclipse on it?

    Can you run two applications side by side on it? Like a chat or twitter client beside your browser?

    Does it have a proper digitizer to take accurate notes on? Does it have a SDXC slot to add or swap 64 or 128GB microsd cards?

  • by 0123456 ( 636235 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @03:02PM (#42145407)

    If I wanted to type in application names to run programs, I'd still be using DOS.

    If your GUI requires you to type application names to start them, you've just shown that it's a lousy GUI.

  • by rgbatduke ( 1231380 ) <rgb@ph y . d u k> on Friday November 30, 2012 @03:20PM (#42145741) Homepage

    I was in our local supermall yesterday. They had an interior kiosk set up to sell Surfaces, manned by an easy half dozen earnest young salespeople hired for the season. They didn't have a single customer in view -- not one in all the times I walked by it. Everybody standing around looking bored.

    The Apple store about fifty meters away, on the other had was absolutely packed, as it always is, with customers waiting in line. It wasn't even a busy night at the mall -- parking was actually pretty easy for the season.

    The really interesting question is -- can Microsoft compete ANYWHERE on a level playing field? If they didn't have the world's computer retailers in a ball-lock with their pricing formula, would they even exist? The answer is not so clear. I've watched student PC and laptop ownership transition from nearly all WinXX PCs to nearly all Apple products in only five years. iPhone, iPad, iPod, thinline apple laptop -- standard operating equipment for current college students. A smattering of Droid tabs and phones in there -- it is the nerd product and also pretty cool. Even linux-based systems -- the choice of the ubergeek -- are starting to compete with Windows systems for a whole generation of kids.

    If Valve/Steam works out and games move over the Linux big time, Windows could actually experience the start of its long awaited death spiral.


  • by Jeremiah Cornelius ( 137 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @03:49PM (#42146249) Homepage Journal


    I'm not a fanboi. I do have a long history with Apple - an Apple ][ in 79-81. I loved, and could never touch, the NeXT in its heyday. I wrangled lab work to get to the NeXT and Indigos....

    At that time - Mac II FX & ci - I hated Apple. OS 6,7 made me laugh.

    Despite being NeXTophile, I thought Apple passing Be for NeXT was a mistake. I got that one wrong...

    It took a couple of revs on OSX before I was more than just curious. By the first Aluminum PowerBook? I was at least a partial user.

    I'd rather be running Linux. Most of the time, I do. But I have a MountainLion setup that, after hours of tweak, matches most of my Mint/Ubuntu/Elementary setup. (Hit F12, and console visor drops, with multiple tabs. Full toolchain and POSIX/GNU essentials)

    So, I am prepared to say that the Retina MacBookPro is - by far - the best computer I have ever used in my life. If Sony or Dell came up with something equal, I'd have no qualms - but I don't hold my breath. This thing is so fast and responsive, I run a fullscreen Quetzal VM instead of a 2010 Latitude.

    This is not a fluke - but apparent to anyone who's had the opportunity to evaluate a daily experience between the me-too PCs and the Apple package.

  • by spire3661 ( 1038968 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @03:54PM (#42146331) Journal
    15-20 GB out of 64GB(pre-formatted size) is UNACCEPTABLE. how do you defend that? the 64 GB model should not even exist at those price points and shows MS' desperation in keeping costs down.
  • by Rob Y. ( 110975 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @06:08PM (#42148321)

    5) Can run touch apps and browsing for couch use, although an additional cheap 7" tablet might be good for couch, bed and bathroom use.

    That pretty much sums it up. The Surface Pro is usable as a tablet, but not really handy as one. Why not just buy a cheap laptop. It would be as powerful as the Surface, have much more storage, and the savings would pay for the Nexus 7 you admit you really ought to have for the times you really want a tablet.

  • by thoth ( 7907 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @06:25PM (#42148677) Journal

    Yes, the Surface is more powerful than other tablets.
    But "the market" has shown that the people buying these things DON'T want that stuff.
    This is the downfall of the device, it straddles two worlds and is compromised.

    I actually tried a Surface out, at the local Microsoft store. Honestly, I didn't think it was bad. I got used to the touch cover after ~10 mins, it seemed OK. I'd get one just because I like gizmos, but it would need to be about 50% of the current price for me to do it. That's the Windows RT version, I wouldn't mind a device with limited software and basically use browsers and so on. But not for $600. And no way for $900 or $1000. For that I'd either get a tablet for cheaper, or a notebook for a little more.

    Granted, I'm just one data point. We shall see how well this Christmas season treats Windows 8 and these Surface devices. I have a feeling it is going to be very ugly for Microsoft, just based on software availability (RT and app store), UI issues (not talking just getting used to Metro, I mean the confusion people are going to have when they can't find their files because of Metro app sandboxing), cost, and the sheer momentum of the other mobile ecosystems.

    I mean seriously, just to pick from your spin list. #3 - active digitizer. Hasn't that failed to be a selling point for 15+ years? And #4 - photoshop. Of course the ipad version is "crippled for touch" - running photoshop full blast means a real keyboard/mouse not the touch cover implementation (keyboard and touchpad is OK, not a heavy use replacement for the real things). Kinda defeats the purpose at that point. #2 - dev system for other mobile devices. Seriously, who the heck is that a major use scenario for?

    Sorry but that list is something only a Microsoft product group manager would come up with, which is "how can we make a mobile device that leverage Windows" and not the other way around which is "what do normal people do with mobile devices?"

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