My take on the Microsoft Surface
That’s what I thought when the Microsoft Surface was revealed at their live event in LA yesterday.
It felt like Microsoft had been taking it on the chin from Apple’s iPad for a long time. Apple kept releasing iPads (iPad, iPad 2, new iPad) and Microsoft just kept pimping Xbox and Kinect.
Last night, that all changed.
First, check out the promo video that was played at the end of event…
When I realized how integral touch was to the Windows 8 experience, back when I installed the Consumer Preview, I felt there was this hole in the market. I have a laptop that does not have a touchscreen… would Windows 8 really be OK for me to use? Sure, there’s other tablets out there that will run Windows 8 but the whole “Apple has their own hardware” point seemed lost on Microsoft.
I did use the Release Preview for about a week on my laptop (but had to go back to Windows 7 due to the crazy Chrome browser and video freeze bug that has yet to be formally fixed) and definitely felt like I was missing a core part of the experience by not being able to navigate by touch.
I never thought Microsoft would release their own tablet hardware. But the Surface is so much more than that.
A built in kickstand. Nice. I bet we’ll see that replicated with the next iPad.
A touchscreen, multitouch keyboard built into the cover (called, not surprisingly, the Touch Cover.) I’ll admit, trying to thumb type on a tablet screen using a split keyboard is hard. I actually handed over my tablet to my wife because I simply couldn’t be as productive with clients when trying to type with my thumbs. I’d rather lug around my 17″ laptop than try that on a recurring basis.
Or, if you want, get the Type Cover with a raised-key keyboard (although it’s super slim) if you don’t think touchscreen works for you.
The Surface also boasts a couple different hardware specs, sure to meet the demands of the casual user or the business user.
But, overarching all of this, is the fact that this mobile device (and it is truly mobile) has a desktop operating system with desktop power. Not a mobile operating system, like Android or iOS, so we don’t have to worry about the browser only pulling up mobile sites, or having to use mobile-only apps. It’s Windows.
I could say it’s the same Windows many people have grown to know and love but Windows 8 is not that. It’s a new animal. Yes, at times it feels like it’s change for the sake of change, and Microsoft is certainly incorporating aspects of Windows Phone into Windows 8. But under that glossy, Metro-styled surface is a full desktop operating system ready to take on any daily computing task you may have.
What we still don’t know is the price point. I can’t imagine Microsoft pricing the Surface higher than the iPad range and/or mid- to upper-end Android tablets. I think they’ll want to be relevant and the best way to do that is to compete on price.
How can Microsoft take the lead in the tablet wars? Stay at the lower end of the price lines (or undercut them by just a smidge.) The 16GB Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 is $399 and a 16GB new iPad is $499. Release a 16GB Surface for $399 or even $379. Blow consumer’s minds. Get them on board.
I can tell you now, it’s the surefire way to get relevant, fast.
What’s your take on the Surface? Is it too little too late? Or is Microsoft on to something that will change the tablet landscape? Sound off in the comments below!