So they’ve done it.
The big announcement Microsoft was hyping over the weekend turns out to be a Microsoft tablet, which has been named after another MS product it has little relation to*.
The Microsoft Surface is an ugly tablet on steroids. Available in 32, 64 and 128 GB models, with two different operating systems available- Windows RT (which won’t run x86 code) and Windows 8 Pro (which will). The case has a built in stand and hardware keyboard. USB 3 ports. HDMI output. A camera tilted just so, to let you take properly-framed pictures of your own face.
Now I just recently had a job selling computers. Well, actually mostly selling Ipads because they are what people seem to want. So I can see Microsoft wanting to get onboard. Apple is kicking MS’s ass all over in the portable device category and nothing MS does (anyone remember Zune?) seems to make a dent. Windows Phone 7 continues to suck hind tit, although the one person I’ve ever met who has one thinks it’s the coolest thing ever.
Are there Ipad users out there wishing they could run Windows on the thing? Or is the Ipad fully and completely capable of making you forget that Windows ever existed? I’m not an Apple fan by any stretch** but I will give them credit for what they are good at, which is creating a product people lust for. And in the nine months that I was selling Ipads no one ever came up to me and asked me if they could get one that ran Windows. I would, from time to time get inquiries about being able to open Office docs on one. But that’s it!
Microsoft hasn’t given a price point for this thing yet but if it’s anywhere near the Ipad’s price, forget it. The store I worked at carried five or six different flavors of tablets (counting the various Ipad SKUs as a single product). But no one wanted the Samsung or the Sony or the Toshiba. The ASUS Transformer was cool to look at and had some awesome features and I might have maybe sold one in nine months. No one cared. Because at the price they were selling for (within $100 of the price of an Ipad) people would say if they were going to spend that much, they were going to buy an Ipad. The only tablet that ever compared was the Blackberry, after the dramatic fire-sale price cut that put the most expensive model at $250. And of course at that price, Blackberry is basically giving the things away if not taking a hit on every sale. Does Microsoft have the cajones to price this thing in such a way that it will begin to compete? I doubt it. Considering all the fancy hardware, the built in keyboard, Windows 8, Office, etc I have a feeling this turkey is going to be more expensive than a comparable Ipad. And thus, the Ipad is going to continue flying off the shelves while the Surface behaves like a surface and gathers dust.
*The original Microsoft Surface was a computer the size of a table that does all kinds of neat stuff. You can see one in (exaggerated) action on Hawaii 5-0, doing most of the crime fighting. In reality it would make a great kiosk for hotels, malls etc. I have a feeling most of the potential in Surface (the table) hasn’t been imagined yet. It was a product I was very excited about but like this new Surface, I can see how sales could be dismal at best. One does not buy an expensive piece of technology to fulfill a need one has not actually identified.
**I like Microsoft, I really do! My last couple threads on MS have been complaints because you can only really be betrayed by one you love. It pains me to see MS playing catch up like this because I have a feeling this tablet is going to be the next Zune.