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Surface Pro Demand: Don't Believe The Hype

More workers want a Windows tablet than want an iPad, Forrester Research says. This doesn't mean Surface Pro will realign the industry.

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Headlines over the last week have been abuzz with claims that 200 million global workers are clamoring for a Windows 8 tablet, if not for a Surface Pro in particular. The figure is an extrapolation of data collected for Forrester's 2013 Mobile Workforce Adoption Trends, which surveyed almost 10,000 information workers in 16 countries and found that 32% of respondents want Windows running on their next work tablet.

The figure easily outpaces the proportion of people who said they want an iPad (26%) or an Android device (12%). It has prompted speculation that Microsoft is pushing enterprise mobility across a new Rubicon, one defined by not only touchscreens and thin form factors but also true multitasking, legacy application support and laptop-level computing power. Does this demand mean that Surface Pros will fly off the shelves when they go on sale this weekend, restoring Microsoft to its place atop OS world and erasing memories of the lackluster Surface RT launch?

Probably not.

To be clear, Surface Pro isn't likely to flop either. But there's little evidence that Redmond's new device will achieve more than a modest launch, let alone turn tides industry-wide. Notably, Forrester's numbers were collected in September and October -- before either Windows 8 or Surface RT were commercially available. Microsoft has since sold 60 million Windows 8 licenses but failed to galvanize Ultrabook sales or position its Surface RT as a BYOD favorite. Given these developments, it's conceivable that Forrester's respondents liked the concept of a Windows 8 tablet in theory but lost enthusiasm as they investigated actual options.

[ Are brick-and-mortar, branded stores key to Microsoft's fortune? Microsoft Woos Consumers With New Retail Plans. ]

In an interview, Forrester analyst Ted Schadler said it's possible demand for a Windows 8 tablet has declined and acknowledged that Surface Pro might not be the device survey respondents envisioned. He countered, however, that the "main point is that people thought and likely still think that Microsoft is a contender in tablets." This point is valid; Redmond certainly has the reputation and resources to inspire anticipation and confidence among would-be tablet buyers. The question, though, is whether Surface Pro will be the device that actually translates these sentiments into sales.

Forrester analyst Dave Johnson said in a phone conversation that the outcome is unclear. Since the firm conducted its study, "interest has muted a little bit," he stated, elaborating that that current Windows 8 hardware, including Surface Pro, has not satisfied the hopes of many potential purchasers.

Then again, iPads don't fully address user wants, either. Just as iOS has features that compensate for its shortcomings, Surface Pro likewise has the goods to win fans. In an interview, Gartner analyst Leslie Fiering said the device will play into "pent-up demand in the enterprise to extend the life of legacy systems while at the same time taking advantage of increased portability, multi-touch pen input and a more modern interface." She remarked that Surface Pro can run the full Office suite, which is unavailable for iOS and Android and available in only a limited version on Windows RT. Fiering also noted Surface Pro's appealing ability to integrate into existing IT architectures. Even so, she said the device faces challenges in conquering the enterprise simply because so many businesses are still amortizing their Windows 7 investments. "A lot of IT departments are exhausted from the Windows 7 migration," she stated. "They're not quite ready to do it again."

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User Rank: Apprentice
2/11/2013 | 8:08:22 PM
re: Surface Pro Demand: Don't Believe The Hype
Oh, shut it. The guy makes many valid points regarding Windows 8, including the one about Dell and DEP. You just come across as a jackass.
User Rank: Apprentice
2/10/2013 | 2:26:59 PM
re: Surface Pro Demand: Don't Believe The Hype
Was it your intention to write a hit piece on Win8 or are you just misinformed?

Your objection to how things have been rearranged in the new OS is duly noted. Take the time to actually learn how to work with it and you will find that it is not difficult to get things done. For instance, you say you don't know whether Modern Apps are running in the background. Simply placing your cursor in the upper left corner while in Desktop mode displays a list of those programs. You can right click on one and select Close to dispense with it.

Why did you buy a touch screen for your desktop PC if you only want to use your keyboard and mouse all the time? Or, are you just parroting some other negative comment you read somewhere?

Your ignorance really shines when you talk about DEP. Do you know anything at all about DEP? This is NOT your problem when it comes to upgrading your "older Dell core 2 Duo" machine. Seriously, look it up.

As far as your printer driver for the HP 7520, perhaps you need to learn how to use Google a bit better. I found your Win8 drivers (32 and 64) in about 5 seconds on HP's website.

Please learn to write responsibly. You do the world a big disfavor by writing before you think.
User Rank: Ninja
2/9/2013 | 10:31:16 PM
re: Surface Pro Demand: Don't Believe The Hype
I agree with you Hackworth. I have Windows 8 Pro (64-bit) running on a new desktop and on my sister's new laptop running the Windows 8 Home version (64-bit). I do not like Microsoft forcing us to boot to what amounts to a "Vista Gadgets on Steroids" screen that they happen to call the "Start Screen." I used it for two weeks without any add ons, and even played with the "apps" a bit, downloading ones that PC World declared useful. What I found was very lacking. And no "Start" button after its been in Windows for nearly 15 YEARS??? Crazy. That's throwing the baby out with the bath water....

Just for one example, I downloaded the Facebook app. It is atrocious to use compared to just going to the real web site. Eventually I downloaded Start8 by Star Dock on both machines to be able to bypass this mess and go directly to the real desktop. Yes, I know the real desktop was only a click away, but really, like Vista's Gadgets, I simply don't see much utility in them and having them constantly running in the background. (I'm not sure that they do, but I wonder about that).

I know Microsoft wants everyone to get used to their tablet operating system, but not giving desktop users the option to boot directly to the desktop was a dumb decision. Windows 8 might be "fun" on a tablet, but who the heck wants to be constantly reaching up to touch their screens in a desktop setting - and getting fingerprints all over the screen in the process? I sure don't. I have a perfectly good mouse that does everything I want with minimal motion and effort.

I think Microsoft was foolish to not launch Surface Pro first with its more robust hardware and software support and THEN a few months later launch Surface RT as a "light weight" tablet. By launching RT first, the public perception is that Windows tablets are NOT what they really want. And with consumers easily confused by choices (Beta vs. VHS, Blueray vs. HD DVD, etc.) I'm afraid that once that perception is out there it will be hard to counter without a LOT of expensive advertising.

As an aside, I had hoped to upgrade my older Dell Core 2 Duo to Windows 8 for the good $40 price, but found that since Dell wasn't interested in offering a BIOS upgrade that would support DEP - a process that Windows 8 requires - I'm locked out of doing that and am stuck buying an OEM Windows 7 Pro (64-bit) disc if I want to keep using it after Windows XP is retired in April 2014. Why couldn't MS have allowed Windows 8 to run OK on machines that lack DEP support in the BIOS?

I've also found it frustrating that here, several MONTHS after Windows 8's launch, that I cannot find very many ink jet printers that will support Windows 8 Pro (64-bit) I wanted to purchase a HP 7520 All-In-One Printer, but in reading the fine print on their web site found that nope, their suite of printer programs is not supported specifically for that version of Windows 8. Seems crazy since I'd think THAT would be the version that Microsoft would most likely want people to buy. I'm stuck with it though because the software I use (Solidworks) requires it. I just hope printers will be available soon that will work OK with it. I almost wish I had been adamant with Dell and requested a "downgrade" to Windows 7 Pro instead.
User Rank: Apprentice
2/9/2013 | 9:27:32 PM
re: Surface Pro Demand: Don't Believe The Hype
One can tread lightly around it, or not deal with the problem at all, but the 800-lb. gorilla in the room is Windows 8 itself. It's putrid. An OS designed to please everyone will please no one. And if I wanted a tablet, why would I buy a Surface Pro when I could get a "real" tablet (i.e., an iPad) for the same cost? Stick with what you know, Microsoft--and kindly stop referring to real Windows software applications as "legacy," OK? Thanks.

Businesses and any real computer users are not interested in the so-called "Modern user interface" and its useless "apps."
Michael Endler
Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
2/9/2013 | 7:21:05 PM
re: Surface Pro Demand: Don't Believe The Hype
Thanks for the comment, Kevrut. Sorry to hear you had a frustrating experience, but it looks like your tale will be a typical one this weekend-- reports have popped up that Best Buy, Staples, and Microsoft's U.S. online store are all sold out. There's demand for a great Windows tablet, so a quick burst of initial sales isn't completely surprising-- it still remains to be seen if Surface Pro is the Windows tablet everyone has been waiting for, and if this early momentum is sustainable. Still, sounds like a good night for Microsoft, more auspicious than the RT launch.

Michael Endler, InformationWeek Associate Editor
User Rank: Apprentice
2/9/2013 | 3:49:37 PM
re: Surface Pro Demand: Don't Believe The Hype
Shortly after midnight I went online to purchase the Surface Pro. My order attempts were unsuccessful. The site directed me to call the 1-800 number. By they time I did, they had already sold out of the 128GB model. While there is no way to know how many they had to sell, it sounds like demand exceeded their expectations, at least for the 128GB model.

I didn't order the 64 GB version, which was in stock. Just not enough storage. In fact, I question why they even wasted their time making the 64 GB version, especially since the OS takes up part of that space.

Leave it to Microsoft to disappoint on opening day. I've been waiting faithfully for the Surface Pro, bypassing other options by other vendors that could easily do the job for me. Opening day finally arrives, and now I'm told to wait yet again. While I think Microsoft has a hit on their hand, I'm tired of waiting. I may look at other non Microsoft Windows 8 alternatives.
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