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Microsoft's Surface Experiment Has Fallen Flat
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Somedude8
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Somedude8,
User Rank: Ninja
7/11/2013 | 5:31:27 PM
re: Microsoft's Surface Experiment Has Fallen Flat
The Surface Pro is a legit contender, but is just not gaining much traction on the Enterprise side.
MS really screwed the pooch with the whole RT thing. The resulting consumer confusion killed the product at a time when it had considerable buzz.
D. Henschen
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D. Henschen,
User Rank: Author
7/11/2013 | 5:44:33 PM
re: Microsoft's Surface Experiment Has Fallen Flat
When Microsoft's Dynamics (enterprise apps) business announced new openness to rival mobile platforms two years ago it was a huge relief. Dynamics CRM supports iPads and Android devices, even if they always mention the Windows device options first. There's no way to ignore the realities of the numbers,
melgross
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melgross,
User Rank: Ninja
7/11/2013 | 6:24:48 PM
re: Microsoft's Surface Experiment Has Fallen Flat
Lets understand the differences between Surface Pro and the iPad. What may look to be a better spec'd tablet really isn't. I'm pretty surprised that Shane doesn't understand either piece of hardware, and why they are that way.

First the screen. In reality, the iPad's 4:3 9.6" screen has more surface area than the Surface's 10.6" 16:9 screen. It's also a better screen, with higher resolution.

While Windows needs 4GB in order to do its tasks, iOS only needs 1GB. 4GB for iOS would be like 16GB for Windows, because of the very different paths the OS's have taken. It's also well known that 64GB for the Surface Is not nearly what 64GB is for the iPad. You really need the 128GB model to get enough flash for Windows on these tablets.

In addition, Windows requires a chip as powerful as the i5, while iOS and it's apps do not.

Making a virtue out of a necessity isn't a good argument for a device that cost twice as much once the required keyboard is added.

And with tens of millions of iPads in use by business, large and small, as well increasing government agencies around the world, people have learned to do without Office on mobile devices. I did read in another article. In either Computerworld, or here, that the most popular apps for mobile in business and government are Pages, Keynote, and Numbers. Giving the lie to the argument that Office will be a major reason to buy any Surface, or Win 8 mobile device.

So far, sales seem to back that up.
Shane M. O'Neill
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Shane M. O'Neill,
User Rank: Author
7/12/2013 | 2:57:56 PM
re: Microsoft's Surface Experiment Has Fallen Flat
I understand the Surface Pro and the iPad are different beasts, just trying to convey that Surface Pro could handle the heavy loads if you wanted to use it that way. Regardless, the Surface Pro has been perceived as Microsoft's response to the iPad (even if it's not a direct response) and Microsoft has perpetuated that notion in its ads. But the awkward tablet/desktop marriage, the power-hungry nature of the device and exorbitant price ($1,000 with keyboard!) were too much for people to take. Microsoft just gave Apple too much time to establish what the tablet experience should be like. It's tough to undo all that.
melgross
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melgross,
User Rank: Ninja
7/18/2013 | 7:57:50 AM
re: Microsoft's Surface Experiment Has Fallen Flat
Well, ok. But you really need to be correct in your comparisons. Implying that the Pro is more highly spec'd, isn't really correct when you consider that it needs to be to just keep up.

There is really the question as to whether all that older Windows software is all that useful on the tiny screen Pro. I well remember all of the difficulty in trying to use software on the 13-15" compatibles with a stylus. It's just much worse on these 10.6" models. Microsoft knows this by now, which is why we have the Modern UI, and those apps.
DocPG
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DocPG,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/11/2013 | 6:40:48 PM
re: Microsoft's Surface Experiment Has Fallen Flat
Rust belt software companies will keep the Surface alive. For instance, we access our school's clinic information system through Citrix terminal services. The Citrix client works perfectly on a Surface Pro, and their iPad client is horrendous. So, even though we are a nearly 100% Mac shop, Citrix's pathetic iPad programmers are driving us to buying Surfaces.
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
7/11/2013 | 7:40:14 PM
re: Microsoft's Surface Experiment Has Fallen Flat
"All of this makes Surface appealing to the enterprise, in theory."

This is the problem. On paper, the Surface Pro checks off a lot of wants/ needs: mobile form factor and good build quality; access to desktop apps; access to mobile/ touch apps; HD screen; peripherals that let it shift between desktop mode and laptop mode; etc.

But in practice, the device is flawed. It has a lot of merits, and I actually really enjoy aspects of IE in the Modern UI, and, once I got used to it, the way Bing is integrated. But none of the Surface Pro's tablet attributes are going to persuade many people who already like and have iPads. That means the device's primary differentiator is its ability to handle x86 apps, and on that front, it's just not that great.

I know Microsoft is very pleased with the kickstand, for example, but when I have to work on the go, I often have to plop down wherever there's space-- the floor, wedged between people on the train, in a corner of an airport, etc. The Surface Pro is fine if you have a flat surface but miserable if you don't. The flimsy keyboard peripherals are a culprit here, and while I can understand the decision to compromise laptop ergonomics in the name of increased mobility, the compromise doesn't balance properly for my needs.

The relatively small screen, though nice, also diminishes the appeal of the laptop mode and its x86 access. Is it valuable to have a light, portable device that runs Office? YES. But unless I'm in a situation in which mobility matters more than anything else (e.g. reporting from a conference), I'll use a laptop or a desktop every time for Word documents. The bigger screen matters.

Similarly, I like that Win8 tablets let me use things like Lightroom and Photoshop, but if I'm doing more than light work, the small screen gets in the way here, too.

Put another way, the Surface Pro is surprisingly fun when I'm just playing with it, but as soon as I need it to do some "real work," it becomes surprisingly limited, as often as not. I recognize that I might be forcing it into use cases for which it wasn't intended, and that if it's used within the scope of its design, it's great. Fine, whatever-- but how big is the market for people who want to stay inside these design confines?

And that's the point: I think the Surface Pro is a quality device, but it's just too compromised to appeal to a wide enterprise audience. For some people, it will be the obvious choice. Heck, at moments in my day, the Surface Pro is MY obvious choice. But at most other moments, my first choice is something else: a Win7 laptop, an iMac, an iPhone, a BlackBerry, etc. The Surface Pro doesn't replace devices so much as carve out a little niche of its own.
rradina
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rradina,
User Rank: Ninja
7/23/2013 | 12:53:50 AM
re: Microsoft's Surface Experiment Has Fallen Flat
Curious... lots of folks with iPads use them to write documents that are later transferred to a formal word processor on a desktop platform. Several years ago I sat three rows behind my boss on a flight. I watched as he effortlessly wrote annual performance reviews on his iPad. (I was too far to see what he was typing but he told me that's what he was doing.) Later he transferred them to Word and had I not watched what he did, I would have never known.
Although we don't necessarily have to compromise like that with the Surface, if there isn't room for the keyboard accessory, why are we forced to use Office on the desktop? Why couldn't we capture the majority of typing with the One Note Metro app using the on-screen keyboard?
The current Office UI for OSX would likewise suck on an iPad but since it isn't an option, folks cannot complain about how bad it is. It's kind of like having a nice in-ground pool in your back yard and endlessly complaining about having to visit the public pool because you don't have a diving board. Although your pool could have a diving board, it doesn't due to liability fears and insurance issues.
Andrew Binstock
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Andrew Binstock,
User Rank: Author
7/11/2013 | 9:48:15 PM
re: Microsoft's Surface Experiment Has Fallen Flat
"In trying to serve two masters, Microsoft ended up designing a device that's neither a great laptop (flimsy keyboard, a screen still too small for prolonged use) nor a great tablet (awkward UI, lacking in quality apps compared with Android and iOS). "
I have to ask whether you've actually used one for a prolonged period of time. Personally, I like my Surface Pro and find that it strikes exactly the right balance between the two models. It solves the tablet's need for a true keyboard and addresses the ways a laptop can be enhanced by touch screens. More importantly, it can run all Windows software, which is a huge plus.
If the Surface Pro does not succeed, I doubt it will be because of the design. More likely Windows 8, price, or battery life will be greater factors.
Nathan Golia
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Nathan Golia,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/12/2013 | 12:14:25 AM
re: Microsoft's Surface Experiment Has Fallen Flat
I tested a Surface Pro a while ago and I agree with your assessment on it striking the right balance. I think its poor traction is related to its price point G현 you can either get a better laptop for about the same price, or a better tablet for less. I just don't know if there's enough of an "in-between" market at this point G현 though I hope this doesn't discourage innovation in the space because I think there is a great device at the right price waiting to be designed.
rradina
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rradina,
User Rank: Ninja
7/23/2013 | 1:08:17 AM
re: Microsoft's Surface Experiment Has Fallen Flat
IMO -- you hit the nail on the head. In the 90s, the PC beat the Mac because it was significantly more affordable, could be easily upgraded and offered a wide variety accessories. Regardless of whether you prefer Windows or OSX, price is very important.
While I've read many claim that the Surface isn't really competing with the iPad and therefore a direct price comparison is apples and oranges, only technocrats understand this argument. If a consumer goes to Best Buy and they see an iPad and a Surface, they see two tablets and it's natural to compare them. Given the iPad's huge lead and premium reputation, they are highly puzzled as to why Microsoft's price is substantially more than the iPad.
I'd argue that even if the Surface Pro was price the same as the iPad Microsoft would have trouble explaining their greater value to common consumers. A "Pro" model (kill RT) needs to be priced substantially less than the iPad with more memory, more storage and a better screen. Then it might sell.
Tablets are becoming the entry-level computing device of choice and with the exception of Apple (which has always charged a premium for their products), they will sell if they are priced likewise.
Nathan Golia
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Nathan Golia,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/23/2013 | 6:20:21 PM
re: Microsoft's Surface Experiment Has Fallen Flat
Thanks for responding. I have to be honest G현 I am an Apple guy, I like my MacBook and my iPad. But there are times when I'm packing for a conference or something and I think, "Why am I bringing $1500 worth of devices with me?? This is ridiculous!" (computer, tablet, phone, Kindle). The thing is, I would prefer to never have to use my laptop G현 it's big, hot and power-hungry. But there are still certain things I need my laptop for content-creation wise. If it made sense for me to get a Surface, I would G현 but I already have the hardware I have, and the price point and quirks of the Surface don't give me confidence that the EV is any better if I was to experiment with using it instead of both of my other devices. Until there's a clean, well-priced device in the middle of tablets and laptops, we're going to have to muddle through with both.
rradina
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rradina,
User Rank: Ninja
7/23/2013 | 8:21:19 PM
re: Microsoft's Surface Experiment Has Fallen Flat
When you say there are times when you really need your laptop, what is the context? Infrastructure (speed/CPU architecture(apps that it runs)/capacity/ports/etc.) or human interface (i.e. screen size, precision pointer, keyboard)?
I'd argue we're on the precipice where the former context is rapidly disappearing (both because of hardware advances and the cloud) and it's mostly about the latter. If true, we should be able to own fewer devices if someone manages to create a compelling package where carefully crafted and convenient options address the latter. For instance, what if in addition to Internet access, hotels added 22" monitors to your room's desk that supported wireless display standards? What if planes did the same with the entertainment screen on the back of the seat (assuming it's an HD display and at least larger than, say, the screen on an ultra portable and convenient 7" tablet). Another option is similar to Google's glass where VR headgear tech provides a huge screen but unlike glass's single-eye approach and VR headgear's clumsy context switch, the ultimate headgear screen leverages both eyes and is completely immersive. Yet it becomes instantly transparent by detecting certain head and/or eye movements.
We can dream.
trentondel
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trentondel,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/13/2013 | 6:02:21 PM
re: Microsoft's Surface Experiment Has Fallen Flat
"It's also possible that Microsoft knew all along that Surface is just an experiment -- a sly way to motivate its hardware partners -- and if it goes the way of the Zune, Microsoft will carry on. "

So what your saying that by designing and releasing the Surface Tablet is that Microsoft meant to screw up both the Windows 8 brand name and its own brand in releasing a flawed product?

I would think a couple of gallons of gasoline and some matches would have been much more effective overall. I think Microsoft can carry on ,but if the company was trying to use Surface as leverage to increase manufacturer's adoption of Windows 8 then they failed miserably. Selecting a preferred vendor limits overall risk to the bottom line for MSFT look at Nokia.
The Surface maybe a great product ,but consumers don't care because its something different that they don't want to learn. Microsoft is a mature company now and its needs to start acting like one.
rradina
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rradina,
User Rank: Ninja
7/24/2013 | 12:12:54 PM
re: Microsoft's Surface Experiment Has Fallen Flat
Is $900 billion sly? Seems they could have paid a fraction of that to their partners in exchange for improved designs. For instance, why not just give them free Windows 8 licenses for 12 months in exchange for design input?
anon2932416024
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anon2932416024,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/14/2013 | 5:33:38 PM
re: Microsoft's Surface Experiment Has Fallen Flat
Wow the authors missed the boat entirely on this one. Surfarce Pro is quickly building a rabid following and moving up the Amazon charts. Which is no mean feat for one of the most expensive tablets out there competing in rankings against cheapies like the kindle fire. I tossed aside my iPad to use this on a regular basis since I can create real work content instead of just consume it, it's a full desktop on a tablet and I'm banging the table for this product, RT sucked but the Pro is absolutely the right idea and a winner that will only get better. Get your head out of the sand author and see what real people who buy it are saying http://www.amazon.com/Microsof...
melgross
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melgross,
User Rank: Ninja
7/18/2013 | 8:01:41 AM
re: Microsoft's Surface Experiment Has Fallen Flat
Tossed aside your iPad. Not believable. These are two very different beasts. The Pro has so many usability problems that at times, it's hardly usable at all. I'd love to see you using Word or Excell on it. Good luck!
TerryB
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TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
7/18/2013 | 4:49:54 PM
re: Microsoft's Surface Experiment Has Fallen Flat
I've yet to see anyone mention the 800 lb gorilla in the Microsoft enterprise world: Active Directory. Good luck bringing your Android or iPad to work and connecting to domain so you can actually do anything but play Angry Birds. At our company, if you are not in AD internet group, you don't even get internet access.
I bought a Pro to R&D with and use for travel for people who have desktops, not laptops. To connect remotely at our company, you must use Cisco VPN client to tunnel in. You can then use Remote Desktop to connect to your machine at work and get anything done. You can do offline work with Office, if needed.
I personally liked it, mixed reviews from some others who have tried it. The single biggest complaint/observation is whether it's any better than a Win 8 Ultrabook for essentially the same price. And unless you throw the Tablet side of Pro into the argument (my 9 year old daughter loved playing with it during recent vacation), you'd be hard pressed to make a case it is better than an Ultrabook.
Bruce1965
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Bruce1965,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/26/2013 | 2:04:00 PM
re: Microsoft's Surface Experiment Has Fallen Flat
Speaking as a developer, I think MS has shot themselves in the foot this time, at least where SMB are concerned. If I write a custom app in the Metro / Modern UI, there are two ways to get the app onto the device (desktop or tablet): first is to put it up on the Windows Store, for which you have to be licensed at $99 / year (and your app has to be approved/vetted by MS); the second is to side-load, which requires a product key to enable. If you have the VLA with MS and have enterprise edition windows, they give you the product keys. If not, you have to buy them 100 at a time, for about $30 each. As it enables side-loading for the device, it's a one time cost.

For a small business that wants custom development, maybe the $3k isn't such a big deal in additional cost. Making businesses pay to distribute their own in-house apps is not a good way to encourage Metro / Modern developers.


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