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12/7/2013
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Microsoft Sells Dell's Venue 8 Pro Tablet For $99

You're unlikely to find a better Windows 8 tablet deal. How does Dell's tablet stack up to the iPad?

On Monday, for one day only, Microsoft's online store and retail locations will sell Dell's Venue 8 Pro Windows 8.1 tablet for $99, an eye-opening $200 off the new device's regular price. If you've been on the fence about buying a Windows tablet this holiday season, you're unlikely to find many deals better than this one.

Dell's 8-inch slate isn't the first mini-tablet to run the full version of Windows, including desktop apps. But earlier efforts, such as Acer's Iconia W3, were hampered by cheap hardware and slow processors, to say nothing of Windows 8's rough edges and infamous learning curve. Dell's Venue line, in contrast, has been generally well-received. Forrester analyst David Johnson told InformationWeek in October that the devices are compelling options that compare favorably to more expensive and ballyhooed options, such as Microsoft's Surface tablets.

But you'll have to act fast if you want in on this deal. The offer is good only on Monday, and each Microsoft location will sell only twenty Venue 8 Pros at $99. After that, the devices will sell for $199 - still a pretty good deal - until inventory is depleted. Microsoft's online store will offer the Venue 8 Pro for $99 to the first 100 customers. After that, the cost shifts to $199 for the rest of the day or while supplies last.

[ Buying a tablet this holiday season? Read Tablet Shopping Guide: 8 Tips. ]

The promotion is available only to customers in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Each customer is also limited to one device.

In limited use, I've found the Venue 8 Pro to be snappy and responsive. Its quad-core "Bay Trail" processor is a noticeable improvement over previous Intel Atom chips, and though its screen doesn't boast the resolution of some competing options, the device's 1200x800-pixel display is still quite decent.  

Dell's Venue 8 Pro supports stylus and keyboard accessories.
Dell's Venue 8 Pro supports stylus and keyboard accessories.

Windows 8.1 is also a major improvement over Windows 8. The update's app-snapping multi-tasking function is particularly welcome on an 8-inch display because it allows users to split the screen evenly between two apps. In the original version of Windows 8, one app had to occupy three-quarters of the display, which made multi-tasking impractical on smaller tablets.

Other Venue 8 Pro appeals include a preloaded copy of Office Home & Student 2013, 32 GB of storage and 2 GB of RAM. It also includes a Micro USB port and can run for up to 10 hours between charges.

Are there any reasons not to take advantage of this sale? A few.

For starters, buying a Windows 8.1 tablet isn't the same as buying an Android or iOS tablet. They're all fine for accessing the Web, sending email or watching Netflix, but if you're looking for an expanded ecosystem of touch-first apps, iOS and Android still set the standard. Windows 8.1's app store isn't as impoverished as it was once, but the Venue 8 Pro's major sales draw isn't touch apps; it's support for desktop software, particularly Microsoft Office.

Does this make the Venue 8 Pro more productive than an iPad? It depends. The Venue 8 Pro offers stylus support and can connect to third-party keyboards via Bluetooth. Dell also plans to release its own keyboard accessory soon. These tools will be useful to some, but desktop software will provide only so much utility running on such a small form factor. The Venue 8 Pro won't replace a laptop, but it could be a terrific secondary device for work.

Display resolution might be another concern. The Venue 8 Pro's screen is serviceable-- but it's also put to shame by the new iPad Mini's 2048x1536-pixel Retina display. Some might also be bothered by the awkward placement of the Start button; many Windows tablets place the button beneath the screen, in the middle of the bottom bezel, but Dell counter-intuitively positioned the button on the device's top-right edge. Other might be peeved that the device's 10-hour battery life can only be achieved if the screen brightness is turned down; otherwise, the battery runs closer to eight hours. The Venue 8 Pro also lacks an HDMI port for connecting the tablet to a monitor or television, though Windows 8.1's native Miracast support somewhat mitigates this concern.

But given that the device is being offered at such extreme discounts, most of these concerns are minor quibbles.

And if you miss out on the Venue 8 Pro 8, don't despair. Monday's promotion is the kickoff of Microsoft's "12 Days of Deals" campaign, with new discounts offered each day.

Consumerization 1.0 was "we don't need IT." Today we need IT to bridge the gap between consumer and business tech. Also in the Consumerization 2.0 issue of InformationWeek: Stop worrying about the role of the CIO. (Free registration required.)

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Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
12/9/2013 | 1:40:19 AM
Re: iPad envy
I suppose if you read a lot of tech stories, you might get tired of repeated iPad comparisons, but here are a few things to keep in mind:

1) The iPad has WAY more market share than Rolls Royce. In fact, the iPad is the most used single line of tablets. That alone makes it a sensible point of comparison when discussing new products in the same category.

2) The iPad Mini is a particularly apt comparison, given the Venue Pro costs the same (outside of Monday's promotion) as the cheapest iPad Mini.

3) Maybe it wasn't clear, but "Different strokes for different folks" was sort of the point of the iPad comparison--e.g. "[T]he Venue 8 Pro's major sales draw isn't touch apps; it's support for desktop software, particularly Microsoft Office."
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
12/9/2013 | 1:34:13 AM
Re: Microsoft claims false report
Okay, since it's Sunday night here on the West Coast, I haven't had luck reaching anyone outside Microsoft's call centers. But I spoke to a call center supervisor (she said she couldn't give her full name) based in New York. I can report the following:

-- If a customer service rep said outright that the deal was false, the customer service rep spoke outside of Microsoft policy. The supervisor told me that company policy is to say, "We cannot confirm that" in response to situations such as this one. The reps should not have denied the price, and they should not have suggested (as some readers have reported to me) that InformationWeek (or any other publication reporting this deal) was wrong.

-- Microsoft customer service is basically in the dark on this deal until it is live. The supervisor told me that they don't have access to pricing information until the deal is active. So basically, the people I talked to in Microsoft PR knew about this deal, but at least some of the people in Microsoft customer service (perhaps all?) knew nothing.

-- My assumption is that some people called Microsoft customer support around midight EST, asking why they couldn't find the Venue 8 Pro deal. Because the deal doesn't go live until 7 AM Pacific (not a detail the supervisor could confirm even at this point, btw), the reps wouldn't have seen the pricing info.The reps should have said, "I cannot confirm that," but based on what I've heard from some readers, it appears at least some of them said something more like, "No, all the articles about that deal are wrong."
anon2893443333
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anon2893443333,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/9/2013 | 12:58:09 AM
Re: Microsoft claims false report
Fair enough but surely you can see the use of editorial content for PR purposes perspective here. Microsoft isn't doing itself any favors.

You can bet they won't earn any high marks for the way this was handeled. 

It would be good of you to do a follow up story to see how realistic the sale was. Microsoft will sell perhaps 1000 Venue Tablets and gained perhaps 10,000 dissatisifed potential customers. Different story angle instead of a PR relay:

Microsoft tries to become relevant in tablets, sells 1000 tablets at a loss. Can anyone say HP Touchpad? While Windows isn't going away, there is no fear in the market that Microsoft will gain significant marketshare with this fiasco.

They are trying so hard to make it hard to buy a Windows product. In the past week I installed Linux Mint on 3 family laptops instead of upgrading them to Windows 8.1, passed out three USB sticks with Unbuntu on them to friends who have since migrated to that OS. This is no longer a fluke, Microsoft is losing customers who have been with them for over 20 years.

That says something.
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
12/9/2013 | 12:33:12 AM
Re: Microsoft claims false report
As I've pointed out elsewhere, the deal isn't live yet. A website I linked to previously indicates it will go live at 7:00 AM Pacific. I can't account for why Microsoft's customer service agents are evidently in the dark. But I have documented confirmation from Microsoft about this deal. If the deal does turn out to be false, rest assured I'll run a story Monday morning that includes the email, and that asks why Microsoft would intentionally perpetuate false information.

 Edit: Hyperlinks aren't visible in the post for some reason, but the word "website" in item 3 of the list I posted above includes the link to Microsoft's deal promo page. I also inserted the link into the word "website" in the previous sentence.
anon2893443333
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anon2893443333,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/9/2013 | 12:22:44 AM
Re: Microsoft claims false report
What website ? You obviously knew the sale would start at 7am and managed not to mention that in the article? After all it was mostly an ad piece so why not just get it all out?

Sorry Michael, maybe you got duped. Either that or you got information not properly vetted.

Microsoft customer service agents know absoluetly nothing about it. I guess they told both me and the other person bad info so everyone there knows nothing.

The Microsoft Store won't let you buy the product, it will allow you to buy all the other tablets.

You didn't look at their shopping site? You'd know then that it doesn't list the item out of stock, it simply can't be purchased.

Maybe instead of defending what you put out you could do some research and report more than spoon fed PR which is exactly what your story looks like.

The other stories? So then what is different about you and why should anyone bother reading you? If you hide behind being the same as everyone else then that makes you a commodity doesn't it?
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
12/9/2013 | 12:15:19 AM
Re: Microsoft claims false report
Not fake. Microsoft put up a website that indicates the deal will go live at 7:00 AM. So if you're on the East Coast and expected that you could flip over to Microsoft's website at midnight, no dice. Wait a few more hours, and you'll have your shot.

EDIT: The hyperlink isn't visible, but the word "website" in the first line of this post has the link to the promo site.
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
12/9/2013 | 12:11:48 AM
Re: Microsoft claims false report
@anon9094197732,

If that's true, the Microsoft customer service rep with whom you spoke is seriously misinformed.


A few things:


1) Literally hundreds of articles have been written about this deal. If the deal were bogus, you'd expect there'd be at least a few dozen articles (probably many more) saying as much. But as far as I know, there have been none.


2) I confirmed the details with Microsoft PR before writing this story.

3) Microsoft has a website about the deal.
AlexO508
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AlexO508,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/9/2013 | 12:05:48 AM
Re: Microsoft claims false report
this is FAKE. No shuch deal.  thanks for wasting my time!
anon9094197732
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anon9094197732,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/8/2013 | 11:48:27 PM
Microsoft claims false report
Microsoft's customer serivce is saying that the article is bogus and the deal is false.  I searched their website and wanted to wait to see if they would change the price at midnight.  Any thoughts?
anon4453030347
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anon4453030347,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/8/2013 | 1:21:23 PM
Re: Using the same OS is more productive
I was using windows 8 for my pc. But what i think the Windows 8 is not made for professionals. We should love and use Windows 7.

 

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