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9/24/2013
07:58 PM
Michael Endler
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Microsoft Surface: 10 Best And Worst Changes

Microsoft's new Surface Pro 2 and Surface 2 tablets deliver some cool new features, but not all changes impress.
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The Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 improve on their predecessors more in some ways than in others. One of the areas of least improvement? Price. The Surface 2 starts at $449 for the base 32-GB model, $50 less than the original Surface RT's launch price. The 64-GB Surface Pro 2 with included pen starts at $899 and includes 4 GB of RAM. Those who want 8 GB of RAM will have to jump up to the Pro 2's 256-GB or 512-GB options, which run $1,299 and $1,799, respectively.

These prices don't include keyboards or other accessories, so most users should probably budget for more than the cost of the device alone. The Touch Cover 2, Type Cover 2 and Power Cover keyboards will cost $119.99, $129.99 and $199.99, respectively. The Docking Station for Surface Pro will run another $199.99. Surface Pro 2 users might also need to shell out for some version of Microsoft Office, but the Surface 2 still comes preloaded with Office 2013 RT.

Microsoft is also leaving the original Surface RT on the market for $349.

Some might balk at the high cost, but for Microsoft's core business customers, the Surface 2 and Surface Touch 2 might turn out to be pretty good deals. In an interview, Gartner analysts Carolina Milanesi said some companies are interested in devices like the Surface Pro because it allows them to deploy one device instead of two.

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Greg MacSweeney
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Greg MacSweeney,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/8/2013 | 10:35:27 AM
re: Microsoft Surface: 10 Best And Worst Changes
How that I have a Surface Pro, I can see its value as a desktop replacement. It's pretty nice with the keyboard. As a pure tablet though? I'm still trying to figure that one out. My kids seem to like it as a tablet. When one of them is on the iPad, the other one grabs the surface without missing a beat.
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
9/27/2013 | 9:16:36 PM
re: Microsoft Surface: 10 Best And Worst Changes
I agree that some reports have been unfairly harsh on the Surface Pro 2 in particular. I think the Surface 2 is a decent update as well, though I can't fathom what Microsoft is thinking pricing it at $449 sans keyboard. Whereas some headlines said analysts were unimpressed, my impression was more that they're cautiously optimistic. And the Microsoft folk seemed pretty confident at the event in New York. They've got a few months of sales data from the ongoing Surface discounts, so maybe they know something we don't.

All that said, the media was happily bashing Apple in the days leading up to the iPhone launch. More than a few reports declared that Steve Jobs's spirit had finally departed Cupertino, leaving behind Tim Cook and his Microsoft-like desire to protect Apple's established strengths. Then reviewers got a look at iOS 7, and at the new hardware. Suddenly, the tune changed. A few people still aren't impressed, but by and large, the word for Apple has been overwhelmingly positive since the products actually hit the market. Apple, in other words, was also subject to some media bashing-- but it managed to change the narrative by releasing a product that got people excited.

That's what Microsoft needs to do now. They seem confident that once people have the devices, they'll see that the Surface line can hold it's own. Can Microsoft change the narrative too? I'll be as eager as anyone to spend more time with the new device, and to find out just how far the upgrades go.
dhodde770
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dhodde770,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/27/2013 | 8:49:54 PM
re: Microsoft Surface: 10 Best And Worst Changes
How can you expect a product to really take off when the market bashes it from day one just because it doesn't have an Apple logo on it? The media is very influential these days, and people pay attention, even if the media is wrong. so as a result, nobody bought. Unfortunate, too. I've used a Surface, and with a few tweaks (refreshed Windows 8.1, keyboard improvements, etc.) that seem to now be addressed I think it's a compelling bridge device. Not a great laptop, maybe not the best tablet, but if I can get 'pretty darn good' in one compact device, works for me every time.
DDURBIN1
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DDURBIN1,
User Rank: Ninja
9/27/2013 | 7:16:18 PM
re: Microsoft Surface: 10 Best And Worst Changes
The Surface Pro 2 will make better progress for those enterprises willing to make the training investment which means most will still pass on any Windows 8 devices until Microsoft lowers the leaning curve. Surface 2 (RT) is a dead turkey with or without Office.
DDURBIN1
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DDURBIN1,
User Rank: Ninja
9/27/2013 | 7:10:28 PM
re: Microsoft Surface: 10 Best And Worst Changes
Don't hold your breath...
midmachine
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midmachine,
User Rank: Strategist
9/27/2013 | 5:20:42 PM
re: Microsoft Surface: 10 Best And Worst Changes
Yup, everyone still wants to bring their own toys to use to "consume" after they are done "creating".
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
9/27/2013 | 4:49:26 PM
re: Microsoft Surface: 10 Best And Worst Changes
Apple is making iphone cases now. ipad cases seem logical soon. I agree re BYOD iPads -- they won't go away.
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
9/26/2013 | 8:11:53 PM
re: Microsoft Surface: 10 Best And Worst Changes
As far as I know, Microsoft has no program to help current Surface users upgrade. That said, it allows users to recycle devices of all kinds in exchange for store credit-- so if your Surface is in good shape, you might be able to lower the upgrade cost. See here: http://www.microsoftstore.com/...
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
9/26/2013 | 5:24:48 PM
re: Microsoft Surface: 10 Best And Worst Changes
Good question. The Surface Pro competes as much with the MacBook Air as with the iPad, at least from a BYOD perspective. The Haswell MacBook Airs get battery life that's equal to, if not a bit better, than what it looks like the Surface Pro will get with the Power Cover.

But the iPads are a different story. They get around 10 hours of battery life, or a bit less according to numerous online accounts. I guess Apple might not feel much urgency since their battery life is just good enough to competitive, and since the Surface Pro still needs an accessory to get what they deliver out-of-box. But maybe the new iPads will offer improvements. Apple hasn't shown much interest in iPad keyboards, with or without batteries, even though there's a decent market. They seem content to let third parties like Logitech do it for now. But with the recent push toward iWork, I wonder if they'll shift tactics, especially if either of the new Surface tablets gains a meaningful user base.

Speaking of which, I'm not sure of the new Surfaces for consumers, as they're pretty pricey. But I think Microsoft will make inroads in the enterprise. Here's the question, though: If companies deploy Surface Pro 2s, will it stop BYOD users from bringing in their iPads? At least one study - by Gartner's Mark Cotner - said "no, it won't."
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
9/26/2013 | 4:58:51 PM
re: Microsoft Surface: 10 Best And Worst Changes
The power cover, an interesting battery life trick, makes me wonder why Apple has not rolled out something similar.
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