Thursday, 18 October 2012

Microsoft Surface: How good can it be?

Microsoft have just released the pricing for their iPad competitor - 'Surface' and it makes good, but not great, reading for consumers. For around 399 quid users can pick up a keyboard-less Surface tablet (available for another 60-odd quid) which boasts a 32GB hard-drive, and 2GB memory - both are double that of the new iPad and for cheaper. A 64GB model is also available for another 60-70 quid.

But is it worth it? The tablet itself is powerful, durable and the OS will adapt well for use on a tablet. Microsoft have clearly looked at the tablet market and tried to place the Surface directly between a smartphone and a desktop - almost to the point of it functioning like a laptop. In fact, much of the Surface speaks 'a new laptop'. The screen is 10.6" corner to corner but the resolution is basic. The Surface has a USB port, can host external hard-drives and can charge your phone! It is also compatible with everyday-use items such as printers etc. The little built in kick-stand is a great, practical addition. In fact, much of the Microsoft Surface screams practicality.
      This brings me onto the cover - that doubles as a keyboard. Now I brought a foldable keyboard for my netbook a while back and it was just a nightmare to use but I will reserve judgement on the Surface keyboard-cover until I can have a go. If it can match the responsiveness of the keyboard on my Motorola Xoom then it should be pretty good!

(That is the head of Windows using the Surface RT as a skateboard... Yeh...pretty strong!)

Pre-orders in the US for the $499 model have sold out - but that doesn't necessarily mean anything. We need to wait until the launch of the Surface on the 26th October before we can see how the Surface is selling - and indeed how well it can be used on a day-to-day basis. What is important to note is that Microsoft are going for this. They are ambitious - apparently trying to build 5 million of the Surface before the end of the year... That is ambition, especially with Apple releasing the iPad Mini soon.

Simply, the success of Microsoft Surface rests largely on the consumer adoption of Windows 8. As I've blogged already - I think this will be a slow but steady process and it may surprise a few with adoption rates but it wont be overnight. If Microsoft can encourage more consumers to upgrade and test out Windows 8 then all devices running the similar operating systems will benefit because the familiarity with the OS will allow more consumers to take the plunge into Windows phones and, the Surface. 
     This is where I think Microsoft have done fairly well. I will certainly be upgrading my new Asus X501a (along with doubling the RAM to 8GB!! :) ) as soon as possible mostly for intrigue but this is helped because of the offer to upgrade new Windows 7 computers for £15 is too good to miss. However I would completely understand many with older Windows 7 cpus not bothering spending the 25 quid as Windows 7 is a very good OS anyway. I believe that £25 may be pushing it for many people who don't want to bother with the hassle. Anyone running anything older than Win7 should definitely look at upgrading, especially if you're running Vista. 

If Microsoft could have offered an even wider, cheaper upgrade to Windows 8 then, although they would take an initial hit, they, and the Windows 8 platform, would be benefiting in many other ways. Give everyone the option to upgrade for 10 quid and most would go with 'yeh, why not'. That would certainly rapidly help the much needed adoption of the Windows OS on mobile devices such as the Surface.

(The Surface advert - "The Surface Movement")

As always - thoughts and challenges encouraged! Also, I'd love if you could give me a follow - check the follow options on the right!

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