Microsoft Surface Pro 3: Can the execution match the message?

Summary:Microsoft's challenge: Convince tech buyers who may be pondering a tablet and laptop convergence device to actually purchase the Surface Pro 3.

"The tablet that can replace your laptop."

Microsoft's Surface Pro 3, a 12-inch tablet that can realistically double as a laptop, launched Tuesday in New York City and the message seems to be on target. There's an increasing number of folks that would like a convergence device because the tech industry just keeps weighing us down with companion gadgets.

Indeed, there's a lot to like with the Surface Pro 3 concept. Consider:

  • It usually takes Microsoft three tries to get something close to right. Surface Pro is on the third generation.
  • The screen size and 2160 x 1440 resolution gives the Surface Pro 3 a bigger screen feel.
  • Intel's i7 chips will ensure the tablet can perform like a laptop.

Add it up and Microsoft's message is right even though the price may not be in the ballpark for many. But the larger question here revolves around execution. Can Microsoft execute? Will the software giant finally be able to sell folks on the Surface Pro convergence potential? And can Microsoft engineer hardware better than its partners?

SurfacePro3

That last question may be the most important. I want a convergence tablet meets laptop, but can't help but think Lenovo's Yoga franchise may execute better on the theme. Dell also has a decent play and may pull off the Surface concept better with its Venue Pro tablets.

CNET: Surface Pro 3: 12-inch 3:2 screen, starts at $799, preorders start May 21 (hands-on)

FBR analyst Daniel Ives noted:

Despite rolling out this Surface refresh (pre-orders start tomorrow), we continue to believe Microsoft faces an uphill battle versus the likes of Samsung and Apple, as the company has been late to the game on the tablet front, and Surface's impact has been underwhelming thus far. While Surface Pro 3 appears to be an impressive offering it all comes down to customer adoption, which we believe remains a Kilimanjaro like
challenge given intense competition.

Add it up and the clock is ticking with the Surface franchise. Here's why:

  1. Tablet users are beginning to use their devices more like laptops anyway. Those users are on Apple's iOS and Google's Android. If Windows can't nudge its way into the mix it could lose a generation of users.
  2. Surface hasn't been able to capture that cool factor yet. With Surface 3, Microsoft has a viable entry as an enterprise laptop convergence device. What company wants tablet and laptop procurement cycles?
  3. If Microsoft's specs this go round can't capture laptop and tablet shoppers it probably won't.

Panos Panay, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Surface franchise, said in a blog post:

I want you to think about the things you do with your current laptop and tablet, and how a single device that is this thin and light and this powerful can help you do more.

People are thinking about that single device. It's just unclear whether Microsoft can execute and market well enough to turn pondering into a purchase.

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Topics: Tablets, Hardware, Laptops, Microsoft Surface

About

Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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