Frankly, I'm OK with a Microsoft tablet computer

Frankly, I'm OK with a Microsoft tablet computer

Summary: It's easy to sit back and throw stones at Microsoft's decision to brand a tablet computer but I have some very compelling reasons to like it.


[caption id="attachment_538" align="alignright" width="400" caption="Where do you want to go tomorrow when you need a resolution?"] Where do you want to go tomorrow when you need a resolution?[/caption]

If this truly is, as many of my colleagues have opined, the Post PC Era, Microsoft's tablet computer is a natural evolution of kind. I don't really see the point in spreading or feeling so much bile about it. Sure, I poked a bit of fun at the Surface when I heard that Microsoft was really branding its very own tablet computer. But, after reading the negative commentary on ZDNet and elsewhere, I have to tell you, I think it's a good thing.

Yes, Microsoft has put itself in somewhat of a competitive position with some of its vendors but that's business, I guess. The fact that Microsoft had the gall to do it really impresses me. Seriously.

Let's face it, Microsoft's Windows operating system is THE choice for business desktops. You have to admit it. The natural and logical next step is to produce a Windows-based tablet computer. I think the fact that now businesses have a total Microsoft option is good. Other companies have done this sort of thing for years.

The list of companies that develop an OS to run on their own hardware is pretty long.

Digital, Compaq, HP, IBM, Sun, Apple, SGI and others do it and have done it. Why not? For superior performance and excellent support, it's the best option.

Why? Because this way, you don't have the classic finger pointing that goes on between hardware and software vendors during a troubleshooting episode. If you ran Solaris 8 on an E10K, Sun knew exactly how to fix it. If you had AIX on an IBM PowerPC system, you were golden. When I worked for WorldCom, I could call HP support, give them my system serial number and the guy on the phone knew exactly how my system board DIP switches should be set. The same goes for all of the single vendor hardware-software combined solutions. It makes perfect sense if you've ever actually worked in an IT support role.

Yes, I know Microsoft-bashing is fun and I've done a bit of it myself over the years. But, when it really boils down to resolving a problem on a system that I'm responsible for, I know that I can pick up the phone, dial Microsoft's support line and get my problem resolved. They have never failed me. And, I've thrown some tough problems to them over the years.

I've had Microsoft actually provide me with "custom" fixes for problems that they didn't have a public fix for. They've helped me many times over the past 20-ish years and I'm grateful. Their latest assistance saved me at least 40 hours worth of reimaging, reinstallation, reconfiguration and rehashing documentation that had passed through many hands. Again, grateful.

If Microsoft produced their own server hardware, I'd be a fan of that too. I can only imagine how frustrating it is to answer a support call and have to deal with a system built with an unlimited possible array of hardware parts. Not an easy task.

You don't have that issue with standardized hardware. It is for this reason that Apple never allowed clones of their systems. They were smart enough to know that it opens up too much potential for failure. Apple-branded hardware means consistency. That's why Apple products, "just work." Microsoft's tablets will have the same effect: Consistency. They will work too.

I like consistency. It makes my life easier. It also makes my support calls a lot less frustrating.

Therefore, I'm perfectly OK with a Microsoft tablet computer.

The other thing I look forward to in a Microsoft tablet? The fact that it will fit into a Microsoft network without a great deal of effort on my part. I won't need "an App for that" because support for whatever it is that I need will be built into the device by default.

I'll be able to logon to a domain, map drives, get Outlook mail, run Microsoft Office, dock a keyboard, attach a monitor and manage my Windows servers with a Microsoft tablet. Yes, I'd probably be able to do all that with any random vendor's Windows-based tablet but I know the Microsoft one will do it. And, if something goes wrong, I can call that single vendor and get resolution.

Say what you want about Microsoft's decision to brand a piece of hardware. Frankly, I'm OK with it.

What do you think? Do you think that your company will buy into Microsoft-branded tablets for the reasons I've given or do you think they'll go in some other direction? Talk back and let me know.

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Topics: Laptops, Hardware, Mobility, Tablets, Windows


Kenneth 'Ken' Hess is a full-time Windows and Linux system administrator with 20 years of experience with Mac, Linux, UNIX, and Windows systems in large multi-data center environments.

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  • Many businesses have successes and failures . . .

    "That???s why Apple products, ???just work.??? Microsoft???s tablets will have the same effect: Consistency. They will work too"

    . . . one can look to the XBox and see great success for MS. On the other hand, there is Kin and Zune. Then there is the list of poor OSes, such as ME and Vista. The Surface might be a great success, but you imply that this is a "given". I disagree that it is a "given". Consistncy alone is not enough.
    • Who wants PC "consistency" on a post-PC device?

      Surface will suck as a tablet. Microsoft knows there is no touch interface optimized software for Windows 8 to speak of. So, we get the standard Windows interface, too. This makes no sense on a tablet, because the Windows GUI SUCKS for touchscreens. We know this is true because Microsoft has been trying to make touch work for over a decade. Surface is not revolutionary. It's more of the same - more of something that doesn't work.

      Microsoft believes that a tablet is just another form factor of PC. This is utter nonsense. The apps need to be written differently. The interfaces need to be different. The whole approach needs to be different. Not consistent. Microsoft has tried consistent since XP Tablet Edition. Consistent doesn't work.

      You can tell Microsoft doesn't understand this. They have not made a tablet. They have made a laptop with a rubber keyboard and a touchscreen that has no apps that can leverage it.

      People claim that Surface is the best of both worlds with regards to laptops and tablets. Rather it turns out that it lacks the best of both and is the best of nothing.

      It will be successful because IT departments will force it on their users in order to justify the need for ridiculous, expensive and ultimately useless "Windows image" teams. IT hates the iPad, not because you can't do work on it, but because you can pretty much take it out of the box and use it without having to hire an army of nerds to get it to work.
      • Something is wrong

        with your rationale
      • What planet are you on, or are you smoking something?

        The whole Windows 8 previews show that apps are being made that leverage touch designs to make very usable apps on touchscreens. With Microsoft making one OS across all hardware, they are leaping ahead of Apple and preparing for future devices. Microsoft knows that apps need to be written differently, that's why they are releasing the previews, so developers can be writing apps for it now.
      • If there will be usable touchscreen apps for Windows 8 ...

        ... then why do all of the selling features around Surface highlight how it looks and acts exactly like a laptop? Why do I want the classic Windows desktop? Why aren't the apps I want optimized for touchscreen?

        Have you used the Metro version of Internet Explorer? It's a giant steaming pile of crap. Have you seen the supposedly "Metro style" preview of Office 15 and how not optimized for touch at all it is?

        It's crap. Microsoft took the easy way out. They didn't think, "What is the best possible experience we can give users? Completely re-write Windows and Office from the ground up optimized for touch? No problem." No wonder so many IT nerds here are flocking to Microsoft's defense, since IT is most often worried about what is easy for IT rather than what is best for users and the company.
        • Why do they highlight that it works like a laptop?

          Is that really not obvious to you?

          They are showing it that way to try to fight a misconception that tablets can't be used for real work. You can input large amounts of data with it. They're pushing it to the crowd that wants to use the same device for everything.
          Michael Alan Goff
      • It's not post-PC

        It's post-Toy.
      • IT nerds are afraid of the term "post-PC" ...

        ... because it really means "post IT".

        The "the iPad is just a toy" lie is just another in a long line of lies that IT people tell in order to keep their ever more unnecessary jobs.
        • Yeah IT is useless

          You're a moron. Who do you think sets up and manages the multimillion dollar global networks that big businesses use? Who manages the security for businesses with confidentiality concerns? The iPad TOTALLY makes that all irrelevant. Good luck trying to convince anyone with half a brain that IT is irrelevant.
    • Xbox a great success !! NOT

      When you spend more than 1 billion in warranty cost, because you cannot release a product that will not self destruct is not a success.
      • Same name, different people, different box

        Wow, are you ever a bitter boy. The original Xbox 360 had serious issues (which were all fixed for free BTW). It was built by former Microsoft employees who cut corners and rushed the box to market. That device is no longer on the market. The current 360 is well designed, works like a champ and is selling like hotcakes. You really need to find some new material. By your logic, Apple can't be called a success because the III, the Lisa and the Newton were all such disasters.
      • Actually, this illustrates the author's point

        Microsoft owned the hardware, poor as it was, but then owned the problems and spent over a billion dollars to fix it. That is a success for the consumer. As someone who has sent back several Xboxes, I was very frustrated, but they fixed it and didn't stand around blaming someone else. The Xbox division is, last I checked, now one of the most profitable divisions in Microsoft even after a billion dollar recall. It sure enough tripped coming out the gate, but given that the Xbox has cultivated an Apple like following, I'd say it's become a success.
    • MS is OK

      The Zune works great. MS was late to the game and didn't market it correctly, but the Zune is better in a few ways to the iPod (and worse in other ways).

      Vista worked great on brand new medium to high end hardware. It was garbage as an upgrade to older hardware.

      I have confidence that the Surface with work very well. Whether or not I choose it over an iPad or Transformer, only time will tell.
    • Actually the Zune did "just work"...

      ...and really well too. The reason it wasn't a success is that it got panned by most of the tech bloggers because it wasn't created by Apple.
      • What a fantasy

        I won't speak to the quality of the Zune as I have never had or used one but you have got to be living in a fantasy land if you believe is lack of success is due to tech bloggers and what they had to say. A very tiny percentage of average consumers, you know those people that buy consumer electronics like the Zune, ever see what tech bloggers have to say.
  • They are the underdog now

    If they want to build a tablet, have at it. Their partners shouldn't be too hurt by it because they can sell Windows tablets along side Android tablets without much change to the design.
    • But . . .

      . . . they have to decide what they want it to be, and go for that market. If it's a home-user video, email and game toy, they can't price it significantly higher than an iPad. If they price it like an ultra book, it has to have the performance to compete with ultra books. What they can't do is try to sell an iPod replacement for a high-end notebook price.

      They get one shot at this. They need to get it right
  • Good points

    Agree with the article. Microsoft made the best decision on the surface launch. The rest of the PC vendors can still enjoy Windows 8 at its fullest, so they worry for what?
  • Wow - a credible Zdnet article. Well said.

    I'd have to agree 100%. As I've said before, I own products from both Apple and Microsoft, even have used Ubuntu. If you've owned and Xbox 360 for the last couple of years, I think you may also see the quality of their hardware is now better than any 3rd party suppliers out there. You'd also see they've become stealthy, less publicized innovators with Kinect and now smartglass. I truly believe their R&D is getting some healthy budgeting. I've been surprised it's taken them this long to come out with their own tablet since Apple broke the ice for it, all the more reason why I think the Surface will be good.
    D.J. 43
  • Tme still does mean wisdom, but it depends...

    Microsoft is still only 30 something. What 30ish person do you know that has all their issues resolved and makes perfect decisions on everything; even the filthy rich ones? No a one! See, the issue here is that Microsoft, though it has been around many years, still has its "Facebook" moments; technology changes too fast for companies (yes, even MS) to truly grow up. They build some great things one moment, and some crap ther other. However, if you understand anything about business, you'll already know this is just a part of the normal business life cycle. Yes, MS should be more mature at this stage. Yes, they should have learned lessons other start-ups and companies failed to learn. Yes, they should have allocated more time to researching before they made many blunders. But, "should" is a great word to use, but generally only in hindsight. No company has been under as much scrutiny as MS. No company is hated as much as MS; not because their products are always bad, but because they make so much dang money and have such an advantage (people in general hate others with severe advantages no matter the reason- its human nature). It all really comes down to perspective. Know and understand that MS got in early, like a person with a great stock tip. They benefited handsomely from that. You can't get mad and critical of their every move just because they saw the opportunity, developed a plan, took the risk and profited handsomely; else you come across as just insanely jealous. It was their time, they were in the right place, and it was their turn. Thats not just great business, its great karma. They will continue to get better, succeed and fail, but they will continue. If you were working on the next greatest thing out there, you wouldn't have the time to hate on MS for any reason (other than a bluescreen in the middle of a presentation to your venture capitalist) LOL