With Surface at least Microsoft shows they care about tablets, unlike Google

With Surface at least Microsoft shows they care about tablets, unlike Google

Summary: Microsoft announced their Surface tablet strategy yesterday and is entering the mobile market themselves with some attractive products.


Microsoft's Surface event invitations were sent late last week and things seemed a bit rushed and disorganized. They may have been timing it to get in the news cycle before the Google I/O event and after looking at what they announced I have to say I am much more excited for a Microsoft Surface tablet than I am any Android tablet. Google hasn't put much visible effort into tablets and the experience has been less than stellar while OEMs, such as Amazon, have succeeded with custom UIs and low prices. Microsoft's Surface should appeal to the enterprise market and given that the consumer market is really an iPad market the Surface has the potential to succeed and maybe even extend into that consumer space.

Hands-on with Microsoft's Surface (gallery)

As a professional engineer I must use a Windows computer for my specialized software applications and while we didn't see any applications shown at the event, really strange they didn't at least show Office, if I go for a Windows 8 Pro Surface device then I will be able to run my current applications. The ability to take a solid tablet device out on site for shipchecks and other field work will be a major benefit for me and others who get out of the office.

There is talk that this move by Microsoft may anger current PC manufacturers, but I agree with the folks that think Microsoft needs to do something to shake up the mobile world a bit and show they are indeed interested in competing in this space. The world is going mobile and I am encouraged by what I see from them so far. There are a lot of questions that remain to be answered and some of those answers, price and availability, may have a major impact on sales and excitement. Microsoft has shown they can succeed with their own hardware with the Xbox and while folks didn't seem to like the Zune, it too was a fantastic product that didn't get enough support.

Google hasn't done much with Android on tablets and has appeared to leave it up to vendors like Samsung and Asus to create products that some find useful. I imagine we will see a Nexus tablet from Google next week and now that Microsoft has revealed their hand it will be interesting to see what Google reveals.

If you recall, one of the most talked about features of the iPad 2 was the Smart Cover. Now we see Microsoft extending that cover idea to something even better (more so than even the 3rd party iPad covers) and we should see people praising this design feature as well.

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Topics: Tablets, Google, Hardware, Laptops, Microsoft, Mobility

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  • Even Though Google "Doesn't Care" ...

    ... Android has still been able to grab 40% of the tablet market. Which is more than Microsoft has been able to manage in over 10 years of trying.

    Metro = boredom
    • Replace "tablet" with "netbook"

      Then, you have 2010 all over again. Linux dominated the netbook market, all the way until the death of the netbook market. Now, let's stop living in the past and see what the future holds.
      Your Non Advocate
      • "Linux dominated the netbook market,

        all the way until the death of the netbook market."

        Which Microsoft killed.
        But you are right about the past. The netbook market, microsoft saw as a threat to their desktop market so they actively sought to kill the threat. Giving credit where credit is due, Apple created a mobile market and threat microsoft could not extinguish. ANdroid is now a solid player in this market and microsoft is trying to make an aggressive push into this new market. No comparison can be made to former scenarios as this scenario is quite different than any past ones. There will likely be three major players in this market for the next several years and indeed into the foreseeable future.
    • Android doesn't have 40% of Tablet sales.

      It's just over 30% Microsoft currently has 7%.

      This device, and others like it, will cannibalize Android tablets, just like how Windows XP netbooks cannibalized Linux netbook sales.
      • @Champ_Kind

        "This device, and others like it, will cannibalize Android tablets, just like how Windows XP netbooks cannibalized Linux netbook sales."

        Doubtful. MS will make a pretty big impact in both top end android tablets as well as iPads but the lower end Android tablet market will still thrive as there will always be those, and quite a lot of those, who will be more than happy to save several hundred dollars to get a device that essentially can do what they expect a touchpad to do. Because the market is nowher near saturated and will expand even more with low end devices there will be plenty of room for android to increase its market share.

        You can argue all day long that a low end Android isn't the same as a $700 iPad or similarly priced WInRT device but for every sub $400 Android device sold there's likely one less iPad or WinRT pad bought.
  • The new definition of Ultrabook!

    Office 15 will make or break the Surface RT for those who spend more than half their computing time in Office and haven't bought an iPad for that reason. It better be good because that's about all the RT ecosystem will offer initially. Certainly, Microsoft is hoping for some halo effect from RT for Windows Phone.

    Surface Pro will be much more expensive, but then so are capable "Ultrabooks." It will be the enterprise choice, especially in well-funded scientific and engineering fields. My concern is for a day's use, one may have to tote along an auxiliary battery.
    • What happens if MS releases Office for iOS?

      Rumor has it that it's been finished for months.
      • Microsoft has a reason to hold off now...

        Attempt to hold the tablet industry hostage in an attempt to win.

        However, with "desktop" Windows going on the Pro version, if Office is standard fare on the Pro version, expect lots of lawsuits filed by Apple, Google and the Android alliance, and governments based on "unfair competitive practices" or something of that nature. iWork and OpenOffice aren't Microsoft Office.
  • all I can think of is

    how horribly blue that keyboard is.
    • all I can think of is

      how there would be several colors to choose from.
  • I thought

    the point of Android was that it was open and that it was to the companies and individuals to take the OS and do with it as they please. At least they care enough about their OS to not charge for it. Unlike Microsost which charges everyone and their mother to use a windows license except for their buddies Nokia. And now this slap in the face to their partners by telling them, "oh btw you need to compete with us now." At least google so far has been partnering up with different companies to build their flagship phones and soon tablets. That being said, as much as an Android OS fan and IOS user that I am, I think this new product is pretty neat especially that smart cover. Hopefully Microsoft doesnt price it out of contention.
    • They won't price their own tablet out of contention...

      ... but the licensing cost is going to drive everyone else's WinRT tablet too high, unless Samsung, Asus, Acer, and others are willing to take a loss.
  • next question.....

    ....will MSFT buy Nokia to have control of the mobile phone space?
    • Yes,

      if you give them the money
      • Nokia's market cap is about twice Microsoft's quarterly earnings.

        MSFT could swallow NOK quite easily, but it's a matter of "why buy the cow when you get the milk for free?"
  • Get Android out of the race and leave it to Apple and Microsoft

    Ouch! But in all honesty, Android has contributed nothing to tablets. Nothing! Zilch. Nada. The only argument any Android fanatic ever had was, "our tablet has a flashcard slot and is capable of barely playing flash videos. That makes it better than an ipad!"
    All it takes is a trip to BestBuy to find out that the Droid tablets hardly deliver in any other way.

    I might just be one to supplement my ipad with a Microsoft offering. I'm not sure at this stage that it can replace the ipad (remember, it's still running Windows) but it might prove to be a companion.
    • Im sure

      that all these tablet makers are listening to your sound advice! I mean they all come here to zdnet just to hear your opinion on how a certain os has no contributions to anything at all. Lets stick with microsoft windows since thats the only OS that can be license and the only one beside the ipad to contribute anything i mean anything at all to tablets.
    • Some Android tablets aren't that bad...

      ... it's just that Apple makes the experience that much better. Transformer Prime and Thrive, however, are both great tablets in their own right. Motorola's devices running ICS aren't bad either.
    • Get a grip please.

      iPad does not even offer USB connections. Can it do file transfer via BT like Android? I don't see the new Windows having that flexibilities too because it is following Apple footsteps. Both Apple and MS devices are selfish devices. And too depending on the Cloud.
  • With Surface at least Microsoft shows they care about tablets, unlike Googl

    Google doesn't care about anything except your data which is why all their efforts have failed except search.
    Loverock Davidson-