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

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?


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.



Topics: Tablets, Hardware, Laptops, Microsoft Surface

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

    Yes, have the user not think of it as a tablet which it really isn't but instead as a more portable laptop. Its that easy.
    • It can be both.

      I prefer to think of it as an ultrabook in a tablet form-factor.
      • re:

        It's a Surface, which is in a category of its own.
        Sir Name
      • I prefer to think of it as a hybrid

        which can serve as either a laptop or a large tablet.
        Rabid Howler Monkey
        • re:

          It's really the world's most portable desktop computer, that also a tablet.
          It's not and never will be a Laptop.
    • Plus

      It doesn't ship with all that BLOATWARE that the OEMs preload these days. Signature device. Love it.
    • It's not a laptop

      It's not a tablet.
      It's a farkin BEAST!
      Yes, that is the technical term, BEAST form factor.
    • Tell your employer

      "have the user not think of it as a tablet"

      Can you let your employers know to stop marketing it as a tablet then? The next generations of notebook is more appropriate, not tablet. The Surface is a nicely designed product, marketing it as a next Gen Notebook would do more to help the struggling PC market than this tablet hybrid confusion. This only confuses the market, especially when tablets are already being defined as iPads and Kindle "devices". Post PC devices.
      • Can't do that

        My employer doesn't sell tablets.
  • Sorry Microsoft it has WIN8 in it...........

    And we dont use touch in out business model.
    • Sorry Samsung it has Android in it...........

      And we dont use Android in our business model.
      • Some Day

        You will. And then there is Digital Ink.
        • No they won't.

          Enterprise won't ever use Android, except for limited BYOD use.
    • Then no tablets at all. Thats fine.

      For you.
    • What's Your Point?

      Apparently you wish to be contentious. Touch is optional. Just don't use it
    • Sorry

      "And We don't use touch in our welcome-to-2-years-ago business model"

      There, fixed it for you.
  • Messaging

    I've only seen the summaries here, but I gather that the Surface Gen3 was being compared favorable with the MacBook Air.

    But, does the MacBook Air switcher get it strictly because of weight and price? I ask because I've been hearing for the past two-three years that there are these UltraBooks which were supposed to be the MacBook Air killers and I presumed these were sold at competitive prices and were about the same weight.

    Why does someone switch to Apple? Well, we know that most people absolutely do not. And I would be hard pressed to understand how someone with a suite of Windows platform applications says farewell when it means expense in replacing the application and time in learning how to get the most from them.

    Apple sold 4 million computers last quarter. Let's say half were MBAs, making that amount 2,000,000. Let's say 1/2 are new to the platform, that makes 1,000,000 per quarter or 4,000,000 per year. Are these the people for whom Microsoft's messaging is intended? It's seems to be a small pool for playing out large ambitions.

    Meanwhile many more people are Windows users who will be looking at a new purchase — which will run their Windows applications — this year. If Apple's lowest cost highly portable computer was the example of the product that Surface Gen 3 beats, doesn't the product also beat the Ultrabooks and hybrids made by Microsoft's paying customers, the manufacturers who buy Windows licenses?

    MBA was on Microsoft's lips, but I think its OEMs are in its sites.
    • If one has serious MBA device envy, what's to learn?

      Linus Torvalds installed a GNU/Linux desktop on his MBA. And many Windows fans install a retail version of Windows on their MBAs. Clearly, these people are not average users and, in all cases, they get a laptop running their favorite OS and applications rather than a hybrid device that can also function as a tablet.

      In addition, Microsoft is touting up to 9 hours of battery life for the Surface Pro 3. I'm sure that many reviews are forthcoming that will include battery life experiences. What battery life can one expect with the newest MBAs running Windows 8?
      Rabid Howler Monkey
    • Your way of thinking has some good logic.

      "Let's say 1/2 are new to the platform, that makes 1,000,000 per quarter or 4,000,000 per year. Are these the people for whom Microsoft's messaging is intended? It's seems to be a small pool for playing out large ambitions."

      Good point.

      One can only be lead to believe that Microsoft is not focusing strictly on those who would be considering MacBook Air units. And that makes enormous sense. I have known a fair number of Mac users over the years, some I have known for years. What seems to be the over riding factor for "new MacBook purchasers" is that they want to buy into the Apple hoopla of what they say is so great about their systems. And I'm not saying at all that Apple doesn't make a good computer or good equipment generally, they do as far as I'm concerned. Its just that its been made quite clear to me over the years that most first Mac buyers don't have much experience with Apple computers and they are held out to be a luxury item of almost magical superior quality that cost a little more, so for some people, when they find they have more money then they need for a Windows laptop, they find the hoopla about the Macs very compelling. That of course only leads to some very confused thoughts from purchasers of Macs I have worked with when they find that despite all the hoopla, that Macs don't always just work, and sometimes they have puzzling issues of their own that the purchaser honestly thought they would never have just because its a Mac. And again, that dosnt make them bad, it just makes them mortal and nothing like the "god machines of computing" that the Apple ads and enthusiasts would have us believe.

      So, to begin with, I don't know that appealing to potential MacBook Air purchasers is going to even have a very significant potential for effect on them. To counter the thoughts that a potential MacBook Air purchaser is thinking about when they are about to buy a MacBook Air, Microsoft would probably have to push the notion of "our magic is better than their magic" kind of idea.

      I mean, essentially that is the only problem that Microsoft seems to have in competing with Apple. For those who don't believe a word about Apples rhetoric about how special and practically infallible their machines are, many purchasers of new computers find it hard to give Apple equipment a serious thought because at the end of the day, your paying more money to learn a new OS that will not be able to use your current software and for example, when that means something like a critical piece of software of even a game your hooked on it means a change that's really going to hurt.

      Microsoft must be casting a much larger net than potential MacBook Air users.
      • Microsoft must be casting a much larger net than potential MBA users

        They'd have to be wouldn't they? Given that the MBA is not a hybrid device whilst the Surface Pro 3 is a hybrid device and, thus, supports use as a tablet in addition to a laptop.
        Rabid Howler Monkey