Microsoft Surface will be a real iPad rival in the enterprise, say CIOs

Microsoft Surface will be a real iPad rival in the enterprise, say CIOs

Summary: Does the iPad finally have a genuine rival in the shape of Microsoft’s Surface? CIOs polled by ZDNet and TechRepublic certainly reckon so

TOPICS: Tablets

Microsoft's forthcoming Surface tablet is the iPad rival that businesses have been waiting for, according to CIOs around the world polled by ZDNet and TechRepublic.

The CIO Jury groups from Asia, Australia and the UK and US all voted 'yes' to the question: "Will Microsoft’s Surface tablet provide a real alternative to the iPad?"

Surface tablet
Can Microsoft's Surface tablet compete with the iPad? Image credit: Josh Lowensohn/CNET News
The CIO Jury is ZDNet and TechRepublic's quick response panel of tech leaders around the globe. The first 12 CIOs from the pool to respond to a yes or no question become the 'jury' for that question.

All three groups voted yes, albeit by different margins, reflecting the Surface tablet could be a genuine challenger to the iPad, Apple's hugely successful tablet that has not faced much serious competition until now.

TechRepublic's CIO Jury (which covers the UK, Europe and the US) was the most bullish on the Surface, voting yes by a margin of 10 to two.

Tim Stiles, CIO at Bremerton Housing Authority, said Microsoft’s entry into the market represents "tremendous promise" for corporate IT. "The buzz, even among corporate iPad users, is very strong," he said. Meanwhile, Jeff Canon, CIO of Fire and Life Safety America, said he is getting as many requests for the Surface as he got for the iPad when it first came out.

ZDNet's Australian CIO Jury was also very positive about the enterprise prospects for the tablet, agreeing it would be a real alternative to the iPad by a margin of eight to four.

Andrew Paton, group manager of IT services at Rondo Building Services, agreed that features like the USB port are a must for Microsoft's tablet to come out on top, and that its integration with other Microsoft products might help the device win the day.

"Coming from a Microsoft-based environment, it will certainly have to be considered as a potential laptop replacement for the likes of sales representatives in the field," he said.

ZDNet's Asian CIOs also consider Surface to be a true competitor to Apple's current market leader, voting yes by a margin of seven to five.

Steve Lee, CIO and senior vice president of technology for Changi Airport Group, said: "Technically, from what I've read, it does plug a gap in the corporate space."

However, not all CIOs were convinced: Peter Smith, group manager of information systems at Quick Service Restaurant Holdings, part of the Australian jury, argued that Microsoft has missed the boat.

"I am not sure [Microsoft] can make up the lost ground to iOS or Android devices. It is not really apparent whether Microsoft is trying to position the product as a tablet or an ultra-light laptop. Reviews on the intuitiveness of the interface are not particularly positive, so it sounds like Microsoft still has some work to do," he said.

Similary Tom Galbraith, director of IT at the US District Court Southern District of Illinois, said unseating the iPad is a formidable challenge: "Even if there is a compelling differentiating factor that Surface offers, Apple's first-mover advantage and their position as the standard by which all others are measured certainly tilts the odds in Apple’s direction."

On ZDNet's Asian CIO Jury, Glen Francis, vice president and head of group IT at Global Logistic Properties, was also unimpressed, saying: "[Surface] lacks the oomph factor in design."

Want to be part of the CIO Jury and have your say on the hot issues for IT decision-makers? If you are a CIO, CTO, IT director or equivalent at a large or small company, working in the private sector or in government, and you want to join the CIO Jury pool, or you know an IT chief who should, then get in contact.

Either click the Contact link below or email me, steve dot ranger at techrepublic dot com, and send your name, title, company, location, and email address. 

Topic: Tablets

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  • Surface Pad

    this pad looks amazing, but has a main problem it's not APPLE...
    Ernesto Warren
    • Why is more functionality a problem?

      Why is more functionality, more ports, and better compatibility with peripherals a problem?
      • Ports?

        What, exactly, in the blue-eyed world would you want to plug a proper WIRELESS tablet into? Surely, some bump-on-a-rope Bluetooth or WiFi adapter for whatever device (printer, projecter, computer...) it is that doesn't already have wireless connectivity would be a much better solution that lashing down a tablet with a bunch of cables...
        • maybe...

          A USB drive with lots of movies for the trip maybe??
          • It's as if our Microsofty friends still live in the stone age...

            We want *everything* to work wirelessly these days.
            Yes, the harddisks too. =)
          • USB thumb drive

            A thumb drive can hold several movies on it, it doesn't have to be a disk drive. On the iPad you have to copy them to the iPad, when using a machine with a USB port you copy it to the thumb drive and you don't waste space on the computer.
          • Who has Wirless HD?

            Who has Wirless HD actually?

            Nobody or near...
          • I do.

            It's called Time Capsule.
          • Very good, Userama

            Yes, because we all travel around with a heavy external hard drive and a mysterious unlimited power source.
          • I do

            Mine is called the Seagate Satellite Go.

            500GB wireless storage. Works with any wireless device. Streams video too, so no, you don't have to copy your movies to the iPad. Is multiuser, several users can use it at the same time (up to 5 streams, if I remember properly).

            Oh, and by the way, it came with USB 3.0 adapter, so it can be used as wired drive too...
          • Really?

            Oh yeah, USB ports are totally from the stone age. Who uses things like flashdrives anyway? That's SO 2010.
          • I took 9.9G of pictures today...

            It was only the first day of my vacation. I am traveling around Europe for two weeks. I wonder if I can store these on my iPad. Nope. No room. Can I put them in the iCloud, not going to happen.

            I agree, people who use their computer as a means of sending email to grandma and play games, do not need expansion ports. People who use computers for real work is another story.

            When I travel I have to travel with my iPad (for this and that, media consumption mostly) AND my laptop. This means that the Microsoft Surface is going to be SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper than the iPad, almost at any cost, since it will replace my iPad AND my laptop.
          • Even Dvorak Admits, ZDNet and the Author are Microsoft's Shills


            (pcmag PERIOD com SLASH article2 SLASH 0,2817,2406990,00 PERIOD asp)

            Add this nonsense article to all those that praise the absolutlely fugly and time-wasting:

            1.) "Ribbon" (a large dump that is the result of an agenda of promoting women — especially, young, Fox-worthy idiots — at all cost; cf. NBC's "news talent," supported in full by its muffy, unctuous, self-aggrandizing "journalist," Brian Williams);

            2.) Win/Off 8 (products that no one who does real work wants; the "content-consuming" knuckle-draggers want iDevices, anyway); and

            3.) Visually-Ugly Studio 2011/12 (black-and-white and color-desaturated complements to the kick in the sack given to Silverlight developers et al.).

            As for ZeroDignityNet, it's no wonder that "PC Magazine" is long dead and buried, after its final paper years of staff torment, suffering, and obnoxious replacements (read: Louderback, Ulanoff, et al.).
            beau parisi
          • not really

            Consumers will go for the iPad or a Samsung tablet. Companies should steer clear from bells and whistles. No USb ports, no memory cards, unless you want to get more malware in or data stolen. It is neither suitable for consumers (wrong format) nor for businesses (too much risk). However IT departments fear change. They love to keep everything the same for the next 100 years, only to lose out to companies that do change.
          • Not not really

            You're thinking in PC terms (where APPs run with full user or admin privelages). In the Tablet model (iPad or Metro)-- Apps only have privelages to themselves (and need user authorization to access anything else).

            Your line of thinking should also fear wireless-- why is it safer than a USB port?
          • Yes USB ports, Yes memory cards, you must be an idiot!!!!!

            I cannot believe this nonsense. No USB and no memory cards because you may get a virus from them???


            Seriously. I can hardly believe I even read that tripe.

            I and everyone I know has been actively using USB, memory cards, disk drive etc. for years and much contrary to wishful fantasies of Windows haters, their Windows computers have not been dropping like flies.

            Is this the crap that Apple claims is the reason for taking away versatility and control over your own computing devices, that if we let you have ways to independently copy information into the machine or copy information from the machine you might get a virus?? OMG.

            I thought EVERYONE knew the real reason. I really did. I mean its obvious.

            OK, for those who do not know. Pretty much all the major IT companies involved with hardware and software sales in particular are slowly pushing toward a hardware ecosystem where you, as the user, will have no real control or even pretense of ownership of anything but the piece of hardware in your hand because everything you get (software or content wise), will be fed to you through special regulated distribution by way of the cloud. You yourself will never actually put anything "onto" your computer, its more like either running through it, or its simply connecting to a service in the cloud. You certainly will not be copying or extracting much of anything off of your computing device. Thats a big part of the reason why Apple figure a 64GB HD is a monster, after all, they don't really want you to store anything on it in the first place. And MS is going to try at some point to be pretty much the same. And why??

            Because it pretty much stops piracy of all kind in its tracks. SIMPLE.

            As a concluding thought, if you have any doubts think on these simple points; if you run all the apps from a cloud, if you store practically all your files in a cloud, if you can only download apps approved by MS or Apple for example, if you cannot simply and easily load anything you want on your device, or for that matter simply copy it off your device onto something like a DVD or USB drive...if all those things come to pass in a complete way, how is piracy and copyright infringement going to take place in the way that groups like RIAA are at war in the courts over right now?

            NO SIR. It occurred to some people high up awhile back that the error they made with early computer design is they made hardware that made it easy for people to store vast amounts of information on their own systems and to trade share, copy and pass around without going through anyones hands but their own so to speak, all kinds of information. It then occurred to these people we now have just about enough tech available we can kill all that useful hardware and force the public to use our services and storage and make it so they have to get their software through an approved system so that the public is no longer in free control over how and exactly what can come and go through their computers.

            Of course, some asked the obvious question; how will we ever get the pubic to accept this, after all storage is cheap, the hardware used to copy and store information is cheap, us doing this is NOT will they ever accept this loss of freedom?

            I'm betting there was somebody who pointed out "If Steve Jobs tells them, its for their own good, its old fashioned hardware that could introduce viruses and we don't need it any more" they will believe it.

            OMG. Wake up world.
          • USB is buggy and has been from day one

            The only reason most people don't see it is that most files are relatively small and the data transfer is near-instantaneous (even dozens of gigabytes only take a few minutes.) However, on any file transfer over USB of 30 minutes or longer there is an increasing risk of corrupted data which can (and does) kill the entire transfer process and can result in the total loss of data at both ends. I have seen this for myself multiple times. USB2 is no better and USB3 just does it sooner.

            Wireless is now at least as fast and far more reliable than USB and, obviously, doesn't require a cable. If you truly need high-speed data transfer today, Thunderbolt is the best option available IMHO.
          • wrong

            I work at a nameless retail tech service provider. i transfer several hundred gb of data a day. i use microsofts robust file copy or terracopy to ensure that no file, not on MB gets lost . i do this over usb or a ethernet patch cable. without issue. Have been doing this for years. your real problem is relying on basic file copy(something i may add, that power users never do). The problems you describe will be remedied via windows 8. do some research.
            jonathan tucker
          • Who's wrong?

            I don't use "basic file copy" to transfer video from a camcorder in real-time. What I'm trying to use is that camcorder company's own software to transfer the video into the editor on Windows from tape (not all my clients have or can afford a newer, all-digital camcorder.) As you have just proven, when you assume, you make an *** out of U and ME.

            Not everything can be solved with hyper-specialized, enterprise-only software; sometimes you have to use what you are given. USB has consistently proven itself buggy when Firewire worked faster and more reliably. I can promise you that Thunderbolt is as far ahead of USB3 as Firewire was ahead of USB itself and Intel was behind the creation of both USB and Thunderbolt.
          • um

            How's that Thunderbolt working out for you on the iPad?