Nvidia CEO reveals Microsoft Surface 2 plans, includes 'the killer app'

Nvidia CEO reveals Microsoft Surface 2 plans, includes 'the killer app'

Summary: Nvidia's CEO hopes the next generation Microsoft Surface tablet will be a "big success."

TOPICS: Tablets, Microsoft
microsoft-surface-tablet-josh lowensohn-3
Credit: Josh Lowensohn/ CNET

Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang has spilled the beans on the next generation Microsoft Surface RT tablet.

Speaking to sister site CNET's Shara Tibken, Huang said the two companies are "working hard" to make it -- hopefully -- more of a success than its predecessor.

During Microsoft's Q4 2013 earnings, the Redmond giant admitted that sales of the Surface RT have been dismal at best, resulting in a write-down of $900 million. Despite reductions in price for the ARM-based Surface RT tablet, the company has generated only $853 million in revenue since the debut of Surface RT and Surface Pro last year.

Days after Microsoft's $900 million Surface RT "inventory adjustment" became public, Brian Hall, the General Manager of Surface Marketing told ZDNet that despite the losses, Microsoft is "100 percent committed to Surface RT and Windows RT going forward."

"We know we need a lot of Surface users to start the fly wheel of people recommending it," Hall said.

One problem is the fact there are few, if any, "killer apps" which will bring in the punters. Despite the fact that Nvidia and Microsoft are "working really hard" on the project, without useful, well-known apps available on the platform, it's unlikely consumers will abandon their iPads and Android tablets any time soon -- especially considering the ecosystem only supports around 100,000 apps so long after launch. 

As a result, Huang said that the next version of the Surface will include Outlook, which was not available at the time of launch last fall.

"It is the killer app for Windows," Huang told CNET. "Now we're going to bring it with the second-generation Surface. We're working really hard on it, and we hope that it's going to be a big success."

It is been almost a year since the launch of the tablet. Microsoft explained the delay in publicly announcing the heir to the Surface RT by telling ZDNet that is is taking a "measured and phased approach to the growth of the Surface business in order to meet customer demand and partner expectations."

Topics: Tablets, Microsoft

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  • Outlook?

    That's the killer app? If they said Halo RT or Visual Studio RT I would have said yes but, Outlook alone is not going to sell a billion dollars worth of these puppies and really, you don't need a Tegra 4 for that app.
    • How many people ...

      ... do you think would buy a Surface RT to play Halo and/or VS? A million? At most, perhaps.

      Now consider how many people & businesses would buy a Surface RT if it ran full Office AND Outlook? Many times more than would buy a Surface to run Halo/VS.

      That said, I have a sneaking suspicion that Surface2 MIGHT leapfrog Tegra4 and use the new Logan SOC instead which will give the RT the graphical horsepower to run full Halo! And get Surface RT out in front of the competition for longer
      • bitcrazed is correct

        I know several people who love their current Surface machines....problem for many of us is the capability of the machine - need to ensure it has the capability and power to run the MS Office Suite. Anything short of that is not worthwhile except as a toy (yes, my iPad is a toy).

        Provide a machine that can really replace my laptop and I am buying. Must be able to handle very large documents locally - not in the cloud.
        • Already done.. Surface Pro can replace your laptop.

          • That's true, but RT is the only way to bring price near Android

            Surface Pro is a great interim device until there more major apps (like MS Project, Quicken & Quickbooks, Photoshop & Elements, etc) are reimagined and rebuilt as Metro-style apps. But RT devices can run on much, much less power and the ARM CPUs are so much cheaper (and I haven't seen anything yet from Intel Atom that's convinced me the problem can be solved with a low power x86 chip). RT is really the future of Windows, a chance to finally eliminate viruses, malware and poor security (through app sandboxing), eliminate screen size requirements (from small to huge displays), fix heat dissipation issues (x86 architecture devices generate a lot of heat).

            We're just in the "transition" period where lots of the apps we use every day still require old hardware and OS to run. The same thing happened when we switched from 16bit apps to 32bit apps (Windows XP) and when we switched from 32bit apps to 64bit apps. The same thing happened when Mac switched from RISC to x86 (ironically). In a world where powerful tablets can be had for under $250 (Google Nexus 7), there's just not room for a $1,000 competitor, even though a small percentage of people will buy it because they need it short-term. Longer term, RT is the evolution of Windows. Just as an example, imagine the battery that now powers the Surface Pro in a Surface RT device - that thing would go for days on a single charge! Imagine a device that didn't need to be charged for a whole weekend business trip, or even for a whole week's vacation. That's potentially possible today with RT. It's not even a near term possibility for Surface Pro.

            The only thing missing are a few critical business apps...
    • Outlook may not be the killer app, but not having outlook hurt WindowsRT

      Microsoft seems very confused about where they want SurfaceRT used and by who (consumer vs business).

      Not having Outlook was a deal breaker for the few employees at my work that wanted a SurfaceRT. I imagine it was similar in other businesses.

      Nearly everything about WindowsRT feels like it was rushed (software, not hardware).
      • Outlook on RT

        Hey, I'll buy a Surface RT if it has a version of Outlook. I tried one at Best Buy the other day and it did everything I'd want out of a tablet, with the exception of Outlook. Now they fix that, I'm sold and glad I waited to buy. (Note: I spent an afternoon yesterday working on a friend's Android tablet. While they may have a load of apps, I didn't find any that I considered a "must have". I'm still looking for a good e-mail app that has more than a very stripped down functionality that she can use. As far as iPad, I'm not willing to give my hard earned money to Apple for an overpriced piece of hardware that people buy as much as a status symbol as for its functionality.
        • Surface has a bad design

          The Surface is very top heavy. It keeps falling over and it is way to heavy to be considered a tablet. The Surface is the first tablet ever made with fans in it. Not just one fan but two. This thing burns hot. Also I hear one needs a mouse, keyboard and external battery pack also for it to be useful as a work computer. I don't see consumers buying the Surface computer.
          • Pro had fans not RT

            The Surface Pro has fans and is heavier than an iPad and many other tablets, but to say it is heavy is crazy. The RT is the Surface they are talking about having Outlook for and that one does not have fans or get warm and it is lighter and thinner than the Pro.
          • All lies...

            My Surface RT has never felt top-heavy, or even come close to falling over. I even just nudged it (hard) to prove it to myself, and nope... rocked back on the stand and settled back into normal position. I've never seen the Surface Pros at work topple either (also not top-heavy).

            The Surface Pro is the first tablet to be a real PC. And for that it needs a proper notebook processor and cooling system. They do NOT run hot, or loud (under normal working conditions). The Surface RT has passive cooling just like the iPad, Nexus, and GalaxyTabs of the world.

            I think it's advisable to use a keyboard and mouse (or just use the touch or type covers - which have both included) if you're using it in Office all day, or wanting to drive the desktop. But I've only launched Office on my RT once, and visited the desktop a total of three times. I've only ever used the Modern Apps... and they work well. Touch is AMAZING on these things, and I've found no need for the other inputs. On the Pro, the pressure-sensitive digitizer is the best of any tablet I have ever used. Even better than most of the really expensive and dedicated Wacom units (which cost almost as much as the Surface Pro does, by themselves). Not only is that great for art/drawing, handwriting, but also navigating the OS. No need for mouse there either.

            Surface RT has great battery life. Pretty much iPad-like battery life. The Surface Pro gets around five hours, which is still more than a majority of the Notebooks and Tablets around the same price-point - which are much heavier.

            Stop "hearing" about the Surface, and stop reading the lies in the media (mostly bloggers, actually). For a little more than a Nexus 7, and a little over half of what an iPad costs... why don't you get one and try for yourself. I think you'll be somewhat amazed by how good these actually are.

            As for the story itself, Outlook is destined for the Surface RT... the device that is about the same physical size, similar weight, and similarly App-Store-tied as an iPad. While not a killer feature for me (I'm happy with the Mail App and using GMail via IE10), it is a great addition to the RT for corporate and education use. I do believe, however, that existing Surface RT users will get this too, though.
          • re bad design

            Mine hasn't fallen over even once, what are you doing to it?
          • You hear??

            Perhaps you shouldn't spew worthless comments when you have no first hand experience - you get a 100% for total inaccuracy
    • Outlook?

      I agree... Outlook is a small attraction, even a silly suggestion.

      Full MS Office on a tablet + Outlook, under $800, its a sure winner for most users.

      To that add the ability to play the many awesome games that only exist on a PC, then MS will own the market. Online games from Blizzard and others are many millions of subscribers. I'm not suggesting these types of games can be played with touch, even a keyboard+mouse is limiting at times, so one still needs a keyboard and a mouse.

      The store apps like angry birds and all the social apps will fall shortly behind, they would be forced to, none will ignore the numbers.
    • Re: Visual Studio RT

      No code generation and execution is possible on WinRT, so no Visual Studio RT...
      At least, not until Microsoft ships WinRTv2, completely incompatible with the current one.
    • You Got that Right...

      Seriously, Outlook the killer app! It's an email client, who cares... How about more hard drive space, a discrete graphics card, more battery life, a keyboard bundle or at least a keyboard that doesn't cost 130 dollars!
  • If Outlook is the killer app

    Then surface will be kept in coma.
    • They don't understand the term "killer app."

      A killer app is something completely new that makes people sit up and say, "Wow!" A killer app fires up the techno-lust in people. A killer app can sell a product on its own.

      How is Outlook a killer app? Email, scheduling, and contact management are required functionality which is already present on every platform out there. It couldn't be more boring or pedestrian. They said the same thing about Office on the Surface and we saw how excited that made people. *yawn*

      When I see something labeled "killer app," I expect a lot more than a boring email client.
      • PIM functionality on Android tablet?

        "Email, scheduling, and contact management are required functionality which is already present on every platform out there."

        Well then, can you recommend a good one for and Android tablet? The one that was preinstalled was a dog and I've yet to find one that does everything you mention. I'd kill for Outlook. I also find that I've read enough about Windows 8/Win RT on tablets that I keep trying to use the gestures they use my friend's Android tablet to no avail. I find the gestures pretty intuitive. I'll be going with a Windows RT tablet once the new one with Outlook is released.
        • Touchdown is a great email client for Android

          If you couldn't find a good email app for Android you need to improve your search skills.
        • Outlook is available on current RT devices...

          ...with the Windows 8.1 release which will be available for general use shortly, but is in preview currently.