Buying lots and lots of things
Let's say you run the IT function for a large business, and let's say you need to buy 1,000 desktops. You have two options:
Option a) You buy the machines from the same vendor you bought them from last time. That vendor's main business happens to be selling computer hardware into enterprises.
Option b) You buy them from a software company that has sold, in total, zero units of own-brand computers into enterprises, but does do a pretty good job of selling keyboards, mice, and game consoles.
This is really the problem with Surface. Windows 8 and Windows RT are risky enough propositions, without mixing in unproven hardware from an unproven vendor.
Don't forget that the Xbox Red Ring of Death was a thing. Try explaining that to your boss? "Jenkins, explain to me again why I've got a thousand members of staff who's new fangled Windows tablet thingies just go 'beep' when you turn them on? I told you we should have bought iPads!"
Mind you - it's not just the hardware. Microsoft operates a massively competent and complex after-sales telephone and support operation, but can they turn that to hardware support? Being able to call on engineers to RDP into servers and fix Exchange is a different problem to dealing with a massive shipment of DOA devices arriving at your customer's door.
Personally, whereas in a small business I'd buy a few Surfaces because they're likely to be cool and turn a few heads ... anything more than, 50? No way.
(And that's if you can even get them - I wouldn't be surprised if the availability of the Surface ends up making them very exclusive.)
So - then what?
Well, this is easy. There are plenty of companies bringing out Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets, most of which businesses already buy business kit from. For example, kit from Lenovo, Dell, and others. That type of vendor has demonstrable competency at delivering large-scale enterprise deployments of tablets. If you buy a thousand of them and they don't work, it's a far easier conversation to have with your boss.
Yes, that kit is not going to be as sexy as the Surface, which I still feel is oozing with cool and verve, but it is going to work, runs Windows 8 or Windows RT (which - duh - is the business objective) and it's much less likely to get you fired.
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons.
What do you think? Post a comment, or talk to me on Twitter: @mbrit.