Microsoft Surface 2 is a decent update to the tablet and ultrabook hardware platform, but doesn’t address all of the issues. Let’s take a quick look
Microsoft’s first foray into the tablet space didn’t fare too well. Windows RT and Surface RT are largely misunderstood. Now, with the introduction of Surface 2 and Windows 8.1, Microsoft is hoping to come closer to giving the world what it really wants. I’ve given you an insight on what Microsoft has done with the introduction of Surface 2. However, no one really knows what need Windows RT is supposed to meet in its current form, largely because the ARM based OS is still Windows or at least Windows branded. Surface 2 should be a decent upgrade to Microsoft’s Windows showcase hardware. Let’s take a look at what they did and where it might still fall short
As I mentioned previously, Surface 2 will start at $449 for the 32GB version. Surface 2 Pro will Start at $899 for the 64GB version, with 128GB, 256GB and 512GB versions available. The latter will cost a cool $1799. Clearly, Microsoft did NOT get the message on tablet cost.
All of these costs are completely out of line for this type of device. I’ve got a bit more on this in the Hardware Confusion section, below. My guess is that the sweet spot (at least as far as storage is concerned) will be the 256GB model. I doubt that Microsoft will sell very many 512GB Surface 2 Pro devices. It’s just too expensive for a tablet.
In fact, the entire tablet line is about 2x-3x more expensive than it should be. Microsoft had a huge opportunity to change its position and stance on tablet pricing with the introduction of Surface 2, and it totally missed the boat. They’ve already taken a huge $1.0B charge for unsold Surface RT tablets.
Lowering the entry point for Windows tablets should have been a priority for Surface 2. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. Surface 2 should have been priced no higher than $249 for the entry level device. The entry level Surface 2 Pro device should have been priced at $349. Pricing for the 512GB version of Surface 2 Pro should have been $999. Period. Pricing at these levels would have made Surface 2 much more attractive than it currently is, and could have made some of its short comings more forgivable.
After I got my Surface Pro and saw that it didn’t have a SIM card slot, I wondered what Microsoft was thinking in making their top of the line, highly anticipated enterprise ready tablet Wi-Fi only. I decided to go to a local Microsoft Store and ask one of the associates for their take on the issue.
To make a long story short, their take was that Surface RT and Surface Pro were already late to the market. Redmond knew this, and instead of going through the additional 18-24 months of engineering and wireless certifications that would be required for a mobile broadband device, the decision for a Wi-Fi only device was justified. I give the kid top marks for a great fish story; but I’m not buyin’ what he’s sellin’.
Microsoft knows that both Apple and almost any Android tablet manufacturer produce both Wi-Fi and mobile broadband compatible tablets. If they could see far enough down the product pipeline to get their ducks in a row, then Microsoft should have found a way to get the job done.
The time is way over for lame excuses. You can’t tell me that with Microsoft’s connections, lobbying power and available cash they couldn’t find a way to fast track mobile broadband certification for LTE versions of both Surface RT and Surface Pro.
Microsoft is indicating that an LTE version of Surface 2 WILL be available; but won’t be around until Q1 2014 at the earliest. That’s way too late. What the heck has MS been doing since the introduction of Surface RT and Surface Pro? Why haven’t they been working on this since then with prototypes or samples in testing with all 4 major wireless carriers?
It’s easy to blame Ballmer for this, especially since he’s the lame duck CEO; but this is another HUGE ball that’s been dropped. It’s also going to add an additional $100-$150 to the cost of each storage sized version of Surface 2 and Surface 2 Pro, which again, is wrong. The devices are already way over priced; and cellular radios are cheap now a days. What would be cool is if this turned out to be modular and something and end user could snap internally into the tablet; but that won’t happen either…