Is Surface Pro 3 Microsoft’s Last Chance

…as far as the tablet market is concerned..?  Uh…yeah.

Pro3

I’m a big fan of Windows Weekly on the TWiT NetworkPaul Thurrott is a former co-worker and friend, Mary Jo Foley and I chat every now and again on Twitter.  Leo is also full of awesome-sauce.  He’s done a huge amount of work to advance consumer understanding of the tech world in general… Do they give medals for tech-awesomeness..??  ‘cuz I’m just sayin’…

Anyway, I was listening to episode WW367: Mucho Calibre of Windows Weekly, and about three quarters of the way through the show, the Leo, Mary Jo and Paul begin discussing the immanent, public release of Surface Pro 3, and start talking a little bit about whether or not this is Microsoft’s last real shot at the tablet market (and whether Surface and Windows RT is dead or not…). I have a couple quick things to say about this that I wanted to follow up on before it evaporated.

1. Surface Pro 3’s Last Hurrah?
Um, yeah…  This is the last real chance that the platform has. I love Surface Pro and I’ll be excited to see Surface Pro 3 when it really starts making its way on to local Best Buy, and other retail shelves.  However, no one really knows what Surface Pro wants to be, either. Microsoft has done a lot of work to try to define what that is exactly, but I’m not convinced that the public will connect the dots.

In Microsoft’s eyes, it’s the perfect combo device – tablet and ultrabook.  However, most consumers just think its overpriced and unproven.  While Microsoft may be offering a $650 trade-in for users of MacBook Air’s (making the Surface Pro 3 a $149 dollar device…), a lack of confidence in Windows 8.x and the public’s unfamiliarity with Surface Pro devices, as well as its high price point make the Surface Pro 3 a NEAR non-starter for many.

Don’t get me wrong. I think the hardware is solid. They did a lot to improve the pen and writing experience on the device with Surface Pro 3; but $799 is a lot to pay for a digital notepad (the Surface Pro and Microsoft OneNote are a completely AWESOME combination); but I don’t know many beyond the tech-savvy, executive management type who will actually give Surface Pro 3 a shot…And because Microsoft rebuilt the device from the ground up – different size, form factor, aspect ratio power supply, and pen (just to name a few) – I don’t know how many current Surface Pro/ Surface Pro 2 users you’re going to see upgrading to the latest version of Microsoft’s premier hardware line.  If this one doesn’t generate the kind of following that the MacBook Air enjoys with Mac lovers, I doubt you’re going to see Surface Pro 3 last long (and you won’t see a Surface Pro 4…). I hope Microsoft got it right.

And yes… changes to desktop Windows to make the tablet/ ultrabook even more compelling, while leaving the train wreck that is Windows 8.x behind…will be a must.

2. Is Surface/Windows RT Dead?
Um, yeah…  That ship sailed a while ago.  The fact that its recently been made public that Microsoft killed the Surface Mini just days or weeks before its launch isn’t helping much.  The fact that there’s no real big differentiator between Windows RT and Windows 8.x (aside from where you can buy apps from and which apps will run) isn’t helping matters. RT has a desktop and looks and sorta feels like Windows except when any ModernUI apps run. Microsoft should have killed the desktop entirely on RT, went full ModernUI on RT and really pushed the tablet as a lean-back device.  They didn’t, and the result is a total muddying of the Windows waters. There’s more OS confusion as Microsoft really didn’t draw a line between the two platforms and differentiate them.  No one knows what Surface and WinRT are, and at this point, the public is beyond the point of caring….that and a $900B write-off will not only get ya fired, but it will kill a platform.

Honestly, Microsoft just needs to realize that the only thing left to do is put flowers on the grave.  Windows RT died with Surface RT. They just apparently didn’t know it after the write-off, new CEO and the release of version 2 of the doomed platform.  What were they thinking?? Doesn’t a billion dollar charge kinda say that the public isn’t interested and doesn’t want the platform?

I don’t want to be hard on Microsoft. They need all the cheerleaders they can get right now; but I unfortunately think that Leo, Mary Jo and Paul are wrong on this one.  The Surface Pro 3 will be the last Surface tablet from Microsoft if this one isn’t just something that is “magical,” giving the MacBook Air and/ or an iPad with an awesome keyboard a run for its money.

What do you think?  Do you have a Surface or Surface Pro tablet (of any generation)?  Do you like it?  Do you use it?  Do you think that Microsoft can make a difference with Surface Pro 3..?  or is it all just too late, and everyone is just refusing to see the writing on the wall?  Why don’t you meet me in the discussion area, below, and give me your thoughts on the subject?  I’d love to know what you think…

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