Time with a Surface Pro 3

Introduction

A couple years ago, I bought a Microsoft Surface Pro 1. I got the big boy… the 128GB model with the Intel i5 processor. It’s been a good PC, and honestly, it’s probably going to be a decent backup device, unless I break down and sell it. Honestly, I’m still up in the air about that…and for good reason – I don’t know if I’m going to keep the Surface Pro 3 that I bought a couple of weeks ago.

Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 is Redmond’s latest entry into the hybrid ultrabook market. It comes with Windows 8.x out of the box, and will also run Windows 10, if you’re on the Technical Preview, Windows Insider program. I haven’t put Windows 10 on it for a couple of reasons –

1. Build 9879 is really buggy
2. The Surface Pen doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to in Windows 10 right now (the pen’s top button doesn’t start OneNote, like it’s supposed to)
3. The Consumer Preview of Windows 10 should be out in about 4-5 weeks from this writing (I’d say, on our about 2015-01-21, the date of their scheduled announcement)
4. I wanted to see how the device really ran under Windows 8.x, especially compared to my Surface Pro 1.

I’m not going to turn this into a review of the Surface Pro 3; however, I did want to give some thoughts on it vs. the Surface Pro 1. I’m not too happy with the fact that there are enough issues with it and Windows 10 that I don’t have it on the new OS yet, despite its beta or Technical Preview designation. At least for this article then, the two devices would be on equal ground. However, as I mentioned above, there are issues with the device on Windows 10 (and enough with Windows 8.x) that I thought it would be prudent to leave it on the OS it came with…

Form Factor

IMG_0683 IMG_0682

As you can see from the photos, the shape of the actual Surface Pro 3 is very different from either the Surface 1/2 or the Surface Pro 1/2. The aspect ratio of the device has changed from 16×9 to 3×2. The 12-inch screen has a resolution of 2160 x 1440. This new screen size and, aspect ratio and resolution should make the inking experience a bit better (see below), as a 16×9 aspect ratio is GREAT for watching movies, but made for a very thin, portrait oriented digital sheet of paper.

But let’s get down to brass tacks here… usability and such.

Let’s get one thing straight first – even though the Surface Pro line comes in a tablet form factor with a magnetized, clickable and easily removable keyboard, they are NOT tablets. They are full blown Windows computers, and are officially categorized as an ultrabook. They are NOT a tablet, and shouldn’t be confused with one.

Tablets are small, easy to use devices with batteries that last for days while watching one feature length film after another without needing to recharge or put it down because it gets too hot to hold in your hands or your lap (I kid about the battery life thing; but you get my point). The Surface Pro line of devices have extended battery life, but they’re not anywhere near as long lived as your iPad, Surface or Surface 2, or any number of popular Android variant tablets. They also have cooling fans in them, as they can get rather warm.

I did not try to make use of either the Surface Pro 1 or Surface Pro 3 as a content consumption device for the above noted battery and heat reasons, but also because until the recent updates where the Xbox Music and Xbox Video services started offering movies and music and such to a larger crowd, Microsoft didn’t really have an ecosystem in order to hock their wares.

I’ve noted a number of times that I’ve been using the Surface Pro and Surface Pro 3 as a digital notepad, taking it from meeting to meeting so that I can take meeting notes with the included pen. I’ve noted one big difference between the Surface Pro and the Surface Pro 3 in this regard:

  1. The Surface Pro 1 isn’t Wide Enough – The Surface Pro 1 isn’t wide enough to be a truly effective digital notepad. The way I have OneNote configured, I have notes organized by Year, Month and then individual note, on a number of different tabs, usually organized by subject. Individual notes get indented as a sub-note or sub-sub-note, depending on if they’re organized under a month or a year separator. This requires me to move the right sided, note organizer out a bit from the right edge of the app window so you can read the titles of all the indented notes so you can find what you’re looking for This makes the actual writing area a bit skinnier than it really needs to be on a 16×9 formatted screen.
  2. The Surface Pro 3 isn’t Long Enough – While the Surface Pro 3 is definitely wider than the Surface Pro 1 or Pro 2, it clearly isn’t long enough. While the visible screen is physically longer than that of the Surface Pro 1 or 2, given the 3×2 aspect ratio, its functionally shorter. There’s clearly not enough writing space; and depending on how big you write, and what magnification level you have the screen at, you’re constantly scrolling the used “paper” up the screen, out of the way.

I’m not entirely certain what the right solution is here. The 16×9 aspect ratio of the Surface Pro 1/ 2 is better for watching movies and other video, but I don’t use the device this way. It is better for longer pieces of OneNote “paper;” but it clearly isn’t wide enough. While the 3×2 aspect ratio of the Surface Pro 3 is better for writing, it clearly isn’t long enough.

It’s clear to me that no matter what I do here, I’m going to be scrolling horizontally or vertically a lot. While speaking about this topic to someone, they asked why I just didn’t zoom the screen out a bit. There’s a really good reason for that, and its twofold:

  1. My eye sight is worsening with age, and I can’t see the smaller stuff as well anymore.
  2. The hardware of the Surface 1/ 2 and the Surface 3 clearly show me they don’t handle writing and zooming very well. While you can zoom IN to make the print bigger or zoom OUT to show more white space or ruled lines, digital ink doesn’t do well on zoomed screens smaller than 80% and larger than 120%. (and I’m being generous with the range, here…)

Display and Digitizer

I eluded to much of what I am seeing with the Surface Pro 3’s display, above; but I wanted to talk about the screen itself a bit more.

The screen is gorgeous.

It’s really nice to look at and very easy to read computer generated text on it. What video I have watched on it, in the form of either Facebook or YouTube videos, has been clear, clean, with little to no pixilation or artifacting, even with the low-end Intel i3 processor running at just 1.5gHz and Intel’s Intel 4200 graphics chipset. However, I’m not really trying to push this bad boy too much, either. I know what the hardware can and cannot do, and I’m not trying to do more than just type or use OneNote with it. It’s never going to run Photoshop (I’ve got a high-end MacBook Pro for that) and I’m not going to play movies on it. I’ve got an iPad for that.

However, I did want to spend a bit of time talking about the digitizer layer of the device (and not necessarily the touch screen, per se, unless it plays into this). I’m having an issue on both devices, with both Windows 8.x (SP3) and Windows 10 (SP1). I use both for OneNote and both in portrait orientation while inking. I’ve noticed a big problem with pen accuracy as well as a bit of delay in showing digital ink on the screen after its been drawn.

I’ve tried on many occasions to resolve this with recalibration of the screen on the Surface Pro 1 with Windows 10, to no avail. The digitizer is just… off. This wasn’t like this on Windows 8.x on this device. My hope is that it can be resolved when the Windows 10 Consumer Preview comes out. However, I’m not overly confident that it will be. The issue also presents itself when the device is used in its default landscape orientation; and I’ve noticed that getting the screen to auto-switch orientations – especially after waking from sleep – isn’t always easy.

I’ve noticed the same issue on the Surface Pro 3 while it’s in portrait mode, but isn’t not as advanced there. On the Surface Pro 1, the location of the cursor on the computer image and the location of the digitizer pen on the glass screen can differ by as much as 1/32″ to 1/16″ of an inch. That doesn’t seem like much, but when you’re writing on the screen and you touch HERE only to have it display THERE, things can look really strange; and it makes writing very difficult. Add to that a very slight, but noticeable delay in digital ink display, and things can get difficult, quickly. This is further complicated by the fact that neither device’s RAM complements can be upgraded.

In the end, I’m not entirely certain what is causing the issue, whether it’s a driver issue, an OS issue or if there’s some kind of hardware issue or defect. However, I’m seeing it on both devices; and the Surface Pro 3 is two years newer, so I’m going to give myself and my expensive, executive travel backpack the benefit of the doubt and say it’s a software issue and not the way I’m handling the device.

Performance

The Surface Pro 3 comes in a few different flavors with a couple different options. In the end, there really are only three different tiers with a couple different variations per tier. You have three processor choices and four storage variations.

surface3

On the low end with 4GB of RAM, you have both 64GB and 128GB storage options. On the high end, you have 8GB of RAM and 256GB and 512GB storage options. Prices vary from $799 USD at the low end to $1950 on the high end; and it’s clear that the device was designed as a direct competitor with the MacBook Air and Microsoft is working hard to get switchers to switch back.

The Surface Pro 1 that I have has a 3rd generation, Intel i5 processor. While the i3 processor in the Surface Pro 3 is at least two years younger than the i5 in the Surface Pro 1, it’s clear that the SP1 has a bit more punch than the Surface Pro 3. It’s understandable, too. Despite the 2 years technology advantage on the SP3, the i5 in the SP1 is still an i5; and my daily usage experience with the SP3 clearly shows that the SP1 has a clear performance advantage at times.

At the end of the day, performance wise, this is a clear toss-up. On one hand, the current Intel i3 vs the two year old Intel i5 will and won’t make a difference unless and until you become processor bound or close to it. IN cases like that, the beefier processor is likely going to win out, despite its age, simply because it supports a turbo mode and the i3 does not. In most other non-processor intensive use, the SP3 is a clear winner as its newer, more efficient and faster components can clearly be seen. The problem is that it’s easy to become processor bound on a machine that only has – and only will have – 4GB of RAM. Neither the storage nor the RAM on the Surface Pro line of ultrabooks is upgradeable.

Conclusion
It’s clear – Microsoft has a winner in their Surface Pro line of ultrabooks. Both the Surface Pro 1 and the Surface Pro 3 are decent performers and will provide most Windows enthusiasts or users with a highly portable, highly usable ultrabook PC. If you’re in the market for a new Windows computer, then you owe it to yourself to give the Surface Pro 3 a long look.

The fact that it can shed its keyboard and also be used as a tablet is an interesting option, but not one that I see getting used very often. The problem is that its ecosystem is still disjointed, especially under Windows 8.x, and I don’t see that getting resolved until after Windows 10 is released, at the earliest. There is some consolidation of environments and operating systems that would give most anyone hope that Microsoft sees how its screwed up on the mobile side of its world, and they’re hoping that Windows 10 will right that part of the ship. How and if that happens is still up in the air and depends a great deal on how the company approaches mobility and content in late 2015 after Windows 10 is released. They have at least nine months to figure this out… if they don’t have a handle on it before June, you can likely count on it being screwed up for a good long time…at least that’s what I think.

The Surface Pro 3 is easier to write on, easier to read and in many ways easier to carry from place to place. This may be in some small part to the Maroo cover that I got with the Surface Pro 3. Microsoft is offering a free cover (up to $50 value) as part of the purchase of every Surface Pro 3 PC.

The Surface Pro 3 comes in many more variations and configurations than the Surface Pro or Surface Pro 2. Its enhanced screen make it easier to read and to work with. Its improved processor (when comparing like versions…) are clear improvements over their previous generations. The device has clearly grown up and come into its own.

If you’re in the market for an ultrabook and you aren’t a Mac, then you need to take a serious look at the Surface Pro 3. The device is light, easy to carry, performs well and runs the software you’re wanting for home or business. Once Microsoft gets the digitizer issues worked out so that the device is more accurate with inking and ink placement, it’s going to be the hit that I always knew it could be.

Related Posts:

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…

Related Posts:

2013 Predictions Scorecard

I made some predictions for 2013 just about a year ago. Let’s take a look and see how I did…

2013prediction

Nearly every technology website I know of or frequent takes a stab at tech predictions for the New Year.  Some try to be bold. Some stay close to reality.  I tend to lean that way, myself. If I’m going to put myself out there, I’d rather analyze the trends and use that as a basis to make predictions from.  As such, I have been no different over the years. I try to prognosticate around those trends and then put it out there. However, like most of the other sites, I often fail to go back and see how I did.  Did I get it right?  How accurate was I?  Was I even close??

Well, this year, I found LAST year’s predictions and I’m gonna run through them quickly and then grade myself on how well I did. I had 5 predictions last year (6 with a bonus gaze into the crystal ball…) and I’m going to give myself a max of 2 points per prediction depending on how right, or (more likely) how close I was to what actually transpired.  I’m using a 2 point system simply because it’s easier to grade myself that way. I don’t want to make this too complicated.  Let’s dive in and see how things went.

  1. BB10 Fails – I get 2 points here. BB10 made its debut and quickly went…nowhere. The OS was so poorly received that it caused a major issue for the company. Blackberry (still RIM to many people at the beginning of 2013) reported a loss of over $4B USD last quarter of the year, as well as a CEO switch. Blackberry’s outlook for 2014 doesn’t look any brighter, either.  They’ve farmed the manufacturing of devices out to FoxConn in China and are instead going to concentrate on the OS. This may prove to be a challenge for Blackberry, as they’ve let a great many of their development staff go.  Retaining current or acquiring new development resources is going to be a challenge for them, as I’m not entirely certain they are a safe bet going forward.
  2. RIM Declines, is Purchased by Dell or Microsoft  I get 1 point here.  The company did tank, and they were nearly purchased; but it wasn’t by either Dell or Microsoft.  Blackberry has decided to focus on their enterprise customer base, but unfortunately, I was right about many enterprise users seeing that Blackberry doesn’t have the exclusive lock on Push that it did back in the day.  As such, enterprise users have a wide variety of choices available to them when it comes to mobile messaging.  I think those customers would be smart to bypass Blackberry and choose one of the other options. Getting in too deep with Blackberry could be problematic at this point. I don’t see them sticking around much longer…
  3.  Microsoft Surface RT Products Don’t Survive 2013  I am going to give myself 1 point here. Again, I was close, but it didn’t quite happen the way that I thought it would.  Microsoft took a $900M charge in 2013 , fired Ballmer, totally reorged the company and killed the Windows RT brand, in large part due to the issues and problems with Surface and Windows 8.  However, Microsoft, instead of killing the product line and marching on with something else, has decided to respin Surface, and made very quiet, but strategically sound, partnerships with organizations like the NFL and CBS.  If you watched the NFL Wild Card playoff games on CBS, you’ll notice that each NFL analyst had a Microsoft Surface 2/Surface 2 Pro device, with Type Cover, sitting in front of them.  That, along with the strong 2013 Holiday sales that Surface 2/ Surface 2 Pro enjoyed, may just have saved the product line – and Microsoft for that matter – from an early demise.
  4. Windows 8 is Declared a flop  Yeah… unfortunately, I get 2 points here. Windows 8 is a total disaster; and despite the success that Surface 2/ Surface 2 Pro enjoyed over the 2013 Holiday Sales Season, Microsoft has very quietly admitted defeat with Windows 8. They brought back the Start Button, and gave users the ability to boot straight to the desktop; but that wasn’t enough for most users who are too entrenched into the Aero way of life. Microsoft killed the Windows RT brand and has announced that it will bring back the Start Menu (to what degree remains unknown as of this writing) in what is being currently called Windows 8.1 Update 1, sometime in the Spring of 2014.
  5. No Public Jailbreak of iOS 6 will be Released  Yeah… I blew this one. Before I upgraded my iPhone from iOS 6.x, I jail broke it for, like all of 27 seconds. I quickly put it back, because Cydia and its contents are a hot mess, and there really isn’t anything that I could find from the alternative software store that I wanted or felt safe installing on my iDevice.  However, a public jailbreak for iOS 6.x did get released. It took a while; but it happened.
  6. Competition between Apple & Samsung heats up with Revamped Apple TV  I don’t get any extra credit, either. I really thought that Apple would release the iTV, or what ever it would have been called, last year. Unfortunately, I’m leaving this prediction in the past. I don’t see this happening any time soon, as there are a number of content provider issues that must first be ironed out before this hits the market with any real success, and unfortunately, I really just don’t see those deals getting done.

At the end of the day (or year) I scored 6/10, or 60%.  That’s not too bad…its better than some of the other prediction recaps I saw or listened to in the past week or so.  How did you do?  Did you make any tech predictions last year?  Did they come true/were you accurate?  I’d love to hear what you have to say in the comments, below. Why not weigh in and tell us how YOU did?

Related Posts:

What Microsoft and Surface 2 Forgot to Address

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

 

Introduction

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

 

Cost

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.

surface_cost

Mobile Broadband

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…

Next page

Related Posts:

Microsoft Introduces Surface 2 – What’s it All Mean?

Microsoft has introduced the successors to its Surface RT and Surface Pro tablets. Let’s take a quick look…

surface-2-2I had an idea this was coming. I had heard a few weeks back that Microsoft was (really) planning on releasing an update to its Surface tablet(s). Of course, everything was rumor at the time… I had hopes for both lines. I only got half of what I wanted, and then really, only half of that, so… let’s take a quick look at what Microsoft actually released.
With Surface 2 Microsoft attempted to address many of the issues and concerns that were generated by both Surface RT and Surface Pro tablets. The biggest problems were price and battery life. Microsoft has tried to address both of these issues with the introduction of its Surface 2 line.
Surface 2, the successor to Surface RT will start at $449 for the 32GB version. Surface 2 Pro start at $899 will come in a few additional flavors than originally thought – 64GB, 128GB, 256GB and 512GB, with the latter costing $1799. All prices are in US dollars.
Surface 2 will also attempt to address battery life concerns cited by many Surface owners and users. The newer versions will have the latest Intel Haswell microprocessors and should double the original Surface’s battery life. Add the battery enabled Power Cover (think Type Cover, with a battery on the bottom) also due to hit the street before the end of Calendar 2013, and battery life for Surface 2 will be in a good spot.

microsoft-surface-2-press-conference-970x0
As far as color schemes are concerned, think silver. There won’t be a black version of either Surface 2 or Surface 2 Pro, according to my friend Mary Jo Foley. Its going to be very easy to distinguish Surface tablets from Surface 2 tablets.
Both Surface 2 and Surface 2 Pro tablets, and most of their accessories are expected to be available for order on 2013-09-24 at 8am ET.

Related Posts:

Smaller MS Surface – What it Needs to Succeed

For MS to make a difference in the tablet market, it needs to think about how it approaches its smaller

Microsoft-Surface-RT7Adrian Kingsley-Hughes had a good article published on ZDNet the morning of 16-May-2013 speaking about how price, not size, is going to determine the success or failure of Microsoft’s rumored 7″ Surface tablet. He’s right; but I think there’s more to it than just price. There are 3 areas that MS has to address, not just 1:

PriceLet’s be clear, as Kingsley-Hughes goes into great detail in his article – Surface RT stars at $499. Surface Pro starts at $899. The iPad mini and Kindle Fire HD are similarly sized tablets that have starting prices of $329 and $199 respectively. For this tablet to be successful, the 7″ Surface needs to be priced under $300; but seriously, the lower priced the better.
Windows RT not Windows 8The 7″ Surface should be a content consumption device and NOT a small ultrabook like its larger Surface RT and Surface Pro siblings. In order to hit the lower price points I’ve outlined above, the device needs to shy away from x86 microprocessors. They’re too expensive and don’t provide enough storage or battery life.The smaller tablets are more appropriate as a content consumption device – media players, eBook readers and the like – as opposed to a very small ultrabook. In order to make sure this happens and happens well, Windows RT needs a fundamental change. It needs to be more tablet-centric as opposed to Windows-centric. Windows RT needs to lose Desktop mode and most – if not all – of its familiar desktop Windows paradigm elements. Windows RT needs to be a tablet specific OS. The sooner it does this, the better off it will be; and the better chance it has to being accepted by a Windows familiar public.
Nook or Not; and if Not, then What?There’s been some speculation that Microsoft would buy all of the Nook digital assets from B&N. There are a number of different reasons on both sides of the issue – for and against – the acquisition of the assets as well as developing a version of Windows RT that will run on the ARM-based Nook tablets.If MS does buy the Nook digital assets and doesn’t modify Windows RT to run on the Nook (which may actually be the 7″ Surface tablet we’ve heard about…), then it doesn’t make a lot of sense for them to acquire the assets, at least in my opinion. If they don’t buy Nook, then you really have to wonder what new hardware device is going to be introduced to the market. It also calls into question the price and OS version concerns I’ve outlined above.

Microsoft has a lot of hoops to jump through to make a 7″ Surface tablet work for them. Time will tell if they get it right.

Related Posts:

Microsoft Surface – I am SO Disappointed…

Increasing availability isn’t going to help Microsoft much…

I’ve been in computing since computing was done with cassette recorders. I may have just dated myself, perhaps a bit too much, but I’ve been in the game since before Microsoft was Microsoft and before Apple was Apple. I understand a bit about the challenges that MS is facing right now, and honestly, they’re blowing it. They really are. Here’s why…

As far as the tablet game is concerned, there are really two players…Just two, kids. That’s it – Apple and their arch nemesis, Samsung. As much as Google with their Nexus 7 and Asus with their Transformer and other vendors with their <pick a product> may want to say they’re a contender, they’re not. Apple is the defacto leader here. They wrote the book on tablets with the introduction of their iconic iPad. Their ecosystem was designed to lock users in; and their elegant industrial designs attract more and more users everyday. Its going to be hard for them to blow this gig.

Samsung is really the only real successful Android tablet maker in my mind. Their Galaxy Tab and Galaxy Note lines of tablets have set the bar on the Google side of the house and have left nearly every other tablet in the dust, including Google’s own Nexus branded offering, in my opinion. They’ve really set the bar here. Yes, the Amazon Kindle line of tablets is a serious contender, but the way they’ve positioned their products and structured their ecosystem, there’s not much room for innovation in my opinion.

There are really no other tablet platform offerings; or at least there weren’t until Microsoft introduced Windows 8 and Windows RT and their Surface branded tablets. Microsoft had a real opportunity here. They had a chance to establish themselves as a real contender in the tablet arena. They blew it when they priced their tablets higher than most of their hardware partners are pricing their value-line laptops.

There have been a lot of stories in the media lately about how MS never intended Surface to be a direct competitor with Apple, and how they don’t want it widely distributed. I’m not buying that. I would think that they would want the tablets, both Surface RT and Surface Pro devices, in as many retail locations and end users hands as possible. Their recent activities to make Surface tablets available at other retail/POS outlets contradicts what the media is reporting.

I honestly don’t get the strategy behind what MS is doing with Surface RT and Surface Pro. If given the opportunity, I’d make them dirt cheap and get them in as many end users hands as possible. I’d even provide device subsidies back to their hardware partners to help them lower the prices of their RT and Pro devices, too.

In my opinion, the only way Microsoft can establish themselves as a serious tablet player is to flood the market with extremely affordable, competitively performing devices. Apple and Samsung, heck even Amazon, are too much in command of the tablet market right now for Surface NOT to be taking this tactic. The only way MS makes headway is to make them a cost competitor, and unfortunately…they didn’t do that.

It’s a disappointment, because I think they’ve likely marketed themselves into a corner, and recovering from that is going to be difficult for them. Increasing availability won’t help. Lowering the price and making it a more attractive purchasing decision…? Yeah. That will help.

 

Related Posts:

Microsoft Should Focus on Innovation

Recent MS Survey Wants to Ask Users How it can Improve Customer Support…

Sorry… I’m not trying to make a mountain out of a molehill, but I really just can’t let this go.

I recently agreed to take a Microsoft survey on TechNET satisfaction. I’m a TechNET Pro subscriber and have been for about three years. It’s a great value, especially if you use MS software and have more than a couple PC’s to install it on.

One of the questions near the end of the survey asked – “To provide a better Customer Support experience, who could Microsoft best learn from, and why?”

My answer is below; but the point is not the first part of the first sentence – “Apple; but MS’ problems aren’t customer support, its relevance in the industry. Surface is a good start, but its WAY overpriced. MS should have taken the financial hit and priced Surface RT & Pro tablets for volume, not margin.”

The question came near the end of the survey; but it really didn’t sit well with me. I give MS high marks for being concerned about customer support; but they have bigger fish to fry than that. They need to figure out how to get back in the game.

Their Surface RT and Surface Pro tablets are significantly over priced. Similar partner products are not going to undercut the base level prices MS has set for both tablets at $499 and $899 respectively; and regardless of how awesome they may or may not be, this is a problem. MS Surface tablets should be priced to compete with 3rd party Android tablets – the Kindle Fires, the Galaxy Tabs/Notes which are low to high end respectively. Surface tablets should top out at $499-$599. Not start there.

Microsoft’s approach is to compete directly with Apple in both feature and price sets. They can’t afford to do that. Not at this late date, not with their late to market products in a market place that’s saturated with better established, competitors with more mature products. They need to come in low priced and fight the volume/low margin battle before stepping it up a notch. By pricing things where they are, I’m afraid that Microsoft has priced themselves right out of the market, and possibly, right out of business.

Windows 8 is likely the company’s last big (relevant) hurrah if it doesn’t take. While many enterprise customers will likely stick with Windows XP and Widnows 7 for a number of years to come, once support for both finally sunsets, moving business users to Windows 8 may be problematic.

In my opinion, the best thing that MS can do is push Windows 8 with all of the tools they have. This includes both Surface RT and Surface Pro tablets, and having them available at a much more attractive price point could have been huge for them. They chose to hit their margin targets on individual units rather than via volume.

It was a choice to make. I think it’s the wrong choice, but honestly, only time will really tell there. We’ll have to wait and see.

Related Posts:

Stay in touch with Soft32

Soft32.com is a software free download website that provides:

121.218 programs and games that were downloaded 237.780.356 times by 402.775 members in our Soft32.com Community!

Get the latest software updates directly to your inbox

Find us on Facebook