Reader Question: Will the Surface Tablets Pick Up Pace in the market?

Posted on Jan 25 2013 - 3:38pm by CR

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This one’s off the Android topic too, but of particular interest to us all. Microsoft’s Surface tablets were formally announced in June last year and brought to the market in late October, although only the Surface RT was launched. The tablet has found critics right from the start, be it for its poor timing or its nature as a tablet/computer overall. To begin with, the Surface RT is NOT a netbook replacement, which Microsoft made steadily clear in its presser back in June. For those seeking a replacement to the notebook, the Surface Pro would suffice. There’s a very distinct reason the Windows RT running Surface tablet cannot be called a notebook in any sense of the word. And that is due to the fact that the Surface RT runs on an ARM CPU which means it is more on par with the current generation of tablets than a complete notebook replacement.

What this means is that the Surface RT is incapable of running regular Windows software or non-Windows Store apps. Although there’s a way to make some tweaks to the device (via Jailbreak) to make of these functions possible, Microsoft doesn’t necessarily intend it to be that way out of the box. This quite essentially is the root of all the cause, the fact that it doesn’t run Windows software but is still considered a Windows device. We can expect many consumers to simply take no interest to this device or probably just wait for the real thing a.k.a the Surface Pro to arrive. So far, the Surface RT sales have been abysmal and Microsoft has only itself to blame for the delay in launch in key countries and the hesitance to partner with retailers to bring the device. If you might know, the Surface RT was only available for purchase on Microsoft kiosks or its online store, and nowhere else. This can be another major reason why the tablet didn’t get the attention it probably deserved.

The Stronger Surface

But we have to bear in mind that the Surface tablets consist of two devices, the other being the Surface Pro. This tablet or netbook if we can call it that, is a more worthy buy for people looking for a full-fledged notebook replacement. The screen size is the same as the Surface RT, but the resolution is Full HD instead of just HD, plus there are plenty of other additions to this tablet which make it a more than attractive purchase at this price point. What strikes as resounding to us though is the fact that how much of a difference a change in chipset and CPU architecture can do. Prices for the Surface Pro starts from $899 which immediately puts it in the expensive notebook category, but that crispy display and the dual digitizer (usable with a pen stylus) will certainly justify the price tag. And unlike the Surface RT, the Windows 8 Pro running Surface Pro comes with support for all the standard desktop apps, so that’s not an issue at all. The RAM is upgraded as well, as the Surface Pro comes with 4GB of RAM compared to the 2GB of RAM provided on the Surface RT. So all in all the Surface Pro is an ideal device for someone who works more often and does CPU heavy stuff like editing and what have you. The Intel HD Graphics 4000 GPU isn’t all that bad either, so I guess the Surface Pro is a better bet right now. This tablet is expected to break cover on February 9.

The Future?

Now for a bigger question about the future of these Surface tablets. Well, honestly I don’t see a bright future for these tablets. Sure the Surface Pro could be the rejuvenation which Microsoft desperately needs at this point, but at its price range it certainly won’t attract the tablet crowd. That’s what the Surface RT was supposed to do but miserably failed. The Surface Pro will sell, no doubt, but only a few elitists out there wanting to replace their notebook would be interested in something like a Surface Pro, and believe me it will suit their needs perfectly. But the bigger issue is how Microsoft dealt with its products and the initial hiccups it faced in the industry. In my opinion, had Microsoft launched the Surface RT and the Surface Pro together, there would be much more noise and excitement for these devices, whereas now, people hardly seem to care about Surface RT. There is certain amount of excitement for the Surface Pro, but we are fairly certain that will pass too. Is it really worth the $899 price tag?

Now that’s a question the customers will answer, but a steady increase in Surface tablet revenue can be expected, mostly due to the Surface Pro. This was more of a rant than answering a question really, but I guess that’s the situation Microsoft is in right now. There are several people calling for the head of Steve Ballmer, the CEO of Microsoft. The ex-president of the Windows Team, Steve Sinofsky recently left Microsoft to pursue other opportunities. On the other side, the Windows Phone marketshare hasn’t seen a giant increase either. So one can say that Microsoft is currently in shambles, and it needs to put its house in order for things to begin picking up pace. Either way, I feel it’s a little too late for the company to make any impact on the market. Windows Phones are aging and the Surface tablets hardly manage to excite us. Also, one of Microsoft’s signature businesses, the PC market is taking a hit.

What’s your take on Microsoft’s Surface tablets? Drop a comment below or email us at – [email protected].

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