29 November 2012

Surface versus Slate

Microsoft finally announced the "pro" version of the Microsoft Surface tablet. The device runs a full version of Windows 8, so it will be completely compatible with legacy software. The problem is distinguishing this new Microsoft Surface from, for example, the previous slate of Windows tablet like the Samsung Slate.

I know - it is early. Way early. Who knows what this product will look like or the generation after it that will include a lower energy Intel CPU. And, yes, I am a very pessimistic guy when it comes to technology, a trait allows me to be pleasantly surprised when I am wrong. With those disclaimers out of the way:

The Slate is a Windows 7 11.6" tablet made by Samsung that runs in the retail circle under a grand and has a battery life of under 4 hours. The new Surface from Microsoft is a Windows 8 tablet running under a grand and will have a battery life of (you will never guess!) under 4 hours. So, the big change Microsoft is bringing is ... A new operating system? Neeto.

No question, I firmly believe from a consumer perspective that these devices are, at best, a niche product today outside of the greater Seattle area. From a corporate view there is a real need for a business capable tablet. We need the corporate licensing options, Microsoft Office, a good app selection, a mostly compatible Internet Explorer, a cellular data connection when Wi-Fi isn't available, a good enough keyboard, the ability to manage centrally, a cheap price (under $750) and a battery life in the 10 hour range. The concept is to put these in the hands of employees and they can take their work with them anywhere they go and not need to plug in for juice until the end of the day.

The iPad does not work today because there is no Microsoft Office and Apple only licenses consumers. (I could dig into the problems with that, but .. another day.) The Surface RT is missing a cellular data connection, a good app selection and a way to manage these devices centrally. This Pro version addresses the software and central management issues but kills us on the battery life and price.

The more critical question is, if the specs in the Surface Pro were what we wanted, why didn't we buy the Windows 7 tablets that existed already?

Does it really take this long to put on your lipstick, Microsoft?