I’ve made it no secret as to low regard I have for OEM’s who peddle half baked crap and give Microsoft a bad name but when the Surface came out (RT and Pro) I realised that this wasn’t just a tablet but a hybrid device destined to replace a good chunk of laptops and tablets. Recently Microsoft has announced the Surface Pro 3 – 12inches, high resolution, the touch pad keyboard combined with stylus functionality as part of the package. In other words to call this a tablet doesn’t do it justice and to call it a laptop ignores the flexibility it has over a traditional laptop – there are already bit names like Coca Cola, BWM plus other companies that are looking at deploying it within their own organisation so I could imagine sales representatives carrying them around instead of their heavy ThinkPad t61p’s that I see being used so often within the world of the enterprise market. I could imagine within large organisations such as the public sector where the Surface 3 Pro when combined with the software, both server middleware and applications, being able to assign it to employees to do work on the road, visiting clients (in the case of ‘Ministry of Social Development’) or consulting with a government minister.
With the launch I was reading through the comments section on Neowin and god help us that such people vote and have kids – people who can’t quite work through their head that the Surface isn’t an ‘iPad’ or a ‘Tab’ but a hybrid device geared towards the consumer who wants no compromise portability – the ability to have the best of both worlds hence you have the touch keyboard, stylus, touch screen, a grunty processor with a 9 hour battery life. In other words it’s going straight at the ultra book market where as the Surface RT is the ‘price fighter’ that starts at NZ$649 (incl. GST) (32GB model – cheaper than the iPad 32GB model) and when married up with the improve application availability (along with a touch based Microsoft Office) that’ll come with time Microsoft has a strategy to target both the high and bottom end (given that Visual Studio also makes targeting x86 and ARM easily along with WinRT framework being a framework that spans the desktop, laptop, tablet and phone the idea of targeting two architectures should be pretty easy). So the idea of comparing the Surface Pro 3 to an iPad doesn’t make any sense – the more accurate comparison is comparing the iPad to the Surface RT 2 or comparing the Surface Pro 3 to the MacBook Air.
Anyway, back to the topic at hand – I personally think the greater casualty won’t be the iPad but rather other Windows OEM’s who are trying their luck with hybrid devices such as the HP Pavilion x360 (although I’m kind of concerned they went with a traditional hard disk given the fact that it is a device that’ll be picked up and moved around which isn’t the best for hard disks), Lenovo Yoga, Acer Aspire Switch, or Dell XPS 2-in-1. If Microsoft can provide the product in volume through retail channels and online then back it up with top notch software and technical support then it’ll end up accelerating the declining sales by OEM partners are experiencing due in part to mediocre support (both technical and software) never mind the horrible quality of the products (try dealing with Lenovo post sales for hardware replacement – good luck with that). Microsoft’s future is optimistic and assuming that everything falls in place I think the greater concern should be for the likes of Dell and HP when one considers the ever dropping margins in the PC world. Lets put it this way – all the exaggerated claims of Apple or Microsoft’s early demise may have been premature but alas that won’t feed into the anti-Apple or anti-Microsoft circle jerk very well.