Full disclosure: We at MKCREATIVEmedia are pretty Apple-centric, even though we are aware that many of our readers are using Microsoft products to access the blog. So when we heard that Microsoft want to enter the tablet market, we thought, “well, that’s about two years too late.” But we also wanted to see how Microsoft handled the announcement/release and what they wanted to bring to the market − and we wanted to keep an open mind.
The Microsoft Surface was announced this week, and − − we really liked the name. In fact, on the surface, the new Surface has lots going for it, not the least of which are the millions of schools, nonprofits, corporations, and individuals who already have a Windows computer and who might be more comfortable waiting for a Windows-built tablet before jumping into the market.
Unfortunately, even the early reviewers at the Microsoft Event are not so sure that’s what will happen.
The look and physical convenience have gotten almost universal praise from those who got to play with one. Mary Branscombe of TechRadar.com added that the Surface will come in two flavors, the Surface running ‘Windows RT’ and the stoked-up Surface Pro running full Windows 8. The distinction will offer a few price points that customers can choose from., its size, its built-in tilt-stand, and its cover/flexible keyboard (As a keyboard jockey myself, the notion of trying to type on a third of an iPad’s screen, or carrying around a keyboard along with the iPad, has kept me away from them.). Ian Paul at PCWorld.com offered similar praise and
But even with the praise, these same reviewers had all kinds of questions about the Surface specifically and Microsoft generally. For one thing, what exactly will those price points be? Steve Bulmer didn’t say. Nor did he really need to because the Surface is coming out only in October/November, with the Pro coming out early in 2013. Which is why, even for Windows-centric reporters, the whole ‘event’ was something of a damp squib.
For Jason Perlow and Scott Raymond at the ZDNet.com blog, the whole exercise sounded like one of irritating desperation:
So let me get this straight, Microsoft. You made journalists schlep across the country, no, the planet, for a product that might not ship for months? You’re lucky they didn’t burn the venue down.
Okay, no ship date, no prices and… no compelling 3rd-party applications or even Office to show on it whatsoever. So we have no idea how well it performs, and how well supported it will be by 3rd-party software developers. No partnerships to speak of. Nada. No demonstration or even any claims of how good the battery life on each model is. Nothing to say whatsoever about the nature of what display technology they are using, whether it is OLED or LED/LCD backlight or something else. Great, so one is a 720p and the other is a 1080p. Details, please.
Gee, that doesn’t exactly make folks want to stop in their tracks from buying iPad 3s, does it?
And Microsoft might have pissed off its own hardware and software partners in the process, as it kept them in the dark about the Surface, then announced that the new product, software and hardware, will be built within the not-so-friendly confines of the Microsoft universe (definition of ‘Original Equipment Manufacturer’ or OEM agreements).
In fact, we would suggest that this week’s Microsoft Event might serve as a morality tale for nonprofits, whatever your interests in the technology itself: Don’t hold a big event only to tell people you have a great event coming up. Don’t keep your peers and colleagues in the dark if they have been helping your organization for the last few decades (or even the last few weeks!). Don’t tease your supporters and followers with a great new idea that you are, in fact, still trying to develop. And don’t offer a new good or service or program but then tell them that good or service or program will be available in 6 to 10 months, depending…
Whatever the positives the Surface could bring to the tablet market (though Apple-centric, we’d love to see someone really pony-up against the iPad), the way its coming to the market seems to be by the dictates of the so-called ‘Evil Empire’ (Microsoft’s unwanted moniker in the 1990s). If you’ve been waiting for a , the Surfaces might do it for you. Or not. We’ll see.