Microsoft Surface and its impact on the tablet market
Obviously, the future came with the launch of the iPad - all of a sudden, tablets (iPads) became one of the hottest tech commodities. Just like that, the “giant iPod touch” sold in millions, and, as you might expect, other tech companies saw great opportunity in this newly-formed market. However, as it often happens with companies that would find themselves in the category of “others”, their first tablets felt like rushed products, with sub-par design and user experience. That was partly due to the fact that there wasn't any suitable open-source or licensable operating system to put in such a device, so they had to make do with whatever was available. Well, Android was available, so they made a big touchscreen device, put scaled-up Android on it, and called it a tablet. Of course, no one bought it. It wasn't until Google made significant improvements to its platform with Honeycomb and Ice Cream Sandwich, when Android tablets actually began to pick up pace. According to research firm IDC, Apple's iPad held a market share of 68% as of Q1 2012, so that means those Android tabs do get off the shelves. Can you guess why people are buying them? It's certainly not because those buyers hate Apple. Well, actually there might be some of those cases, but the majority of users deciding to go with an Android-powered tablet do it because they want to be able to use it more like a PC. Of course, there's nothing wrong with this. Some things are just easier if you do them the “old-fashioned” way, and the open nature of Android helps a lot.
Still, a lot of those Android tablets which find their way to the hands of consumers end up being used as iPads – for general consumer stuff like reading ebooks, watching movies, YouTube, email, social-networking, casual games... Once you're done tinkering with the OS, and once you try out about a hundred apps, you kind of get to the conclusion that you can't get serious work done on this thing, because there's no serious software written for it. Sure, there are hundreds of thousands of apps available for Android tablets, but almost all of those are very basic tools. And even if they have the features, in most cases those apps are so ugly and look so amateurish (as if their UIs were designed by the programmers who wrote them), that it makes you question whether it's actually a good idea to trust this device for anything more than uploading a YouTube video or writing a short email/blog post. It's strange, really, but you might be able to do more with the iPad's higher-quality apps, regardless of its closed, consumer-centric OS.
After this lengthy first part, two things should have become clear.
1. The world is now ready for tablet computers;
2. The world is in need of more capable tablets.
Sure, feeding Om Nom with candy is fun for a while, but once they hit the Home button, many people want to be able to do something meaningful with their tablets, and by the looks of it, this may soon be possible.
Microsoft introduced its new Surface family of tablets this Monday. Everyone knew that Windows 8 tablets are on their way, but the announcement of Microsoft's Surface dramatically increased the interest.
We won't hide it – we liked what we saw. To us, it's almost as if the Surface is the second real tablet after the iPad. It's like an iPad, but for professionals, and that's because it delivers on both the hardware and software fronts, in a big way. Windows 8 represents a big change for Microsoft, and the company wasn't willing to launch it on a pack of black slates, all looking like a poor man's iPad. It needed something better – a tablet that is both beautiful, and ready for business. It has recognized that in this day and age, people need powerful tools, but they also appreciate quality products. Because of this, a lot of people nowadays would love to own a tablet, but end up buying a notebook, as they don't want to sacrifice on functionality. Meanwhile, Apple is making huge profits from its products, because people are ready to pay when it's worth it, when a device is no longer just a piece of tech, but a piece of art as well.
Microsoft has obviously learned a lesson here, and felt the need to show its partners how it's done, how it envisions the Windows 8 device. Judging by the Surface, the Windows 8 tablet has to scream premium quality, has to be cool, and strike the right chords that would establish an emotional connection with the user. Of course, this doesn't mean there won't be lower-end Windows 8 devices, but it's the high-margin, top-shelf products that rake in the most profits. Until now, Microsoft was OK with what its partners produced, but now the company wants to see a change, and is offering the Surface as an example of where it wants to go. Whether the others will follow is yet to be seen.
Many argue that Microsoft has upset its hardware partners by producing its own device, but we doubt this is too serious. Have the Nexus phones made Android manufacturers reconsider their product ranges? Not really. And remember that Google is expected to announce a Nexus tablet in about a week. Even with the Surface around, there will still be a lot of money to be made with Windows 8.
The great product seems to be at hand, but Redmond still has some work to do as far as third-party software developer support goes, in order to ensure a smooth start for its consumer-oriented tablet.
There seems to be a lot of concern regarding the pricing of these devices. Microsoft has announced that the Windows RT Surface will cost as much as comparable tablets, and the Windows 8 Pro version will cost as much as comparable ultrabooks. While it would have been much better if they simply spilled the beans on the exact prices, it's not so difficult to get the message.
The ARM-based Microsoft Surface should cost somewhere around $599, maybe a bit more. That's about equal to an iPad 32GB and high-end Android tablets. Sure, you'll be able to find a good Android tab at a lower cost, but it doesn't really matter that much, because those users who will be torn between Windows and Android are so few, and Microsoft has so much more marketing and distribution power compared to a single Android manufacturer, that there could hardly be a real fight here. That is in case Microsoft decides to push hard, and not leave it all to its partners. But with all the talk about touch-covers and type-covers, it looks like Microsoft has decided to make some cash.
It's unlikely that the Surface (ARM edition) will hit iPad sales too hard, because the iPad is the consumer tablet. It has a very strong position there, which is backed up with tons of quality software, so there's little reason for the casual user to move away. However, it wouldn't surprise us if Android tablet sales suffer significantly. Android tablets are just starting the gain prominence, and this is mostly because of Android's open nature, giving users freedom to do some stuff that cannot be done on an iPad. It's simple - if you want a tablet now, but don't like the Apple way of doing things, you get an Android tablet. But with the Surface and other Windows tablets, it'll be hard for most users to continue siding with Android.
Are we finally witnessing the advent of the true all-in-one computer? No, but we do think that there will soon be major tectonic shifts in the tablet industry. Sure, others may have a head start in the tablet space, but Microsoft has a significant head start in software, and that's going to help the Surface tremendously.
1. Suts_97 (Posts: 124; Member since: 05 May 2012)
This is good..Let's see what they have for us in Windows Phone 8!
2. twens (Posts: 610; Member since: 25 Feb 2012)
Now thats a lovely article. Am glad you explained how much effort microsoft has placed into this tablet. To me,for those who want to do more than just play with your gadgets this is the 1st real tablet.
I see IOS and android facing serious tablet market issues in the near future cos manufacturers will better their hardware and Microsoft who has already taken the lead in software will also advance and better it. The rest will play catch up and by then it will be too late to catch up with MS. Price is no issue here if you know what you want. In my country poeple buy ipads at very expensive laptop prices and they dont complain. Any smart and intelligent human who loves hardware and software will definately save towards this peace of beauty. For me am getting one and am selling my ipad 3 for this.
3. Veigald (Posts: 237; Member since: 13 Jan 2012)
This is exactly what a lot of people have been waiting for, and absolutely the future of personal computing.
For consumers, they will have a productivity option to add to the leisure option of the iPad (and even less options on Android tablets), which makes one less device to need in the house. When it is sexy as well, then the iPad really seems like a lesser option.
For companies, Microsoft products simply integrate in a much more manageable fashion than other products, with less worries about learning curves and additional security risks. The whole Bring Your Own Device discussion would be simplified by Microsoft tablets running Windows OS and applications. Further, there would be less need for integration between a variety of devices, and if the end users are happy with this device, less fragmentation in the environments.
I think this is a potentially disruptive device, and believe this might be the type of device that could make the tablet market resemble the PC market in two or three years; MS with a massive share, Apple with a small share and "the others", e.g. Android tablets, barely noticeable. Good job, MS.
4. mobilefuture (Posts: 206; Member since: 12 Nov 2011)
It looks like the slow demise of Android Tablets has started, but we can only be sure next week when rumored nexus tablets are announced...
6. Evil_SaNz (Posts: 258; Member since: 20 Oct 2011)
Slow demise? Android tablets almost catched iPad (52% vs 51%) in 2012, led by Kindle fire with 28%. Source: OPA.
Of course such data is hidden on most sites, negative propaganda for the various iPhonearenas.
10. mobilefuture (Posts: 206; Member since: 12 Nov 2011)
just to make it clear im not an android hater but seeing as ifans are never gonna let go of iphones and ipads, ultimately microsoft will be eating away android tablets share in the markets. i mean you gotta admit, ifans will NEVER let go of the iphone...
15. Evil_SaNz (Posts: 258; Member since: 20 Oct 2011)
MS & Intel still need to show us a portable device with decent battery efficiency. All intel powered ultrabooks or laptops last the half vs. ARM based devices.
Windows 8 RT is no big deal, it's another closed ecosystem. x86 apps are not cross compatible and you will run only metro adapted apps bought from their market.
If an intel Windows 8 PRO (surface) would have more processing power and better efficiency, I would be impressed and probably would buy it. However, I don't think it will be the case.
18. appleDOESNT.com (Posts: 430; Member since: 19 Nov 2011)
iAgree, taco will never not own a iDevice
iThough, like most not in the herd, relish in all state-of-the-art technologies from all companies... iAm not stuck with 4 products (2 useful and one just a bigger version of the other) with once a year incremental refreshes and am LOViN EVERY MiNUTE OF iT!
5. pongkie (Posts: 501; Member since: 20 Aug 2011)
i have this feeling that they didn't include the cellular data capability. That it only has Wifi.
a. they didn't mention it
b. no telecom company is talking on carrying it.
8. biophone (Posts: 1893; Member since: 15 Jun 2011)
Great job ray! I thought this was a michael article when opening but ray hit it out of the ballpark. But I have skme griefs. If the pro is priced as a 900 dollar machine I don't know if people will pay that much. The major problem with tablets has been price. Look at how well the kindle fire is selling for example. Maybe the professional market but is that enough. If it is truly a full pc maybe it can compete in the pc market at that price. And for 600 alot of people will go for the cheaper apple/android option. Money is a big factor in all of this. Thats my 2cents anyway.
9. remixfa (Posts: 13903; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)
you know ray, ive been defending you against the "iphonearena" and huge bias posts for a while now. I gotta say, I'm quite disappointed in just how much you decided to slam android tablets and talk up the ipad with every other sentence. really dude? come on.
1) i use my android tablet quite heavily for school/business use. Can your ipad sync all your desktop documents with your phone and tablet automatically? Can you edit on one system and have it instantly show up on the other in real time? Can multiple users edit at the same time? can it blutooth files back n forth? for business, the ipad is a joke.
2) RT isnt going after android, its going after Apple. Android users are unlikely to switch to RT because its a downgrade in almost every respect. First time users that look at shiney things and care more about smooth scrolling than functionality are possible apple users.. which is where MS is aiming. Just like WP7 phones are not going after established android users, they are going after first time users that are likely to pick up an iphone... the same is with RT tablets. Who wants rows of small icons when you can have big colorful interactive blocks. So while its unlikely that it will tear users away from either android or iOS in large quantities, it has a much more possible detrimental effect on firstime OS buyers that might lean towards an ipad. MS's branding will strike a strong chord for users that dont have anything but a PC and just want it for media.
The lower-priced Windows RT version should also be doing well, though, as it will be packing more appeal than most of the competition, except for the iPad
because people are ready to pay when it's worth it, when a device is no longer just a piece of tech, but a piece of art as well.
It's unlikely that the Surface (ARM edition) will hit iPad sales too hard, because the iPad is the consumer tablet.
However, it wouldn't surprise us if Android tablet sales suffer significantly
it'll be hard for most users to continue siding with Android.
21. biophone (Posts: 1893; Member since: 15 Jun 2011)
Come on remixfa this was not an iphonearena post. Everything was backed up and he has solid points. The only thing i disagree about is price. The android tablets faults are all true but its getting better if ics which he said. You said that microsoft will canablize ipad sales. Does that make you a fandroid? No. So how does ray saying the opposite a iphonearena post? And the features you talked about most people don't care about. Especially the casual users. But microsoft is going for a full feldged pc experience similar to what android trys to do. Thats why the are competitors. Apple gives a atlernative to a pc which is why it isn't. Makes sense no? And also the features you talked about kinda go to show the pc approach by android in that it trys to do more then a tablet does. Even though icould does back everything else across devices but thats for any device on the ecosystem.
26. remixfa (Posts: 13903; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)
no. you missed the point Bio. rt is not going for a PC experience, its going for a "premium" visceral media and eye candy experience .. with a few extras. that's apples territory. look at their announcement .. it screams apple like in the choice of words and presentation.
Pro is going for a PC experience and those would go after android users more if it weren't for the gaping price disparity. myself included.
I copied some of the quotes that I was speaking of. they were pure extreme bias with no validity beyond personal preference which doesn't belong so deeply rooted in a supposed non biased article.
he's been pretty good lately about being fair. this however is not one of those times
30. biophone (Posts: 1893; Member since: 15 Jun 2011)
I thought there announcement was going infomercial style. Not apple if you ask me. But the RT is not going for just eye candy. Its going after a pc like experience like android the pro is going for a dead on pc experience.
And those quotes there is nothing wrong with them. They are perfectly fair. Tablets has always been not such a great experience with android. Phones are another story completely but there tablet game needs help. The kindle fire is a good start since its cheap.
I do agree about the pricing dilemma my one grief.
33. remixfa (Posts: 13903; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)
me thinks that all the people that bought the transformer, Tab, xoom, and the other nice tablets would disagree with you.... which are the bulk of tablet sales. Were there some junk ones? of course.. but thats the + and - of open source. However, those comments were definitely NOT fair and unbiased.
32. QWIKSTRIKE (Posts: 857; Member since: 09 Mar 2010)
Again you and I are close to thoughts here. Any on e thinking that these tablets won't appeal to iPeople are off key. For those people that are die hard Apple, and iProduct bound no...not in the beginning will they switch, but as the years move on MS will attract those people I believe as well.
Windows is the most unified OS platform in existence now. Desk top, business, tablet, phones all combined in a seamless easy to use software application finally. No apps or tweaks needed to make it work, and looks just as appealing as any other platform!
29. QWIKSTRIKE (Posts: 857; Member since: 09 Mar 2010)
WTF....you and I agree on something lol;). If you search my post I have been saying all that along Apple now has comp. Microsoft will rule business, and for those that want something that extends the desk top and easy to use no mods necessary to work smoothly....WP8 on the go! Android is a hackers nerd type OS. Those types of people will never abandon Android due to modding and the hackers attributes. Apple will be pushed back by WP8 with office and outlook express, and exchange server to rule business I think!
Singgly, and I have been saying this all along for sure...not to mention that I am running W8 desktop, and after playing with a few WP7 phones knew the game was about to change for Windows and MS!
11. thunderising (Posts: 225; Member since: 25 Nov 2011)
Don't know why they made Win8 x86 tablet. Seems like they want it to go head on with Windows 8 RT, which itself is another baby platform.
13. remixfa (Posts: 13903; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)
because the tech is finally there to have full desktop in tablet form. I'd love full power in a mobile form like that, but I'm not paying that much for it.. lol
12. mobilefuture (Posts: 206; Member since: 12 Nov 2011)
does anybody know that if you write i and sheep together then phonearena warns you that you have offensive content in your post? seriously?
14. Bluesky02 (Posts: 1439; Member since: 05 Dec 2011)
I'll buy it anyway, even if its at Ultrabook price. I know what i'm getting. I know its full windows experience. So thats enough.
16. haseebzahid (Posts: 1826; Member since: 22 Feb 2012)
MS took the humiliation of WP6 too seriously now they are GAME which is good
17. Rickmears23 (Posts: 1; Member since: 20 Jun 2012)
Lets see..Cheap windows laptop, $500 bucks, good android tablet, $400 bucks. Ill go that route vrs the $899 Microsoft surface.
22. saiki4116 (Posts: 349; Member since: 31 Mar 2011)
That's what i am also thinking...even 1000$ ultrabook would be better buy in terms of performance and comfort.They were able to cram up the keyboard in such a thin cover,but it should rest on a flat surface to type comfortably.win 8 is designed from ground up for a touch,and i have used win8 rel preview on my laptop,it's not that touch and type friendly.But if they include a touchpad like that of a Mac(for charms and gestures..),then it would solve the problem.We have to wait for the device...pricing matters a lot,i may buy it if it is 900$,because i can get a much better ultrabook or transformerseque windows 8 devices.....
19. SlimSoulja86 (Posts: 642; Member since: 03 Nov 2011)
i think this tablet will be competing with other windows 8 tablet manufacturers, since Android and iOS are mobile OS, unless if its under Windows RT, which personally, i think ppl will still go for Android as there r more features on Android devices than RT (I stand to b corrected) and just like me, i dont want iPad cos I have an iPhone, so I went for the Galaxy Tab 10.1 to experience another platform, and so far Im very happy with my tablet, though without ICS, it still functions like it did the day i unboxed it. Sales of Pro should not be in the same box as those of RT, since Pro will compete with the likes of OSX and RT with Android and iOS, which in my PERSONAL opinion, ppl will pick Android over RT due to RT not bn a Full Windows 8.
And agin, still not "liking" Ray S, very subjective.
27. maxican16 (Posts: 363; Member since: 29 Sep 2011)
You should have ICS soon...
28. SlimSoulja86 (Posts: 642; Member since: 03 Nov 2011)
At last, though its not a biggie for me cos I bought the device due to what it could do then, and it still works fine and im using it to type this reply, but I could use with some features on ICS.
20. valapsp (Posts: 474; Member since: 12 Aug 2011)
I can't decide between Surface and Surface Pro?
Microsoft Surface is only 9.3mm thick but the Pro version is 13.5mm thick. The matter is that the thinner version runs Windows RT whereas the Pro one runs full Windows 8.
The only problem the Pro one has is its thickness. It is very thick compared to today's tablets. On the other hand I don't want to be limited to Windows Store apps that are the only apps available for Windows RT users. Help me decide please.
Should i focus on the 13.5mm thickness or it's nothing to worry about?
23. saiki4116 (Posts: 349; Member since: 31 Mar 2011)
my suggestion is wait for windows OEM,atleast one of them will be able to reduce the thickness and weight,of course you also have to wait for 3 mon after the win8 release for the pro version...
24. valapsp (Posts: 474; Member since: 12 Aug 2011)
Of course I have Samsung Series 5 Hybrid PC in mind (Which is only 8mm thick) but you know Microsoft is something ELSE.
25. SlimSoulja86 (Posts: 642; Member since: 03 Nov 2011)
Yeah the Samsung Series 5 hybrid pc im sure ir will b thinner than the Surface, i think. Would luv 2 get me that too.
31. bobfreking55 (Posts: 866; Member since: 15 Jul 2011)
I read the Verge's article. shorter and better.
34. 7thspaceman (Posts: 1080; Member since: 14 Feb 2011)
Folks I am tired of people wanting Microsoft to make an Ipad killer. People lets get real here. Microsoft already has a HUge ECO system that is more powerful than what the IPAD has TODAY and that is it's huge I mean very huge amount of Windows programs
that are in existence today. PC fans and PC users like myself want a Windows Tablet computer that can run our windows Programs that run on our PC desktops, Laptop,
and Servers. "WE PC PEOPLE donot NEED or want an IPAD killer we have plenty of Windows Business, Education, PC Games, and special custom business related
programs to use on OUR WINDOWS intel x86 tablet computers. The problem has been no one has been successful in giving us a fast smooth operating Windows tablet computer that will do the job. We PC FANS Hope windows 8 will give us what we want
35. gtrxman (Posts: 106; Member since: 10 Sep 2011)
The jury is out for me. MS talks a good game but doesn't have a track record of delivering. Does anyone remember Windows Me, Windows Vista, the Zune? I'll believe it when I see it.
Personally, no matter how good it is, I think it will be dead on arrival. Two different models with incompatible OS', the price, and the fact that there's no software yet add up to "meh" from the market.
36. 7thspaceman (Posts: 1080; Member since: 14 Feb 2011)
I more inclined to buy a Microsoft Surface Tablet whatever the Cost because I want a
more business oriented tablet computer. I hear Dell is said to have an even thinner
Intel x86 than the Microsoft surface. I will look at their's to see how it stacks up against the Microsoft surface. it is nice to know that us Windows PC and laptop users and Fans
are finally getting a Windows Tablet computer that will run full windows Programs which number in the thousands/ lets hope windows 8 will do the job
38. 7thspaceman (Posts: 1080; Member since: 14 Feb 2011)
I do not think the windows tablets will be dead on arrival because Microsoft is in the game themselves now making the windows tablet computer because the cannot trust OEM's to stay in the game and know that they have a huge inventory of Microsoft
Windows programs that run on Desktop and laptop. the Big and small business Enterprise alone will buy a lot of these windows tablets because they are the best on the market to interface with Microsoft Windows programs hell a window 8 RT tablet will come to the market loaded with Microsoft oFFice software that alone will make it more useful to have than a stock Ipad or Android tablet. Microsoft has decided to stay in the tablet PC world and thet are not going any whre wheter their tablets sell well or poorly.
39. barzreap (Posts: 1; Member since: 25 Jun 2012)
Microsoft I want in!
Now we're gonna start this by saying goodbye apple! And so long. Thanks for all the innovation but it time to move on from your limited arm of greed. Out with the old and in with the....... Old. Now I say this because tablets have been out for a decade plus but never had the ecosystem that apple amazingly gathered. This in itself is the reason for apple success and was a needed turn for innovation, style, edge, breakthroughs, and power. But now the big boys are back and they are not gonna play. Now I want you to thing of a iPad device (iPad namely but not limited to as windows phone 8 will soon be and could just follow suit of its bigger yet younger sibling) . Now I want you to imagine that iPad jail broken! Good thought right, all those apps for free I can't wait lol, oh and look cydia store where I can get treaks and add ons! All great but now I want you to imagine a pc! Boring right just another iPad wanna be, right?! Will what if I told you wrong. What if I told you this is not just a pc! You'd think me strange? What if I told you this is a device that could be any device you've ever wanted it to be! You think me mad? What if I told you you could not only change a UI though a program but from the core of the device its-self not though a app..... I bet you'd say tell me more lol.
The word app
Now let's talk about this word in detail. The work app means a program that works not just though a device but though that devices matrix or os. Agreeing to abide by the rules of that os and thus having to settle with laws given to it so never really to be free of the cage so desperately needed freeing from. You do not understand do you? Until I use the word program! Something everyone has all but abandoned in the lust to please companys like apple and googles greed for money and power for global position. Now bring in the heroes mircosoft! And the cry is heard to bring back the programmer not app maker!
The word program
The word program has near been forgotten in the cry for apps. The clear but subtle difference is a app abides by rules where a program didn't. A program can take over, enslaves, Imbed, rewrite or just plain run alone side if you will anything it is told to. It is not aslave to its cage the cage is its playground to own. If you still don't understand let put it simple and plain a program can do ANYTHING IT WANTS
What this means for the world
What this means for the world is you now can download anything soon without limitations (expect hardware ones like cpu's and gpu's for ie things like gaming. Everything else can be covered with a simple codec download). This is very important for everyone to remember as now all you'll need is a dream and the right codec and programming skills to make it happen (legal or illegal). Think of things like the meego tablet coming to light not just development though a program store not app store (or stand alone web site).
40. Aaron_R96 (Posts: 198; Member since: 22 Jan 2012)
I really hope this tablet does do well, they've taken a very closed approach in the run up to launch and its hard to find any full reviews anywhere! It really is just going to depend on how people take to windows 8.. if it becomes as popular as windows 7 did, MS have a winner on their hands!
As much as I agree this is aimed at taking market share away from the iPad - when consumers actually see sense (thank god) I have a different dilemma on my hands, I'm considering the Microsoft Surface with Windows RT vs. Sony Xperia Tablet S vs. Sony Vaio T Ultrabook!
I'm just worried about the lack of apps available on RT - like is there even an official facebook app? And am also hoping it doesn't rely too heavily on Xbox games (I'm a PS3 man!) but for other things, such as Office 2013 and the USB port this tablet will be brilliant - but obviously still not as functional as the ultrabook, what do you guys think?