How Microsoft Surface Will Change The Tablet Market
No matter what us, the users, believe about the Microsoft Surface products, the Redmond-based company made a very important business move: it decided to launch an in-house build slate, designed under the close guidance of their engineers running on the company’s Windows 8.
Does this scenario sounds familiar? Of course it does, you see it applied by Apple since forever.
After Microsoft had some troubles with the hardware manufacturers when Windows Vista was released (the OEMs tried to provide Vista-compatible products, but failed miserably), the software giant decided it’s time to make a change. The smartphone and tablet markets are the future of the IT industry and Microsoft can’t just stay there and do nothing, watching how companies like Apple, Google and Samsung are dominating the segment.
The Redmond-based company’s attempt to launch its own-branded tablet – Microsoft Surface – in a moment when they are not relevant on the tablet market is an at-least-bold decision, which will probably upset many of their hardware partners.
Two Microsoft Surface models were actually introduced: one equipped with Windows RT and the other one coming with Windows 8 Pro, both with 10.6-inch displays, 64 GB of internal storage, USB and microSD support and two CPU solutions: quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 for Windows RT and Intel Core i5 for the Windows 8 Pro model.
The true Windows 8 tablet
What we’ve seen last night inside Surface is Microsoft’s recommendation for a top experience on a Windows 8 tablet. Now the rest of Windows 8 OEMs are somehow bound to surpass or at least match Microsoft’s product.
With its freshly announced Surface, Microsoft has shown us how it reimagined the Windows: that hardware – software combination that is supposed to bring the best Windows 8 experience for the user. It will probably be some sort of developer device (like Google has their Nexus line-up) and those who want the unaltered Windows 8 experience on their slates are free to buy it.
With Surface, Microsoft sets standard for other Windows 8 tablet makers, shows how it wants the product, how the software should look like, how the materials should be. Now they won’t have to teach their partners how to build the tablets or in which directions they should go.
The partners will align
By bringing a reference product, Microsoft have already set a standard, thus the Windows 8 tablet makers will now have a target, whether they want it or not. The freedom of choice will be the key of the Windows 8 ecosystem and maybe the center of the Windows 8 tablet’s success on the market – a combination between software rigor and design freedom.
Microsoft’s Surface yells “we’ve shown you how to do it, now you come with a competitive product.”
Artificial competition on the Windows 8 tablet PC market
The tablet manufacturers are already having a bad time on the Android market, where the tablets are not as popular as expected. And Google doesn’t charge for their OS solution. Rumor has it that Microsoft charges about $85 for Windows RT licences. Therefore I just can’t figure out how will the OEMs be able to create powerful Windows RT tablets at competitive prices. Maybe by creating some really special products, which will soon become sale hits.
On short term, every Windows 8 tablet will be compared with Microsoft Surface. It’s obvious that not all the products will be close to Surface in terms of quality/performance which will be a huge inconvenient for the manufacturers. New terms like under-Surface / over-Surface will appear shortly.
On the other hand, there is a huge opportunity for the Windows 8 tablet manufacturers to come up with something different, to impress the public. I am curious though who will take advantage of it.
The experience can’t be cloned/stolen
We have to admit one thing: Apple’s huge success in the smartphone and tablet segments came because the iOS is a truly unique operating system, even though nowadays it looks old and boring. Microsoft is famous for selling software solutions, but now the profit margin is getting smaller, so the company had to seek new sources of profit.
Maybe after applying Apple’s recipe for their tablets, Microsoft will be able to become relevant on the segment and generate some profit.
Microsoft Surface with Windows 8 Pro is underpinned by an Intel Core i5 chipset, has 128 GB of RAM, keyboard, Mini Display Port and USB 3.0, therefore it’s a pretty tough competitor for the ultrabooks. And it weighs in only 900 grams. Microsoft’s product really makes sense: you can use it as a laptop while you are at work, then take it home and use it like a tablet, with all your applications and documents.
If Surface has a battery life of over 7 ours and decent performance, then it will be able to smash many of the ultrabooks without much of an effort. It looks fine, it’s made of magnesium, is running on Windows 8 and it’s very light. These are the ingredients for success.
Now it Microsoft will have to set a competitive price, to make sure it has decent autonomy, then the company will sell millions of Surface units.
The fate of Zune Media Player
At some point they said that Microsoft’s best products are the hardware devices: mouses, keyboards, Xbox, Kinect. Microsoft Surface has the qualities to become one of best products of the Redmond-based company.
But who knows, maybe it will have the fate of Zune player or Kin smartphone line-up.
It comes in a moment when Apple stopped “innovating” their tablets
Microsoft launched Surface after Apple brought the new iPad on the market, a tablet whose specifications are not dazzling different compared to the iPad 2. This is a huge advantage for Microsoft and their tablet which can become the pioneer of a new segment: the tablet/laptop.
Summing up, Microsoft’s Surface has the likes to become a really successful tablet and put pressure on both the iPad and the Android tablets. In the same time Microsoft’s tablet can fail miserably if the price is too high or the customers consider that Surface is not what they need at the moment.