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3 Reasons Why Microsoft Needs 3 Surface Tablets 266

Posted by samzenpus
from the pick-your-favorite dept.
CowboyRobot writes "It's looking like Microsoft is planning to replace its underachieving Surface tablet with two new products, but it may need three to finally have success with the Surface. Three tablets would provide an entry point and an upgrade path. Multiple Surface RT models would help Windows RT survive OEM skepticism. Microsoft needs device fanfare to accompany Windows 8.1, and to coincide with enterprise hardware upgrades. If the company releases one of the models before the end of the year, the device would arrive in time not only for the holiday season, but also to cash in on user interest in Windows 8.1, which will be released later this fall. Surface devices released next year, meanwhile, could capitalize on enterprise hardware upgrades, which are expected to pick up as Windows XP's April 8, 2014 end-of-service date nears."
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3 Reasons Why Microsoft Needs 3 Surface Tablets

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  • by mcgrew (92797) * on Monday August 12, 2013 @01:51PM (#44543741) Homepage Journal

    From TFA: "When Microsoft first priced its Surface tablets, it made a colossal miscalculation, assuming that it could simply follow Apple into the high-margin device business."

    Aim at the other foot, Microsoft.

    • by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) on Monday August 12, 2013 @01:56PM (#44543803) Homepage Journal

      It takes BALLS the size of CANADA to TRIPLE-DOWN!

      Lady and gentlemen, Microsoft is about to show you how it's done. This is like RIM, without the spending cap or reality check.

      • by Sponge Bath (413667) on Monday August 12, 2013 @02:00PM (#44543859)

        It takes BALLS the size of CANADA to TRIPLE-DOWN!

        Prepare to be teabagged by Steve Ballmer. Heck, he may go for FIVE Surface tablets.

      • 1 - Landfills currently in danger of eroding, need rapid supplementary deposit.

        2 - Microsoft execs have restriction period expire - and swapped for Intel stock last month. Now need to inflate H2 units shipped on CPUs.

        3 - Three words: "BALLMER, BALLMER, BALLMER"!

    • by ackthpt (218170) on Monday August 12, 2013 @01:59PM (#44543847) Homepage Journal

      It may have been able to compete with the original iPad, but not the latest and that's the greatest miscalculation.

      Here's a funny (ironic funny, not so much ha-ha funny) thought: Microsoft made their way in the early days of Microcomputers riding on the backs of cheap clones or clones which could outperform IBM's PCs.
      Fast-forward to the present and their trying to ride the backs of the highest performing hardware, with low performing clones, hoping to drag along the operating system into prominence with it.

      They should stay out of the hardware business and work on the operating system for tablets, let anyone make them and encourage development of premium hardware.

      • by adri (173121) on Monday August 12, 2013 @02:15PM (#44544031) Homepage Journal

        That's not likely to work. iOS and Android are too entrenched. No OEM is going to willingly walk into a new, untested OS.

        • by Patch86 (1465427) on Monday August 12, 2013 @02:24PM (#44544141)

          There's a juicy irony in calling Windows a new, untested OS. Microsoft have been plugging Windows for touch screens for decades now; they just suck at it.

          I'm not disagreeing with your sentiment, by the way, just enjoying the phrasing.

          • by ackthpt (218170) on Monday August 12, 2013 @02:55PM (#44544569) Homepage Journal

            There's a juicy irony in calling Windows a new, untested OS. Microsoft have been plugging Windows for touch screens for decades now; they just suck at it.

            I'm not disagreeing with your sentiment, by the way, just enjoying the phrasing.

            I have one of the old XP tablets and to say it sucks is to put it mildly. It worked pretty good for some things, generally not using the touch screen any more than necessary, but that's counter to what they are pushing these days, whether you like it or not. People are trained on Windows with a Keyboard and Mouse. Windows without either is a strange and unfamiliar thing which creates a lot of mental conflict, trying to figure how to do what we are familiar with with unfamiliar controls. Android and iOS have effectively come out the door without the baggage of prior expectations.

          • The thing is it's not really "Windows", though. They've developed a phone OS and chosen to call it "Windows", but that doesn't make it so.

            Windows is only popular on desktop computers because it's backwards compatible with the entire modern history of computing. To call RT "Windows" without that feature is like calling your new mode of transportation "AirplaneRT" even though it can't fly and you have to push pedals with your feet to make it move.
      • by MBGMorden (803437) on Monday August 12, 2013 @02:59PM (#44544609)

        Problem is - Android already has that market.

        Apple is what it always has been - a completely closed platform with hardware and software from the same source. No problem there for those that want that.

        The alternative is to buy your tablet from one of many different companies that make them. That's the same as it always was, but now Google provides that OS rather than Microsoft.

        Why would a company or a consumer go with Microsoft when Android already works well and is established in the market?

      • by gtall (79522)

        Why would anyone pay MS for their OS for pads? They can have Android for free, or they are Apple and don't need it. MS is trying the only trick they know how, tie everything to winders by hook or by crook, and they aren't too particular about which one either.

      • by Sir_Sri (199544) on Monday August 12, 2013 @04:20PM (#44545583)

        They should stay out of the hardware business and work on the operating system for tablets, let anyone make them and encourage development of premium hardware.

        That's what surface is. Surface isn't really a serious consumer product strategy. It's Microsoft making clear to the hardware makers that if they refuse to produce anything innovative or worth buying MS will do it for them.

        The problem with this strategy is that MS doesn't really seem to have anything innovative to push, in large part because windows 8 is terrible (so is 8.1).

        For the better part of a decade MS has been making software work for an iPad like slate device (they even had a term for it: a slate, a tablet is a convertible laptop with a rotating screen). And how many of those did we see on the market? None. MS has been burned badly by their 3rd party partners not rising to the challenge of making devices that aren't shit. If anything the market has gone the other way, to shovelling cheaper and cheaper stuff out that is in many cases junk.

        Try and buy a haswell tablet right now. How many can you find? There are a couple, but they are in very few product segments. MS recognizes this problem, and sees surface as the way to address this, but isn't able to implement. Which is sort of ok, if 2 months from now they launch and awesome surface pro 2, and that forces the other vendors to do the same. Late to the market, but forcing some progress maybe. And that's what Surface is there for, it's not to really making microsoft billions directly, it's to make sure that the hardware partners make things worth buying and force them to keep pushing new technology, or they're going to look bad compared to Surface. I'm sure MS would be thrilled if Surface was the most expensive and one of the worst windows 8 devices you could buy - because that would mean windows 8 would be moving at a good pace somewhere.

  • Huh? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 12, 2013 @01:54PM (#44543781)

    but also to cash in on user interest in Windows 8.1

    What user interest?

    • PPM dictates user interest, fool - not mere users.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      That one guy knows a guy who knows a guy who is totally stoked about 8.1!! I hear he also owns a Kin and a turd-brown Zune. He's still longing to find someone to squirt songs with.

      • by H0p313ss (811249)

        That one guy knows a guy who knows a guy who is totally stoked about 8.1!! I hear he also owns a Kin and a turd-brown Zune. He's still longing to find someone to squirt songs with.

        Pervy Zune fancier!

    • Re:Huh? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Gr8Apes (679165) on Monday August 12, 2013 @02:33PM (#44544261)
      Exactly. The users have moved on, to non-MS phones and tablets, and their success at using these items for what they need is enlightening more people to this lower cost alternative. With that move and the user performance plateau that was reached about 7 years ago, people just don't need to replace nor upgrade computers. And since the masses don't update regularly either, they just don't care when Windows Update goes silent or shows an error (whatever it may do when EOL is reached) and their semi-geek knowledgeable neighbor tell them how to disable the service to stop getting that irritating warning box. And they'll merrily move on.
  • by s.petry (762400) on Monday August 12, 2013 @01:55PM (#44543789)

    They don't need one tablet, let alone three. "Want" is the word I believe someone was looking for when writing this article.

    • No they need tablets.
      The desktop business will continue to shrink and be unsustainable for a company the size of Microsoft.

      • Re:Nope (Score:5, Funny)

        by s.petry (762400) on Monday August 12, 2013 @02:38PM (#44544333)

        Microsoft was never known for tablets, they were known for desktop and server systems. I would agree with the market strategy if they were early adopters, but they were pretty late to the game. This puts them in the same spot as they were with Zune.

        I'm not saying that it's impossible, but being late (years behind) the competition means that they should sit with 1 tablet and make it so awesome that iPad users claim it's competition. Trying to dump out 3 Surface devices without any demand is another failure in the pipes.

        Let me ask another question to point out why 3 tablets really really bad. What do consumers want in an iPad or Kindle? Stability and Reliability are what matters the most to the consumers. With some, there is also the status of owning an "i" device, but not most. With an unproven device, MS should be treating this like Amazon and Kindle. Simple at first to gain consumer trust and market share, later expand to various features.

        What MS is trying to do it appears is show that PCs are no longer their focus. This from a company where PCs are supposed to be their bread and butter. If they treated a tablet as a compliment instead of a replacement it would make much more sense. I would agree that many consumers will replace, but a huge number will remain on PCs for increased performance and options. Tablets can replace laptops much easier than desktops.

        • by gtall (79522)

          MS also has their past screwups to overcome. Consumers looking to buy a pad of some sort see MS and think Windows Hell all over their shiny new tablet. If they had Macs, they'll expect a similar experience on their iPads, and that's pretty much what they get. At least with Android there is the promise that the demons of Software Hell will give them a pass.

        • First, Microsoft wasn't late to the game. They (with various OEM hardware manufacturers trying to support their efforts) were first to the game for both mainstream tablets and business tablets.

          Second, their strategy problem is far greater than that. Any tablet can be an RDP enabled entry point to one's home machine - and currently, that market (for as long as Android and iDevices don't capitalize on it) is one they aren't really touting. Which makes no sense, especially after all their "click" commercials

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      well the article is just pure bullshit anyhow. on a bullshit site. "Well I promised to write 5 surface articles.."

      as if you need an upgrade path.. the upgrade path is the next generation or preferably for MS the upgrade path would be provided by multiple hardware vendors.

  • by geoskd (321194) on Monday August 12, 2013 @02:02PM (#44543873)

    Microsoft is not Apple. People don't wait in line for Microsoft products just because they are Microsoft products. Apple built a cult following around top notch products. They repeatedly made good products. That didn't happen overnight, and it damn near killed apple. Microsoft has to stop producing garbage. Until *All* of Microsoft products are top tier for an extended period of time, no one will trust Microsoft enough to buy into the lock-in. Microsoft has had too many Zunes, and too many Bobs for people to shell out top dollar expecting a good user experience. Now they do the wait and see, and a wait and see product is never good enough to get the top of the market, no matter how good it is because those same customers bought the competitions product already.

    Microsoft only has one hope of remaining relevant. They have to make awesome products repeatedly for a period of years to decades, and accept that their products will go unnoticed for a long time. Eventually, a core of loyal Microsoft customers will form, and if the top notch products continue to flow, the core will continue to grow. One piece of junk like windows 8 makes it onto the shelves, and Microsoft is back at square one again. This will be a long and expensive process for Microsoft, but the longer they wait, the more likely the process will kill them.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 12, 2013 @02:29PM (#44544201)

      What almost killed apple was really, really bad management and product design. I lived through the pre-jobs-return apple and the company was a damn mess. 4 PC product lines that had a lot of overlap and a lot of bad models that were crippled in order to avoid cannibalizing sales from higher end ones. (Look up "road apples" as they were commonly called)

      Jobs came back, axed nearly all prodcut lines and replaced them with 2. Consumer and pro. Pretty much Imacs and the towers, or ibooks and macbooks. He also axed the newton.

      A lot of people laughed at the gaudy imac, but the consumer saw a single purpose machine that was easy and didnt look like a complicated beige pile of cables. The rest is history.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      I think it's too late for MS to get any traction in the home. I see lots of tablets in homes in the future, but the full PCs will be in offices and we nerds' homes like 30 years ago. Tablets do what most people need a home computer for, and everyone is used to Android and Apple interfaces.

      Back when normal people started getting home computers, they wanted one that ran what they used at work, one they knew and were used to.

      You would think Microsoft, of all people, would recognize that.

      People also look at a c

    • I don't know if MS management is seriously deluded or just wildly optimistic. It's one thing that tried with Surface RT and Surface Pro. Realistically it was late and not likely to get many buyers. But to price the RT initially the same as an iPad was fool hearty. Also to over-order millions of units. Doing the math, it was unlikely that they could have logistically sell that many even if people wanted them.
    • by Dadoo (899435) on Monday August 12, 2013 @03:10PM (#44544775) Journal

      People don't wait in line for Microsoft products just because they are Microsoft products.

      You clearly weren't around when Microsoft released Windows 95. There were long lines for that - at midnight, no less. I think what Microsoft needs to ask themselves is why that's no longer true.

      • by Solandri (704621)

        You clearly weren't around when Microsoft released Windows 95. There were long lines for that - at midnight, no less. I think what Microsoft needs to ask themselves is why that's no longer true.

        That's pretty easy. Back then, they gave users what they wanted. Today, Apple gets it. Contrary to GP, their products are not top-notch. They're frequently missing features commonly found on competing products (which is what elicited the "lame" reaction to the iPod here when it was first release). But Apple doe

    • by sl4shd0rk (755837)

      no one will trust Microsoft enough to buy into the lock-in.

      You say that like Apple's lock-in is different somehow.
      Be careful not to confuse unwavering trust and superior products with clueless ignorance.

  • Ob Python (Score:4, Funny)

    by Richy_T (111409) on Monday August 12, 2013 @02:02PM (#44543883) Homepage

    King of Swamp Castle: When I first came here, this was all swamp. Everyone said I was daft to build a castle on a swamp, but I built in all the same, just to show them. It sank into the swamp. So I built a second one. That sank into the swamp. So I built a third. That burned down, fell over, then sank into the swamp. But the fourth one stayed up. And that's what you're going to get, Lad, the strongest castle in all of England.

  • It must be mighty toasty at the Redmond campus.
  • by roc97007 (608802) on Monday August 12, 2013 @02:03PM (#44543897) Journal

    So.... besides the ".1" in 8.1, we are anticipating this release ... why? I mean, I wasn't aware that the 8.1 release was a thing. You get a start button, which takes you directly to the already existing start screen. Shrug. Personally, I'm sticking with 7 until the start menu comes back or hell freezes over, whichever occurs first.

    So, the RT didn't sell well, the Pro sold only slightly better... so the answer is to release more models, and the mistake they made was not timing it with the holidays?

    Kidding, right?

    • I don't care and neither should the average consumer. The people that do care are the marketing shills with pockets freshly stuffed with MS cash.
    • by tysonedwards (969693) on Monday August 12, 2013 @02:39PM (#44544341)
      The reason why the Surface failed wasn't because its software sucked...

      It was a marketing failure to differentiate the product, releasing the inferior product that couldn't do what people expected it to under the guise of "but it runs windows".
      It was a marketing failure to refer to the product as being "better" than an iPad or Android tablet because it had twice the memory, when it had *equal* usable memory, and there's not a damn thing that you can do to recover the unusable memory.
      It was a marketing failure to create a dance video for a product with zero brand recognition rather than actually saying *something* about it.
      It was a packaging failure as Marketing talked up the awesome keyboards and why it makes the product far better than the competition, but you didn't actually get one without increasing the cost $130 or more than everything else on the market.
      It was a design failure in the sense that the product that *could* do what you wanted was twice as thick and heavy as the nearest competitor.

      The software was actually pretty well designed for the hardware, it's just that the software tried to be forced on the rest of the market as well, in places where it didn't make sense. That in turn hurt the Windows brand.

      If their first offering wasn't called a Surface (a meaningless name) but instead the Xbox Tablet, the response would have likely been quite different as it looks and behaves like an Xbox and doesn't have the same connotation as "it runs Windows, so all my programs will work, and I won't have to learn anything new". That in turn further hurt the Windows brand.

      The Surface brand become synonymous with the Zune, Vista, and a number of other Microsoft failures despite being a reasonable product, but not the product that you expected it to be.
    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Personally, I'm sticking with 7 until the start menu comes back or hell freezes over

      I kind of liked 7 when I got this notebook 2 years ago, even though it was missing some features I'd gotten used to with kubuntu. But it's gotten slower with every OS patch to the point where it's annoying enough it's going to be Linux. Probably coincidence, but the biggest slowdowns were the three Patch Tuesdays after W8 came out.

      If you're a Windows user because you're a gamer or need some expensive business software, you'r

      • by roc97007 (608802)

        Personally, I'm sticking with 7 until the start menu comes back or hell freezes over

        I kind of liked 7 when I got this notebook 2 years ago, even though it was missing some features I'd gotten used to with kubuntu. But it's gotten slower with every OS patch to the point where it's annoying enough it's going to be Linux. Probably coincidence, but the biggest slowdowns were the three Patch Tuesdays after W8 came out.

        If you're a Windows user because you're a gamer or need some expensive business software, you're going to have to "upgrade" sooner or later anyway.

        It's because I use fairly expensive Adobe applications on a regular basis. But if the choices are going to be win8 or finding a different set of applications, I'm thinking the latter. If Adobe ever ports to Ubuntu or Android, I'd leave Windows and never look back. (Except a brief glance to make sure Ballmer wasn't chasing me with a chair.)

  • by erroneus (253617) on Monday August 12, 2013 @02:05PM (#44543909) Homepage

    Make sure the bootloader is available to be unlocked and the devices are compatible with Android.

    People will buy them knowing that if they hate the Windows mobile experience, they can always load Android and be reasonably happy with the device.

    • by danomac (1032160)

      Or even better, have a boot management tool readily available and officially support dual booting.

  • by AlphaBit (1244464) on Monday August 12, 2013 @02:07PM (#44543937)
    I think someone is trying to get Microsoft to go out of business by tricking them into doubling down on the Surface RT.
    • We lose money on every sale, but boy do we make up for it in volume!
      Wait, we don't do that either???
  • is to deep six RT tablets completely and focus on bringing light weight x86 compatible tablets to the market pronto. Fast, light weight, portable laptop replacements. Make them 1/2 the price of ultrabooks and then watch the tablet market crumble and fall back to pcs.
    Unfortunately they went full retard with RT. If it came out at like 200$ maybe it would of survived, but even then it would of been crappy. Microsoft's main selling point is it's huge software suite in x86 land, not ARM. Leave that to Andro

  • by gstoddart (321705) on Monday August 12, 2013 @02:10PM (#44543977) Homepage

    Microsoft for years has had "OS basic, OS Home, OS Home Premium, OS Business, OS Business Premium, OS Business Pro ...."

    Give me one offering which does everything I need. Don't try to sell me one of 9 slightly different versions which are all variously crippled and limited.

    This cash grab to sell a bunch of different version of the same thing is usually annoying, and periodically you disover that "Home Premium" is still missing some pretty basic features.

    What Microsoft needs to do is understand what people want and why, not just come out with the latest "this is what we're giving you" and then scratch their heads when nobody gives a shit.

    • by CAIMLAS (41445)

      Those different OSes were all the same OS with different role based licensing. They did it so they could get clients out there without 'server' functionality, while still making a profit on the Server releases.

      Do you really want to pay $1500 (or whatever it costs for a Windows Server license now) for a Desktop OS? I'll stick to the crippleware (or I would, if I still used Windows).

    • Prehaps "Home" and "Professional" will do? It worked fine with XP. Windows 8 is back down to 3 SKUs, because for some reason the features in Enterprise aren't just integrated into Pro.
  • by EmperorOfCanada (1332175) on Monday August 12, 2013 @02:11PM (#44543989)
    What is hurting microsoft is not that many people need anything resembling a desktop computer. Most people are consumer's of content with the only content they create requiring little in the way of complicated interfacing (tweets, messages, pokes, likes, votes, and the occasional picture or even video). Thus a smart phone became many people's primary interface to the interwebs. What people are now seeing is that they want a better interface to the interwebs in their pocket so the larger screen sizes are becoming quite popular. But personally I think the happy size limit is at most an iPad mini or slightly smaller.

    But instead MS goes and creates the surface which is basically a laptop with a keyboard that you will misplace. What? Who wants that? If I want a laptop, I want a trackpad, a keyboard, and a proper sized screen. If I want a tablet or larger smartphone that is what I want. Not some hybrid that isn't that great at being either when for the same or less money I can do better.

    The reality is that there is a great product sitting right in this area. The product is a keyboard, trackpad, and monitor from a laptop that uses your phone as the computer. Not just one phone that is proprietary to the keyboard/monitor but something that will talk to your entire lineup of phones now and into the future. We know that smartphones are going to get smarter and smarter but a good keyboard and monitor could last through generations of smartphones. This way you can do all your phone stuff quite nicely with your choice of MS phone but then when you need to do some content creation (spreadsheet, video editing, resume polishing, etc) you have a proper keyboard monitor combo. This matches people's common usage pattern where they have a cool new smartphone but a 4 year old laptop (who's battery lasts 8 minutes) mostly gathering dust. But when they need the laptop they really need it.

    This would also be nearly perfect for the road warrior. They effectively travel with one device. Also the keyboard/monitor thingy could be insanely thin with no HD, little circuitry, and potentially no cooling needs. Just one large thin battery, the keys, and the screen.
    • by CAIMLAS (41445)

      I've been waiting for this type of device to surface for some time now (pun not intended) - about 7 or 8 years, I imagine. It's a device long past its due.

      The difficulty is in the modal UI. I've seen some Android devices /projects attempt it, and it could be done fairly easily, it just hasn't seen terribly wide-scale utilization yet.

      My bet is that if we do see it, it'll either be through Apple or Google Nexus devices. You'll get a phone, and for $50-100 more, you can get a 'tablet' dock, which provides a ba

  • Because 3(Crap) == AWESOME!

    No, what MS needs is to focus on the 2-3 products they do fairly well, and make them great.

    Ooh, and support the ReactOS project, especially since they're giving a big ol' middle finger to most of their business customers come 2014.

  • Fuck that.

    Triple down.

  • by djupedal (584558)
    Slow-news-day....very slow, apparently.
    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Blame me, I went to the firehose. Saw the article this morning reading Google and would have submitted it myself if someone else hadn't.

      No, blame yourself. You didn't go to the firehose. You do realize that logged in users can vote for or against articles, right? Makes you look kind of silly bitching about the fact that it got posted.

      You're like the guy who never goes to the polls but always bitches about the government.

  • Not buying it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by steveha (103154) on Monday August 12, 2013 @02:20PM (#44544085) Homepage

    From TFA:

    From a components standpoint, a 7-inch Surface RT tablet with a Qualcomm chip shouldn't cost much more to produce than the Nexus 7. If Google can afford to price the Nexus 7 at $199, then Microsoft can certainly aim for similar build quality at a similar price.

    This assumes that Microsoft is willing to give away Windows to hit the price point. This in turn means buying in on the "sell cheap razors, make money selling razor blades" idea, which Microsoft did actually try with the XBox, but would represent a change in strategy with respect to mobile.

    Can Microsoft make that decision quickly? I can imagine endless bickering among the multiple layers of middle management about whether that's a good idea or not.

    Also, Windows needs a more powerful device [semiaccurate.com] to run compared to Android, which drives up device costs.

    By producing multiple Surface RT models, Microsoft can reassure its partners that Windows RT is worth supporting.

    This is just fantasy. The OEMs are not happy about any aspect of the Surface situation (Microsoft making its own hardware in direct competition with the OEMs, lousy sales, etc.) and this sort of abstract reassurance is worthless.

    3. Microsoft needs device fanfare to accompany Windows 8.1, and to coincide with enterprise hardware upgrades.

    Again, just fantasy. Microsoft has completely failed to gin up any excitement around the current crop of Surface products and it's silly to just assume they can do better with a new product.

    Also, TFA suggests that "excitement over Windows 8.1" would help sell Surface tablets, and I don't think there will be enough excitement there to help anything.

    A larger Windows RT tablet might be attractive to a mobile salesperson, for instance, whereas a 7-inch model that syncs perfectly with a Surface Pro could be a nice secondary device for a traveling executive.

    Wow. Just, wow. Traveling executives who likely already have a Macbook Air and an iPad are going to get rid of them in favor of a Surface Pro and a baby Surface RT?

    Oh wait, I forgot, the new tablets will have Outlook so it's totally plausible! Yeah, no.

  • I just finished outfitting the rest of my family with 7" Android tablets, each costing about $70. For Microsoft to be competitive, it needs to either come in under $100, or let me have one with Office for under $200 or so. Otherwise - I'm not sure my youngest kids will ever know what Microsoft is. (They do know what Apple is - it's who made the "old" tablets their friends parents used to buy 2-3 years ago.)

    • I just finished outfitting the rest of my family with 7" Android tablets, each costing about $70.

      $70 tablets? You must not like your family very much...

      (I jest, but seriously, $70 aren't known for their... quality.)

      • >> $70? You cheap bastard you don't love your kids...

        My 12-year-old straight-A son? Yes, I splurged on a Nexus 7. My 4-year-old daughter and can't-sit-still 10-year-old son? You bet I wasn't going to spend more than $100 each; I plan on replacing at least one of these every year.

        FWIW, here are the tech specs of my $70 tablet: 1GHz proc, 1GB DDR3 of system memory, 8GB on-board storage memory, additional memory via microSD card slot, 7.0" touchscreen, 800 x 480 resolution, Built-in 802.11b/g/n WiFi,

      • by CAIMLAS (41445)

        That was a couple years ago.

        The later, Android 4.1+ tablets are pretty damn awesome. THe hardware specs are on par with a phone from a year ago, more or less, and they're typically pretty damn close to AOSP or Cyanogenmod in terms of Android. Build quality? Not the best but not horrid, either. Certainly passable for something likely to be dropped and manhandled by kids with filthy hands.

  • Pope: Yes, one! Now will you please tell me what in God's name possessed you to paint this with three Christs in it?

    Michaelangelo: It works, mate!

    Pope: It does not work!

    Michaelangelo: It does, it looks great! The fat one balances the two skinny ones!

  • by Bob9113 (14996) on Monday August 12, 2013 @02:23PM (#44544137) Homepage

    Why Microsoft Needs 3 Surface Tablets

    Ooh, I know this one: Because that's how many they sold.

  • Microsoft needs to discover a reason to exist. It needs to find problems and then work to deliver products that solve those problems. These Windows Tablets don't need to exist. They don't bring something to the market that is not there. Microsoft should exit the phone and tablet market.
  • Ballmer doesn't understand that the Windows brand represents one of two things:
    1.) That super locked down computer at work which forces me to use Excel and blocks Facebook and Youtube.
    2.) That super virus infested computer in the living room that the kids use to type up their reports.

    Neither of these are the kinds of experiences people want associated with their tablet experience; it's among the reasons why so many people have opted for them for casual use. If Microsoft is trying to make inroads into a market other than the desktop, then they need to use branding to their advantage by distancing itself from the desktop experience. As much as Ballmer believes that people want Windows everywhere, the spec sheet of Windows RT, almost by definition, ensures that its ONLY resemblance to the familiar desktop experience (even if we assume the positive aspects thereof) is the Windows name. No use of their iTunes library, and tricky-at-best use of Gmail and Dropbox.

    If Microsoft wants to compete in the tablet space, then it's not a matter of their lack of an entry-level device like the Nexus 7 - it's the lack of an entry POINT. Apple's entry point was the iPod, whose entry point was the fact that it played MP3s from both Napster and MusicMatch. Apple then established iTunes, which was the entry point for the iPhone, and then the iPad built upon that. Microsoft requires an Outlook.com account, Skydrive, Zune Music (or Xbox Music?), and rebuying the apps you already bought on your iPhone or Galaxy S2. Even if they gave away the entry level Surface, that's still far too much change for far too many people.

    Microsoft, here's my business plan for your next tablet...

    1.) Do what they say - make a 7", $199 entry level unit and a $499 extended unit. Call it the xTab, and the Pocket xTab. Have no Microsoft branding on it at all, and never once use the term "Windows".
    2.) Sell it (at the very least the Pocket xTab) wherever you can - Best Buy, Microcenter, Amazon, even Walgreens or Rite Aid. Make it as easy as possible to acquire one.
    3.) Do some sort of cross licensing deal - Office for Android in exchange for official Gmail for the xTab. Offer some free Azure space to Dropbox in exchange for an official client. Do the same for Facebook in exchange for an Instagram client.
    4.) Offer crossgrade app reimbursement - if a paid app from your iTunes account or Google Play account exists in the Microsoft Store, give it to the customer for free...then pay the developer what they would have gotten as a result of the sale. This will encourage developers on other platforms to develop the same app for the Windows Store. Similarly, provide copies of movies, TV episodes, and eBooks to people making the jump.
    5.) Get the Chevron team back in the game - your system hackers are your platform evangelists, and you need all the help you can get.
    6.) 16GB versions include 16GB of space available to the user.
    7.) Add the Start Menu back to Windows 8 as an option. It won't do squat on the tablet OS, but it will help get some good will from the people who are avoiding Windows 8 because it comes across as trying to force a tablet UI where it doesn't belong.
    8.) Free phone upgrades (to an xPhone, btw) to anyone still stuck on Windows Phone 7. Again, it's expensive, but Apple gets good will from giving older handsets software updates. Want to one-up them? You'll need a stack of Lumias to do it.

    Think it's too drastic or too expensive? I can't possibly see it costing more than the hit that Steve Ballmer's way of doing things cost the company.

    • Think it's too drastic or too expensive? I can't possibly see it costing more than the hit that Steve Ballmer's way of doing things cost the company.

      Or Microsoft can just get out. It costs them nothing, and gives them more resources to concentrate on places where they are doing well. That's probably the best option for them. Windows may lose it's monopoly, but there's always money in Exchange and Office, both of which could survive in a post-Windows world.

      Seems like a better idea than throwing all their money at something that nobody wants anyway.

  • Not the problem (Score:4, Interesting)

    by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Monday August 12, 2013 @02:29PM (#44544209) Homepage

    In my view, the problem with Microsoft's Surface is not really the product lineup. The problem is that, once again, Microsoft has a poor marketing vision, i.e. they're selling a product without a real place in the market.

    You might think I'm crazy, but iPads and Android tablets have a more clear place in the market. They're not full computers, we all know they're not full computers, but they allow us to do the things we'd do on our phones if our phones had bigger screens. There are enough people who want that kind of casual device.

    There might also be a market for a full-computer tablets, but that's a bit trickier. The problem is that, as we've seen, a good desktop UI won't work well on a small-screen touch device. Likewise, a good UI for a small-screen touch-device won't work well for a full desktop computer.

    Microsoft tried to meld the two, and in my opinion, they screwed up. The result looked pretty but wasn't good, and people don't like it. Meanwhile, Android users are basically happy with Android. iOS users are happy with iOS. Not many people really want to jump ship for a half-assed bastard child of desktop and tablet computing. Microsoft just needs to rethink the direction they took with Windows.

    • I think the Surface strategy was MS' shortcut to the chicken and egg problem. Developers won't develop programs for a platform until there are users. Users don't buy into platforms until there are programs. So MS tried forcing everyone (even their desktop users) to use their new tablet platform. Evidence suggests that users have basically revolted and MS does not have as much loyalty as they thought that did.
    • by JustNiz (692889)

      >> they're selling a product without a real place in the market.

      Because Microsoft still hold onto the arrogant belief that people will flock to whatever new product or even market they make just because it has a Microsoft sticker.

      You'd think their unbroken record of phone and media player failures would have sent even the most clueless CEO a message by now.

    • by JustNiz (692889)

      >> Not many people really want to jump ship for a half-assed bastard child of desktop and tablet computing.

      I wish Ubuntu understood this.

  • RT should not be! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jtownatpunk.net (245670) on Monday August 12, 2013 @02:33PM (#44544269)

    Chant it with me. RT! Should not be!

    It serves no purpose at all except to fragment the market. If you go with Apple or Android, both of your portable devices are on the same basic level. I run mostly the same programs on my phone and tablet. Some run better on one than the other but very few apps that I use are not compatible with both devices.

    The Surface Pro gives users the option of putting their desktop and tablet on the same footing. This is awesome! It's an area that's been woefully underserved. There have been a handful of "full windows" tablets but they were heavy and thick and expensive. The Pro finally gives people a sleek tablet that runs their desktop apps.

    But WTF is RT supposed to do? It doesn't run the same apps as the desktop. It doesn't run the same apps as the phone. Unless developers completely re-write their apps to the Metro standard, there's no commonality.

  • Google is making an absolute killing with its Nexus devices because they're very affordable and don't skimp on the core functionality. That's the model which might sell Surface tablets. Microsoft thought they could out-take-the-piss Apple with their prices and accessories and it simply didn't work.

    Aside from that they really need to drive a stake through the heart of RT. I doubt it would be successful even on 7" devices. Just kill the fucking thing and work on some decent Windows 8 based devices based on

  • by ad454 (325846) on Monday August 12, 2013 @02:48PM (#44544479)

    The Surface Pro with type keyboard was by far the best ultra-light device in its size. When it was released, with its 1920x1080 display, pen input, touch screen, etc. it blew past the now outdated 11" MacBook air and anything else in that size.

    My only complaints was the glued down components and soldered RAM:

    http://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/Microsoft+Surface+Pro+Teardown/12842/1 [ifixit.com]

    I hope that the next Surface Pro 2 has Haswell, and eliminates the component glue and soldered RAM, or at least offers a 6-8GB RAM option and 256-480HG mSATA drive option. Then it would be prefect for me. Hopefully with a newer Haswell chip, the fans can also be reduced or eliminated, and the battery life will increase.

    I am also eyeing the Haswell based Samsung ATIV Q, but at 13" it is a bit too large for me.

    I also love the thin but solid unibody construction of the Acer Aspire s7-191, but without a pen input (which is really needed for my graphic and CAD work), it does not meet my needs. Not to mention, that it appears that Acer is abandoning the 11" model, which did not yet get the Haswell refresh.

    On the Apple side, it is sad that Apple refuses to make a retina MacBook Air, even though the iPad3/4 has a 2048x1536 display compared to 1440x900 on 13" Air & 1366x768 on 11" Air, and also support pen input. Even though I much prefer Unix based OSX, for the first time in 8 years, I am planning to buy a Windows based laptop/tablet this year, instead of a Mac.

    I wonder if there is any Linux distribution in the works which might take full advantage of these new touch based ultralights/tablets?

    Hopefully manufactories will start to reduce the size of the large bezels around the display. With small devices, the smaller the bezel, the better the display.

  • by msobkow (48369) on Monday August 12, 2013 @03:28PM (#44544973) Homepage Journal

    The problem with Windows RT tablets is not "OEM skepticism." It's the poor sales numbers and utter lack of market share by a public who doesn't want a crippled machine that can do little besides surf and read emails.

    The OEMs were willing to give it a shot. Reality soon kicked in and now they're dumping their RT product plans in droves.

    RT is a complete and utter failure.

  • They are really missing the bus. A couple points stand out:

    1) Microsoft needs device fanfare to accompany Windows 8.1

    What, and 8.1 won't stand on its own? There has typically been two, maybe three primary reasons to upgrade Windows to a newer version (or replace the old) for 99% of everyone:

    1) A new device is acquired and hardware support is lacking for the version you've already got
    2) Planned obsolescence of software - you need the newer version of some program, which isn't available on the older version.
    3) Corporate management benefits

    Sorry, MS has never benefit

  • by JustNiz (692889) on Monday August 12, 2013 @03:46PM (#44545195)

    ..Why Microsoft Needs 3 Surface Tablets: ...to cash in on user interest in Windows 8.1, which will be released later this fall.

    Yeah you're right. 3 Tablets should about do it. There probably won't be as many as 4 people with "user interest" in Windows 8.1.

  • They can name it YART: Yet Another RT.

I use technology in order to hate it more properly. -- Nam June Paik

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