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Why Is Microsoft Setting More Money On Fire With Surface 2? 616

Posted by timothy
from the producers-was-a-prequel dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Never mind that sales of the original Surface totaled a pitiful $853 million in its first few months of release, or that the tablet failed to make Microsoft an up-and-coming player (or any kind of player, really) in the mobile-device wars: Microsoft's now rolling out Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2, which feature upgraded specs and accessories but no radical adjustments to the first generation. Why would Microsoft pour good money after bad? The answer could be outgoing Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who late last year released a memo suggesting that Microsoft was evolving into a 'devices and services' company. 'There will be times when we build specific devices for specific purposes, as we have chosen to do with Xbox and the recently announced Microsoft Surface,' he wrote. 'In all our work with partners and on our own devices, we will focus relentlessly on delivering delightful, seamless experiences across hardware, software and services.' That meant Surface (then on the cusp of release) was clearly a harbinger of the company's future direction — and canceling the project after the first generation would have been a stinging refutation of Ballmer's strategy. By spending the money and resources on a second device generation, Microsoft manages to save a little bit of face, albeit at considerable cost. But imagine the hilarity that'll ensue if this second generation goes down in a huge ball of flames like the first."
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Why Is Microsoft Setting More Money On Fire With Surface 2?

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  • XBOX? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by a_nonamiss (743253) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @10:29AM (#44936089)
    The XBOX 1 lost 4 billion dollars. It's now a solid market that Microsoft dominates. Why would they not use that same strategy here?
    • Re:XBOX? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by i kan reed (749298) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @10:31AM (#44936143) Homepage Journal

      A solid market that they haven't yet made a NET profit on, and may have lost in the next generation(I really hope they have).

      • Re:XBOX? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @10:40AM (#44936301)

        The point is they took a market that was solidly held by a few companies and squoozled their way into it by throwing vast amounts of money and a few really successful games.

        Sony did this back in the 90s and may have been the template for Microsoft's success.

        The trouble is the mobile devices market isn't the same as the console market where you make a machine and let it ride for 5 to 10 years on software, this is a very fickle and expensive market to play in where if you aren't lumping features in every year you get considered dusty. If you lump the wrong features in you seem uncool.

        Microsoft can't treat the trendy throwaway electronics game the same brute force way, unless they want to bankrupt themselves...?

        • Re:XBOX? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Defenestrar (1773808) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @12:52PM (#44938573)

          I don't think MS is treating this as the trendy electronics game. I think they're trying to build an enterprise case for changing the whole computer interface model. A quality tablet should be able to replace every laptop within a company (and once people get used to it) be a far more natural tool (the laptop's design constraints decided its form factor). With the ability to run native Windows programs, you also don't have to worry about multiple styles of program licensing (i.e. corporate iPads, etc...), can use enterprise ready solutions, and not worry about separate policies or what happens inside of the firewall (other than the regular nightmares).

        • And as a market comparison goes, in the gaming market, Microsoft had a huge impact in the market right away.

          And in the mobile market ... they inspire crickets.

          So, naturally, Microsoft is not going to be able to get away with applying the same strategy to mobile that they did for gaming. Because they ARE applying that same strategy for mobile currently and there is no parallel response in the market of mobile that there was in the market of gaming.
      • Re:XBOX? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Kjella (173770) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @11:57AM (#44937743) Homepage

        Neither the XBone or PS4 are going to tank, they're both very capable machines with a strong following. They're profitable now (indeed, have been for 5 years) and it'd be an awfully long uphill battle for anyone else to enter the market. With the WiiU sales being crap it's basically down to a duopoly, you really think Microsoft and Sony want to go on an all-out price war for your benefit? No, you'll be paying enough that both enjoy a comfortable profit margin. Ten years ago the gaming division was a huge money burner, today it's a money maker. If Microsoft wanted to sell their gaming division, how much more could they cash in than 10 years ago?

        For long-running businesses that have a steady cash flow the stock market has usually put a P/E ratio of 10-20 on it, that's price to earnings and currently Microsoft as a whole is at 12.59. Last fiscal year the gaming division earned $380 million, so if we take the average P/E it's probably worth around $380*12.59 = $4.8 billion while the money losing division ten years ago was probably close to unsalable. So if you include that Microsoft has actually turned a profit in the last 10 years, it's just that most is still in their pockets as an asset. If they really wanted to, they could almost certainly sell out the division for more than those $3 billion.

    • Re:XBOX? (Score:5, Funny)

      by RichMan (8097) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @10:32AM (#44936163)

      The Microsoft goal is to flush so much money down the drain it will become plugged up.

      • Re:XBOX? (Score:5, Funny)

        by RivenAleem (1590553) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @11:12AM (#44936923)

        "You see, Killbots have a preset kill limit. Knowing their weakness, I sent wave after wave of my own men at them, until they reached their limit and shutdown. Kif, show them the medal I won"

      • by swillden (191260)

        The Microsoft goal is to flush so much money down the drain it will become plugged up.

        Unfortunately, unlike galvanized copper pipes money pipes readily expand to accept just as much as you want to put in them.

    • Re:XBOX? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Sockatume (732728) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @10:43AM (#44936361)

      MS lost most of that money as a write-off replacing faulty units of what was by that point a very, very successful piece of hardware. Meanwhile the Surface moulders in stock rooms, without as much as a cut in its price for the new model to get it into people's hands.

      • I wish everyone commenting on this would differentiate between the Surface Pro and the Surface RT. The former is a decent piece of hardware, and the latter was a really bad mistake. To say "the Surface has been a bitter disappointment" lumps two completely different pieces of hardware into the same bucket.
        • Re:XBOX? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Bert64 (520050) <bert@s[ ]hdot.fi ... m ['las' in gap]> on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @11:49AM (#44937593) Homepage

          Two completely different pieces of hardware released under the same branding... MS have lumped them together in the same bucket.

          • Re:XBOX? (Score:5, Interesting)

            by technomom (444378) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @12:38PM (#44938335)

            This is Microsoft's huge problem. It's like the have complete idiots in their marketing department.

            "I know, let's call the THIRD generation of our XBox product, the ONE!"

            "Let's brand two completely different platforms (three actually) under the Surface name!"

            "Let's have Programs and Apps kinda be the same, but different."

            So much facepalm lately for MS.

        • To say "the Surface has been a bitter disappointment" lumps two completely different pieces of hardware into the same bucket.

          Microsoft has no one to blame for this but themselves. They're the ones who decided to call them both by the same name. The confusion engendered by this has contributed to the sales problem, as a matter of fact.

    • by goombah99 (560566) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @11:06AM (#44936815)

      One could easily have said the same thing about Microsoft Word. It was a copycat and it sucked compared to Word Perfect when it first came out. But slowly they kept making it better and it won the market. One could have said the same thing about the early DOS, then the early Windows 2.0. Even windows 95. All those eventually won the markets that others owned. Moreover the same conditions exist now. It's not a saturated market; it's a growing market size.

      Microsoft has followed this same pattern with all their incremental advances as well. All their new product revision completely stink at first. then they settle in and make them workable. Indeed things like Xune and PlaysForSure are outliers in that Microsoft didn't just bear down for the long haul.

      Microsoft knows that embrace and extend works over time because it always has. Given they have a positive cash flow it makes even more sense since there's no ticking clock.

      • word still sucks. Used it lately?

      • by JDG1980 (2438906) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @11:46AM (#44937547)

        One could easily have said the same thing about Microsoft Word. It was a copycat and it sucked compared to Word Perfect when it first came out.

        WordPerfect lost because it botched the transition from character-mode to WSYIWYG GUI. And it botched this because of crappy and shortsighted management that thought Windows was a fad.

        If anything, Microsoft's modern strategy with Surface is analogous to WP's errors: they came late to the party with a subpar entry, and expected to win because they won the last market.

      • by rsborg (111459) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @02:05PM (#44939823) Homepage

        One could easily have said the same thing about Microsoft Word. It was a copycat and it sucked compared to Word Perfect when it first came out. But slowly they kept making it better and it won the market. [...]

        Reminds me of a movie [1] ...

        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.

        [1] http://www.imdb.com/character/ch0091186/quotes [imdb.com]

    • by Atzanteol (99067)

      The XBox wasn't profitable but it was popular. Surface is neither.

    • Re:XBOX? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by JDG1980 (2438906) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @11:21AM (#44937135)

      The XBOX 1 lost 4 billion dollars. It's now a solid market that Microsoft dominates.

      First of all, Microsoft doesn't "dominate" – they are one of several big players. (And the Xbox One definitely looks like it's going to play second fiddle to the PS4.) Secondly, market share is only important to a publicly traded corporation insofar as it translates into current or future profit. Microsoft burned so much money ramping up the Xbox line that they still have barely broken even, and when you consider the time value of money, they're probably still in the hole. They would have been better off paying that money out as dividends.

    • There is a vast difference between purposely and decisively choosing to sell a product at a loss in order to enter a market and unintentionally losing tons of money because nobody wants to buy your products.

      If you're suggesting that they should lower the price (into loss territory) in order to increase sales quantity and hence revenue and market share, I'd counter that there still is a big difference. I'll gird my loins and enter fanboy territory and claim that the XBox was similar enough to its contempora

    • by Gilmoure (18428)

      Yup! Or like IE. took them a few versions before they won.


    • | The answer could be outgoing Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who late last year released a memo suggesting that Microsoft was evolving into a 'devices and services' company.

      This is today's innovation: reorganizing the company around its core incompetencies.

      Has anybody there asked why Microsoft wants to do this? I have a different suggestion for Microsoft's board and next CEO: how about "business software?" They make tons of money from Office and are pretty good at writing desktop software and OK at web-i
  • by Cpt_Kirks (37296) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @10:30AM (#44936099)

    You see small businesses make this mistake all the time: "If we only double down, and do what is NOT working HARDER..."

    Then, they go under. If M$ does not shed the Ballmer curse soon, Apple will BUY them.

    • by digsbo (1292334) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @10:32AM (#44936159)
      Yes. It's called "Escalation of Commitment", and it happens in larger firms, too, and Government. Also with individuals. A good counter-example is HP ditching WebOS and now selling Android tablets.
      • by jinchoung (629691) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @11:04AM (#44936783)

        in most marriages, that's called children.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dcarmi (940742)

        Trouble is that people have learnt that it is possible to not use Windows. They know about iPads and Nexus or Galaxy tabs. Until recently there was no real Microsoft option in this area.

        Up pops Microsoft with their Windows tablet and hurrah! Except, it isn't quite the Windows we all know and relatively expensive and it flops. So MS try again, failing miserably to make it a compelling experience!

        The least MS could have done is make the price so competitive that people will think about it. They need the consu

    • To be fair, the tablet / minimalist laptop is the future of computing for a large segment of society. For microsoft to simply abandon it would be foolish. Yeah, the Surface 1 tanked, but MS has the resources to keep at it until they (hopefully) get it right. I think the Surface needs more than a spec bump, so I'm not sure version 2.0 will do all that well - but I'm always in favor of more competition and more devices - it's good for consumers long term.

      Also Apple isn't the sort of company that buys other la

      • Also Apple isn't the sort of company that buys other large companies - would never happen.

        15 years ago Apple also wasn't the sort of company that would make MP3 players or phones. Plus, Jobs is dead, and everything can change over time. It would be a pretty positive thing for the world overall if Apple bought Windows. Apple have a lot of experience with switching architectures and OS compatibility layers, etc.. they could maybe turn Windows into the business version of their OS. Windows has kind of outlived its usefulness by now anyway. I eventually tried Windows 7 and quite liked it as a gener

      • by CastrTroy (595695)
        It needs more than a spec bump, because everybody else did a spec bump as well. A 10 inch tablet with only 1080p resolution might be sufficient, but it is less than all the other guys. It's specced the same as a Nexus 7, with a larger screen, but costs $200 (80%) more, and the only thing that sets it apart is the keyboard/touch cover, which doesn't even come included.
    • by Thanshin (1188877)

      If M$ does not shed the Ballmer curse soon, Apple will BUY them.

      Actually, someone will get paid to take them and avoid total bankruptcy.

    • If M$ does not shed the Ballmer curse soon, Apple will BUY them.

      Not going to happen. The weather in Seattle sucks.

  • Alternatives (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @10:31AM (#44936119)

    What other choice does Microsoft have? It can't get back in the game if it gives up trying.

    • I already commented so can't give you a mod point, but yes. Exactly. Insert Gretzky quote here.

    • What other choice does Microsoft have? It can't get back in the game if it gives up trying.

      I would have to say that if they sold a Surface tablet with an x86 processor in the $400-$500 range, it would at least have a purpose in life, and people would consider buying it. As it is, the tablets are either too expensive (Surface Pro), or too useless (Surface RT).

      My guess is they are thinking, "ok, we'll do it again, we just need to change our marketing." I've seen that in business before, when a product doesn't sell well, the first to get the blame are the sales teams. Then after re-orgs and lots o

  • Yesterday when the announcement was made [ http://mobile.slashdot.org/story/13/09/23/197258/microsoft-takes-another-stab-at-tablets-unveils-surface-2-surface-2-pro ] several responders here identified reasons why they'd go once more into the breech of a sinking ship. Which mostly boiled down to: because you don't learn anything the second time the mule kicks you.

    Also, let's think about Ballmer for a moment -- he was at or near the helm when Microsoft was not a devices company, a move he has publicly kicke

  • by NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @10:31AM (#44936141)
    Historically, Microsoft has only succeeded with version 3 of ANYTHING. All of their biggest failures are V1 or V2.
  • I'm seriously considering buying one, now that it has 8GB of RAM and up to 512GB HD. That means I can virtualize. My only sticking points are a lack of LTE and Thunderbolt. Oh, and the battery life is way better.

    I'm waiting on the new Acer Iconia, if it ever comes, and the Dell XPS 11. If they're no better, I'll get the Surface 2.

    • Aye, it looks great. Once it runs Linux I'll buy one.

      • by cbhacking (979169)

        "Once it runs Linux...?" Um, are you suggesting that you aren't competent to put a Linux install image onto a flashdrive and just install it yourself? It's an x86 PC. Slightly weird form-factor, but the driver requirements are probably much the same as they were for the original Surface Pro, which runs Linux quite nicely.

        Oh, there is one extra step: follow the well-documented and relatively simple process to disable secure boot. Then run the installer. Wow, that was hard!

      • by EdZ (755139)
        There's nothing stopping you from putting Linux on the x86 Surfaces. The ,a href="http://www.geek.com/microsoft/how-to-install-ubuntu-on-the-surface-pro-1539262/">first guide that turned up on googling 'Linux surface' had this to say on how to enable Linux on the Surface:

        swipe your Charm Bar in from the side and tap the Settings icon. You’ll need to tap the Change PC Settings at the bottom of the Settings sidebar. From the Settings panel under General you can choose to boot into Advanced Startup. Once your computer boots into the all blue menu with the large touch friendly icons, you’ll need to tap Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > UEFI Firmware Settings.

        This will reboot your Surface and take you to an all black screen with two options on it, Security Device Support and Secure Boot Control. Tap the space next to Secure Boot Control that is currently labeled [Enabled] and a menu will pop up prompting you to change it to [Disabled]. Once the menu reflects the correct setting you can tap Exit Setup and the Surface will reboot. You can also reach this menu if you hold down the Volume Up key on the Surface Pro while booting.

        Once Secure Boot is disabled, you will be able to install anything, regardless of whether or not it is signed. Disabling doesn’t have any other effect on your Surface Pro, and Windows 8 won’t behave any differently when you reboot the Surface.

        From there on, it;s a typical installation from USB.

  • Ah slashdot bias.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bravecanadian (638315) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @10:35AM (#44936219)

    I agree about the ARM version. And I know how great it is to bash Microsoft in absolutely every thread their name appears..

    However, the Surface Pro 2 looks very attractive. I am buying one.

    • by Sponge Bath (413667) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @10:53AM (#44936559)

      I know how great it is to bash Microsoft in absolutely every thread their name appears..

      The unfortunate state of /. is 90% of stories are click baiting fanboy fodder. It makes it a joyous occasion when an occasional technical article slips through.

      However, the Surface Pro 2 looks very attractive. I am buying one.

      I'm not buying one... yet. What most partisans fail to see is Microsoft has no choice. Tablets are the future for the majority of consumers. Microsoft can't compete using someone else's OS. Microsoft can't rely on hardware "partners" to follow through. Their only long term chance is to keep plugging away at the Surface Pro until hardware power, battery life and application availability hits a tipping point. They may still fail, but quitting now is certain failure.

    • It looks great. But I don't see how it's $750 better than a Hudl. Or $450 better than a Galaxy Tab 2 10.1. Actually I struggle to even name another tablet that costs more than half as much as a Surface Pro.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Screen size, resolution, storage capactiy, storage speed, processor speed, active digitizer, RAM, x86 architecture are all advantages the Surface Pro has over the tablets you mentioned. The hardware is much more powerful and capable than pretty much any Android and iOS tablet out there. You get what you pay for holds in this context.
    • Yeah, I'm still not sure what the strategy is with RT. The only advantage it has is better battery life than Surface Pro. It can't run legacy apps and it's not that much cheaper than an iPad and certainly not cheaper than an Android.
  • by gstoddart (321705) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @10:38AM (#44936271) Homepage

    The articles I'm seeing so far seem to boil down to "yeah, it's an improvement, but I still don't want one".

    Microsoft is so focused on Office and Outlook that they seem to forget that the huge consumer market for tablets isn't being driven by these features. When everything you do is geared to a corporate environment, people not using it in a corporate environment don't look at your product.

    It just often seems like Microsoft is doing it's usual "this is what the market wants", and not actually looking at what people do want.

    And, quite frankly, Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint slides, and connecting to a corporate Exchange server with Outlook .. that's not what the vast majority of people buying tablets use them for. It's like they're stuck in that "I'm a PC" mindset from those Apple commercials where the Mac is talking about having fun, and the PC is talking about making charts and saying those are fun.

    Tablets are (from what I can see) used as infotainment devices with the ability to send some emails and surf the web. But somehow Microsoft, as ever, is looking at the business use case -- and I am pretty sure that the business use case is a much smaller chunk of the market.

    So in terms of what is going to make people choose the Microsoft tablet over an Android tablet, it seems like a much smaller group is going to be looking for that.

    Whether this is a product Microsoft keeps losing money on until they get any meaningful market share (like they did with the XBox), or the product starts gaining traction ... I have no idea. But looking at what I use my tablet for, Microsoft seems to be missing the point.

    • by geek (5680) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @11:14AM (#44936965) Homepage

      Microsoft is so focused on Office and Outlook that they seem to forget that the huge consumer market for tablets isn't being driven by these features.

      They are focused on these because it's all they have left. The OS is largely irrelevant now thanks to cloud services. Enterprise solutions are being edged out by BYOD options. Microsofts enterprise software is in a state of flux (SCCM 2012 is a nightmare IMHO). The cost to use MS software (I say use and not own because they are increasingly moving towards a rental model) is prohibitive and free or cheaper options exist.

      Nevermind that MS just has a horrible reputation. No one wants to do business with them. It's like being bullied for 15 years through school by the same asshole and then that asshole wants to be friends after college and hang out.

  • Most VCs would pull the plug in a year or two. It refreshing to see some companies think long term.
  • by Jaysyn (203771) <jaysyn+slashdot@NoSPAm.gmail.com> on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @10:40AM (#44936305) Homepage Journal

    MS has been a copycat for decades. Now they are copying the KLF [wikipedia.org] .

  • Actually, as a tablet device, they aren't awful. When you judge them on an analogy basis, "Surface is to a Windows 7 laptop as an iPad is to a MacBook", they do what they're supposed to do.

    One big problem is nobody cares. Anybody with money who wanted a tablet or a smartphone already bought an iPad or an iPhone and got sucked into the Apple ecosystem. They now have built dependencies on Apple apps. Changing over completely is expensive, and gains you not enough extra to make it worthwhile. (For example

    • Another problem is that they're trying to be full-purpose computing devices. People accept the limitations of an iPad (compared to the MacBook) because they understand it's a limited system. Microsoft is trying to say "hey, look, it's not just a tablet but a whole computer", but the touch-oriented user interface sucks for non-touch-oriented applications.

      Yeah, the Surface 2 boggles the mind.

      They are offering users more features than most of them need, and then have the audacity to charge extra for those fea

  • MS has been doing this for decades. They use the "full court press" strategy against any potential future competitor. They get in the market and challenge them, throw a ton of cash at whatever will prevent the insurgents from creating a monopoly, and if they don't bury them, try to buy them. Hell, there have been times MS just issued a press release *talking* about creating a competitor product and that was enough to kill a project. The only shock is that MS isn't the gorilla with unlimited cash reserve

  • by mveloso (325617) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @10:50AM (#44936481)

    At some point the investment might pay off. There's always a market for something like this - the question is "how big."

    What might be more important is that MS gets experience building things like a tablet. Even if Surface never takes off, it might make a good basis for industrial control panels, etc.

  • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @10:50AM (#44936493)

    and canceling the project after the first generation would have been a stinging refutation of Ballmer's strategy

    Then what was the Kin? It was barely on the market for 60 days when it was killed. The only difference I can see was the Kin was horribly buggy and maybe it was a side project. Ballmer seems to think that the future is devices which MS has not been doing well considering a decade of Windows Tablets and the death of Windows Mobile.

  • by Morpeth (577066) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @10:55AM (#44936603)

    Though I'm used to the default MS bashing here -- I have to wonder have many people have actually USED a Surface (esp the Pro) for more than 5 min in a MS store or at a friend's house?

    Any issues I have with it are really Win8 GUI related, not device related. I have an iPad, and while yes it's cheaper, it's functionality is a joke compared to what I can do on the S-Pro. Since it's a full-fledged O/S, I can run all the development tools I want/need, and it's great for a contractor like myself who needs something with real functionality, performance and mobility. My wife, who is not particularly technical loves it, and prefers it over the iPad now -- she's impatient as h*ll, and the iPad is a lot slower, and while I know some people won't believe it -- it crashes a frickin' lot. Sure, they're pretty user-friendly crashes (browser just shuts down with ZERO explanation), but crashed nonetheless. And I think it's insane they STILL don't have a #@$! USB port on iPads, wtf?

    Now, I think the RT isn't as useful (personally, but I want more than a tablet for mail/surfing), but the Pro is great imo -- the iPad is now is basically just my daughter's toy.

    • by geek (5680) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @11:23AM (#44937169) Homepage

      Though I'm used to the default MS bashing here -- I have to wonder have many people have actually USED a Surface (esp the Pro) for more than 5 min in a MS store or at a friend's house?

      I have two sitting here in front of me. I had to build the win8 image to push out via SCCM for our enterprise. The Surface pro is fucking terrible. What's the point of it when you spend 99% of your time on the windows desktop instead of Metro?

      The entire device lacks focus. It doesn't solve a particular problem (although the multiuser aspect is nice on our domain).

      If the Surface disappeared today no one would care. I was actually hopeful as I'd like to see some competition in the market. The Surface however isn't it.

    • by thrift24 (683443) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @12:36PM (#44938317) Homepage
      The only thing the surface does better than it's competitors is run a full fledged operating system, but what is the point of this?

      You mentioned you can run development tools on it, but why would you want to do that? I couldn't imagine attempting to lean back on the couch with a tablet and write code on a touch screen, it would be awful. Of course you can slap on the crap keyboard and sit down at a desk almost like it's a real computer... but then why don't you use a real laptop/desktop. You could run office, but why? You could run full blown outlook, but why?

      You say you want more than a tablet for mail/surfing.... Are you writing multipage emails on a tablet? What kind of surfing requires a full fledged OS?

      Surface Pro is the answer to a problem that doesn't exist.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Before Surface I used to carry around a $900 ultrabook and a $500 iPad. After surface I carry around a single $900 device and it covers the functionality of both devices I used before for far less money, and at reduced size and weight. And the added pen functionality goes beyond anything the iPad was capable of. Do you refuse to recognize the utility of that?

        I couldn't imagine attempting to lean back on the couch with a tablet and write code on a touch screen, it would be awful.

        Of course this is an awful thought. Why would you even suggest this? No one here or anywhere has ever said Surface is good for programming on the tou

  • by joeaguy (884004) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @11:04AM (#44936785)

    The Surface 2 makes no sense, but the Surface 2 Pro, it could be the sleeper device of the year if Microsoft can market it correctly, and get some good software on it.

    I went to a local Microsoft store and they demoed the Surface Pro to me, and I thought, oh that's nice, but its kind of a too thick and heavy to be a great tablet, and too small and quirky to be a great laptop. Then the salesman brought out the pen. "What? This thing has a pressure sensitive pen? That is amazing! Why didn't I know that?".

    Imagine a tablet that can run Photoshop. Real Photoshop, not some express version. A tablet where I can do real work on serious projects using serious software as easily as I can just flip through web pages. A tablet where I can switch between touch, pen, keyboard, and mouse easily, using the mode that is best for me to get my work done. A tablet that is not just a device to consume content, but to create it.

    That 6x video streaming demo and DJ pad shows that Microsoft is starting to get it. The Surface Pro is a device for creative professionals, and those who want to be one. While Apple has always been for that crowd, they haven't been paying attention to their needs quite so well lately. You have to use esoteric things like Thunderbolt. There are no tablets, or touch screens, or pen screens, and its all rather expensive. Plus, the surface actually looks cool.

    So Apple, a high end company, became a device company and its been pulling them down to the lowest common denominator. Microsoft, which was the lowest common denominator, becomes a device company and its pushing them toward the high end. Its interesting how changes of fortune have reversed their roles.

    Anyhow, I'm a Linux guy so I probably won't be buying one, but I am glad someone other than Apple is finally paying serious attention to the market for creative professionals.

    • by Morpeth (577066) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @11:43AM (#44937489)

      I'd mod you up if I could, but I've commented here myself.

      I have a first gen Surface Pro, and I think it's terrific (for the reasons you've stated as well as my own). I have a feeling the requisite MS bashing is keeping people from actually looking at them objectively. It's funny really, Google and Apple are just as much 'evil empires' as MS, but they're 'cool' and MS isn't for whatever reason. /. always had a bit of an anti-MS slant, but the trolls have really run away with it here the last few years. Ah well.

  • by slashmydots (2189826) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @11:20AM (#44937097)
    I guess they don't realize that the move to mobile was as fragile as the "move" to netbooks, which of course collapsed. Using the internet on a tablet or phone is a gimmick and it dies very quickly when the user types a paragraph of text into a facebook text. That 5 minutes of frustration will drive anyone back to a real computer. However, MS themselves, anticipation this fake trend, made Windows 8 awful and caused vastly lower PC and laptop sales, thus causing people to jump to mobile and other OSes, and causing their fake reality to come true.

    Maybe they should all get together, create a fake reality where Windows 9 is the best product ever and everyone hops back on desktops and laptops and then accidentally make that one come true too.
  • by PopeRatzo (965947) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @12:42PM (#44938417) Homepage Journal

    Never mind that sales of the original Surface totaled a pitiful $853 million in its first few months of release

    Pitiful. $853 million.

    How much you think it cost, total, to develop the Surface? Maybe their income tax return shows a loss on the Surface (or not), but I'll bet they made a little bit of money on the deal overall. And the people who bought Surface Pro tablets tend to like them.

    Let's look at Microsoft's stock chart in the past year. Look at what happens since the Surface Pro started selling last November. $26 bucks to $33 on an average volume of about 40-50million shares:
    http://finance.yahoo.com/echarts?s=msft+Interactive#symbol=msft;range=1y;compare=;indicator=volume;charttype=area;crosshair=on;ohlcvalues=0;logscale=off;source=undefined [yahoo.com];

    OK, now let's look at Apple's stock chart for approximately the same period. $650 to $460 on an average volume of 10-20 million shares:
    http://finance.yahoo.com/echarts?s=msft+Interactive#symbol=msft;range=1y;compare=;indicator=volume;charttype=area;crosshair=on;ohlcvalues=0;logscale=off;source=undefined [yahoo.com];

    The day the Surface Pro was first available, would you have been better off investing $100,000 in MSFT or AAPL?

    Where's your Yahweh now, fanbois?

  • by Cro Magnon (467622) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @12:54PM (#44938603) Homepage Journal

    A lot of the problem is the price. The Surface RT could have been a decent low-end tablet, but NOT at iPad prices. The Pro sounds like a good machine, but way too expensive. If they'd priced RT to compete with the cheap Androids, and the Pro where they priced RT, they might have had some decent tablets.

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