In-depth

Leader Board Talking Point: Microsoft's Surface

Are the latest versions of Microsoft's Surface tablets enough to tempt business users? Our Leader Board members have their say...

I have had a Surface Pro for a couple of months now and despite the fact that I had to go through a mind bogglingly torturous procurement process, I'm more than pleased with the outcome. It's the only device to date that delivered all of my laptop features in a smaller and lighter form factor - so much so that it allowed me to hand back my Lenovo within two days of having set up my new tablet. Admittedly I exclusively use Windows 7 as I find the MS store and Metro half-baked and not well integrated.

Microsoft has failed thus far to truly emulate the tablet experience on the Windows platform. As such, I doubt a price reduction will significantly reverse the trend. They need to do more work developing the solution.

All that aside, I'm rather excited about the upgrades in the Pro 2. It addresses many of the issues I have with my current tablet including longer battery life, a backlit keyboard (glad they replaced the design genius who thought it was a good idea to make the Pro 1 keyboard from industrial carpeting), a two stage kickstand, a proper docking device and the fact that it ships with Windows 8.1.

The big wins for me are definitely the kickstand, which now allows you to work off your lap instead of a perfectly height-aligned desk, and the purpose-built docking station. USB docks are one of those things you can make-do with if you have to, but they are a long way off of providing a seamless, user friendly experience.

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I haven't really had major technical or functional issues with the first generation Pro. Indeed, its benefits far outweighed the niggles of the Beta version. The Pro 2 will go a long way to prove that Microsoft can actually make a device that is one of, if not the best business and consumer tablet on the market. I really hope that they have learnt from the sales and fulfilment debacle that was the original Surface Pro and unblock my account so I can buy the new device.

Josko Grljevic, IS director, thetrainline.com

Microsoft has failed thus far to truly emulate the tablet experience on the Windows platform. As such, I doubt a price reduction will significantly reverse the trend. They need to do more work developing the solution.

I do hope they crack it, since the combination of the productivity benefits of a native Microsoft platform combined with the tablet experience would be very attractive to our lawyers.

Nathan Hayes, IT director, Osborne Clarke

The Surface Pro 2 has a new operating system, same size and format with updated guts and the promise of a better battery life. I don't see it being major competitor to the existing Surface Pro early adopters, but it may be enough to convince corporate IT departments to put their faith into Windows 8 and the Microsoft tablet form factor. I see that Delta has just taken the plunge, so it will be interesting to see who else follows their lead.

The price looks attractive at the face level when compared to standard corporate IT offerings albeit without the longevity of a standard three-year warranty that the likes of Dell have touted to buyers as extra insurance. But for Microsoft to get the lion's share of the market, the price has to be worked on still further to compete in the iPad sector in my view.

The feedback from any of my cynical IT colleagues that have taken the time to get to grips with Windows 8 vagaries on the Surface Platform has been extremely positive. There is no doubt a learning curve but within a few days the response on "what's it like" moves from luke-warm to avid admiration and love for the device Microsoft may have something here!

Steve Harvey, director of middleware,Reed Elsevier

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