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...

That means its main competitor is the iPad, which is cheaper and has a longer battery life. Yes, if we used the Surface Pro, we could do some clever things in terms of system design, as our whole infrastructure would be based on the same architecture. However, does that warrant the additional cost? probably not.

Microsoft has never really been a "cool" company. Yes, it is loved by legions of techies and has fabulous but perhaps captive adoption in businesses, but it is not "loved" by the average person on the street. Without an emotional connection the Surface family of products won't sell to consumers in the vast numbers that Microsoft desires.

[In terms of pricing], for us, it's a big thing. Suddenly it puts it into a price bracket we would consider. We're looking at providing devices for our staff to use at our events and we had completely discounted the RT because of it's price and relatively poor battery life in comparison with the iPad.

At this price point, we can live with the battery life. Because it's a windows 8 product, it means we will be able to easily program apps directly for it and will greatly improve the systems we can make available for our users. The price drop will, for us, make a big change to our decision making process.

Liam Quinn, IT director, Richmond Events

Microsoft's foray into the tablet market with their surface products is proving interesting. It's not been successful with them having to reduce the prices of the devices and take a $900 write down charge in their accounts.

The question is why aren't these devices successful? The answer I suspect isn't wholly technical or price related. It's image related. Microsoft has never really been a "cool" company. Yes, it is loved by legions of techies and has fabulous but perhaps captive adoption in businesses, but it is not "loved" by the average person on the street. Without an emotional connection the Surface family of products won't sell to consumers in the vast numbers that Microsoft desires.

Technically while the Surface isn't a bad product, it is by no means a great product. But really, it doesn't actually matter, it is competing against a king of products (iPad), built as a result of care about how people do things, superb design and engineering and let's not forget a wildly effective and efficient supply chain. Without that supply chain I suspect the iPad would cost considerably more than it does.

Thus the barrier to entry in this space is incredibly high and right now Microsoft isn't up to the job. To compete on even terms with Apple at the high end in this space you'd have to produce a product is significantly better than the iPad and you'd have to have brand loyalty from public consumers as opposed to business consumers. To compete against Android-based products at lower price points you'd have to have a nimble and light product and public consumer loyalty. Right now, Microsoft is not able to compete on these criteria.

Microsoft is selling an expensive technical product with features and functions but nobody really cares because it's been done already and most of all there is no "love" for this product in the consumer market space and there may never be any love for it.

Fundamentally, Microsoft builds products for business. However "business" products (hardware and software) are now being heavily driven by the influences of innovation in consumer markets. I can't help but wonder if Microsoft had placed the development of their tablet line under the guidance of the XBox team and brand would things have been different?

Philip Van Enis, IT director, Bidwells

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