1.26.2013

Making A Case for Surface Pro


The marketing push that Microsoft has garnered clearly suggests that the tech giant is fully geared up for mobile computing. Some say that Microsoft's strategic plans came too little too late, but I think it's perfect timing to see Office 365, Surface RT, Surface Pro, SkyDrive and Windows 8 all coming together at once.


Say what you will about Microsoft's products, the reality is that regardless of our personal biases towards Mac or Windows, the corporate world depends on a family of MS based systems. When I look at the needs of the employees under me, getting them the tools that will let them do their job is my primary need versus acquiring the chic product on the block. Starting next month we will see Surface Pro joining that clan and its importance will only grow.

So let's take a look at Surface Pro and why I think it supersedes Xoom, Nexus and iPads in corporate environments.

Not an iPad!

Almost on a daily basis we see a Surface review popping up comparing Surface Pro with iPad. The thing we need to understand is that Surface and iPad are two entirely different things and comparing them is like comparing apples to oranges.

Surface Pro's features, stylus, keyboard and design are the result of accumulative feedback that Microsoft gathered from its business customers and the massive mobile market. iPad, on the other hand, was designed with a different type of audience in mind.

There is no denying the fact that there are an estimated 130 million iPads that were bought by businesses, governments and educational institutions; but those sales were made possible because there was nothing else available that suited the corporate needs and the peer pressure to give into the fashion phenomenon of owning an iPad.

Apple's iPad is more closely related to Surface RT than Surface Pro. The iPad runs on the same architecture as the Surface RT, does not come with a keyboard, and they are similar in size and weight. The iPad has basic icons while Windows 8 has live icons and both use tapping and motions to navigate.

While iPad is a blown up iPhone, the Surface Pro on the other hand is a fully functional, fully scalable Windows 8 power machine. It can easily integrate into a Windows based corporate environment through active directory.

A look at the specifications

Weight2lbsVaporMg casing
Storage64GB / 128GB
Display1920x1080
RAM4GB
CameraTwo 720p HD LifeCamsfront and rear-facing with TrueColor and microphone
Wireless ConnectivityWi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n)
PortsFull-size USB 3.0
microSDXC card slot
headset jack
Mini DisplayPort
Cover port
PenPen input and penpen is included with the purchase
Cloud SkyDrive
Price$899 / $999
 

Should you buy a Surface?



There are plenty of reasons why one should or shouldn't buy a Surface Pro tablet. For me, a couple of things stood out - things that would either fall under my needs preference or would come in as an added benefit of buying a Surface. Here is my compiled list of notes about going Surface Pro:

  • Surface Pro is a full-featured computer that can run your regular programs you have installed on your PC.
  • You are not limited to applications that are designed for mobile devices only.
  • Connectivity to the corporate network is easy.
  • Surface has a USB port which can be used to add external devices such as hard drives, printers etc.
  • The mini HDMI port will allow you to connect to compatible projectors (meeting presentations), monitors and TV's.
  • The storage capacity can be grown further through a Micro SD card
  • Windows Mobile, Windows Cloud and Windows 8 systems will all play really well.
  • It comes with a pen which excludes the need for buying a separate Wacom tablet
  • This is a good tablet for companies running Windows network
  • My job could not be done on an iPad because the software and tools I use will not run on an iPad. 

Is Surface Pro Expensive?

Many will find the starting price of $899 a bit high but I believe it is not that bad if we look at what we are getting in return. The Surface is no more expensive than Ultrabooks and Macbook Air with very similar specs, but a more convenient form factor for people interested in the conveniences of using a tablet. I own a Macbook Air and I have seen plenty of things that Macbook Air cannot do that Surface will be able to. This is what drives me to purchase a Surface pro for my serious work.

Where Microsoft went wrong?

Despite having a good product, Microsoft failed miserably in its ability to market effectively. Surface RT's poor sale figures were a direct result of a poorly planned sales strategy on Microsoft's part.

The whole tech world including the blogosphere cheered when RT and Pro were introduced last June. People were pumped and they would have bought Surface tablets right then and there. But unfortunately by adding a large gap between the advertising event and the product availability date, Microsoft lost many of its potential buyers. The Pro version will have to tackle the same challenges as RT but eventually we should see a slow but steady growth in the market share.

Bottom Line

The point I have tried to make is that the Surface is for those professionals who want more than just a traditional tablet. I consider Xooms, Nexus and iPads traditional tablets because they are nothing more than blown up smart phones.

Surface Pro is ideal for people who need a serious compact mobile tool that can run almost anything without the limitations that normally come with a tablet. The Surface will continue to shine in this territory until either Apple or Google debuts its own laptop tablet hybrid.

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