Microsoft have announced that much awaited Surface Pro will arrive in Australia before the end of May. The initial stock of Surface Pro is expected to be available with big retailers only.
What we experienced at the Microsoft Campus and in the stores in our visit to Redmond in February was incredible demand for the 128Gb version of the Surface Pro.
One of the key reasons that I think the Surface Pro is so desirable is its design. The Surface Pro simply looks better than any current Windows tablet.
The Surface Pro invites you to touch it, and the screen is of the quality that you’d expect on a high end device. It is a beautiful crisp, wide viewing display with incredibly sharp Full HD resolution (1920×1080 pixels) that responds precisely to the touch. Up to 10 touches at once in fact!
But what sets the Surface Pro apart from consumer tablets is its ability to instantly be your laptop. The on screen keyboard and handwriting input in Windows 8 are heads and shoulders above the rest but sooner or later you need to knock out an essay like this one and touch is simply not going to cut it.
With the Surface Pro, you just kick the stand back, flip out the Touch or the Type cover and off you go. Both the touch and type cover keyboards are amazing to type on.
I initially thought that the touch cover would be unusable and I set about proving how bad it would be to type with. How wrong I proved to be! Although I prefer the feel of travelling keys, my output on the touch cover was easily on par with my regular keyboard. It was actually quite unbelievable.
You would be perfectly comfortable and seriously productive with the surface pro on your next interstate flight thanks to the Surface Pro’s portable and expandable design.
The Surface Pro also includes a Wacom Active Digitizer Pen which puts it on par with many of the Wacom tablets that we’ve been using for the last 10 years. After all this time, it’s still the best pen system out there and its inclusion on the Surface Pro shows that Microsoft would not compromise when it comes to user interface.
The 3rd generation Intel Core i5 in the Surface Pro is basically the same one that you’ll find in many of the current crop of Windows 8 Tablets – Fujitsu Stylistic Q702, Samsung ATIV Smart PC Pro 700T, Panasonic ToughPad G1, Motion Computing F5t and J3600. The i5 processor is essential for any tablet that proposes to replace your laptop. 4Gb of RAM and 128Gb drives are about middle of the road for Windows 8 Tablets but they offer performance light years ahead of any of the consumer tablets on the market.
Basically the Surface Pro is like a body builder in skinny jeans. It’s bursting at the seams with power. As it needs to be if it is going to help you to ditch the laptop!
The presence of the Microsoft brand name on the Surface Pro also carries a lot of weight in “techy” circles. And this in itself will ensure that the Surface Pro is a strong seller in corporate circles with a strong push from many IT departments.
Whilst we are looking to bring the Surface Pro to market for Australian businesses, there are a few things for companies to think about before rushing out on the Surface Pro.
Retail sales channel – Microsoft currently does not cater for the business market with the Surface tablets. It’s heavily focused on retail. But who is going to go to the local washing machine and furniture store to order 100 Surface Pros?
Device support and service - What will device support be like? The beautiful design of the Surface is unfortunately a complete compromise on serviceability. These devices are not designed to be repaired and service will likely involve a simple swap. That’s not usually as easy as it sounds and involves a major time and sometimes data loss.
Additionally Microsoft does not have an established support channel of the kind that is expected from hardware partners for corporate deployments.
Our experience so far is clear. The Microsoft name does not make the Surface Pro immune from hardware and software issues. What is important though is backup service and it’s really not clear how good this will be with Surface yet.
Lack of connectivity – The lack of inbuilt 3G connectivity on the Surface Pro is a big issue.
Desk bound IT folks often dismiss this as no big deal, but once you leave the desk for more than the odd meeting you’ll realise how fiddly and problematic tethering to your phone for 3G connectivity is. Anyone who spends a lot of time on the road will save themselves many wrinkles and blood pressure points by eliminating this complication.
But the beauty of the Microsoft Windows 8 Tablet ecosystem is that there is not just one tablet to cure all ills. There are hundreds of options and the Surface Pro is just one of them.
For many people there are better Windows 8 Tablet PC options than the Surface Pro. Here is a list of tablets to consider before the Surface Pro broken down by workflow:
What we see everyday though is that the pull of a brand name can outweigh logic and reason. Names like Samsung, Apple and now Microsoft give devices like the Surface Pro an irrational desirability.
As a Microsoft MVP I can certainly feel the pull of the brand name. Having a Surface Pro when you go into a meeting is bound to make you feel like a contender when compared to those pawing at a twitter feed (or disgruntled bird) on their big and small fruity tablets.
A colleague sent me an ARN article announcing the supposed failure of Windows RT today. The article points to price reductions on some of the less compelling Windows RT and Windows 8 tablets as speculative evidence of this failure.
Having recently returned from the MVP summit in Redmond, I believe that Windows RT has not failed from Microsoft’s perspective.
Windows on ARM is a long term play for Microsoft. Microsoft don’t need the money… They need the minds.
Windows can ARM too!
The positioning of Windows RT has always been “us too.”
That is, Microsoft OEMs can build small, low cost, light weight tablets that run simple touch apps too. If you need that type of device – and millions do – then you can stay with Windows. Keep developing your apps in visual studio and just publish out to a cheap Windows tablet that ticks the boxes.
Windows RT is a play to keep developers and corporates on board with Windows, and that simply won’t happen overnight.
There are 3 problems that are currently thwarting the Windows RT strategy:
Apps – For Windows RT to be successful long term, the app store needs to fill up and developers need to get on board because Windows RT is entirely reliant on apps where Windows 8 is not.
Size –The app based Windows RT would work well on smaller 7” tablets where Windows 8 would not fit period.
Cost – Smaller tablets would also be cheaper and Windows RT devices need to be significantly cheaper than the competition to work without the wide selection of apps found on iOS and Android.
Those three things are bound to change, and Microsoft is generally no Hewlett Packard when it comes to sticking with new things that take time. XBox comes to mind as a success that took a long time and Zune as a failure that stuck around long enough to give it a chance.
Windows 8 tablets are compelling
In the meantime high end Windows 8 tablets are too hot to hold since they offer a far more compelling proposition. In fact, many of the customers that I served at the Microsoft Store in Bellevue last month were upgrading from the Surface RT to the newly released Surface Pro.
For the time being at least the problems listed above mean that Windows 8 tablets will outpace Windows RT tablet sales. There’s no shortage of apps for Windows 8 thanks to the built in Windows desktop support.
Additionally current sales of Windows 8 tablets are to early adopters, not to wider project deployments.
Current buyers of Windows 8 tablets generally want the best that technology can offer. High end models well and truly outsell low end as evidenced by the continuing shortage of 128Gb Surface Pros. And business customers can easily justify the higher price for an all in one tablet.
Earlier this year one of Australia’s largest power services companies SP Ausnet chose Tablet PC Pty Ltd to assist in the selection and deployment of rugged tablet PCs for the companies 1000 strong technical field force.
Tablet PC have helped thousands of companies – from Australia’s largest such as Rio Tinto, Newcrest Mining and SP Ausnet down to small innovative regional businesses like Renee Kelly Occupational Therapy in Mildura, Victoria – to find the best tablet PC solution for their business and then to back it up with essential training and exceptional support.
Contact us to find out how we can help your business to eliminate rework and speed up your field data collection.
Here at TabletPC.com.au we have special interest in the Motion Computing J3500 and F5v, two of the best rugged Tablet PCs currently on the market. Motion Computing have always pushed the boundaries of mobile technology and we are constantly impressed with their well thought out products that improve the lives of mobile workers.
Over the last two years we have seen Motion Computing bring in some major innovations such as:
Switching to Intel Core 2 Duo and now Intel Core i7 processors ensuring that mobile workers aren’t stuck with second best (i.e. slow!) technology
Introducing Corning Gorilla Glass eliminating the weakest point of Tablet PCs rugged and non-rugged alike – the screen
Bringing to market the Hydis AFFS+ display – in our opinion the best indoor outdoor display technology currently available
Introducing Windows 7 on all of its products at the launch on October 22 2009 enabling the advantages of the Windows 7 platform to reach customers
Continuing to embrace and improve mobile broadband technology to make working remotely like being in the office.
Adding touch to the range with the introduction of the Motion Computing J3500 making it the only Intel Core i7 slate Tablet PC with both touch and pen on the market.
Resource management is especially important on Tablet PCs where performance is balanced against weight and battery life. Many Tablet PC and UMPC users are left with a particularly poor experience when it comes to anti-virus software.
Over time Anti-Virus software has generally become bloated with features like link and search scanning, email filtering and anti-spam. Ultimately your Tablet PC can be come so weighted down performing all of these security functions that it runs like a snail…
Finally there is a decent solution direct from Microsoft called Microsoft Security Essentials. It is a simple, free anti-virus client that just does anti-virus. We have found that it adds very little overhead to your Tablet PC so everything runs much faster.
If you need features like anti-spam and email scanning we recommend that use a hosted service like MailGuard. With a service like MailGuard, the filtering of spam and viruses is done before it gets to your server or Tablet PC. It is much more reliable and it has many other benefits like increased security. That means that your Tablet PC is not bogged down performing those tasks.
Tablet PC Australia offer the full range of
business grade Tablet PC hardware and software solutions.
Our specialist knowledge will help you to choose the best Tablet PC for your specific needs, so call us on 03 9999 1601 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.