The New Microsoft Surface Tablet -the Potential to be Great!
by Ron Risman, Cameratown (June 19, 2012)
Microsoft yesterday held a very Apple-like press conference to introduce the new Microsoft Surface Tablet. This tablet will run Microsoft's upcoming Windows 8 software and will allow Microsoft to compete with Apple's iPad, currently the king of the tablet market.
While Microsoft has succeeded with the X-BOX and Kinect products, they have not done quite as well trying to brand their own PC products, however this time they seem to have a game plan that might actually pay off. In the fall, Microsoft will be introducing Windows 8, a new touch-aware operating system that will run on desktops, tablets, and phones. While I have not had the opportunity to download the public BETA, it seems to be quite a departure from the Windows of today. The new Windows 8 OS will allow users to run software written for Windows 8 on any of the platforms - from desktop to tablet to phone. Depending on the adoption of Windows 8, this could be a big advantage for the Microsoft tablet over the competition. Of course, there are close to 300,000 apps available for the iPad, but none of these apps were designed to run on the desktop.
Does this matter? The answer to this question will be one of the big factors of whether the Surface will be successful. Many of us are doing more and more with our mobile devices and less and less with our home computers. Checking email, surfing the web, and doing research is much more convenient on a tablet - leaving the desktop for running tasks that are better suited to a mouse & keyboard (spreadsheets, database entry, web / graphic design) or when processing power is needed (photo & video editing, CAD/CAM, etc.). If the consumer doesn't care about this ability, then this advantage won't matter.
The other issue is user experience. If the Microsoft Surface will allow us to run our desktop apps on the go, without bogging down and feeling sluggish, it just may become the leader in the tablet market over the next few years. The problem is that word "if." Tablets will never have the equivalent CPU that our desktops have - in the same year - which could lead to a user experience that just doesn't cut it. The speed that we're used to on our desktop, most likely won't translate to the tablet. This could ultimately lead to a negative user experience.
The iPad has been successful for many reasons, but the overall user experience is a HUGE factor. Apps written for the iPad aren't bogged down with features. They're simple, quick, and to the point. They don't run slow, they rarely crash, and they're very inexpensive.
Will apps written for a desktop OS like Windows 8 be priced at $0.99 - $4.99? Will be they be full scale desktop apps or apps designed to be tablet friendly? If they are designed to be tablet friendly, will that satisfy the desktop user? How will Microsoft handle the security and integrity of the tablet if anyone can write software for it?
Another part of the iPad's success in my opinion is we haven't had to worry about viruses, malware, spyware, or even pop-up messages as we surf the web or retrieve email. If Microsoft doesn't force a vetting process on the apps that are allowed to be installed on their tablets, the Windows 8 platform (tablets, phones, and desktops) will be ripe for virus attacks, malware, and spyware.
From a hardware standpoint the Microsoft Surface looks very exciting. A wide screen 10.6" 16:9 clear-type display, dual wi-fi antenna's & receivers for improved wi-fi reception, built-in stand, USB port, five-pin connector slot, magnetic keyboard covers, front & rear facing cameras, Microsoft Office, HDMI video output, ARM-based and Intel Core i5 Ivy Bridge processor options, options for 32GB, 64GB, or 128GB of storage.
I am personally routing for the Windows 8 powered Surface tablet. I love my iPad and iPhone, but it's time that this space got more competitive both from a price and feature standpoint. There are a lot of ways that Microsoft can screw this up and part of this could be the tie to the desktop, part of this could be how they allow apps to be installed and the vetting process, and part of this will be how well everything works.
IF Microsoft Surface can truly run desktop versions of Lightroom, Photoshop, and video editing apps, while providing instant-on, great battery life, and reliability I wouldn't be surprised if we saw the Android OS slowly disappear over the next few years.