The Microsoft Surface Tablet: Average Features In An Average Package That Doesn’t Even Come Close To Challenging Android Tablets

 

If you haven’t been living under a rock for the past few days, you’re probably well-aware of the upcoming Microsoft Surface tablet. Dubbed as one of the saviors for Microsoft’s rapidly degrading brand, the Surface tablet has already been identified as the true iPad and Android tablet challenger. With its thin profile and abundant storage space (comes in 32GB or 64GB configurations with an expandable storage slot), the Surface tablet will have at least the physical features to make it an interesting product. However, the hardware is just one aspect of the tablet— the real kicker is Microsoft’s brand-new OS: Surface for Windows RT technology. The OS will essentially mirror its upcoming Windows 8 OS, while having exclusive offerings like Microsoft Office 2013 and a special version of Netflix included with the tablet. So in essence, upcoming Surface tablet seems to be a true productivity workhorse— at least on the surface (no pun intended folks).

Now while the upcoming Surface tablet certainly looks to be an interesting and perhaps attractive product, Microsoft is treading into dangerous territory. As RIM and certainly HP can attest, Google’s Android platform has a clear stranglehold of the tablet market share—┬ásomething that both the Blackberry Playbook and HP’s TouchPad certainly couldn’t achieve during their brief lives. Consumers love seeing a new product, but expect reasonable value of what a product offers. The Surface tablet is going to debut at $499 for the 32GB entry-level model– which doesn’t even include the $130 Touch Cover keyboard/cover combo that’s necessary helpful for doing all that increased productivity like using Microsoft Office 2013, as Microsoft is hyping. As indicated by numerous studies, the number of iPad and Android tablets are growing at an astronomical pace. Oh and don’t forget– newer Android tablets are being released on a seemingly daily basis and the prices of the those tablets (and subsequent accessories) are becoming much more reasonable— if not lower overall. So considering Microsoft is certainly unproven, while Apple and more importantly— Android have a clear understanding of not just what consumers want, but what consumers actually need in a tablet— Microsoft doesn’t offer any compelling reason for why consumers should give their product a try. Microsoft’s Surface tablet is a painfully basic product that has a premium price won’t even put a dent in Android sales or overall market share.

 

 

The first thing consumers should ask is what is the Surface tablet exactly? More specifically— consumers are going to be left asking what exactly is this tablet is supposed to do for them. The answer is simple really— based off the ability to create or manage content on the go, it’s assumed Microsoft is really pushing its new technology to the business-centric types who can work on Word documents, spreadsheets or display those sexy charts during those Sales’ meetings or product demos. The new Surface for Windows RT technology is appealing because it’s supposed to be touch-centric (as in not needing any type of accessory to perform everyday tasks), so it would allow for users of the tablet to hypothetically create and manage content just by using the on-screen keys. The concept is great and all, but Microsoft realizes that there’s only so much on-screen keys can do, so Microsoft is also pushing its Touch Cover keyboard accessory. Microsoft has not been shy about highlighting the thinness of the accessory and abilities of the Touch Cover keyboard— especially when it comes to typing up documents or emails. Microsoft needs to appeal to those business-centric consumers and offer up a unique tablet experience which not only includes the ability to manage Office-type content on the go. On the other hand, Microsoft also needs to offer up a unique multimedia and social experience for users as well— which Microsoft does not even try to address in the new tablet.

 

 

Moving to the bigger issue is the baffling cost of the tablet and utter lack of value for the price. At $499, the 32GB entry-level model of the tablet is already steeply priced. With all due respect the Tegra-based processor, HD cameras and impressive 10.6-inch display as part of the tablet— there is nothing particularly noteworthy specs-wise of the tablet, especially as we’ve already seen the same (if not better) specs on Android tablets already. As of now, Surface for Windows RT is brings a newfound excitement to Microsoft’s brand, but it’s an unproven OS and users don’t know what they’re going to get– especially when it comes to actually using the touted Microsoft Office software. So essentially, users will be paying $499 just for a device bearing the Windows name and will have to deal with the scarce number and different types of apps available now. What’s even worse is in order for users to truly utilize or enjoy the main feature of the tablet (for now)— Microsoft Office 2013, they’ll need to shell out an additional $130 just to grab the optional Touch Cover keyboard. So just to reiterate— we need to make this point clear: the reality is that in order for customers to take advantage of the existing capabilities of the Surface tablet’s productivity features, users will actually need the “optional” $130 Touch Cover keyboard, as opposed to offering the ability to provide users with the ability to use an alternative keyboard that Android (and even iPad) tablets offer like Bluetooth keyboards or covers, both of which often costs under $50.

Like the Surface tablet’s intention, Android tablets makes the overall tablet experience better with the sheer number of the types of tablets and accessories available for them. But unlike Microsoft’s newly unveiled offering, Android manufacturers have fine-tuned the development into tablets from not just great productivity alternatives, but a complete PC replacement overall. As of now, Microsoft only offers a 10.6-inch version of the tablet, while Android tablets come in anywhere from 7-inches to a whopping 13-inches— offering much more flexibility with the types of accessories out in the marketplace. These tablets can be specialists in reading all types of content or allow users to work on various projects or items they choose. If you want a standalone tablet— Android tablets have you covered. If you want a tablet that allows you to transform it into a modest workstation via an inexpensive cover stand & Bluetooth-based keyboard— Android tablets have you covered. Hell, if you want your tablet to transform into a full-fledged notebook for all your productivity and portable needs— Android tablets has you covered.

Speaking of which— Android tablets offer up many more apps for not just productivity, but multimedia or social-centric apps as well. There are hundreds of thousands of apps available, which gives Android tablet users much more flexibility to do whatever it is they want on the go, while allowing users to create or modify content at an optimal level. Thanks to Google’s never-ending commitment to the growth of its Android platform with its manufacturing and developer partners, we see outstanding improvements to products like its own Google Docs Google Drive product and the imminent growth of Quick Office on tablets as well. Oh and don’t forget— Microsoft is has already made its intentions of bringing Microsoft Office to Android, so users will have yet another productivity utility to use from the masters of productivity effectiveness. Moreover, manufacturers like Samsung continue to reinvent the wheel by including its own spin on apps for its products like including unique and useful apps like Photoshop Touch, S Planner, Polaris Office and Twitter & Facebook integration into the TouchWiz software. Samsung is just one example— most, if not all of the other prominent Android manufacturers offer the same exclusives and features in their own respective tablets.

 

 

The scary thing about Android tablets is while the overall market share indicates Android tablets plays second fiddle to the iPad, those same Android tablets have positioned themselves as a solid number 2 among consumers— with no signs of letting up. And if you include offerings from Amazon & Barnes & Noble, the tablet market looks to be all but cornered by Apple & Google. You have to hand it to Microsoft for trying to bring a newfound excitement and rejuvenated interest among consumers, but Microsoft needs to bring a product that clearly highlights what sets it apart from its competition. Simply put: the Surface tablet is an overpriced device that’s confused about whether it’s meant for the average consumer or business professionals. Toss in the utter lack of app exclusives or support outside of Microsoft Office and you have yourself a lame duck product.

 

 

 

» See more articles by Roy Alugbue


  • IRIE4IPIEIR

    What Microsoft should do is try to make a portable Xbox 360, that would be nice.

  • http://twitter.com/MysteryMannnnn Mystery Man

    Was excited for the Surface until I saw the price. No wonder they didn’t release pricing at the announcement of it in June.

  • mick

    FUD

  • http://www.facebook.com/aldo.cauvisteinbach Aldo Cauvi Steinbach

    Wow another Android fanboy biased article from Talk Android…Oh wait! It’s an Android site LOL

  • brutusf

    Look, I love Android. But, Microsoft is doing it right. It will have Windows 8 across the 3 major screen types: PC, phone, tablet. Once people start using it on any of these 3 screen types, the other 2 will follow. This article was the most biased piece of junk I’ve read in a long time. I know it’s an Android site and I love Android, but trust me, this author will eat his words in 12-18 month’s time. It will only take that long for Microsoft to hit 10% in both phone and tablets. Then, they will really start chugging! Microsoft is positioning itself to reign supreme again! Apple is going down the toilet fast. With all the “hoopla” they’ve had for their iPhone and then iPad over the past 5 years, they’ve increased their share of the PC market by what, 5%? This whole iPhone and iPad excitement thing is walking right toward the cliff from a famous Apple ad from the 80′s and it’s about to get ugly! I do think Android will remain a dominant force, but I can see that Microsoft will regain the market share lead in 36 months (tops) on the 2 remaining screen types: phone and tablet. They already own the PC market and will never relinquish that title!

    • Taylor

      I agree completely. I’m a huge Android fan, but this was unjustly biased towards Android. The author states that Android has a “stranglehold” on the tablet market. As much as I wish that was true…it’s not even close to being so. Although I prefer the Android UI, I think it’s great that Microsoft is (finally) taking responsibility for its platform and it’s going to make for a better user experience.

    • GraveUypo

      as much as i agree with you about this article being a biased piece of shit and about Microsoft strategy being smart, they’re doing it wrong. windows 8 is going to be the biggest crap ever to hit PCs, and i’m willing to bet it’s going to fail harder than windows vista did. their “genius” idea of centralizing pc software around a “windows market” that takes a huge lump of the profits kills PC as an open platform, and people won’t just comply to that. most major developers are already looking for alternatives and i’m really hopeful that this crap they call windows 8 is going to put linux in the spotlight as a viable alternative for both developers and consumers. that’d be perfect, i would like nothing better than to switch to linux forever.

    • bellyofthebeast

      I see your point about Microsoft owning the PC market, but what really needs to be asked is, “how relevant is that anymore?” PC sales are declining for the first time in nearly 2 decades, and, as dominant as Microsoft is in that arena, it hasn’t helped their foray into the handheld industry. I guess my response to the domino effect you foresee is “why will a Windows tablet make me want another Windows device when my Windows PC doesn’t make me want a Windows phone?”

    • Shazzam

      Haha! You gotta be kidding, right? In 12 months this will be in the same catalog as RIM tablets..

  • rich_bown

    Couldn’t agree more, Microsoft had a golden opportunity to buy their way into the tablet market by taking some of the cost hit. Not interested in Windows Phone, surface or Windows 8 either. They all look like a typographers wet dream, but offer less than the competition. Do Microsoft realise how far they have fallen behind? Remember the mock funeral for ios and android their staff staged before windows phone was released? How’s that market share looking now, a year later? That’s right, “poor” would be the kindest word for it.

  • awesome man

    Totally horrible article the only good android tablet you can get is from Google that’s not laggy I have tried Samsung and Asus tablets their sluggish the only good one is the nexus 7 totally misleading article

  • kp

    U gotta be kidding me….. Who told you that you cannot use a mobile workstation with a surface or any other Windows RT tablet???? Please know what you are talking about before you rat about it to the whole world. Journalists like u are the ones that prevent rapid innovation in this industry.

    Atleast get ur hands on Windows RT before you start commenting

  • LOL

    Android is great, but even the Nexus 7 is a poor excuse for a tablet. It’s just phone software running on a 7-inch screen. Windows RT will BLOW ANDROID OUT OF THE WATER.

  • PKM

    It has to be over priced, they are fighting apple with their own weapon

  • bellyofthebeast

    I must admit this article is a bit one sided, to put it as mildly as possible. That being said, I really am worried for Microsoft, as I just don’t see any real point in buying into an additional ecosystem when I’ve already established myself in another one. The thing that I think needs to be realized is that the mobile landscape is changing, we have been living in an era of land grabbing, and at this point, the lines are beginning to settle. RIM, and MS had their shot, and unfortunately missed the boat. Even if a competitor managed to bring a great and innovative new product to market, gone are the days of meteoric rises to prominence like we have seen with Apple and Google. it is an incumbent’s fight now, and I just don’t know who will be able to challenge the titans of the market.

  • Ben Chiverton

    This is coming from someone who had an iPhone, saw the android light then got an S2, followed by a transformer prime. I then got a HTC one xl because the gnex was so dated by that point and figured I could mod it. Well time passed as did the warranty after modding… the transformers I/o issues came to surface and the htcs battery is defective… but the only thing that bugs me? One nexus per per year and if you don’t like it? No latest software for you. That’s why I’m selling my transformer. That’s why I ordered a surface , and will also get ms office for free (factor that into the price). And now I’m looking at the Samsung ativ s as no matter what device you get? 18 months direct support from Microsoft.

    I’ve converted many to android but… I’m loosing hope. . I