5 Pros and Cons of Microsoft Surface Tablet

The Microsoft Surface and Surface Pro tablets seem to strike a nice balance between work and play. However, Microsoft will need more than a built-in keyboard to woo iPad users. Oh, and then there's the risk that the device is a slap in the face to Redmond's OEM partners.

By Jonathan Hassell
Wed, June 20, 2012

CIO — The tech world was surprised late Monday night by Microsoft's announcement that it's developing a tablet on its own. The Microsoft Surface and Microsoft Surface Pro are two very interesting devices, and they could represent a compelling offer for enterprises.

Here are some things for CIOs to think about, based on my view of Microsoft Surface and the overall proposition in general.

5 Good Things About Microsoft Surface

There are some clear wins here for users and corporations.

1. The built-in keyboard within the cover is a neat trick. Along with the Windows operating system, the keyboard makes this an attractive and differentiated platform from the iPad, especially for business users and the enterprises footing the bill for these devices. They're not passing out iTunes players, after all. They're expecting work to get done. A keyboard helps that, and assuming it works as well as it did during the press event, it could be a killer feature.

Eye on Microsoft Blog: Microsoft Surface Tablet a Bold Break with Tradition

Moreover, the presence of the keyboard evens out potential price disparities, since it removes the need to purchase an additional popular accessory for the iPad separately.

Microsoft Surface tablet
The Microsoft Surface tablet will come with a cover that includes a built-in keyboard and a built-in kickstand to users can prop it up.

I love my iPad, but making it useful for any sort of content creation outside minimally worded emails would require an external keyboard case, which can cost up to $150, on top of the price tag for an already expensive tablet. With Microsoft Surface, this is already taken care for you and your users.

2. Two Versions Are Not Too Many and Not Too Few. Basically, you have an either-or choice ahead. Clearly Microsoft Surface Pro is the tablet of choice for Windows geeks now; it will contain an Intel processor and thus eliminate the application compatibility problems that will plague the ARM-based Windows RT devices coming out. I think its also a safe assumption that the Windows 8 Pro version on the Surface Pro device will join a domain, participate in Group Policy, and do all the things we worried Windows RT-based devices wouldn't do. It's reasonable to expect this device to go for $850 to $1,000.

If you want a less expensive Surface device, the Windows RT-based model will probably be a few hundred dollars less expensive and, therefore, represent a lower-end entry point into the space.

3. Factor in the Capabilities and the Price Will Likely Be Reasonable. Microsoft will be forced to be competitive simply because it's playing from behind. Additionally, because Microsoft doesn't really need to pay itself a license fee to use Windows on its own hardware, it can spend that money on either better components or lowering the overall cost of the hardware itself. For a tablet and ultrabook all in one chassis, something less than $1,000 for Microsoft Surface Pro version is reasonable and probably low enough to stoke demand.

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