You can say that it would be the OS for Windows tablets. That it strikes the average tech user as something less cool then IOS, you would be right, because the OS isn’t the device that it lives on. Microsoft, in an attempt to be a strong player in the tablet market, has put the ‘red-light dress’ and some lipstick on its previous versions of windows and tried to jam it on top of a seat of bicycle-built-for two processors. It has all the byte (bite, for those about to fire off for a correction) of grandpa-sans -his-teeth into the steak of small portable computing. It’s supposed to dance and sing, but before you get all excited at the prospect of Microsoft’s ad campaign declaring the Surface to be your new must have at 100 dollars cheaper. Microsoft has a bit of problems with Apps, the people who develop apps, and the future of any Microsoft product it releases.
Our team went to several stores and asked them what is the primary device they used. Out of fifteen stores, only one shop keeper had a Microsoft device to use with Windows 8.1 on it, and, although he liked it very much for being able to sync to all his Microsoft devices, he wouldn’t recommend it to customers because of the overall lack of applications. Go to most any cell phone store chain and you can hear the words: “We can order you a Surface, but we don’t carry them here.”
Microsoft may be a bit late to the party showing up like the RC Cola in an Android and IOS world. Usually a bad sign for a brand is to be third. Microsoft seems undismayed by Google’s googleplex of bucks to drown the space of what it hopes to be its would-be future.
Not taking no for an answer, I visited the local Microsoft store in Salt Lake City, Utah. I had to have a double-take because of the similarity of the store to my local Apple store. Even the helpers that would be Geniuses in the brightly colored shirts and store layout said ‘generic wannabe’ to me. It’s as if someone at Microsoft said, ‘We have to get into this market, and we don’t have an original thought in our head. Let’s get the same guys that did the Apple Stores to design OUR stores.’ Then they had meetings about it, and there were risk assessments, and the creativity dried up like water on the Serengeti Plain.
“We can order you a Surface, but we don’t carry them here.”
What Microsoft didn’t notice, were the other predators already in place that had presorted positions like Android. Samsung has been busy gobbling up market share, holding 32.6% of the smart phone market, taking even more market share according to a recent Reuters article. Apple currently holds 57% percent of the market, and Microsoft holds a whopping 1% of the market. That’s a 700% growth for Microsoft, but the bad news is many developers (I being one of them) do not develop for Microsoft’s platform. However, it’s possible their market share might go up, just a tad, as Microsoft recently bought out Finnish-based mobile company Nokia for $7.17 billion, so you can still expect to see more Windows 8.1 based products, at least for a little while longer. We’ll have to wait and see if Microsoft ever learns from its past mistakes though, which for the moment seems unlikely.
It’s not scientific on my part, but go to a few meet-ups and ask around. Microsoft just isn’t pulling in people to make things for its OS. Some even refer to Windows 8.1 as “crippleware.“
New processors and enhanced abilities will allow developers to not worry so much and develop for Windows 8.1 directly, but Microsoft’s’ reputation of beta testing on its customer’s right or wrong really is hurting it in the real world. Not only that but Microsoft’s past is haunting them for lack of creativity as was noted in its break up with Bungie, the creator of Halo. Bungie had over one-billion dollars in sales in 2007, and as anyone knows the primary reason people bought an Xbox was just to play HALO. Go to any Cos Play convention and you will see a couple of guys walking around in Halo suits. Like Star Craft or Diablo for Blizzard, Halo is the identity for the Xbox.
One of the key selling points for the new Surface Pro ($799 – $1000), is that it is a full computer, has a nice keyboard you can buy for $100.00–that’s $99.95 retail to you and–me, and can do all sorts of cool stuff like run windows office. Yeah, you can show off your really cool spread sheet and work on it at the airport, but what Apps are you going to run on it? You have to admit it’s really still in Beta, and is Microsoft going to want to take a space where you can get lots of cool free Apps like Android, or are they going to try to be in a space were people pay a premium for the Apps like iOS? Or you could just spend the extra dollar ($1099) and get the best of both worlds from Asus’ Transformer AiO (All in One), which gives you a 64-bit Windows PC and an 18.4″ Android 4.1 Tegra-3 Tablet.
RIM has come out with its new device for Black Berry and they want to be the easier, simpler device to use.
All that said, the new surface is a good device to look at. It’s not the cool kid’s device. It won’t have people lining up to crash the gates like when a new Apple product comes out. It’s cool that it has an SD card port. It has two cameras; just like an iPad; it has a touch screen; just like an iPad. It can play music, just like an iPad; it can do almost everything and iPad can, and it can sync up to all your Windows devices, just like an iPad can with the cloud for all your Apple devices.
iOS is the Ferrari for tablet devices right now. They (Apple devices) are not born, but conceived in an immaculate way to its customers, whereas Microsoft just doesn’t hold the WOW factor for me. Even though the Surface made a recent appearance on Burn Notice, that won’t make me want to go out and get one, mostly because if I want a new tablet, I want something really cool, something that is so fantastic I don’t mind waiting outside in the rain to get it. Being cheaper in this market might be the best idea Microsoft had to market this new product, but, I want something that feels like a longer-term relationship than singing old ‘Police’ songs about Roxanne.