) Surface tablets are so right.
And so wrong.
As an avowed member of the
) army, I'm not supposed to say anything nice about the
competition, but in some ways, I have to admit that Microsoft is
way ahead of its time with its Surface line of tablets.
But will people care?
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Apple's introduction of the iPad tablet in 2010
completely disrupted the PC market,
and the subsequent onslaught of
) Android-powered models certainly didn't help.
The reason is simple: Tablets are great for anything that doesn't
require extensive typing or full desktop software.
For tasks like watching
) on the couch, interacting on
) and Twitter, and sending emails, for many people, a tablet gets
the job done just fine.
And in many ways, tablets are superior to more expensive laptops
due to advantages in start-up time, battery life, durability, and
Tablets: From Consumer to Enterprise
The iPhone helped Apple sneak into the enterprise market. In 2007,
I remember talking to many IT professionals who insisted that they
would never support the iPhone.
But then something interesting happened: C-level executives decided
they wanted to use their iPhones at work, yelled at the IT people,
, the invasion began.
The iPad followed along, and in October 2012, Apple CEO Tim Cook
said that almost every Fortune 500 company is testing or deploying
Again -- if you're not typing a great deal or using full software
applications, the iPad is the ideal portable computing device: It's
cheap, fast, tough, and has great battery life.
Now I suspect there is just as much, if not more testing than
deploying happening, but let's circle back to the recent iPhone 5S
The iPhone 5S' new 64-bit A7 processor shows huge advancements in
speed over both last year's iPhone 5 and competing smartphones. Teh
and others show that Apple's claims of desktop-like performance are
not just marketing foolery.
The PC Replacement -- With a Twist
Thirty-two bits, 64 bits, who cares? We don't need a lot of power
to share photos on Instagram and send text messages.
Nonetheless, the advancement in mobile-chip development will not
stop, and advanced chips will certainly be used in the next round
of iPads, which will make them even more suited to replace PCs.
The future is clear: The tablet will eat the desktop PC (just the
way it's eating the laptop). The tablet of the future will serve as
a 24/7 portable computing hub that simply mates with monitors and
keyboards as necessary. This isn't necessarily the function of some
major innovation; it's basic, obvious evolution.
Document and media storage is going into the cloud while mobile
devices are advancing at a rapid rate, and meanwhile, traditional
desktop computers are simply old, ugly, and inelegant.
Folders within folders within folders? Video cards?
Control+alt+delete? A big goofy tower that weighs 25 pounds?
Do we really need to be dealing with this nonsense in 2013 and
Come on Apple, introduce the iPad to the Mac Mini and let them make
Microsoft Sees It
Perhaps better than any other company, Microsoft sees this future
better than anyone, and that's why its Surface Pro 2 tablet runs
Windows 8.1, allowing users to operate most normal desktop
software. It really does cross a desktop PC with a tablet.
Microsoft is making two strategic errors.
First, it is keeping Windows RT running on the Surface 2 tablet,
the predecessor of which sold so poorly that it resulted in a
$900 million write-down
for the company. Windows RT is not compatible with the same
software as Windows 8.1, and furthermore, Microsoft customers must
choose between tablets that have very similar names but very
different capabilities, which is just plain annoying.
And secondly, the Surface Pro 2 is far too expensive, starting at
$899. There's an argument to be made that the Surface Pro 2 should
command a higher price because of it's basically a full computer.
However, companies are already adapting to the iPad, which is
cheaper with superior developer support. Plus, people are
incredibly familiar with them. That's a tough combination to
Apple must be cut off at the pass now, but the Surface Pro 2, while
ahead of its time in many ways, has an uphill battle ahead of it.
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