Why Microsoft’s New Surface Tablet Will Have A Surprising Impact On The iPad [Opinion]

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Don't be fooled by Microsoft's claims just yet.
This is the first tablet Apple will need to be aware of.

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  • joewaylo

    They’d have to prove it before some would spend $1000 on the pro series. Game changer, business changer, using their WP8 and Win8 to replace the iPhone and iPad, do they have an iTunes beater with several million songs and videos, etc.

  • egoattack

    Microsoft Surface won’t threaten iPad. Surface only threaten Android.

  • CGJack

    “Since its debut back in 2009, the iPad has dominated the tablet market.”

    BACK IN 2009? CoM, what drugs are you on? Come on!

  • slayernfc

    I can’t wait to charge people for removing spyware /malware from their Surface.

  • jasnw

    I just gave my top-end iPad 2 to my wife for the reasons outlined in this article. I could not do what I needed my mobile system to do. I’ve gone to a MacBook Air (which I’m sure doesn’t break Apple’s heart), but I’d really like a usable tablet and I will take a look at the MS offering. And I NEVER thought I’d say something like that ever again.

  • kavok

    Ballmer has already said that the Surface is “just a design point”. I think this means Microsoft was just putting their OEM partners on notice about what MS wanted to see. This thing is going to be more vaporware.

  • nickistechtalk

    After reading your post, I think that though I’m an avid Mac user, it will be refreshing to have something that can [kind of] compete with the iPad. On the other hand, I remember when windows phones came out and people were so against them at first due to the non user friendly format and lack luster apps store (whatever it may be called now). I’m excited to get my hands on it and really put it to the test! Thanks for the info :)

  • Robert X

    Quite possible…competition is good.

  • Jeff Hurd

    I believe these Pro users trying to do “real” work will still find it difficult to do it on a Surface. Easier maybe than an iPad but it will lead to enough frustration that people will flock back to their laptop / desktop for “real” work.

    I do find it refreshing that Microsoft is trying to be at least somewhat different and cater to a slightly different audience than the iPad. Though I am afraid the execution will be lacking and people will stick to laptop PCs for mobile “work” and the iPad for mobile everything else.

  • mr_bee

    Nothing personal, but this whole article is nonsense. You argue amongst other things that it’s about the apps and that they should be specific to the device instead of just blown-up phone apps, but then you sing the praises of Metro which is just a blown up Windows phone screen anyway. You argue that the Surface “Pro” will have access to “all” windows apps, when it obviously won’t, which smacks of exaggeration and fanboy-ism. I think you are also waaaay overly optimistic about the speed in which apps will appear for the device in general.

    Finally, you also seem to position the Pro as some kind of wildly innovative tablet device when in fact it’s really a convertible netbook with detachable keyboard and screen just like dozens of other tablets that have already been tried and failed.

    Remember, by Microsoft’s own admission, the Surface pro will be in the $1,000 dollar range to the consumer and yet it won’t have anything near the specs of a MacBook Air or any of the other “ultra books.”

  • Kingsmuse

    I don`t know why I keep this site in my newsfeed.

    You begin comparing the Surface RT to the iPad and evolve into comparing Surface Pro with the iPad without noting the distinction in your text.

    The Surface Pro will retail for “around a $1000.00” while the iPad retails at $500.00 or even less if you get the second gen.

    The vast “Software Library” you`re crowing about won`t be available on any Surface tablet that can compete with the iPad in sales.

    Full disclosure:
    I`m an Apple user but not a Fanboy, I`m eagerly awaiting my Nexus 7 delivery as I type and am a happy Windows 7 user so I`d actually like to see the Surface succeed.

    I just wish the media outlets that cover this stuff knew what the hell they were talking about in the first place.

  • davester13

    Excellent way to confuse things.

    1. The entire article is ONLY valid for the Surface ‘Pro’. The WART version [just regular surface] has none of those benefits. You can’t side-load apps, run non-Metro apps, or get apps from anywhere but Microsofts store.

    2. The only apps that will work well on the Surface will be apps that don’t currently exist. Namely, Metro apps. It’s why the Surface Pro needs a keyboard and touchpad. Because all non-metro apps have UI elements that are simply too small to touch using just your hands, and they simply aren’t designed to be used in a touch-interface.

  • Jim Williams

    “You don’t need to jailbreak the Surface to run an application Microsoft doesn’t approve of.”

    Because of this, the MS Surface will be more prone to crash or lock up. The very reason that Apple products are so reliable is because not every Manny, Moe and Jack can get their buggy software approved to run on an IOS or OS X device. Sure, there is some buggy IOS/OS X software out there, but I can tell you this, my Mac/iPhone/iPad has yet to lock up on me, while my PC locks up or becomes unresponsive on a regular basis.

  • Kenton Presbrey

    Microsoft is controlling the Hardware and the Software? When have they done this in the past? Hmmm. Let me think. Oh yeah. They did it with the XBox which was one of the most poorly designed pieces of hardware ever, with a 40% failure rate. Thats a D Microsoft.

    How many of us have had or know someone who has experienced the wonderful 3 rings of death? Everyone I bet. It wasn’t until nearly 5 years later when they finally stuck vents all over it so it wouldn’t overheat.

    They couldn’t even get the Surface to work during the their Press Release. Watching that guy gasp for air on stage was brutal. I realize it was just a Beta but it wasn’t as if they were performing some intensive task, they were trying access the internet. If thats not a serious “red flag,” I don’t know what is. Why anyone would assume that Microsoft is going to suddenly change after almost 3 decades of producing complete garbage is beyond me.

    The only company that will be affected by the Surface will be the Android tablets. The iPad is a household name and will continue to be the Go-To tablet for both business and consumers for years to come.

    Microsoft is way to late in the Mobile game. People have picked their sides and have already delved deep within their ecosystems. Even if the Pro version of the Surface is loved by professionals, there simply isn’t enough of them out there to keep Microsoft afloat. As of now, its a consumer game.

    Furthermore, why would a professional choose to do their work on a tablet anyway? Thats like making a NetBook for professionals. There simply isn’t enough screen real-estate or processing power to do anything of great substance. If I walked into my job tomorrow and told my co-workers I was going to be using the Surface for Photoshop and Illustrator I’d probably be fired on the spot, or at least laughed out of the building.

  • Skywaytraffic

    At this point, this isn’t even a tablet. It’s a laptop with a touchscreen. Idk… I don’t see a PC operating system being able to work effectively on a tablet yet. If I want to use the computer… I’ll just go to to a computer.

  • GreatBoo

    I don’t know of I agree with this. The Pro Surface will likely compete with Ultrabooks, rather than the iPad, it will cost about the same. If you look at it as an Ultrabook alternative rather than a competitor to the iPad, the entire concept starts to look less appealing. For one, you can set a laptop/notebook/Ultrabook on your well – lap and type away, you won’t be able to do that with the Pro Surface, you’ll need a table for the kickstand to work, I can’t imagine the cover will support the weight.

    It has no benefits over a laptop etc, in fact it has drawbacks in that the ways and wheres you use it are hobbled by it’s form factor.

    Are these tablets really going to be powerful enough that ‘You can plug in a control pad and play games the way they were meant to be played’? And where is the benefit in playing such games on a device like the Pro Surface? You would probably be able to spend less money and get a real gaming machine with a bigger screen, better sound and faster processor – overall a better gaming experience.

    The Windows software catalogue has done very little to encourage buyers to part with their money on previous Windows tablets – for any software to be truly worthwhile it will have to be updated to take advantage of the Metro design. The software will need to be available to download, or it will be necessary to plug in a peripheral to get new stuff on it. Windows has no ecosystem currently – that I’m aware of – that matches, Amazon, Google or Apple’s offerings.

    I think surface with Windows RT will be about as successful as Samsung’s tablets and I personally think the Pro version will not be that great.

  • AliApple

    Having the same windows OS as that of the desktop means that it will also inherit it’s viruses problems, anyways, the desktop experience is very different from that of the Tablet, therefore it will feel very different and annoying on the Tablet…

  • tee1up

    If Microsoft allows you to add a mouse, external drive for storage and backups, a second monitor for non-Facebook related work then maybe….never mind.

  • dandymac

    While the competition is welcome, I hardly believe that it will come from MS. What will certainly rapidly follow the release of the Surface is Malware, Spyware, and Viruses. If you doubt that, just ask Android users.

    This is not a competitor to iPad as it is a different type of device (not to mention WAY more expensive). I am certain they will sell an ok number of these things. But I am even more certain that there will be many unhappy Surface users.

  • dandymac

    ps. Are there any fact checkers at COM? 2009?? really?

  • zviivz

    It’s not going to be an iPad killer if it cost twice as much.

  • yappykan

    I think the the confusion of the year came into play as to the rumored release year was in 2009. Perhaps? Regardless it doesn’t make the article less credible.

    Don’t “be a sheep” as some might put it when it comes being Apple-Centric. Be open minded when it comes to quality products from other MFR’s.

    The Surface might be a market disruptor if marketed effectively and priced accordingly.

    When people say the Surface at $1000.00 better be incredible,etc. The IPAD3(new iPad) is at $849.99 with 64GB and 3G. So at pricing the Surface at a $1000.00 with 128GB and 3G, etc is not too far off in regards to a great price point. It will also run USB 3.0, HDMI, Bluetooth, etc. Much more than the $849.00 iPad then you have to consider the value proposition the Surface brings to the table.

    I am looking forward to it. The keyboard is INNOVATIVE people it really is. It looks like something Apple would have thought about. The materials in the new Surface is amazing for MS to use and they studied Apple and even commented on how committed Apple was to ensure they use the latest materials to produce their products.

    The world needs a tablet like the Surface and Apple needs it to push their innovations. They have slacked lately.

    I look forward to this fall with the IPHONE 5, WP8 phones and Nokia’s “you gotta have it” phone lineup. Android needs to step up their game and the OEM’s needs to step up even more so. They can do better and should do better. You can’t compete with a lesser quality tablet in the same Apple price points. People will just buy Apple for the same price point and rightfully so. I did.

  • aUser

    I don’t like Windows but Surface looks great, that’s how I always imagined a tablet. I really want this to be an Apple product, I know that they wanted to slowly merge their iOS with OS X but Microsoft has already done it with this All-in-One. It was obvious from the beginning that the iPad will evolve over time and at the moment it’s only a temporary device. About that “toaster & fridge” combo device comparison I can only say that I don’t want to buy two separate devices (Mac & iPad) and jump between them because one is a fridge that’s great for cooling your drinks and the other is a fridge that’s great for storing your food.

  • markrlangston

    Where was this article copied from? There’s no way this was written directly by a CoM journalist. Way, way too much hyperbole based on no real data.

    No price, no benchmark tests, and most importantly no apps for the Metro interface. It goes without saying that Microsoft will encourage developers to stop developing for “traditional” Windows and concentrate on Metro apps. A shame Microsoft can’t lead by example by not making a fully-featured Metro-ized MS Office Suite. Instead you’re forced to use the Desktop mode that (for the RT version) is only good for MS Office and nothing else.

    Oh, a desktop I can only use for one program? That’s not confusing at all.

  • instinctive

    That’s all good, however, with the increased flexibility comes an increasing amount of problems: Viruses, Trojans, Spyware, Freezes, Crashes.

    It’s no coincidence that the only thing the Surface did at the introduction was: CRASH. :)

    It remains to be seen if people want to carry all the stuff they hate computers for in their pockets all the time.

  • instinctive

    I can’t wait to charge people for removing spyware /malware from their Surface.

    Muahaha, you beat me to it.

  • copperbum

    Remember, by Microsoft’s own admission, the Surface pro will be in the $1,000 dollar range to the consumer and yet it won’t have anything near the specs of a MacBook Air or any of the other “ultra books.”

    it’s a tablet. not an ultrabook.

  • chriscooke327

    Nothing personal, but this whole article is nonsense. You argue amongst other things that it’s about the apps and that they should be specific to the device instead of just blown-up phone apps, but then you sing the praises of Metro which is just a blown up Windows phone screen anyway. You argue that the Surface “Pro” will have access to “all” windows apps, when it obviously won’t, which smacks of exaggeration and fanboy-ism. I think you are also waaaay overly optimistic about the speed in which apps will appear for the device in general.

    Finally, you also seem to position the Pro as some kind of wildly innovative tablet device when in fact it’s really a convertible netbook with detachable keyboard and screen just like dozens of other tablets that have already been tried and failed.

    Remember, by Microsoft’s own admission, the Surface pro will be in the $1,000 dollar range to the consumer and yet it won’t have anything near the specs of a MacBook Air or any of the other “ultra books.”

    You are the one sounding like the fanboy here. I thought his piece is pretty much on point with reasons why the MS surface or any MS Tablet is going to be the first real competition to the iPad.

    1) The MS Surface PRO is running an Intel i5 Ivy Bridge, so it is running the desktop version of Win8. So Metro apps may not be available right away, but you have the classic OS versions.

    2) You call it a netbook simply because it has a detachable keyboard? Extremely nit picky and the whole point doesn’t really hold up or even make much sense.

    3) The Surface PRO is going to be $1000 dollars because it is running ultrabook specs. So it is on par with other ultrabooks on the market (including the Macbook Air) for core specs, however additional features may vary.

    The Windows RT version will be in the $500-600 range and be more comparable to iPad and could possibly suffer problems from things such as the app market.

    However since Windows still had a large grasp on the overall consumer market and enterprise market, a windows tablet could be a very attractive thing.

  • cris178

    I can’t wait to charge people for removing spyware /malware from their Surface.

    @slayernfc The surface actually has free anti virus all windows 8 machines do. It is called Windows Defender i believe.

  • Excalibear2

    How quickly people rush to make predictions on something we haven’t even seen yet. Beautiful? Pictures are not enough. Let people hold it in their hands to really compare. Good design? Maybe. Certainly not original. User experience? Unknown. Obviously there are some false premises here about the pro. The pro cannot run Windows because Windows is not a touch-based OS. It will run some other version of Windows yet to be tested and proven.
    And finally about the “ecosystem” We all know there are way more apps for Windows than for any other platform. We also know that millions upon millions of those apps are pure garbage. Good luck sorting through it all. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to wear protection!

    My prediction: IF (and that’s a big IF) these contraption scratches up anywhere near 5% of market share I will be very surprised.

  • 5imo

    You argue that the Surface “Pro” will have access to “all” windows apps, when it obviously won’t, which smacks of exaggeration and fanboy-ism. I think you are also waaaay overly optimistic about the speed in which apps will appear for the device in general.

    Its is a Windows 8 PC with intel so no need for Dev’s to do anything for the apps to get them to work.

  • egnat69

    @ mr_bee: no offense, but your comments on the article are just wrong…

    “yet it won’t have anything near the specs of a MacBook Air or any of the other “ultra books.””
    huh?! – core i5 cpu, 128gb ssd, usb 3.0, minidisplay-port, hardware-keyboard with trackpad … that is basically what ultrabooks and airs have – sorry, your comment is just WRONG

    “You argue that the Surface “Pro” will have access to “all” windows apps, when it obviously won’t.” – that part of your comment is based on what fact? – i don’t see any reason why a x86/64 pc with win8 shouldn’t be able to run windows apps that every other pc with win8 runs …

    you know that with either version of windows 8 you can decide to run metro or not, right? … and with win8 pro you will be able to run everything that is a 32 or 64 bit executable file, basically … you might encounter problems with 8 to 16 bit dos file – but there is an app for that – it’s called emulator and it will run in win 8

    to refer to the word “nonsense” in your post: you say, the surface pro is a convertible netbook with detachable keyboard… now that’s nonsense in it’s most obvious appearance … i’ve never seen a netbook rocking a core i5

  • Sajonara

    @Killian Bell: As you’re saying you can plugin everything to the surface like a gamepad and just play or a keyboard and so on, did you test that already? I don’t know yet how much freedom the surface will provide.

    But I know one thing for sure: There were many devices similar to the Surface from different manufacturers like ASUS or Acer which already offered touch screen and real windows. Like it was a Windows XP Mobile Edition. But that did not make them become gaming devices or office tigers or multimedia mobile stars in the past. There were of course reasons for this, because XP ME was not adapted to a matured extent and developers did not adapt their games to the touch/stylus controls either.

  • gkfahnbulleh

    Thank you for your very insightful and objective piece. Of the hundreds of Surface related postings very few, yours being one of them, have offered the objectivity.

    As difficult as it is for some people to accept, the table and the PC will not continue to remain two distinct products. Convergence is the natural progress of technology. Apple deserves much praise for showing the world HOW a tablet UI should work; however, many have taken this to mean “throw away everything else.” The contradiction is that Apple still makes and improves its PC products.

    As you correctly stated, there are currently about 4 million software applications written for Windows those will run on the Surface Pro.

    The notion that even iOS developers will shun Windows 8, is one formed in the minds of those who do not understand that developers run businesses: they are ALWAYS looking to expand their revenue base. The revenue base for Windows PC is about 1 billion computers. If only 10% of those convert to Windows8 in the next 24 months, we are looking at a market of 100 million. As successful as the iPad has been (I own 2) in 4 years 70 million units have been sold.

    Is there someone out there, running a software company, who can honestly say there is a business case against this?

  • gkfahnbulleh

    Furthermore, why would a professional choose to do their work on a tablet anyway? Thats like making a NetBook for professionals. There simply isn’t enough screen real-estate or processing power to do anything of great substance. If I walked into my job tomorrow and told my co-workers I was going to be using the Surface for Photoshop and Illustrator I’d probably be fired on the spot, or at least laughed out of the building.

    The Surface Pro has HDMI, USB. This means I can connect it to a 30in monitor. It means I can connect it to a Keyboard/Mouse, external storage. It runs an i5 processor. Netbooks run Atom processors. These are simply the facts; denial is not a river in Egypt.

  • PerfectoVirViri

    The concept of “All you desktop apps on a tablet” is a failure in itself. There’s no way in the world that what has been conceived to be used with a mouse and a 103 keys, including functions keys, will work. Going from the keyboard to the screen to do basic tasks will not help productivity. Expecting the desktop apps to use voice recognition as-is will fail flat. To succeed, at the end of the day, all the apps will have to be made specific, relearned, downsized (not only the UI but the algorithms/effects to support a light CPU), and users retrained. The whole thing is looking like an announced failure already. It’s like the people going around with their laptop screen open “because sometimes it does not wake up and I lose all the things open for the meeting.”

  • gkfahnbulleh

    The concept of “All you desktop apps on a tablet” is a failure in itself. There’s no way in the world that what has been conceived to be used with a mouse and a 103 keys, including functions keys, will work. Going from the keyboard to the screen to do basic tasks will not help productivity. Expecting the desktop apps to use voice recognition as-is will fail flat. To succeed, at the end of the day, all the apps will have to be made specific, relearned, downsized (not only the UI but the algorithms/effects to support a light CPU), and users retrained. The whole thing is looking like an announced failure already. It’s like the people going around with their laptop screen open “because sometimes it does not wake up and I lose all the things open for the meeting.”

    It seems as if you are constrained from accepting that it is a dual purpose device. It runs desktop applications in desktop mode and table applications on MetroUI. I am currently using a Dell Inspiron Duo to do just that. BTW, DragonDictate works perfectly with Microsoft Word on the desktop and it has for years.

  • RonCellarMaker

    To repeat something I have read about a thousand times now, the iPad is basically for consuming content, not producing it. My experience is that it is very difficult at best to manufacture real work from the iPad. Not a problem if you don’t care. But if the Surface does indeed succeed in making it easy to produce content, it will be a huge success, and I will buy one. If not, it won’t compete against the iPad, or even the better Android tablets. In that case, I would go to the Asus TF700. Great specs, ability to expand storage, direct usb and thumb drive connectivity, HD graphics, best keyboard available, etc., all stuff lacking in the iPad. So the iPad has the app store, and the TF700 has all these extras. If the Surface can’t make it easy to produce work, and all it does is attempt to be like these others, then Microsoft loses out to both these other tablets.

  • RonCellarMaker

    Sorry – didn’t mean to indicate that I thought that the iPad didn’t have excellent specs or graphics. But it definitely is lacking the other stuff. Bad choice of wording.