During the key shopping spree period of Black Friday, iPads sold like hotcakes, as usual. At the other end of the spectrum from Apple’s pet moneymaker is the contender from Microsoft—the Surface tablet. At one of the busiest times of the year where retailers get a good chunk of their revenue, Microsoft put up a big, fat stinker—and at its core is the Microsoft Surface.
Feels Like Trial and Error
Many of the comments from people who have ordered the Surface with Windows RT—including some who have subsequently chosen to return the device—complain about not having a fully functional product on their hands. It is not lost to them that Windows 8 is a big jump from Windows 7, given the revamped interface and touchscreen sensibilities.
That said, it would seem that Microsoft’s first foray into the post-iPad tablet landscape is merely trial and error for the software giant. Of course, one might even go to say that there’s really more trial and a lot more error involved. It’s a first device, so you can’t really expect a flawless design, but to come up with such an incomplete and sorely lacking product is another matter entirely. There’s just no justification for letting down the people who believe in you.
The Hype Machine
In the months leading up to the reveal of the Microsoft Surface tablet, there was really a lot of hype being generated for the device. It was going to change things, they said. Microsoft is on to something here, they said. Fast forward to today, and Surface just isn’t selling quite that bit. It’s not even generating much conversation because of the sheer lack of people who want some other product—mostly iPads, but there are still others who want their Nexus tablets, other Android offerings, and even other Windows 8/RT slates.
Hamstrung by its own Hybrid-ness
With the Surface, Microsoft tried to fully bridge the gap between the tablet PC and the laptop. It went beyond your run-of-the-mill combo of having a tablet and then just letting third-party companies make accessories like keyboard docks. It’s not actually the first attempt; Asus did admirably well with its Transformer line of Android slates.
However, what Microsoft sought to accomplish was to bring the desktop experience to a portable form factor that isn’t a full-fledged laptop. This is problematic in many ways. For starters, a desktop will always be a desktop, which is why there are still so many people and enterprises relying on it. Second, the functionality and resources aren’t there just yet—the tablet lacks 3G/4G connectivity for mobile web browsing and on-the-go VoIP services, it lacks a competitive app store as of this writing, and the OS takes up a huge chunk of the published internal memory space—to maximize the potential of what Microsoft is trying to do with this product.
Well, at the very least, Microsoft managed to get people talking about its new product. If the product ended up not catching on because of a mix of factors, so be it. However, it is important for the Redmond-based company to make sure that the successor to the Surface is more polished, more useful, and just amazing overall if it plans to become a serious player in the tablet market.
Enjoyed this article? Join 40,000+ subscribers to the ZME Science newsletter. Subscribe now!