Surface – XBox of Personal Computers

“If you can live with its tiny number of third-party apps, and somewhat disappointing battery life, it may give you the productivity some miss in other tablets.”

see Microsoft's Touch-Screen Tablet Is Designed for Work – WSJ.com.

That’s typical of comments on the new PC from M$. The hardware is great. Moore’s Law and Chinese labour make great hardware. However, the software is buggy, as usual, M$ having released before it is ready, and the lack of compatibility with third-party apps for M$’s OS make the Surface a soggy mess. Then there’s the price… $499 will cause most consumers to reflect, “Maybe I should buy two Android or GNU/Linux tablets and USB keyboards…”. Some say salespeople will like the portability, keyboard and M$’s office suite in the package but will they love 7h battery life? Most tablets will give longer life.

Does Surface actually look busier than this:

Once again, M$ with its tens of thousands of employees have been unable to compete with FLOSS, a cooperative project of the world to produce software that works. When will they learn? When will markets realize the emperor has no clothes?

About the price, M$ does not have to pay licensing fees so they should have cut the price ~$100 or more if they wanted to compete on price/performance. This is once again proof the dinosaur has not realized it is in the tar-pit. OEMs would be wise not to follow in the footsteps of the monster. It took M$ years before they made the Xbox successful. I doubt any OEM or retailer on tight margins will wait that long this time. Further, all the energy M$ has put into ARM will harm the loyal OEMs who have slaved away for free all these years supporting Wintel in the manner to which it has become accustomed.

Those who guffaw that M$ will not allow Surface to fail may forget a lot of objects bearing M$’s brand that have fizzled: Zune, various mice and keyboards (I occasionally found these in schools, one at a time, never in a set…), their first tablet (2000), etc. Even in software, M$ never had success without a monopoly granted by IBM and extended illegally.

With Android/Linux a consumer could have 600K applications from which to choose and with GNU/Linux there are tens of thousands in Debian’s repositories installable in seconds. Why give up that kind of flexibility to stay locked into M$’s treadmill running on ARM? By the time many applications are available for Surface, the whole world will likely have a */Linux tablet. The world has finished two laps on the track before M$ starts. They won’t catch the wave.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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8 Responses to Surface – XBox of Personal Computers

  1. Ray wrote, “Windows 7 did manage to get most businesses to switch from Windows XP.”

    That’s extremely variable. Some businesses are so locked in to XP/IE6 that they never intend to leave until the bitter end. In China, “7” has only a good nibble so far. That’s supposedly because M$ and the government of China disrupted the illegal-copies-trade so the universe of illegal copies is XP. Talk about unintended consequences… There are tons of XP CDs out there and they are digital. It’s also true that a lot of Chinese and Indian geeks can and do install GNU/Linux far and wide. Then there’s Dell and its retail stores pushing Ubuntu GNU/Linux… It all takes a bit of M$’s share.

  2. eug says:

    “The one thing to keep in mind, the only Windows tablets that run legacy software are the actual Windows 8 tablets, and they will be up around $1000. The Windows RT tablets which will be a lot cheaper will NOT run legacy apps, and only will run apps specifically written for Windows RT, of which there is a 2-4 thousand apps currently. Android on the other hand has 600,000 apps.”

    MS 8 You!
    🙂

  3. Ray says:

    On the other hand, Windows 7 did manage to get most businesses to switch from Windows XP.

  4. If Gartner is correct, it may well be that 90% of businesses might move to “7” which is almost as bad as “8” from my perspective. A few years ago, a good percentage of businesses using XP were looking at GNU/Linux. I think a good number of business seats will move from XP to GNU/Linux because it’s more familiar and with “8”, M$ has admitted that the eye-candy of “7” is ephemeral. We should know how that works in the coming year or two. The big sticking point is IE6. Some busineses will lock up XP somehow and continue to use it until the hardware is no longer available to run it. XP could be running in GNU/Linux virtual machines indefinitely.

  5. dougman says:

    When Microsoft’s paid astroturfers don’t like facts, they often attack the messenger.

    Staging events to make it appear that people want Windows? Nooooo…

    I find it amusing that they are staging contests to get people to stand in line!

    http://content.microsoftstore.com/store/surface-holiday/

    (Almost as bad as the Windows Release House Parties!)

    With all the kids using Windows 8 on youtube, you can see how dumbed down the GUI truly has become!

    Windows 8 is, frankly, more of a consumer platform than it is a business platform, so it’s not something that makes any sense from a business perspective at this juncture. There is really no additional business functionality that Windows 8 gives you.

    Many businesses are still running versions of Windows — including Windows XP — where support is being withdrawn, and updates are a costly process.

    Gartner even predicts, “We believe 90 percent of large organizations will not deploy Windows 8, and at its peak”, in short it will flop. Windows RT is going to crash and burn. People are going to buy it with the assumption that it will work with legacy software and hardware. It won’t, they’ll return it end of story. MS has really hit a wall in what they can do because they always try to please everyone with legacy compatibility. Now something like RT comes along which completely breaks everything and everyone will flood the forums with endless questions.

    The one thing to keep in mind, the only Windows tablets that run legacy software are the actual Windows 8 tablets, and they will be up around $1000. The Windows RT tablets which will be a lot cheaper will NOT run legacy apps, and only will run apps specifically written for Windows RT, of which there is a 2-4 thousand apps currently. Android on the other hand has 600,000 apps.

    Which would you prefer??

  6. kozmcrae says:

    The Microsoft troll wrote:

    “Unlike you pogson I can am not politically wed to any particular technology.”

    So what does that make you, the last word on unbiased opinion? With “ze_jerkface” as a nym and coming from a Linux haters Web site, you have lost all pretense of being unbiased.

    Why do you even pretend to be unbiased?

    Let me save you just a little bit of time and energy troll. Don’t even try that stupid “I am unbiased crap”, it doesn’t go down. You are what you what you post, not what you say you are and you post anti-FLOSS. To declare yourself pure and bereft of any personal impurities of bias towards one platform or another is to declare yourself a troll. It’s standard practice for trolls. Nice work troll.

  7. ze_jerkface wrote, “the xbox has been a success”.

    That’s a recent phenomenon (Xbox 360). It took years to break even. Only 24 million (Xbox) were sold over 4.5 years. At one point they were bursting into flames. I gave a lesson on that in one community as they all lived in brittle wooden shacks. PlayStation 2 sold 100 million in a similar time-frame.

    If M$ takes five years to make “8” successful on ARM the whole world will likely have an Android/Linux smart thingy tablet and phone and PC at the rate things are going.

  8. ze_jerkface says:

    You probably should have called it the Bob or Kin of computers since the xbox has been a success. For fiscal 2011 they made 1.3 billion in profit from the xbox which is impressive given the age of the console.

    http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/36011/Microsofts_Xbox_360_Division_Sees_132_Billion_Profit_For_Fiscal_Year_2011.php#.UIjV9MXoR0g

    Unlike you pogson I can am not politically wed to any particular technology. I think the whole Windows 8 plan is idiotic but I also think that Linux on the desktop would be even worse for consumers.

    Why are you still so focused on Microsoft? Have you ever heard of company called Apple? The tablet market is mostly an iPad market and here you are ranting about Microsoft’s lame duck tablet plan and how the united forces of foss will destroy it. You’re locked in some M$ galactic confederacy vs the FOSS rebels fantasy.

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