DT Debate: Is the Microsoft Surface too little too late or will it strike while the iron’s hot?

Microsoft surface tablet debate blue screen of deathThis week Microsoft introduced us to the Surface tablet, it’s big effort to take on the iPad. Reactions have been wildly varied, from skeptical to inspired. It’s taken Microsoft long enough to jump into the tablet fray, and that led us to ask writers Jeffrey Van Camp and Andrew counts to ask… 

dt debate question
 

Jeff

 

Jeffrey Van CampMicrosoft is definitely late… more than two years late, if anyone’s counting, but it was also early… about 10 years early, to the party as well. Microsoft needs Windows 8 to succeed and it needs a Windows tablet to exist that people get excited about. Currently, the iPad may be the only tablet a lot of people get excited about. Android hasn’t firmly established itself and newcomers like Barnes & Noble, RIM, and Amazon have been entering the market on a fairly regular basis. I think any device challenging the iPad has an uphill climb, but the tablet market is definitely still in flux and the Surface tablet appears to fill a productivity niche that isn’t being met by most devices.

As long as Microsoft nails this device, it will have a chance.

 

Andrew

 

andrew-coutsI agree — if Microsoft nails this device, it has a good chance at carving out a new sector of the tablet market, one that occupies both a productive and entertainment space. But that’s a big if. Aside from its moves with Xbox, Microsoft has become notorious for screwing up a good thing. And the fact that it unveiled the Surface tablets without revealing many of their important details — namely, price and battery life — shows that there is still plenty of room for Redmond to mess this one up. Do the Surface tablets have potential? Absolutely. Unfortunately for Microsoft, potential is nothing without strong execution — something this once-untouchable technology giant has failed to deliver time and again.

As for being too late, I think not. The iPad clearly has the market in the palm of its hand. But it at least feels as though people are ready for something new, something that isn’t an iPad, that isn’t Apple. Whether or not the Surface is that thing remains to be seen. The kickstand is nifty and seems useful for a variety of reasons. The keyboard is a great touch that I’m sure many other tablet manufacturers are kicking themselves for not creating first. But when customers are faced with the choice of whether to pick up an iPad, a new Ultrabook, or a Surface, I am not yet convinced they’ll choose the latter.

 

Jeff

 

Don’t forget the Zune, which was a great MP3 player, but failed to take off in almost an identical situation (against the iPod). Still, Microsoft surprised us with this tablet and it appears to have all of its ducks in a row. It’s aiming for a market for those who really want it all — something super skinny like the iPad, but able to become a productivity machine as well. Is there room for screwing this up? Absolutely, it is Microsoft, after all, but what is the real risk here? The Surface will have the backing of countless other Windows 8 devices as well. It won’t be the only thing out there. Really, all Microsoft has to do is drum up some interest in Windows 8 and get the ball rolling for its partners. The Surface Tablet is a good way to show partners how to make a good Windows 8 tablet, much like Google has done with the Nexus devices and will do with its own Nexus tablet soon.

 

Andrew

 

If Microsoft’s goal with the Surface is simply to help promote Windows 8, then it’s already a success. From what I’ve seen of that operating system so far, it’s a bit of a Frankenstein, and until I saw the Surface, I wasn’t sure what kind of device would mesh well with Windows 8. Clearly, something that blurs the line between laptop and tablet makes the most sense. And Microsoft has delivered that with Surface.

But if we’re to judge the Surface as a device itself — not just a promotional tool — its chance of percolating through the layers of established competition seem far less certain. As I said before, I like the device. And I think people are ready for something other than an iPad or a cheap Android knock-off. But Google could easily blow the Surface out of the water when it reveals its own Android tablet. And all Apple really needs to do is to make a spiffy clip-on keyboard to render the Surface’s trump card moot.

I want the Surface to succeed — I really do. But there are currently too many variables, many of which lay outside Microsoft’s control, for me to put any serious bet on it surviving more than a year or two on the market before eventually fading away.

 

Jeff

 

Hey, if it lasts two years, I’d call that a success! Hardly anything lasts two years anymore. Except the Xbox, of course. That has lasted forever. Let’s hope Microsoft has figured out how to replicate that success.

 

Andrew

 

Yes, let’s hope….

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not reflect the beliefs of Digital Trends.

Computing

A leaked image of Apple’s next Mac Pro offers details on dubious specs

A leaked image of Apple’s newest Mac Pro was released this week via Imgur. The image however, might not be as reliable as hoped, considering it contains a few dubious details and specs.
Home Theater

4K movies get downgraded to regular HD on iTunes — and no one knows why

Harry Potter, The Matrix, and a number of other films that normally stream at 4K resolutions on iTunes are currently playing in 1080p HD only, although there are ways around the glitch if you know where to look.
Computing

The best all-in-one PCs look good and have great performance in a compact package

An all-in-one PC are the perfect way to reduce desktop clutter and simplify your computing experience. Balancing performance, display quality, and value, these are the best all-in-one PCs.
Mobile

Don't listen to the guy at the mall. How to pick the best smartphone data plan

Sorting through carriers’ plans to find the best service for you and your family can be tough. We name the best family plan, individual plan, unlimited plan, and more in this battle between T-Mobile, Sprint, AT&T, and Verizon.
Deals

iPad Pro prices drop to record lows on Amazon and Best Buy

Best Buy recently offered some great deals on theiPad Pro Wi-Fi+Cellular models. Well, Amazon has matched and even beaten Best Buy's prices on several models, and sliced prices on Wi-Fi models, too.
Mobile

If your iPad screen is cracked or shattered, here's how to get it fixed

Your iPad is a delicate piece of equipment and even if you handle it carefully accidents can happen. We weigh the pros, cons, and costs of Apple extended warranties, third-party repairs, and even do-it-yourself solutions to guide you.
Apple

Beats Powerbeats Pro vs. Bose SoundSport Free: Which big buds are better?

Two of the world's biggest headphone manufacturers, Bose and Beats, have both taken aim at workout enthusiasts with their first true wireless in-ears. So who makes the better earbuds?
Apple

AirPods deal alert: Apple’s latest wireless earphones are at their lowest price

Apple just refreshed its AirPods, making an solid product even better. The newest AirPods make the case chargeable using Qi charging, always-on Siri, and better Bluetooth connectivity. While they're out of stock on Amazon, you can order now…
Mobile

These 100 best iPhone apps will turn your phone into a jack-of-all-trades

The iPhone is the most popular smartphone in the world, and we want to bring out the best in yours. Behold our comprehensive list of the best iPhone apps, from time-saving productivity tools to fun apps you won’t be able to put down.
Social Media

Be the master of your own Insta-verse with multiple Instagram accounts

Whether you own a small business or have separate Instagram accounts for your five cats, we'll walk you through the process of switching between your multiple accounts on your Apple or Android devices.
Mobile

Can Apple or Samsung steal the OnePlus 7 Pro's flagship killer title?

OnePlus has long been the go-to for flagship specs under a flagship price. But now Apple and Samsung have challengers in the arena, and they want the Flagship Killer crown for themselves. Who wins? We found out.
Deals

Turn your Apple tablet into a laptop with one of these iPad keyboard cases

A keyboard case serves to both protect your iPad and give you a set of laptop keys. You don’t have to shell out tons of cash for a good one, either; if you’re looking for a way to turn your iPad into a 2-in-1 laptop, check these deals…
Deals

Here’s one thing you need to do before giving your child a smartphone or tablet

Monitoring your kids' digital habits can be a challenge in today’s high-tech age, but great parental control software like Qustodio gives parents a much-needed advantage. Learn how you can protect your child from online dangers.
Mobile

The best bezel-less phones cut all the right corners without losing space

As the smartphone industry marches toward a bezel-less future, we compare the shrinking bezels on the latest and greatest devices. Find out which manufacturers have the smallest bezels on their smartphone as we compare them side by side.