More from: Surface

Windows 8 Review

Redmond Channel Partner mag review of Windows 8.

My thoughts:

The real deal will be how the Microsoft Surface (tablet / desktop) — $900 — performs. This review was using a Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 rather than real Microsoft hardware. There is more to the paradigmatic shift than software. The big deal is having one device that a person carries in the field and plops into their dock when they get back to the office: one device to rule them all, one device to find them, one device to bring them all and with its OS bind them. The device will become “hobbit” forming.

Microsoft usually does a really nice job on their hardware. I highly prefer the Microsoft Trackball (that I can no longer buy — $19.95), and the Microsoft sound card. And my Windows Phone is great EXCEPT for the requirement that I allow it to put all my customers’ private contact information on Microsoft’s web site as a condition of having any contacts at all saved in my phone – that stinks big time — as does forcing me to use Zune to sync it and not letting me use it as a normal USB memory stick. They kinda missed the ballpark there, but the HARDWARE is really nice, just the management decisions are rather unfriendly. Which is likely where the “one OS to bind them” part comes in.

Windows 8 (desktop) runs all Windows 7 software. That is good. No one expects to play WoW on a tablet, but they do expect game-level performance on their PC.

Dual Use (Tablet, plus Desktop replacement) Like the dual Ubuntu/Android edition for multicore phones and tablets two years ago, the right direction.

Complete “Touch” capability is absolutely necessary, however the Leap Motion Controller may handle that need for the Surface when docked — without need to buy special high priced touch LED LCD screens. It might even be a better replacement for the mouse concept that we have used since 1990.

The likening of Windows 8 to AOL was not a wise choice in the editorial.

There may be several issues with the lack of a menu system, including the “dead ends” and locked in a “walled garden” that the editor refers to. In our experience, when we switched to the Unity Ubuntu interface, which also lacks a Start menu, our clients could not find lesser used apps. For the “search” functionality to be useful one needs to know the actual name of the app, and mostly our clients did not recall the name or were looking for new apps (example children’s games), and they only knew what they wanted to do, not precisely what it was named. Apps with high use are placed on a launcher or float as “squares” on the screen, but you cannot represent every possible app in the system that way or the clutter makes the device very hard to use. The hierarchy provided by the conventional menu structure solved that problem 20 years ago. Totally removing the option to have such a hierarchical structure to find things in will probably be problematic. Ubuntu had to deal with that mistake and so will Microsoft, eventually.

Locking customers in so that they can ONLY buy from the Microsoft Store is very unfavorable. We are about freedom, not indentured servitude. There will likely be several useful apps in the Microsoft Store, for a price, but much better coverage is provided through free market forces.

Lack of a text editor in tablet mode is unexpected.


Microsoft on target this time

Refer to

Microsoft is moving forward with it’s Surface series of tablets, which will change with the way businesses are already changing: in other words, I feel that Microsoft is getting back in touch with reality and adapting. However, most other manufacturers are refusing to change, which is likely to kill them. This is the same hubris that nearly killed Microsoft: “Our product is fine, those customers just don’t do what they are supposed to do.” Wrong. The customer may not always be right, but the customer IS ALWAYS the customer. The Market is ALWAYS right, and you ignore it at your own peril.

The customer  IS ALWAYS the customer. The market is ALWAYS right. Ignore it at your own peril.

Rumors about Microsoft Surface pricing are so high at $1,000 that there is much room for PC manufacturers to produce a very salable device that will SRP at $250 or $150 and maybe high end at $400. These are traditional prices. PCs traditionally sold at $1,200 for the latest and greatest, $800 for the commodity PCs, and $350 for obsolete inventory being purged. It is highly likely, if Microsoft wants to leave room for PC manufacturers to adapt and keep a piece of the market, that the awesome multi-core Surface tablet that doubles as a full PC replacement will be priced at $1,200. The next lower version with the cheaper chip set will likely be priced at $450 or $800. I am guessing, based upon the prices consumers / businesses have willingly paid for computer technology since 1981. Yeah, I’m that old. If the Microsoft Surface is built as well as my Microsoft Windows 7 Phone, it will have Gorilla glass, a visually and tactically excellent design, and spunky, quick, response to user input. It will compare aggressively with any Apple product and maybe capture significant iPad market share.

But it will not be mainstream commodity retail product: it will be high end product only those with the money can possibly hope to own.

I would love to equip my new mobile device teaching lab with Microsoft Surface, and have a resell agreement with Microsoft to sell their tabs after class to my students who wish they could own the tab they have just learned to love. There is no way my public charity,, can begin to hope they can possibly ever have Surface tablets: a dozen tablets at $1,200 each is unattainable for an all-volunteer Public Charity that brings in $200 – $400 a year max. This will be true of a lot of businesses which will be changing their technology away from dedicated PCs to flexible multi-use devices. Ubuntu Linux already has such a configuration available for use with Android tablets, and others will follow: there is lots of market share available at $250-$400, and multi-use devices brought to the market 3Q2012 will do well if they just work simply and reliably — Surface priced at $1,200 will be in a totally different class and won’t hurt the $400 market at all.

Microsoft Surface priced at $1,200 will be in a totally different class and won’t hurt the $400 market at all.

But PC makers are simply not adapting: they are spending their time crying that the customer is wrong instead of building their own multi-use mobile devices. That is a lethal mistake: the old single-use boat anchor heavy PC is passe: multi-use, flexible, mobile devices which can also dock and replace a full desktop PC are the future. Pay attention to which PC makers adapt and have a product for Black Friday this year, and which ones merely sit around and whine that the customers don’t really know what they are doing, because the customers do know what they are doing: they are spending their money as they see fit.


New Microsoft Tablet is also a PC

I was right! The new Microsoft “Surface” tablet is a PC and /or tablet. It also has a detachable cover that doubles as a keyboard and mouse. The price is to be set to be competitive with commodity tablets. That would be primary or secondary pricing at  $249 amd $149 respectively, with maybe a tertiary price point at $400. See this article from Mashable today.