Surface is a dangerous move for Microsoft

During a recent press conference, Microsoft announced the release of their first tablet product, the Surface. The move comes more than two years after Apple’s release of the iPad. No official release date has been set, but the tablet hints that Microsoft doesn’t have much choice but to diversify themselves outside of their normal PC products.

Apple’s early success with the iPad yet again proved that Microsoft was going to have to reassess their product line, due to the trend-setting innovative power Apple has garnered in the consumer market. The news came as a surprise to many people, thanks to Microsoft’s ambiguous announcement of a press conference concerning a “major announcement.” Microsoft has been a lumbering giant in technology for years now, as shown by its stock growth in the past five years compared to Apple. The announcement of the Surface is a painful reminder that Microsoft is moving increasingly towards a post-PC environment.

More than three-fourths of Apple’s revenue for 2011 was post-PC devices; the products have bolstered Apple’s leverage over Microsoft. The iPad has over 200,000 apps and Apple has already branded itself as the bellwether of post-PC products; this makes it even tougher for Microsoft to make the Surface a hit product, especially because it’s reported that it could run up to $1,000.

Technological specs aside, the tablets were presented as a showcase for the new Windows 8 operating system. While Windows 8 has been highly anticipated, Microsoft is sending the message that someone should buy the tablet because of this feature as opposed to the actual product itself. From a marketing standpoint, the Surface is a new Microsoft product made with a newer Microsoft operating system. From a market standpoint, the Surface was only created to catch up with Microsoft’s late shift towards the mobile trend and uses a new operating system that was only created to cover the previous OS’s mistakes. Not a good look.

The tablet is making up for the lack of capitalization on a new concept. However, while it may not be a product that will scoop up a large percentage of market shares, it will whittle at Apple’s. One major advantage that Microsoft has over Apple’s iPad is Microsoft Office, which will reel in business and scholastic users.

Microsoft has been hit-or-miss with much of their product line when trying to expand their reach into various markets. Xbox, Microsoft’s gaming console, has been an international success while the Zune was a hideous attempt at rivaling the iPod. PC sales are the only aspect in computer technology that Microsoft continues to dominate.

The Surface, entirely a Microsoft product, is a low blow to Microsoft’s vendors who have been loyal to their operating systems and products even since the explosion of Apple technology, notably HP and Dell. If the Surface is Microsoft’s plan to make a shift towards diversifying their mobile products line, they are on the verge of burning bridges in the PC world and entering a volatile market where they have no real previous success at the same time.

Nick Bell is a senior media production student and may be reached at [email protected].


  • Lol. I’m sorry but this article, in comparison to plenty of other tech sites and blogs, really pales in what the Surface means for the industry. I’m quite sure everyone, including Microsoft, knows it’s risky. Microsoft’s CEO even said Windows 8 itself is going to be it’s riskiest yet.

    Surface does have unique attributes that won’t make it just an “iPad” a generic tablet competitor; it can essentially replace both a tablet AND a laptop. They keyboard with a built-in trackpad was highly promoted as not just a key innovation in case design, but also a way to give it a laptop function. In case you didn’t notice, you get a full desktop OS; not just a limited mobile OS.

    I’ve already heard chatter about people considering this as a tablet and/or laptop replacement when they might get a new device this fall. This would be super useful in class at UH b/c it contains both the mobility of a tablet and the power of a real laptop.

    Also, while it might strain OEM relationships, I’m quite sure Microsoft thought about that; they had alerted some OEMs beforehand. This is akin to the Google Nexus phone; it’s basically a model for what other OEMs should produce. OEMs have generally failed in bringing successful tablets against the iPad, especially with Microsoft’s OS. OEMs have tended to add junkware, cheap out on parts a lot, have lacked good design for ages, bad support, etc. Microsoft is teaching a lesson and wowing customers.

  • Also, the tone is really negative about Surface. The message seems to be conveying: Microsoft’s gonna fail. Microsoft can’t do things right.

    There’s a lot not known about it yet, so don’t start posting rumors about prices. The next iPad “could” be $1,000, but that’s not a fact. Also, Surface is not comparable to the iPad directly, when you’re lumping it as a “post-PC” product. Post-PC means not running a full heavy-duty operating system. Surface is essentially a PC since it can run Windows 8. Windows 8 does have a Start Screen experience that mimics the feel of a mobile device, but it’s still running on top of Windows 8.

    Microsoft can’t “diversify themselves outside of their normal PC products”, because they’ve never really had a real ‘PC product’. Peripherals, game systems, media players, and even a dumbphone, yes, but no PCs.

    Also, I like how you slant the article with opinions like “hideous attempt”. There’s no doubt the Zune failed, but it was mostly a marketing and logistics failure than anything. The product was essentially great (see reviews on Amazon and other sites); but it had limited launch in countries (USA only for a long time), almost no marketing (at least on TV, radio, where people actually go), and failure to get a foothold in many places. Calling it hideous is pretty crass. Many of it’s unique features were essentially incorporated into iPods at another point after Zune came out (ex: FM radio) or still hasn’t been (AMOLED screens). If anything, the Kin was the most ‘hideous’ though even that had pretty ingenious features for a smartphone but a totally wrong marketing and direction.

    This article doesn’t even go into the specs or the attributes that make it somewhat different. Pretty disappointing to read this.

  • Finally a real competition. It would be good to see how Apple will take this challenge. Do not underestimate Microsoft on technology front. Moreover, Microsoft is offering full OS. I think it is more than a tablet and less than a Laptop. Let’s see how things folds once it is launched.

Leave a Comment