Microsoft Surface available for pre order now

Microsoft has announced its pricing for its Surface tablets. 32GB comes at $500 & 64GB comes at $600 and if you want a black touch keyboard with it, add $100 more. The prices are very much comparable with top-level tablets in the market. What you get more is Standard USB socket & HD Video out, stylus, Office RT which comes bundled,

Most Critical Feature

What is critical for me is that the device is MULTI-USER. So my family can use it w/o messing up with my critical data. I find that as an issue when I hand over my iPad to my 5-year-old son. There are few games which allow in-app purchases as well and if things go wrong, you may end up paying for stuff you don’t want. Or the child may launch your mail application and accidentally delete your mails.

The keyboard is a nice & easy addition but I also type in Devnagari script a lot (Marathi & Hindi) for which I find on-screen keyboard very easy and intuitive. I am not sure if the Surface keyboard can display actual characters depending on the keyboard layout.

Model Comparison

Surface has two models to compare. Comparing the specs of RT and Pro versions and being a desktop user for so many years, Pro is definitely compelling as it has both desktop and touch mode. Also on hardware and screen resolution front, it is better. I am wondering how many people will embrace the RT when they have the Pro option. Eventually Pro will have a market if people are able to work seamlessly between their desktops and tablets. Microsoft has provided excellent integration with their services like skydrive, XBox and the newly launched XBox Music. In addition to this, Windows 8 works very well with other social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the Pro version will also will work with LOTUS NOTES. Can you imagine that 🙂 Just for this one reason, enterprises on Lotus Notes should replace all laptops with Surface Pro and help prevent injuries to shoulders of the senior management. They anyways have to shoulder a lot of other important responsibilities.

Apps & Developer Community

Windows RT is a completely different platform and one cannot expect the same applications that run on your Win 7 desktop to run on Windows RT. But developing apps on Windows RT is very easy and Microsoft has claimed that there will be 100K apps in store by the launch. Many of my colleagues have developed apps for Windows RT and have submitted to Windows Store for review. Few apps have already got published in the store and if we look at the availability of the tools for free (Express Editions) and the cost of Windows 8 OS being extremely low (Online upgrade for as little as 40 USD which is ~2100 INR) the developers should jump on the opportunity compared to buying a Mac to develop iOS apps.

So the pricing is right for the features and hardware you get and the capabilities are better than competition. Looks like the market will take it positively. Time to say bye-bye to my iPad 2. My next device is going to be either Surface RT or mostly Surface Pro. Hopefully the price will be right on that too.

Why you should buy Surface over iPad

While discussing this with one of my colleague, he asked if both iPad and Surface are priced same why would one buy Surface instead of a proven iPad. To this my thoughts were as follows:
Office itself would be a good reason to go for it apart from the stupid connector of iPhone and future iPad. Microsoft has played well by going for industry standard connectors. Today the data is in cloud. The only challenge that would prevent people from moving is the music & books they have bought on iPad. But third parties are providing you options to move from one format to another if you are a subscriber (Kindle for example). And I am sure there will be services (Even apps from Apple) which will connect to iCloud and provide you same music/ books on Surface or may be iTunes already does that. Data is the king. Devices are not.

Open Standards & Life of a device

In addition to this I think the USB port is going to be a killer feature once people understand that it is making the system open and they can move THEIR data from one device to another. Apple will eventually lose because it is too closed a system. They won initially because of the quality as a differentiator. Going forward that is not going to be the case. They are already on a catch up game. Who understands the achievements in CPU design and cares if Apple did it or NVidia or Asus? And again, even if Microsoft doesn’t sale enough Surface devices, the aggregate total of Windows 8 devices will still surpass iPad in no time. Life of any iPad/iPhone device for that matter any consumer device is not beyond 3-4 years. How long did it take people to move from Sony or Nintendo to XBox?

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