In a post on the Surface blog, Microsoft has moved to assure businesses that the Surface line is here to stay. We've already heard that the Surface Pro 3 is a success -- although there are no figures to back up this claim -- but Microsoft's failure to launch a third generation RT-based version of the Surface, as well as the disappearance of the long-rumored Surface Mini, raised fears that the line of tablets may not be long for this world. Microsoft is keen to allay these concerns, pointing out not only that Surface is here to stay, but also that it is particularly suitable for businesses.
The post points out that the Surface Pro 3 is a device that's "great for getting things done". There's almost an air of desperation to the blog post in which Microsoft extols the virtue Surface and confirms its commitment to the brand. The selling point is still that the device is a laptop and tablet in one, and post author Brian Hall, General Manager for Surface, is quick to mention a number of big names who have adopted Surface Pro 3.
So… we now know that Windows 9 is by far the least successful version of Windows ever, grossing Microsoft a total of $0. But Microsoft is as keen as ever to look to the future, and it's pinning its hopes on the newly revealed Windows 10. At the unveiling in San Francisco we learned quite a lot about the upcoming version of the successor to Windows 8.1 (yep... it's going to sound weird for a long time), but there were also a lot of unanswered questions. It was interesting to see that the demonstration used build 9841 which we have already seen in leak, and in this regard there were few surprises. Between the release of Windows 10 Technical Preview Microsoft still has a lot of work to do, and a lot of people to convince to upgrade.
What do we not yet know? We don’t have a release date, at least nothing that has been pinned down. We know it will be some time in the second half of 2015 -- if everything goes to plan -- but that's quite a big Window. We also don’t know what costs, if any, might be associated with the operating system. It has been suggested that Microsoft would make Windows 10 available free of charge, but nothing official has been said on this front. We have no idea what sort of upgrade path may be available -- would this be Microsoft's opportunity to usher everyone away from Windows XP once and for all? Simply offer a free upgrade to an operating system that addresses the issues users have raised and the security problems associated with an ancient version of Windows should diminish.
When I was a kid, generic foods were a staple in our home. Rather than have Lucky Charms or Froot Loops, my mom would buy whatever knock-off brand that Pathmark or Waldbaums was selling. An easy way to know if you are getting off-brand cereal, is that it comes in a bag rather than a box. While not as tasty, it at least provided nutrients and calories. It's not like there were rocks or sawdust in the package.
Unfortunately, the Windows Store has been full of knock-off apps that equates to buying a product and getting an empty box. You see, devious "developers" have been filling the store with phony apps that resemble legitimate ones. This means people were spending their hard-earned money on deceptive garbage, and these low-life developers have been getting paid. Today, Microsoft says enough is enough and removes 1,500 of the offending apps. If you were deceived by one of them, you can even get a refund.
Ninth in a series. User experience is an ongoing series of surprises -- discovery of something unexpected and useful when positive and discovery of annoying glitches when negative. Both evoke emotional responses. The latter is devastating as little frustrations build to crescendo. That's the state I near with my "Microsoft All-In" experiment. Dissatisfaction grows.
I started this journey on July 1, after buying Surface Pro 3. The tablet-hybrid promised so much, and my overall experience with the hardware is excellent. I can't say the same about the operating system, web browser, or supporting services. Clunky is good word. Think old car that runs well on the highway but sometimes stutters and stalls at stoplights. The overall UX is nowhere as smooth as Chrome OS or OS X.
I understand that it's the dog days of summer, when news is light, readers vacation, and writers struggle to produce current content. So I'll forgive colleague Mihaita Bamburic, for his misguided attack against Surface Pro 3. He asserts that Microsoft markets the computer to the "wrong crowd". If that would be tech writers, he gets a nod. Otherwise, I shake my head and point a finger.
I've read this misguided diatribe before, from tech reviewers switching to the Microsoft PC from an Apple, but never expected it from him. As someone who has bought and paid for MacBook Air and Surface Pro 3, I say that Microsoft's marketing is spot on target. The problem isn't the potential consumer buyer but geek writers, particularly those already using Macs.
Microsoft’s Surface range of tablets has posted its worst single quarter loss since its launch leaving analysts to question whether the fledgling slate is still a viable option for the company.
Two separate sets of figures show that the Surface line of slates ended up posting negative gross margins for the final quarter of FY2014 and the experiment has ended up costing Microsoft $1.73 billion since it first launched.
It stopped short of actually naming the device, however Microsoft has admitted it was planning to add a second new Surface to its line-up.
Although leaks and rumors are usually best viewed with a heavy dose of skepticism, when they are as insistent as the talk regarding Surface Mini was, it’s safe to assume there’s at least some fire under all that smoke. We were fully expecting to see a seven inch version of the tech giant’s slate rolled out alongside Surface Pro 3, but there was no sign at all of it at the New York launch event two months ago. So what happened?
Microsoft is the master of product placement. Watch almost any American-made TV show and at some point it’s likely one of the characters will whip out their Windows Phone, fire up their Surface, or use Windows 8.x. No one in those shows ever seems to own an iPad or an Android phone, which is odd considering that in the real world, most people do.
I caught up with the latest episode of CBS show Under the Dome last night, and for a brief moment thought I was watching an advert for Surface, so prevalent was Microsoft’s slate. The problem was… [spoilers ahead]
My colleague Joe Wilcox is currently entrenched in an all-Microsoft lifestyle and I am enjoying reading about it. I too have been using Microsoft's products lately, including the wonderful Surface Pro 3 and Nokia Lumia Icon. The combination of that tablet and smartphone create quite the awesome experience.
One of my favorite things about Microsoft's desktop and mobile operating systems is Bing Apps. It keeps me in touch with things like news, weather and sports to name a few. While that is nothing unique, it is the overall fluid design that makes it a treat to use. Today, Microsoft announces that it is updating Bing Apps for Windows Phone, but there is a catch -- it is an 8.1 affair only.
Boneheaded. That’s the first word that comes to mind when I think about Microsoft abandoning its Surface branding in favor of Nokia Lumia.
You see, successful branding is a tricky business. Getting people to internalize your brand or product name as part of their everyday vocabulary is a herculean task. Coke did it. So did Xerox and Kleenex. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve gone to "Xerox" something, or asked the person next to me to pass me the box of "Kleenex".
Fourth in a series. Before adopting the Chromie lifestyle and declaring independence from Apple two summers ago, I primarily was a Mac user. I wrote most of the so-called anti-Apple stories (so some commentary say) on the company's laptops. Chromebook still warms my heart, but for the summer -- and likely longer -- we part ways. On June 20, I walked out of Microsoft Store San Diego with a free Surface Pro 3. But I am accidental thief; that story later.
In April, I wrote about "My two years with Chromebook", giving loads of praise. I might still use Chrome OS as my primary platform today, if not for sudden partial loss of vision -- non-diabetic macular edema in both eyes. The ailment compelled a reevaluation of my computing needs. I purchased a refurbished Surface RT preinstalled with Windows 8.1, because of the free Word, which will ease ebook publishing. I really enjoyed the user experience, much more than the Surface Pro reviewed in February 2013. Updated operating system is major reason. Also, Microsoft's ClearType improved my diminished reading ability.
Third in a series. In business perception is everything. Many companies succeed or fail not because their products are great but their brands are perceived to be that way. Apple is a remarkable perception manager. Consider iPhone 5s, which features and benefits fall far behind many competing devices. Rather than innovate, the fruit-logo launches an evocative marketing campaign -- "You're more powerful than you think" -- that makes the smartphone look better. Improved. The ads are compelling because they communicate: Your life will be better, you shall achieve your dreams, by buying iPhone 5s.
Meanwhile, competitors like Microsoft truly innovate and take the kind of risks that once defined Apple. Last year I asked: "Will 2013 be another year of Apple iteration masquerading as innovation?" Yes, and halfway into another year, little is changed. The answer is the same. Last month I explained "Why Apple no longer innovates". OS X Yosemite and iOS X 8 are prettier, but so what? Meanwhile, Windows 8/8.1 is a radical rethinking of the platform -- as is Surface, which delivers refreshing change to computing. What's that long-forgotten Yellow Pages tagline? Let your fingers do the walking. They do on Surface.
This is the week of the Surface Pro 3. Brian had already attended the launch event earlier in the month, and has provided an essential list of hardware and software purchasers need to grab for the best all round experience -- he even goes as far as suggesting that it's better than a MacBook Air. Even before launch there was an update available for the tablet-cum-laptop, and there was also news that the Intel Core i3 and i7 models would be shipping earlier than previously expected. But not all of the products we looked at this week were quite so "every day". There was the wifi doorbell complete with camera, and also the prospect of charging your phone wirelessly with your pants -- yes you did read that correctly.
The Windows Phone market is dominated by Nokia, but a new batch of handsets has been unveiled by Indian manufacturer Micromax. If Android is your mobile OS of choice, you may be thinking about venturing into the rooted world. This week a new tool was released that makes the process as quick and painless as possible, opening up a whole new breed of apps and options. Joe decided to take a walk on the wild side and adopt the Nokia Lumia Icon as his phone of choice. In the Android arena, a new contender entered -- the Amazon Fire Phone. Will a kill switch be added? Microsoft and Google have agreed to add it to their mobile operating systems.
As someone blessed with the opportunity to try the Surface Pro 3 early, I can say it is truly a game changer. It is very light, has great battery life and a big beautiful display. The tablet/laptop hybrid is far beyond offerings by competitors, including Apple. If you even consider buying a Macbook Air over this, you are arguably making a huge mistake.
With that said, the Surface Pro 3 will begin hitting stores this Friday, June 20th. While the computer is great out of the box, it is not complete until you install useful apps and programs. But wait, aren't apps and programs the same thing? Yes and no. They are both pieces of software, but apps run in the Modern UI, and programs run in the classic UI. While Windows RT variants of Surface cannot install extra programs, the Pro 3 can, since it has an x86_64 Haswell processor. Below is a list of my suggested programs, apps, games and hardware accessories.
First in a series. My preference is to write about tech that I use -- an attitude shared among BetaNews reporters. We like to get hands-on and write with authority, from experience. That's one reason I write so little about Microsoft now, not being immersed in the company's products. Lately, mine is the Google lifestyle.
But yesterday I started using the original Surface -- the one frequently maligned by critics for so-called limitations associated with Windows RT. This is my first experience with the tab, although I reviewed and frankly loved Surface Pro. Out-of-the-box impressions are great. This is a hugely satisfying tablet, and surely the experience is better with its successor. I was right to ask 5 days ago: "Why not Surface 2?"