It has now been a couple of weeks since Microsoft’s announcement of Surface, but with no obvious release date or pricing. At the time there seemed to be some surprise at the short notice launch of the product. It seems to me the that reason for this was Google’s impending announcement of the Nexus 7 tablet.
I have been in the market for a portable device with a large screen for some time now, as using a smart phone to browse the web and watch films does not really work for long periods of time.
I had waited to see what the WWDC would announce, and it was a little disappointing. Only the MacBook Pro retina version was really of any note. The iPad had a slight upgrade as did the MacBook Air.
Now the dust has settled, I’ve ordered the Nexus 7. It does what I need which is to browse the web, plays movies, and display books. And it has a modest high DPI screen.
What about Microsoft? It seems to me that they’ve learnt almost nothing from Apple or Google. They managed to keep the Surface secret, and apparently could have kept it secret for longer. Until when? Until they had stock available for people to buy. Which is precisely what Apple do, and what Google have done. There is a couple of weeks delay, and some limited availability, but you can still buy one now.
The Surface device looks very appealing: a tablet with a cover that happens to be a keyboard that adds little to the weight of the device, and in the Intel version it can be used as a proper desktop laptop. But they’ve lost my sale right now. I want something now, not in 9 months, and I’m not waiting. Once I have the Nexus 7, I’m unlikely to buy a new one until it breaks, or turns out to be rubbish. Pricing the Nexus 7 at sub £200 is a shrewd move.
For tech products, that’s a throwaway price. It’s mid-range mobile phone price, and how often do you update those? You now have to wonder at what price Microsoft are obliged to offer an ARM-based Surface tablet. The form factor may be different but the market sector is similar: budget tablets.
The Surface tablet might just save Windows 8 from itself, especially the Intel version. But on the desktop Windows 8 is a mess, I’m still going to predict a sales disaster. Outside of OEM channels, enterprises and existing PC users are unlikely to upgrade. Little or no upgrading, just like Windows XP (or indeed, Windows 2000).
If the Surface tablet were available today, despite Windows 8, I would probably have bought one, more expensive than the Nexus 7. But it isn’t. My money has gone to Mountain View instead.