5 Reasons Why the Microsoft Surface is coming to a Microsoft Store near You

Jason Beres / Saturday, June 16, 2012

With the rumored June 18th announcement of their own branded Windows Tablet at an exclusive invite only event in Los Angeles, Microsoft is finally getting around to what it needs to stop the bleeding of their customers having to choose the iPad as the only viable tablet option on the market. With the Q1 2012 iPad sales showing a strong 15.4 million units shipped, there is no sign that the dated user experience and high price is stopping anyone from buying an iPad, so the only thing stopping Microsoft from delivering on a tablet was the lack of a great tablet OS experience. With Windows 8, the time is now to deliver on a serious tablet competitor.

Granted, even as late as Q4 2011, analysts were largely ignoring that fact that Windows 8 even existed - all predictions were for unhindered iPad growth forever.

2011 Q4 predictions – when the Windows Tablet didn’t register.

But with the nothing-but-positive reviews around the release of the Windows 8 Consumer Preview in February and the Windows 8 Release Preview in June, that has changed.  Analysts are now predicting a very strong uptake in Windows 8 on tablets, some even suggesting that Microsoft will leap to  to a 25% market share very quickly and overtake Android.

 

So why does it make sense that Microsoft will ship its own tablet? Here are 5 reasons.

  • First and foremost - Microsoft can’t depend on its hardware partners. With Samsung’s S9 ultra-thin laptop being the only example of a sexy Windows machine, I don’t expect that we’ll suddenly be inundated with awesome tablets from hardware giants like Dell, Toshiba, Asus, HP & Nokia.  Though each of them is rumored to have tablets in the waiting for Windows 8 Metro, their past history isn't a good story of execution in lock-step with Microsoft's plans.  If they were on the ball, they'd have something out already, every geek in the world (that includes me) would be lined up to buy it.  With Nokia’s latest announcement of 10,000 layoffs, and with Moody’s downgrading their debt to junk status, I wouldn’t hold my breath for the sweet looking turquoise tablet that looks like a giant Lumia 900. And would you place any money on HP executing on anything with their recent track record?  I didn’t think so.  If Microsoft builds and ships their own hardware, they can ensure a great experience and on-time delivery with Windows 8.

  • There needs to be a more powerful (iPad like) hardware alternative to the Nook. Microsoft’s $300 million dollar investment in the Nook business at Barnes & Noble was huge, and we should all expect Windows Metro based e-Readers available in the holiday selling season, all loaded up with XBox Music & Video Marketplace and the other goodies that come from the Windows Store, like Mail, Calendar and loads of beautiful apps. But the Nook hardware spec is more smartphone-like than tablet - definitely not the same hardware experience as an iPad, which is what people want.

 

  • Everyone wants (and arguably needs) Microsoft Office on their tablet – and Microsoft needs to make sure there is a viable Windows Tablet running office. The worst kept secret of an iOS version of Microsoft Office coming in the fall (or at least a fall announcement) means the multi-billion dollar Office business is protected on all platforms – but nothing can run Office like a Windows machine. Have you tried OneNote on your iPad? The experience is a 6 out of 10 at best. Office needs Windows as much as Windows needs Office.

 

  • The Microsoft Server business is built on the premise of seamless integration with Microsoft infrastructure – but right now in IT departments all over the globe, there is a mad scramble to secure and enable iPad access to corporate networks. Corporate IT doesn’t have the time or money to figure this stuff out. By announcing that a Microsoft Tablet is on the way (and hopefully shipping very soon), there is an opportunity for corporate IT to recommend this solution since it plays nicely with existing infrastructure. No extra cost in hardware or software to secure & support the devices.

 

  • Microsoft can set its own pricing on its own tablet and take market share. Along with a well-positioned Metro Nook, a sub-$500 Metro tablet will do extremely well against the male, pet-owning elitist $600 to $900 iPad. If Microsoft was really smart, and wanted market share, they’d price the Windows tablet around $400, which would be twice the cost of the $199 Kindle Fire, but certainly deliver a superior user experience and Apps offering (think Microsoft Office) than the Kindle and the not-so-smooth-as-Silk browser experience.

I’ll add a 6th reason, because I think it’s the biggest reason this is going to happen.

  • Steven Sinofsky. Like him or not, he gets things done. He does it his way, and it works. He is pure Microsoft, and he wants to see the company he’s invested his life’s work to get back on top like it was in the 90’s when he walked trade show floors with Bill Gates. 2012 is a pivotal year for the products he is responsible for delivering – Windows, Internet Explorer, Live, as well as influence on the new Office 15 and SharePoint 15. He’s delivering the goods on the software side, so who says he can’t do the same on the hardware side?

So what will this big announcement be on June 18th? Will a Windows Tablet The Microsoft Surface announcement continues the Microsoft streak of brilliance in the last 12 months with the Skype purchase, Nook investment and pending Yammer deal?

Stay tuned.