Originally Posted by TheOtherGeoff
Fact: Osborne Computer died a miserable death after announcing it's new computer products with multiple month lead time.
Fact: Apple releases new iPads typically in the Jan-March timeframe... Same release cycle as the Surface Pro. Apple has always skated to where the Puck is going to be.
Fact: The category defined by the Pro (part laptop (os), part tablet (HW)), has existed for 15 years. It's a crossover category that never succeeded... I've been using/seeing/complaining about Windows Tablets since 1995 (Electronic Medical Records).
Fact: As advertised, Surface Pro is about marrying an SW Franchise (Win8+Office) to under $1000 hardware that works well as both a Laptop and mobile tablet... And the only way to do that and make a profit is to eliminate the OEM from the financial equation.
Fact: The only Microsoft HW successes occur when the division making the hardware makes the software (Xbox). And that took 5 years of pouring money at the problem for that division to become profitable.
Fact: I hold stock in Apple. I own mutual funds that own Microsoft. I tend to look at the business reasons of a product launch.
Time will tell if Microsoft succeeds... but those are the facts in front of this court of reason. I'm not buying based on these.
I disagree with some of your statements.
One of the reasons - and major, I think - for tablets with desktop OS failure so far is that desktop OS was never really optimized for touch interface. I like Windows 7 on my home PC (and every other PC I use), but I find it cumbersome on convertible HP laptop/tablet we are using in the office for some tasks... so I end up using that unit as laptop almost exclusively. Older versions of Windows OS were even worst in touch-usage scenarios. But Windows 8 might be right - we'll see.
In addition, level of tech did not allow for acceptably slim yet powerful enough - and decent battery life - x86 tablet. Ivy Bridge is capable of changing that.
In addition, even if MS is not paying anyone else for software licenses, they still have to cover R&D of that software, so OS and Office for tablet price will be included in Surface price. Plus, MS has to pay someone to produce their tablets. For companies like Samsung, it might be that software price will be higher than for MS, but then Samsung has their own production facilities, so price of manufacturing per device should be lower than for MS. On average, one is paying less for software license but - likely - more for hardware assembly, while the other is paying more for licensing but less for manufacturing. I think there is enough of balance there for OEMs to compete with MS without cannibalizing their margins.
I think that major reason for MS to release tablet was not to compete with OEMs, but to set guidelines - basically to prevent OEMs to try selling lower quality for higher price. Or call it a challenge - this is what we do, can you better us? If you cannot, don't bother.