Microsoft signals it's committed to Surface hardware for the long haul

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
Though Microsoft has lost hundreds of millions of dollars on its Surface tablets, the company made it clear on Monday that it has no intention of backing away from the platform, going as far as to openly state plans are in place for future Surface tablets in the years to come.

Surface


The new Surface lineup represents a refinement of last year's models, sporting better battery life and upgrades to features like screen resolution and new keyboard accessories.

But perhaps most surprising is Microsoft's continued commitment to the Windows RT platform, a stripped-down version of Windows 8 that runs on the company's entry-level Surface tablets with ARM processors. While some have speculated that Microsoft could kill off Windows RT, the company signaled Monday that it is actually headed in the opposite direction, doubling down on Windows RT devices in the form of the new entry-level Surface 2.

"You're only going to see more and better come from the Surface team." - Microsoft VP Panos PanayEven last year's entry-level Surface RT remains, hitting a new $349 price point for the company, approaching the $329 price of Apple's 7.9-inch iPad mini.

Microsoft's media presentation led by Surface team head Panos Panay was also filled with hints about future plans to continue improving the Surface lineup. Toward the end of his presentation, he teased that the company's Surface team is already hard at work at its next generation products.

"This team is crazy. And they're not going to stop," he said. "You're only going to see more and better come from the Surface team."

At one point, Panay even claimed that his personal Surface had design documents and roadmaps for the next three generations of Surface models, and that the company is designing them "right now." He then jokingly handed his Surface to journalist Mary Jo Foley as a way of demonstrating his confidence with the device's Bitlocker security.

Surface


"If you do (break into the device), you can have my roadmap," Panay told Foley. "It's on there. Good luck."

The fact that Microsoft plans to continue developing and improving its Surface lineup in the years to come is no surprise in the ever-evolving tech industry. But it is an important message for Microsoft to portray in its attempts to grow the platform and gain the confidence of consumers.

As Apple's iPad continues to dominate the current tablet landscape, Microsoft's Surface is largely viewed as a failure after its first year. The company was forced to take a $900 million write-down on the products in July due to unsold inventory.

Add in the rumors and speculation that Microsoft could kill its low-end Windows RT operating system, and Surface may appear to some as a platform on shaky ground ? something that may not inspire confidence in consumers to invest in Surface.

To date, Surface has largely been viewed as a failure against Apple's iPad. But Microsoft has indicated it has no plans to abandon its first-party hardware strategy.But in Monday's unveiling of the Surface Pro 2 and Surface 2, Microsoft made an effort to portray its tablet hardware as a platform with a bright future ahead of it, backed by the company's substantial resources for the long haul.

The event certainly highlighted Microsoft's underdog status: In an effort to show off the versatility of Surface, Microsoft brought in a number of real-world users to talk about why they use the company's touchscreen tablets. These Surface users came from all walks of life, allowing Microsoft to suggest its tablets are appealing to students, artists, gamers, and more.

Surface Pro 2 and Surface 2 will go on sale Oct. 22, but Microsoft has more planned for the near future. The company is teasing the possibility of new "blade" attachments adding unique functionality to the Surface, with one velocity-sensing music control attachment already shown off.

In a video shown by Microsoft, the company solicited potential "blade" attachment concepts from design students. What were presented were a number of "what if" ideas, again encouraging people to think about the future of Surface.

Concepts for Surface "blade" covers presented by students included one that could have a portion of it separated and worn around the wrist as a watch. However, aside from the new music controller coming in October, Microsoft has not announced any other "blade" attachments.

What the future actually does hold for Microsoft Surface remains to be seen. But it's likely that when Surface Pro 2 and Surface 2 go on sale in October, they'll be met with a wave of hype for Apple's next iPads: The second-generation iPad mini and fifth-generation iPad are expected to go on sale next month.
«13

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 60
    No different than ZUNE they were committed to the bitter end when the market switch to phones and now tablets.
  • Reply 2 of 60

    At least they're committed to losing lots of money year after year. 

  • Reply 3 of 60
    jd_in_sbjd_in_sb Posts: 1,483member

    I suppose they have to say that at this point. Next year, after being clobbered by the iPad 5, they'll drop RT and go with the Pro only.

  • Reply 4 of 60

    STUPID is as STUPID does<img class=" src="http://forums-files.appleinsider.com/images/smilies//lol.gif" />

  • Reply 5 of 60
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,664member
    Perhaps MS has a landfill subsidiary. A write-off for MS = profit for the landfills.
  • Reply 6 of 60
    Got to hand it to them, this is how you ride it to the grave with style.
  • Reply 7 of 60
    So Microsoft is continuing to cannibalize sales of their partner's PCs or is it vice-versa?
  • Reply 8 of 60

    How do Surface Pro users deal with finger grease?

     

    This is a serious question.  In play mode on a tablet, when surfing the web and watching youtube, the dirty screen doesn't bother me.

     

    But if I am doing real work using real desktop applications, I then care if the screen is dirty and smudged up.  There is a work mindset and a play mindset.

     

    Do Surface Pro users simply ignore the fact that their screens are smudged up when they are called upon to do work on their tablet/laptop devices?

     

    Or maybe Microsoft's plan is that everyone should buy two of these devices, one for tablet use and one for laptop use?

     

  • Reply 9 of 60
    The new CEO will put an abrupt end to Ballmer's folly. The word "committed" in the context of the Surface line should only be considered along with straight jackets and funny farms.
  • Reply 10 of 60
    The ecosystems are pretty much defining that if you don't control the HW, the OS, and the ecosystem, you're not going to make money in technology at a F100 scale anymore. Apple, Google, Samsung are in that mode now. Tablets are the new personal computer, and will likely replace the laptop within corporate in the next 10 years, if they aren't Window licenses, MS will be losing a Billion (probably more) for every 10Million Tablets sold... So 100Million iPads would equal 10Billion in profits (1/3 of current MSFT profits).

    Bottom line... the market expects the OS and the HW to be integrated better than Windows was on OEM systems.

    And that speeds migration of major corp accounts to non-MS interconnection between these HTML5/6 systems and the back office (in the cloud), basically telling IT Leaders that you don't need to invest in Windows Business Middleware software licensing... Active Directory, SQL Server, IIS now go away.... Another Billion a year.

    That leaves xBox as the only profitable profit center... and will that be ballast to keep the ship upright until they monetize MS-Office on the iPad?

    Yes, MS has to Double down on Surface... to back out now is effectively become a 2nd tier technology company.
  • Reply 11 of 60

    Announcing Surface RT 3 and Surface Pro 3, now with three position kickstand!

     

    j/k ... or at least I hope I am.

  • Reply 12 of 60
    bryanbr wrote: »
    How do Surface Pro users deal with finger grease?

    This is a serious question.  In play mode on a tablet, when surfing the web and watching youtube, the dirty screen doesn't bother me.

    But if I am doing real work using real desktop applications, I then care if the screen is dirty and smudged up.  There is a work mindset and a play mindset.

    Do Surface Pro users simply ignore the fact that their screens are smudged up when they are called upon to do work on their tablet/laptop devices?

    Or maybe Microsoft's plan is that everyone should buy two of these devices, one for tablet use and one for laptop use?


    In the dim light of their mother's basement, finger grease is the least body fluid a neckbeard will be ignoring on Surface screen...
  • Reply 13 of 60

    They were also committed to XBox.

     

    How long can MSFT lose money on this one before it turns a profit?

  • Reply 14 of 60
    Let Leo Apotheker in there, as CEO. He'll know how to take care of this one.
  • Reply 16 of 60
    alfiejralfiejr Posts: 1,524member
    no Neil. the Surface (RT) 2 is just Ballmer's last hurrah. the next guy is going to dump it.

    yes, they will keep trying with Surface Pro's. that will be Gates' last hurrah someday, but he won't give up the desktop-Windows-on-a-tablet fantasy until he dies, and he still controls the company.
  • Reply 17 of 60

    From the profile, looks opposite to a laptop: thick side up, thin side on the bottom. I just can't imagine using a tablet for serious work. The laptop, and actually, the desktop, has its rightful place, which cannot be replaced by a tablet. I say the desktop, because when I work I want a 24"+ screen, and unless the laptop has a very good trackpad (few do, besides Apple), I need my keyboard and mouse. This is not going to end well for Surface...

  • Reply 18 of 60
    jd_in_sbjd_in_sb Posts: 1,483member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jungmark View Post



    Perhaps MS has a landfill subsidiary. A write-off for MS = profit for the landfills.

    :)

  • Reply 19 of 60

    I don't think MS realizes it says "Surface", not "Xbox", and that it's a FrankenPC, not a gaming console. 

     

    And so far it closely resembles a Zune. 

  • Reply 20 of 60
    I believe in what Microsoft says: "The team is crazy ..." Yepp, that's really true.
Sign In or Register to comment.