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May 21, 2014

Analyst Likes Surface Pro 3’s Chances

Microsoft's New Tablet Aims at Winning Customers Back

Microsoft image — Panos Panay, Microsoft corporate vice-president for Surface Computing, unveils the new Surface at a live event in New York City Tuesday.

A new product unveiled by Microsoft shows the company is not a follower but, rather, will continue on its own path.

“With the launch of the new Surface Pro 3, Microsoft has rightly decided its future is not at the low end of consumer tablets, where ultra thin margins and highly competitive vendors from the Far East have and will continue to dominate,” says Jack Gold, principal analyst with J. Gold Associates. “Instead, it has concentrated on its key strength – business users who look at tablets as extensions and or replacements for full laptop capability.”

Microsoft unveiled the Surface Pro 3 on Tuesday boasting it is “just half the thickness of a MacBook Pro, and 30 percent thinner than an 11-inch MacBook Air.”

Yet, more importantly, the company seemed to have an eye on stepping beyond the normal parameters of what a tablet is expected to do.

On its own blogsite, Microsoft says “tablets have been designed to be great for watching movies, reading books, playing games, browsing the web, and amazing for digital ‘snacking’ with apps.” On the other hand, laptops are designed for the less fun function such as typing term papers, writing letters, working on spreadsheets and browsing the Web.

The idea behind Surface, though, is to bring those functions together in one space.

Microsoft’s design team, the blog states, was challenged with the task to “marry the power of the full PC without compromising the sleek finish, elegant look and feel, light weight, thinness, and great battery life that we expect from a tablet.”

The  tablet seems to be different than what many producers are flooding the market with and that, Gold says, is smart move.

Surface 3“Microsoft finally seems to understand it can not go head to head with Apple’s iPad, and must offer a superior business device leveraging its installed base of infrastructure and applications, in particular the full Office suite. Surface Pro is not a general purpose tablet aimed in no particular direction,” Gold says.

In fact, he says, the tablet’s enhanced features of a better screen (2K), greater battery life (eight to nine hours), an innovate kick stand that holds the device at any angle, an active pen to create more control and functionality, SSD choices up to 512GB, and an enhanced attachable keyboard/touch pad makes the device’s target consumer at the high end of the commercial marketplace.

“This avoids competing with the plethora of lower-end tablets coming to market with near zero margins and an undifferentiated Android OS,” he says.

Gold seems to be right on the money — Microsoft states it has learned from both previous products and competition. Those lessons have been used in creating the Surface Pro 3.

“We took what we learned from our previous products and from customers and drove some key technologies forward to really get PC scenarios right alongside the critical features of a tablet,” the blog reads. “There are a lot of factors that contribute to make a product great, it’s never simply the sum of the parts.”

Gold, while admitting the $799 price may be a bit too steep for all users, says Microsoft seems ready to show the corporate world it can stand up against Apple and is aiming at winning back some customers.

“This new unit, given the potential performance available, may be enough to swing users its way, and will certainly be attractive to IT groups seeking to influence (or direct) such user choice,” he says. “I expect this device to be successful for Microsoft, and to show that the new focus of Microsoft on markets where it can clearly differentiate and leverage its strengths can indeed pay dividends. Time will tell if enterprises and users see it the same way.”


W. Brice McVicar is a staff writer for SiteProNews.