Friday, July 13, 2012

Microsoft Surface - Can It Compete With iPad

Better days for Microsoft?

Everyone in tech is aware that Microsoft, the company that gave us Windows, has seen better days. Ever since Apple took over as the #1 computer company in 2004 after the fiasco that was Windows Vista, Microsoft has been struggling to get it's mojo back. With the premiere of it's Surface Tablet, Microsoft might be heading for brighter days. Maybe. While you can get a cheap tablet online for under $200 with a TigerDirect, or Newegg coupon, this isn't the market Microsoft aiming for. It has Apple in it's crosshairs, and success all depends on if the Surface Tablet can match the mighty iPad in price and performance. If it doesn't, this could be another fiasco for Microsoft like the Zune mp3 player, the Kin phone, or Windows ME and Vista. Microsoft has to be very careful about this one-it can't afford another failure.

The Surface Tablet-specs and info

On the surface, everything looks good. The Surface Tablet comes in two models; the Surface RT for home users, and the Surface Pro for business users. The Surface RT has USB 2.0 ports, runs on an ARM processor and only has 32 to 64GB of storage. The Surface RT is the bare-bones model for Web surfing, online videos, email and basic desktop programs. It's for the home user who doesn't need a lot of bells and whistles. Surface Pro, 128 is for the business user who needs a full blow Windows OS, dependable Web connectivity and a more powerful machine. It offers an Intel dual-core 128 processor, up to 128GB of storage, USB 3.0 ports and other such perhipherals for the business user. The most innovative thing about the Surface Tablet is the cover, which also doubles as a keyboard. That is a very attractive option for those who haven't gotten used to having a keyboard on the screen rather than a traditional keyboard. Also, the cover snaps right on without using magnets (the Apple solution) or not having a cover at all.


The big problem with the Surface Tablet so far is that Microsoft will be manufacturing these models with only Wi-Fi connectivity, instead of wireless broadband connectivity. That might present a problem, especially for business users who need connectivity, wi-fi or no wi-fi. Another big problem is the Surface's low battery life. Compared to the iPad, which has a 10-hour battery life, estimates have given the Surface Tablet a battery life of 7.5 hours, which is 25% less than the iPad. Another problem is cost. Microsoft is looking to take tablet giant Apple on by launching the Surface. Granted, the iPad is expensive, but not half as expensive as the Surface Pro, which will start at well over $600. Granted, the Surface RT is going to go for $500. However, since the iPad starts at $499, Microsoft is deliberately overpricing itself. In these more cost-concious days, that's not going to go over very well. If Microsoft is looking for a much needed success with the Surface Tablet, they might need to reconsider some of these problems like cost and battery life if they want to overtake Apple.

That said, the important question to ask at the moment is this: Do you want to give up your iPad for a Surface Tablet?

Melinda Tanner is a freelance technical writer with over 20 years experience in various fascets of technology.