Friday, 29 June 2012

How Microsoft need to get Surface right to make an impact on the tablet space

I'm excited about the release of Microsoft's Surface (tablet) as it could make a real difference to me and become the most popular tablet in the enterprise space.

Working as an IT engineer/manager I need a tablet that I can install all my usual support apps such as RDP (via gateway), putty, Cisco VPN client etc. I've considered an android tablet and played with the Samsung Galaxy Tab.  Apart from the fact the Samsung takes so long to charge, doesn't last any time on battery and is a bit bulky there are other reasons I'm not going to purchase an android tablet.  They're good as a more casual device for games, apps and browsing but when it comes to using in an existing Microsoft infrastructure its not all plain sailing.  

Yeah sure you can find apps that do RDP, but to be honest I don't trust where my traffic is going and no-one seems to offer an RDP client that can connect to a RD Gateway.  Also VPN clients, there are various options available but once you're connected your tablet isn't part of the domain so you have to re-authenticate every time you want to access something different.  I know there are various apps which allow telnet and ssh connections so that one isnt really a problem.

As for the Ipad, I just don't want one. So restrictive, and Apple deciding what apps they allow is frustrating.  Also whilst you can introduce a business app store its just something else to install and manage.  

So why do I think Microsoft could get it right.  Well people like what they're used to. If you could have a Windows tablet, which can be part of the domain and where can use all your existing apps then it should be a real winner for use in the enterprise.  You can secure it as you would any Windows PC, you can configure with group policy, SCCM and the like, everything would just work.  This could be a real winner for Microsoft.  

There are though a couple of things they need to get right.  I don't see a place for Windows RT in the enterprise, its just too restrictive.  The Windows 8 pro model would be ideal but the price needs to be below the £400-£500 mark otherwise it wont get good adoption. I've seen comments that it could be upwards of £600 - this just isn't going to work for Microsoft. Also the metro style should work well on Surface, unlike with Windows 8 on a desktop - there's just no place for that but thats another story.  

Also I think Microsoft have got to realise that people aren't going to continue to pay hundreds of pounds for things like Windows or Office, the prices need to come down significantly and Office should be installed by default on the Surface (I'm not expecting full blown office but at least Word,Excel and Outlook.  If they can realise they need to reduce prices then that brings the cost of the Windows 8 Pro Surface down to match other popular tablets.  If they did this I could see a real case for introducing in my workplace - sales people would want them, execs would want them, and use mere support type people would definitely use them.  It would make being on-call a whole lot easier :-)

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