ZDNet, you’re baffled by the Surface RT? Then maybe you should read more and talk less
Excuse me for a minute but I’m sick of idiots. It’s easier to write a hit piece and say Microsoft will fail or the iPad sucks than it is to educate yourself about a product and think about the larger picture. I read this article from ZDNet’s David Gewitz: 5 big things that baffle me about Microsoft Surface RT.
Let’s go through what baffles Gewitz because this is everything that’s wrong with tech writers:
Big Baffle #1: Who is the target customer? Here he argues that he can’t tell who Surface RT is targeted for, whether it’s students, small businesses or large enterprises. He asserts nothing but poses questions here and states this will permeate the rest of his issues. OK he’s said nothing so I’ve matched that. Let’s see if he assets any facts in the remaining 4 things that baffle him.
Big Baffle #2: Why would you ship a device not licensed for business use? What he’s talking about here is the licensing behind Office RT, which is preinstalled on the Surface RT. Here’s what Microsoft’s site states about office RT:
As sold, Office Home & Student 2013 RT Preview and the final edition are not designed for commercial, nonprofit, or revenue-generating activities. However, organizations who purchase commercial use rights or have a commercial license to Office 2013 suites can use Office Home & Student 2013 RT for commercial, nonprofit, or revenue-generating activities.
Big Baffle #3: Why isn’t it priced really competitively? This has been beaten to a dead horse but fine, let’s do it again. At $499 you get more memory than a new iPad as well as some hardware you won’t see otherwise (like a Microsd slot, USB slot, VaporMG manufacturing, a kickstand that really makes sense, etc). You can at least say that it’s competitive in price to an iPad and that’s the best selling product in the category by a long shot. You don’t need to price it like a Kinde – that’s a bottom feeding product that is about being cheap, not functional and Microsoft is showing its hand – they want a market towards the top not the bottom. Gewitz says things like “We don’t yet know if the Surface RT runs Flash.” That’s just wrong. We know it runs Flash. How? Microsoft spoke about this explicitly. ”On Windows 8, Internet Explorer 10 on the desktop and Metro style IE use the same integrated Adobe Flash Player with no need to download or install an additional player.”
Bottom line is that you can’t convince me that pricing it competitive with an iPad means it isn’t competitive since that is the competition. See how that works?
Big Baffle #4: If this is a straight-up play to win back consumers defecting to tablets, why isn’t it more suited to consumers? Gewitz says “I find it impossible to believe that Microsoft considers this a consumer play.” he asserts that without desktop applications then how can this appeal to consumers. I’m presuming that Gewitz has never used an iPad. Maybe he’s never heard of one, I don’t know. But that also doesn’t run desktop apps. See, what he’s missing is that there is a market for an iPad. Similarly, there’s a market for a Microsoft version of an iPad and by that I mean an ARM version of Windows 8. Windows 8 is great and anyone that’s used it will tell you about how freaking powerful and battery sipping the thing is and there’s brilliance in the way its set up (all you need to do is play with it for more than 5 minutes and not be ‘confused’). So why do I like ARM? Again, you don’t need to think too much about this because Microsoft gives you the answer. Windows RT (based on ARM) provides you with better battery life and generally a thinner system that doesn’t require a fan to cool the CPU. They tend to be lighter and have better profiles because of this. But connectivity is a big difference. Windows RT provides “Always connected, even when in standby mode. Connected standby keeps apps up-to-date” whereas Pro provides “Connectivity off when hibernating/sleeping to preserve battery.” See, Windows RT is like your phone and its always gets emails even when the screen is off. Those same battery sipping features don’t apply to x86 CPUs so for Windows Pro you lose that when the device goes to sleep. So if you like the concept of an iPad but want the Microsoft ecosystem that’s in line with the way you actually live then the Surface RT makes total sense. It’s priced like an iPad but I get all of the Microsoft apps (Skype, Live Messenger, SkyDrive, IE with Flash, etc) so for someone like me it’s a great product. It’s also cheaper then the eventual Windows 8 Pro tablet I’ll wind up buying that is twice the price (likely will put me near $1000 by the time it’s done…sounds expensive but remember the pricing for iPads and those are definitely less functional than a Windows 8 Pro laptop with convertible features).
Big Baffle #5: If it’s not suited to consumers, then why isn’t it perfectly tuned for business? No this isn’t a strict business play. You have Windows Pro…uhm Windows Professional. You know, like for business use with desktop support. Again, let’s think about the competitor- right the iPad is similarly not fit for businesses by Gewitz’s definition because it also lacks desktop applications. Surface RT is not the strong business play. Surface Pro is, as are all of the Pro tablets/convertibles that are being released starting October 26. Those cost about $200 more for similarly leveled specs. He’s missing the genius in what they’ve done by providing a consumer play and a business play that have the same look and feel. People can choose the product that fits their needs.
Windows RT is the strategy to get cheaper tablets out and over time the prices will fall as well to prices similar to Android tablets (but not necessarily Kindle prices as there’s no profit in a Kindle – more like a Note or whatever Android is pushing these days). Windows Pro will continue to be the business play. Consumers will learn about the difference between these products and figure out what they want. Consumers understand that Android tablets don’t run PC applications and they’ll figure out that RT doesn’t do it either. Let’s not be confused by the short term and pretend it will exist in the long term.
Bottom line is that if you’re going to write to a mass audience then instead of being baffled go educate yourself and share knowledge, not nonsense. If Windows RT completely baffles you then pack up your bag and get out of tech.
Spent three hours reading negative Surface articles last night, including a couple from ZDNet. Each had the same theme; all provided misinformation and ridiculous conclusions. Forget about MS fanboyism. Anyone who has used Windows 8 for a couple weeks would know this is a bunch of bullcrap.
One of the best was an article warning that there will be a lot of frustration and a steep learning curve for those switching to Windows 8, so buyers should beware. Maybe he should get some lessons from that three year old.
For what it’s worth, Connected Standby isn’t just a feature of Windows RT. It’s possible both on Windows 8 and Windows RT. The problem is the Ivy Bridge chipset that will be used in Microsoft’s Surface for Windows Pro does not support Connected Standby.
In fact, you do get Connected Standby from any of the Intel “Clover Trail” -based Atom SoCs.
I agree 100%. ZDnet has a few folks who get it (see “Windows 8 is the new XP”) and quite a few who get seemingly lost on simple concepts. Windows 8 is new. It’s a great step up for tablets as a medium. Imagine getting a device that can receive weekly updates. Simple concept really, but that beats the other two giants senseless and once people have had a taste of that kind of customer service you’ll watch the other two either step up or lose customers. The very concept of a seemless experience where you move from device type to device type and continue your work or fun or whatnot is something that no one else has managed to do so well. When Haswell gets here, this entire market will explode (you are only seeing the first wave now). Add in larger OLED panels in 2013 and beyond and you’ll understand that the strategy is perfect. For now, it’s a learning curve. Too bad ZDnet authors and WSJ can’t figure it out. Guess I won’t rely on them for tech support!
ZDNET lost its signficance as technology blog long time back, if it were not for Ed Bott, Mary Jo, Rachel King, Matt, Larry, and few others I wouldn’t go there. Folks like Adrian (AKH), SJVN, David, James Kendrick and others always misinterpret the information available at the sources and twist it to get the number of clicks. Probably Larry Dignan pays them based on the number of clicks that a particular blog gets, who knows. I fight with the trolls on the talkback system there and the bloggers regularly at my spare time.