For an age Microsoft were the kings of business software. There was no office that wasn’t running Windows, and the ability to open Word documents was an absolute must. This is still the case today to an extent, but Microsoft’s late entry into the mobile and tablet space has damaged their stranglehold on this market to a big degree.
The elegance and simplicity of the iPad is something that many businesses saw value in, and the ability to demonstrate a website on a tablet screen then pass it around a meeting is something that lots of companies wanted. Of course Apple also cracked the commercial market, so more and more people were starting to bring their personal Apple devices into work and use those rather than their desktop computers.
Well Microsoft has at least recognized this threat, and has entered the tablet industry in a big way. Rather than creating a unique touch-based operating system however, they’ve decided instead to build one on top of their existing Windows platform – the hope being that that will encourage loyalty from their existing corporate clients while at the same time allowing employees to have their cake and eat it to. Sit at a desk with a keyboard and you can type into Word and browse with Internet Explorer – but then when you’re done you can simply remove that keyboard and start enjoying the touchscreen apps with the elegant ‘Metro’ interface.
To really sell this idea though, Microsoft needed a flagship piece of hardware to show off the software just as the iPad and iPhone did for iOS. This they attempted to do first with the Surface Pro and Surface RT, which many reviewers said had a lot of promise but had some critical flaws, but now they’re trying again with the Surface and Surface Pro 2 which will be released at the end of this month. And this time businesses should stand up and take notice. Here’s why…
Surface Pro 2: The Realization of a Promise
The original Surface Pro device showed a lot of promise by allowing users to enjoy a full windows experience in a tablet form factor. This was the first time you had something so light and sleek that was also able to run all the software you needed to do business. Add to that the attractive and clever ‘type cover’ which grabs attention wherever you take it, and you have a very exciting device that can provide companies with the technology they need both in and outside of the office.
But there were problems with the original Surface Pro too. For one, the kickstand while useful if you want to give a presentation, work on the device like a laptop, or stand the screen to show the specials in your restaurant, was never very good for use on your lap making it difficult to classify as a true laptop replacement.
And then the other problem: the battery. Unfortunately the original Surface Pro only has around 4-5 hours of battery life at a push, meaning that it’s not something you can work on all day long like an iPad. This drastically reduces its usefulness when away from the office and means you’re constantly having to search for a plug. Add the awkward transition some people experienced moving to Windows 8 and you have a device that would only satisfy some people.
The Surface Pro 2 though Microsoft tell us will answer all of those problems. Not only does the kickstand now have two different angles, but the Haswell processor should give us 75% more battery life. Windows 8.1 is also introduced for all Surface devices returning the Start Menu button and addressing many of the issues, while all the positives of the original device remain.
Surface Pro 2 Accessories
Furthermore, Redmond has unveiled some rather exciting accessories for their devices. There’s the power cover for instance which will give you even more battery from your device taking it to over ten hours, and then there’s the docking station to give you more ports and allow you to run multiple monitors from the Surface Pro when you’re in the office.
Perhaps most exciting of all though are the custom ‘blades’ which are designed to allow alternative input for the tablet. Already Microsoft have demoed one blade for music mixing, but developers will be free to create their own blades to work alongside their apps. Here your company is only really limited by your imagination – what could you do with a tablet with an entirely different input?
Nancy Baker, the author of this article, is a freelance blogger, currently writing for, Aireus, leaders in Wireless POS systems in Canada. She loves her pets and enjoys grooming and training them. You can get in touch with Nancy via Twitter @Nancy_Baker_.