Microsoft is really hoping you’ll be tempted to buy one of its newly redesigned Surface Pro 2 tablets. In fact, it’s almost desperate for you to do so – hence the bundling of software and services that’s worth almost half as much as the new $899 device itself. Microsoft’s pitch is pretty compelling too, or at least it is on the face of it – the new Surface Pro is thinner, brighter, faster, more powerful. Speed and power remain by far and away the biggest selling points…
And that’s exactly why the Surface 2 Pro will almost certainly go the way of its predecessor.
The New Surface Pro 2: Faster, More Powerful
Microsoft wants you to know that the Surface Pro is an absolute beast of a tablet. In fact, the device is more than a match for any decent Windows 8 laptop, running the newly rejigged Windows 8.1, powered by Intel’s much-hyped X86 Haswell processor. The Surface Pro comes with a battery that lasts 75% longer than the previous edition, available with either 4GB or 8GB or RAM (giving it the same power as any full-fledged laptop), with USB 3.0 ports for connectivity, and even a new stand for keeping it upright when its sat on your desk.
The Surface Pro 2 is aimed at fully at professionals, enterprises, business users and other technology buffs. Microsoft bills it as a full laptop replacement, with Panos Panay, Microsoft’s VP of Surface, claiming that the Surface Pro 2 is “about everything that Microsoft has to offer.”
As far as Microsoft’s concerned, it’s all about the power. Panay showed off the Surface Pro 2 in all its muscular glory, running a native 6K resolution video from a RED HD camera during the event, demonstrating how the device can handle just about any amount of data that’s thrown at it.
Panay also made a point of belittling those Apple fanboi reporters present, proclaiming the Surface Pro 2′s speed – the device is faster than 95% of all other laptops currently on the market, including the iPad and the latest MacBook’s.
“This is power. This is what it is like to have the full power of a PC on a tablet,” he enthused to the crowd.
Who Cares About The Specs?
Once again, Microsoft’s marketing message completely misses the point. When its executives jump up on the stage and start bleating to an audience that’s mostly made up of Apple fanbois, is it really any wonder that its message fails to get across?
Let’s face it, hardly anyone cares all that much about the speed and power of a device, so long as it can do whatever they need it to do. Okay, so most of us probably understand what RAM is and how it can affect a computer’s performance, but the vast majority of users’ knowledge doesn’t go far beyond that.
Meanwhile, there’s a reason why Apple’s products sell so well – its message is all about the design, the functionality and utility of its products. For sure, Apple will tout the iPad’s and iPhone’s speed as well, but in their case its as if the technical specs are little more than a bonus, with the main selling point being all about the style, the ease of use, and perhaps the “cool” factor above all else.
But with the Surface Pro, its speed and power are the main features, the biggest selling point, and that’s exactly why so few will be impressed. We only need to look back at the last few years to see that as far as consumers are concerned, few are interested in the raw performance details.
That’s not to say that Microsoft isn’t cognizant of the fact that its devices are seen as less-than-cool when compared to the likes of the iPad, or even some Android tablets. To this end, the Surface Pro isn’t really being pitched at consumers at all – it’s being marketed as a business-class device, hence the rather compelling bundle of free software thrown into the mix.
Those who do buy the Surface 2 will get their hands on all of this, completely free – Office 2013, A full year of Skype international calls; 200GB of space on SkyDrive for two years. Purchased separately, these software and services would cost something like $400.
These freebies are of course just an incentive to buy the hardware, but the question remains – will it be enough? Recent research has shown that the vast majority of people buy tablets purely for consumption, but here we have Microsoft pushing the Surface Pro 2′s productivity potential. For sure, the hardware is great, but with the Surface Pro still being decidedly not un-cool, does Microsoft have what it takes to change the way we view tablets?