I have been reading the reports like everyone else on Microsoft Surface. Confusing UI, not as good as so-and-so. Terrible! Horrible! “Offends me”…
Perhaps counter to popular opinion, I think Microsoft is probably going to do well. I don’t think they are playing the same “game” as the other vendors…
There are two dynamics at play here that the “best UI” analysis doesn’t take into account.
1. Young industry, great starting point
Two years ago, the market was abuzz with Apple, WebOS, Blackberry, Google. In two years, two major players have disappeared completely and a new one (Microsoft) has arisen.
Microsoft’s first real tablet offering is better than Google’s first offering. Two years ago, Gingerbread and Honeycomb tablets were out and they, well they offered promise but boy were they rough.
After 2 years of investment, I would suggest that the current Android ICS and JellyBean tablets from Android are quite amazing. In the area of clicks-per-productivity, they are probably unmatched, once tailored. iPad still rules the roost in terms of pure ease and simplicity.
If Microsoft invests in the same way Google did, they could be market leader in 2-3 years. This ENTIRE industry is 2 years old. And Microsoft’s first offering is plainly usable. Maybe not efficient, or as intuitive to use, but neither was Android at the start.
Microsoft has time. They are not going anywhere, and their Office offering is enough for many to start. If I were in my old corporate job, I would immediately jump onto Surface as my main carry-around device.
2. IT Control:
Traditionally, IT managers were able to stop the onslaught of “Best Buy-purchased personal laptops” by issuing their own. The CEO may be able to use his MacBook, but everyone else has to use the firm-issued laptop. Why? Because it ran intrusion detection, anti-virus, edge-point analysis, etc. Sure it was a huge brick, but that was because they protect the firm. And at the end of the day, risk people make those type of decisions…10-minute boot time vs. reputational risk.
For the tablet BYOD issue, the Surface doesn’t have to be the best. It just has to be Good Enough. Users get MS Office, IT Managers get an integrated management toolkit.
Pendulum will swing in many firms back towards the IT managers….now that they have something to offer to beat back the iPads. The “why can’t I just access the corporate stuff from my ______” argument has been running a long time…and will continue.
BYOD isn’t going away, but Microsoft will make inroads early into the conservative firms who simply don’t want to deal with the MDM/MIM/MAM alphabet-soup challenge…rightfully so.
This post also appears on Stephen’s Getting A Grep blog.