Posts with tag Surface
No, you're not getting Windows 10
Remember Microsoft’s Surface RT? It was Microsoft’s own tablet that ran full Windows on an ARM chip, right down to the confusing Metro/Desktop switch. It had Office pre-loaded, but you couldn’t use any other desktop apps with it unless you jailbroke it. And with relatively few quality Metro apps in the store, there was really no incentive to buy a Surface RT over a comparable x86-based tablet.
If you were at or watched Microsoft’s Windows 10 conference yesterday, you may have noticed that not a single utterance of “Windows RT” was heard anywhere. In fact, according to C|NET, Microsoft “devoted only a few seconds to Windows RT, saying during a Q&A with reporters that it is ‘working on an update for Windows RT as well.'” Companies like Asus and Dell who both introduced Windows RT tablets have already gone and killed their products with the remaining holdouts being the Surface RT and the Lumia 2520.
While the Surface Pro lineup will naturally be getting the Windows 10 update, Microsoft only said that there would be a future update that brings some of Windows 10’s functionality to Windows RT. This statement feels eerily similar to how Microsoft mis-handled the Windows 7.5 upgrade path, where Windows Phone 7 handsets would never see an update to Windows Phone 8 but would instead be updated to have some of the same functionality as Windows Phone 8. We’ll be waiting to see what Microsoft has to say later on about Windows RT but for now, it certainly sounds like this is the end.
Microsoft keeps swinging, but keeps missing
For a brief while, I owned a Surface tablet.
I got a really good deal on one, almost a year or so back now. My Surface was an original, 32GB Surface RT tablet, the one that Microsoft is still happy to sell you for a now-outrageous $299. The original Surface has always been something of a mixed bag – too heavy and unwieldy to use to be a particularly good tablet, with no real desktop application support and a slow processor holding it back from being a good laptop replacement.
Barely six months after purchasing my original Surface tablet, I sold it. I found that, for my use case, the Surface just wasn’t good enough at doing the things I wanted to do with the tablet form factor. It was awkwardly shaped, so I didn’t really enjoy holding it to watch movies, or reading books; it was slow, so it was frustrating to browse the web with – and it didn’t work at all on my lap, so there goes my using Microsoft Office with.
I sold that Surface, and instead I bought – after a couple of weeks of deciding on what my replacement would be – an iPad mini with Retina Display. I had owned an iPad mini before, an original generation, that I used mostly to read books on. While using my Surface I often longed for the convenience of the iPad mini’s form factor; the small, light frame that was a perfect companion to Netflix and the Kindle application. And while the original iPad mini was no speed demon, it was definitely faster than my Surface RT.
And ever since, I’ve been extremely happy with my new iPad mini. While I do sometimes long for the ability to plug in a keyboard and get access to a real trackpad – even a bad one – the benefits of the iPad mini’s form factor far, far outweighs the negatives. That’s why I was so excited this month when Microsoft issued invitations to the media to attend a “small” gathering, one that we all – myself included – took to be the introduction of the elusiveelusive 7-to-8″ Surface tablet. Such a device, I thought, could be my ideal Surface tablet – one small and light enough to read comfortably on, yet powerful enough to do actual work on with that keyboard attachment. It could have easily replaced the original, aging Surface RT in Microsoft’s lineup as a $299 device actually worthy of the price tag if given beefier internals.
But that device never came. Instead, we got the Surface Pro 3 – a device that, again, aims to be more of a laptop replacement than an actual tablet. That’s fine, of course. There’s nothing wrong with such a tablet, and though I haven’t gotten my hands on a Surface Pro 3 just yet, I would be interested to give it a try and see for myself how it does. But I know that, based on my experience with my original Surface, that it’s not the tablet I’m looking for. It’ll still be too heavy for me to read a book on, too inconvenient for me to hold as a book in bed – though that 3:2 aspect ratio is a blessing, and an aspect that I would love to see trickle down to other Surface models, including that elusive Surface Mini if it ever comes.
And boy, do I hope it comes. I feel strongly as though that could be the perfect tablet for me, and I would absolutely spend $300 of my hard earned money to pay for it. But until Microsoft realizes that they’re ignoring – either intentionally or unintentionally – such a huge segment of the market, I don’t think I would go out of my to buy a Surface product ever again. I gave them a shot, and it didn’t work out. Are you willing to go the extra mile, Microsoft?
Surface Pro 3
About two weeks ago, Microsoft sent out invitations to a “small” Surface event in New York City. We at Haverzine were unfortunately unable to be there in person but Microsoft has provided us with a live webcast of the event so we’ve been able to watch everything as it happened.
So, what goodies has Microsoft given to us this year? It turns out that the “small” hint in this year’s invite was nothing more than a red herring as no Surface Mini was unveiled today. There was also no mention of any upcoming Windows RT devices which hopefully means that Windows RT is on the way out. What we did see today was the unveiling of a brand-new Surface Pro, known as Surface Pro 3.
Surface Pro 3 is, as you’d expect, an x86 machine – this time, the Surface comes in Core i3, Core i5 and Core i7 variants. The device has been made much thinner; it no longer appears to be the thick, heavy slab the previous generations were but seems to be a very thin and light device much like its underpowered cousin, the Surface RT. It’s only 0.36 inches thick and weighs only 1.76 pounds which is much lighter than a Macbook Air. Battery life has also been slightly improved, coming in at up to 9 hours without the Power Cover.
The Surface Pro 3 also packs in a better screen than the past two generations – it features a 3:2 aspect ratio display running at 2160×1440. To fit this new display, the device had to be enlarged. Instead of the more sane 10.8″ of the previous Surface Pro or the 9.5″ of the iPad, the Pro 3 is a monster 12″. Perhaps that won’t be an issue as the device has been made thinner and lighter, but the only way to test that for sure is to get one and use it (hint hint).
Of course, the ever popular (or perhaps more accurately, infamous) kickstand is still present. Where Surface Pro 2 had two movements, the Pro 3 has 150 degrees of movement and can be moved into any angle you want; the only hard limitation is 150 degrees as seen above. The above placement is also known as “canvas” mode and is aimed at people who use Photoshop often.
Type Cover has been improved with a larger and more responsive trackpad and a new form factor to fit the large 12″ size of the Surface Pro 3. To help add rigidity to the device when using it on the lap, there’s an extra set of magnets to get rid of that slight shifting the previous generation Type Covers had. And in case black or purple wasn’t the color you wanted, there’s three new colors for Type Cover: Dark blue, light blue and red.
Pen improvements also make their presence. Working to make the pen feel more like a real pen on real paper, they’ve enhanced the detail where you can write exactly where you want to. Not only that, but the pen even feels like a real pen – clicking the top of the pen like your average ballpoint pen will turn on the Surface and automatically open OneNote. Double-clicking the pen will send the device into an “acid wash” mode, which essentially lets you either quickly take a photo or screenshot, import it to OneNote and write notes on it.
Other interesting tidbits include: The speakers have been improved with a supposed 40% volume increase over Pro 2 and now are front-facing. A docking station is also available if you need that sort of thing and can drive a 4k display. The USB 3.0 port, mini-DisplayPort and microSD card slot are all still present.
Interested parties can pre-order a Surface Pro 3 and prices will start at $799 for a Surface with 64GB of storage, 4GB of RAM and a Core i3 processor. It’s also possible to order a device with 512GB of storage, 8GB of RAM and a Core i7 but that’ll run you $2,000.
Here comes the Surface Mini
Well, this is a surprise – Microsoft has just sent out invitations to the press, inviting them to go and attend what they’re calling a “small” gathering. What could this mean? Well, we’re not betting men around here, but if I were – I’d be putting a crisp $200 on a Surface Mini.
Microsoft’s Surface press event takes place on May 20th, so be sure to check back here on that fateful day to find out what Microsoft has up their sleeves.
Xbox boss shoots down portable rumors
A couple of years ago there were some rampant rumors that Microsoft was hard at work on an Xbox branded 7″ “Surface” tablet, and that rumor has stuck around as though it were actually something Microsoft was going to actually do. Unfortunately for whoever started that rumor however, Microsoft’s new Xbox boss, Phil Spencer, took to Twitter today to shut down all hope on that front as Spencer has claimed that a portable Xbox branded device isn’t on its way.
A user tweeted to Spencer directly asking him the question that has been on all of our minds, asking whether “a handheld Xbox One-like gaming device at E3 or in the future.” Phil Spencer shot the rumor right in the heart when he answered pretty directly that he doesn’t think that “we’ll do a dedicated handheld gaming device.” Of course, company executives have quite often straight out lied in order to hide what they’ve been working on, but an answer this direct does nothing but dampen our hopes. And oh, did we have such high hopes.
Source: Phil Spencer (Twitter)
Microsoft now controls the OS and the hardware
If there’s one thing Microsoft has always been good at, its developing software and partnering with hardware manufacturers to get that software out into the world. But starting today, Microsoft has turned into a big player of both the hardware and the software. That’s right, after over half a year of waiting and waiting for the right government approval, Microsoft has officially acquired Nokia’s devices and services unit.
The deal, which was originally announced in September of 2013 and cost Microsoft $7.2 billion, puts the software giant firmly in control of nearly the entire Windows Phone ecosystem, from end to end. Nokia had been Microsoft’s biggest Windows Phone supporter, however the company began to accelerate a deal that would merge the two companies when it became public knowledge that Nokia was heavily considering switching to Android – a consideration that eventually turned somewhat to reality with the announcement of the Nokia X and XL last month.
Under the acquisition, Microsoft will be allowed to use the “Nokia” name on feature phones until December 31st, 2015. However, any new smartphones by the former Nokia team will be released under the Microsoft brand. It remains to be seen on whether or not Microsoft is planning on using the Lumia branding with upcoming Windows Phone devices, however a rumor a while back indicated that Microsoft could be considering switching to the Surface brand for all smartphone models going forwards.
AT&T exclusive likely
Good news, Microsoft fans – it appears as though Microsoft is getting ready to launch the often hinted, but never officially confirmed Microsoft Surface 2 tablet with built in LTE networking capabilities. The tablet, which is expected to launch as a Surface 2 Windows RT variant rather than the Surface 2 Pro – at least initially – will contain AT&T compatible LTE bands, meaning that this will likely ship as an AT&T exclusive, at least for now.
Not much else is really known about the device at this point, but with the tablet passing through the FCC and gaining approval already, it seems likely that we’ll be hearing more in the coming days and weeks – perhaps Mobile World conference or BUILD are two likely venues for the eagerly awaited tablet to make its debut? Stay tuned.
Faster Core i's
In the market for a weird notebook/tablet hybrid running top of the line Intel Core i processors? Microsoft’s got your back – the company has just quietly upgraded their lineup of Surface Pro 2 tablets, which run the full blown Windows 8.1 capable of running both “classic” Windows programs as well as Windows Store applications, with the latest and greatest processors Intel has to offer.
The Surface Pro 2 now reportedly comes with a 1.9 GHz Intel Core i5 standard, up from the 1.6 GHz Intel Core i5 that originally premiered with the tablet just a couple of months ago. But the bump in speed isn’t the only thing new here – the new processor also includes Intel’s Trusted Execution Technology, which reportedly allows for more secure software.
Microsoft has yet to officially announce the change on any of their properties, however in a statement made to The Verge they did confirm that Microsoft “routinely makes small changes to internal components over the lifetime of a product,” somewhat acknowledging that such a change did occur.
Source: The Verge
Surface up, Office 365 up, Windows 8 down
Good news for friends of Microsoft today – the company’s Q1 2014 earnings report is out, and things are looking up for the Redmond based developer who have been sitting on some pretty hard times lately. If you remember correctly, last quarter saw some truly horrible numbers for Microsoft’s big tablet brand – Surface. This quarter saw things a little different; Surface earnings were up and garnered $400 million in revenue, whilst the company’s entire total device and consumer revenue was $7.46 billion – that’s up 4% from this time last year.
Windows 8, meanwhile, continued its free fall this quarter. Sales were pretty abysmal last quarter, but they’re even worse this quarter, with revenue dropping a whole 7% as customers continue to feel uneasy about the direction Microsoft has been taking with their desktop Windows operating system. It remains to be seen as to whether Microsoft can make up for lost ground with their newest operating system, Windows 8.1, which of course was not released in time to be under consideration.
The best news of all comes from commercial cloud revenue, including Skydrive, Office 365, etc., which was up by an insane 103%. Office 365 in particular saw growth double in the last six months to 2 million subscribers. Customers were initially weary about switching to Office 2013’s subscription based model, but it appears to be paying off at long last. This couldn’t come at a more critical time for Microsoft – Apple announced just yesterday that they were making their growing iWork office suite entirely free for all new Mac, iPad, iPod touch, and iPhone users.
Delta "in bed" with Microsoft
Here’s an interesting story for you – Microsoft has reportedly earned an exclusive contract with Delta that will result in thousands of Surface 2 devices being given to airline pilots following the launch of Microsoft’s next generation tablet. Reportedly, all pilots of the airline’s 757 and 767 aircrafts will be given Surface 2s as “replacements” for paper manuals. The deal is a huge win for a Microsoft that has failed to bottle lightning with their Surface lineup thus far, being forced to write off $900 million in missed Surface sales.
While this is good news for Microsoft, it would appear that it isn’t necessarily good news for all of Delta‘s airline pilots. One pilot revealed to popular Apple rumor blog AppleInsider that Delta pilots actually fought against the Surface deal and wanted the airline to negotiate with Apple for an iPad rollout, not a Microsoft driven Surface rollout.
The pilot familiar with the matter claimed that the pilots as a whole “fought hard for iPad”, but that at the end of the day Delta has a history of “being in bed” with Microsoft. Notably, American Airlines did indeed roll out over 8,000 iPads to cockpits last year. Delta will begin rolling out their Surface 2 program before the end of the year.
Microsoft's next tablet is stuck in the past
First, an admission; I’m typing this on an original Surface RT. It was a moment of weakness – I had the opportunity to snag one for cheap just a couple of days ago, and the technophile in me just had to jump at the opportunity. Much digital ink has been spilled defending or damning the original Surface, so I won’t add to that too terribly much but to say that, as well built a device that this is, it is absolutely not a machine without its flaws.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is where the true problem of the Surface lies. As many positives that the tablet may have, there are just as many negatives about it as there are positives, if not more. And while Microsoft may have gone a long way towards fixing some common issues people had with the Surface at their Surface 2 event this week – the poor battery life, the abysmal performance, and the relative heft, they also managed to leave the most disappointing aspect of the device unchanged – its usability.
Read more on what’s amiss with the Surface 2 after the break.
Base pricing was shown at today’s Surface 2 event – $449 for a 32GB Surface RT 2 and $899 for a Surface Pro 2. There are plenty of other configurations you can get your Surface 2 in, so let’s take a look at how much they’ll cost you:
Surface RT 2:
- 32GB: $449
- 64GB: $549
Surface Pro 2:
- 64GB (4GB RAM): $849
- 128GB (4GB RAM): $999
- 256GB (8GB RAM): $1299
- 512GB (8GB RAM): $1799
As you can see, the new Surface takes the same price point as the first generation which is, for lack of better terms, not cheap. However, let’s put that aside for a moment and take a look at where you can get a Surface 2. Aside from stores here in the US, you will be able to buy one in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom with China getting the Surface 2 in November.