Microsoft has at long last announced pricing for the Surface Pro model, due out after the holidays. It will set buyers back $899, assuming any can be found.
This thing has the stench of fail all over it. Here’s why:
• The price. It will be harder to use than an Ultrabook, but cost the same or more.
• The size. Nobody has figured out a way to sell a tablet bigger than ten inches. Even Apple’s “ten-inch” iPad isn’t much bigger than nine and a half.
• The weight. It’s twice as thick as the Surface RT, so you can bet it’s in the three pound range. That’s as much as a MacBook Air, or a Windows Ultrabook.
• The screen. For $499 you can get a fourth-generation iPad pushing more even more pixels (three million of them, or 50% more than Surface), packed into a tighter space. Honestly, the Retina Display is breathtaking. This… isn’t.
• The OS. It runs Windows, which has flopped in the tablet space for more than a decade now.
• The stylus. Seriously, WTF? Microsoft has been trying and failing to sell stylus-based tablets without success for ten years, and their Big New Idea is a semi-touch OS with… a stylus? You’ll need it though, because Windows 8 is not a touch operating system. It has some touch features, but it is meant for a trackpad or a mouse.
• The price. Again. That $899 doesn’t include the $129 you’ll need to spend on the fancy keyboard, because (everybody say it with me now) Windows 8 is not a touch operating system. MS includes the cheaper version of the keyboard cover with the Surface RT for free, and they should have done the same here. Windows 8 without a keyboard is a like a fish without… a set of gills.
The Surface Pro will sell to a few Windows diehards and to stylus fans, which is a Venn diagram made of one circle.
The tragedy is, the Surface should have been a contender. The hardware is gorgeous, but the OS (both OSes, actually) is all wrong. If Steve Ballmer could see past his “Windows Everywhere” flop sweat, he’d realize that Windows Phone 8 is a damn fine touch OS — and that WP8 is what Surface should run.
Instead, the Surface Jr. runs Windows RT, which is Redmond’s redheaded stepchild. It isn’t quite touch and it won’t run Windows programs. And the Surface Sr. has Win8 unceremoniously grafted into a tablet so big and heavy it could box cruiser weight.
Heads should roll over this mess, starting with Ballmer’s big fat shiny one.
CORRECTION: The Surface Pro weighs only two pounds, not three. So why is it so thick? The only thing I can think of is that Core i5 CPU needs plenty of airflow.