Microsoft Surface Won't Kill PC Industry, Analyst Says - InformationWeek

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Microsoft Surface Won't Kill PC Industry, Analyst Says

Fears that Redmond's entry into the hardware business could undercut the likes of Dell, HP, and Acer are premature, says one market watcher.

8 New Windows 8 Tablets
8 New Windows 8 Tablets
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Microsoft's first foray into the PC hardware business doesn't mean the company is going to ditch its longtime business model of licensing the Windows operating system to so-called original equipment manufacturers, according to one analyst.

"Microsoft won't abandon its profitable Windows licensing model," said Forrester analyst Sarah Rotman Epps, in a blog post following Redmond's introduction of its self-made Surface tablet earlier this week. "There's little risk that the future of Windows is total vertical integration."

Microsoft unveiled Surface on Monday at a secretive press event at Milk Studios in Los Angeles.

The company plans to release two versions of the tablet. Surface for Windows RT will run the tablet-optimized Windows 8 RT operating systems on battery-saving ARM chips, while Surface for Windows 8 Pro will run the full-blown version of Windows 8 on more powerful Intel processors.

[ Why is Microsoft risking valuable partnerships by delivering a home-grown tablet? InformationWeek's Fritz Nelson explores 5 possible motivations in Microsoft Tablet Surfaces A New Strategy. ]

Microsoft did not offer any pricing details or specify a launch date, and left many other questions about the tablets unanswered.

The uncertainty around Microsoft's plans has prompted speculation in some corners that Redmond plans to abandon its tried and trusted model of focusing on software, while leaving hardware manufacturing to partners like Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Acer, and many others.

The thinking goes that producing its own tablets may be the only way Microsoft can offer devices that are price-competitive with products from Apple, which makes its own hardware, and OEMs that produce tablets based on Google's open source, free Android operating system.

But Rotman Epps believes such speculation is premature, calling the Surface "an experiment emboldened by the Xbox success." She cautioned, however, that Microsoft's decision to offer both ARM and Intel-based tablets that offer vastly different functionality--the ARM tablets, for instance, won't run software built for Windows 7 or older versions of the OS--could cause confusion among customers. Rotman Epps said, "Selling x86-based tablets in the same retail channels as Windows RT tablets will confuse consumers and sow discontent if consumers buy x86 and think they're getting something like the iPad."

Others, however, have noted that Apple's tablet marketing is also not exactly straightforward. Cupertino currently offers six different versions of its latest slate, which it simply refers to as the new iPad.

Windows 8 tablets and PCs are expected to be available sometime beginning in the fall.

Microsoft’s ambitious new OS tackles servers, PCs, and mobile devices. On the server side, we dig into the latest offering: Microsoft has boosted the capabilities of Hyper-V, streamlined management, and made other changes that IT will appreciate. Download the Windows 8 Vs. The World report now. (Free registration required.)

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User Rank: Apprentice
6/26/2012 | 5:33:48 PM
re: Microsoft Surface Won't Kill PC Industry, Analyst Says
The "six versions" of iPads all run the same software and apps (and are mostly backwards compatible.) By contrast the Microsoft tablets will Not run the same softwares. Not a comparable example at all.
User Rank: Ninja
6/21/2012 | 11:44:35 AM
re: Microsoft Surface Won't Kill PC Industry, Analyst Says
Yes, premature, because for that to happen Surface needs to be priced better and be of better quality than HP or Dell. While making better quality product is a piece of cake the suggested pricing by Microsoft is entirely off. The devices are too expensive to make any impact on the market. Just slapping the Windows logo on something no longer entices buyers.
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