Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 is an Ultrabook in Tablet’s Clothing

To be blunt, Microsoft totally blew its lead in mobile, has tried to come at the tablet market twice with Surface variants and now has decided that instead of a tablet vendor they will become a laptop vendor. In other words, they couldn’t cut it in the tablet space so they decided to move up-market (or down depending on perspective) to go after the Ultrabook segment.

And suffice it to say the Surface Pro 3 has what it takes to take on most every competitor out there – which of course makes us wonder exactly what Dell, HP, Samsung, Acer, Asus, Lenovo and others are thinking right now. Well, we do know but this is a family blog after all and profanity has no place in it. Moreover, we still can’t figure out how to get this page to beep out expletives.

To be a bit more specific the device has a screen size of 12 inches, 2160×1440 resolution, nine-hours of battery life an Intel Core I3-I7 processor. Internal RAM can range from 4-8 GB and storage can range from 128-512 GB. Like a laptop there is a USB 3.0 port as well as 2, 5 megapixel cameras, stereo microphones (can you say Skype?) Dolby powered sound and a microSD card reader.

I have read approximately 15 viewpoints on Surface Pro3 and they are all generally good. George Ou who I think is one of the brightest tech analysts anywhere wonders why the company is making a larger device while others seem to be going smaller. My answer is because they lost making a small tablet and they had to aim at Ultrabooks to do any marketshare damage. And they made the right choice because I want one – as long as it seems usable when I get a chance to review it. This is a big deal as I am not easily impressed. I am not sure I am thrilled with the lappability of the device but we’ll see what happens when I give it a whirl.

Now my day-to-day in-office device is a PC and I take a laptop and iPad with me when I travel. I like the Asus Zenbook Ultrabook line because I think they actually look better than Apple products in terms of design. Obviously no small compliment.

Why do I need another device when I travel? Getting a thousand or more emails per day using the iPad email app is quite a challenge. Also, Outlook is still far superior as an email client for massive amounts of messages. And then there is Flash support and some apps I use which just don’t work very well on an iPad.

What I’ve noticed over the years though is the Zenbook has slowed since I have started using it and I am sure it has to do with the frequent Windows updates that Microsoft sends the device. In my hotel room, I have quite often been disturbed as the damn thing decides to download, install, reboot and play a loud startup song in the middle of the night while I am sleeping.

There is something about a computer rebooting on its own that is unsettling – especially since I tend to lose the websites I was visiting when this happens.

Usability remains Microsoft’s biggest problem. The constant download of crap onto a device – even for ourown good is upsetting to most. I understand that the OS from Redmond is more open than iOS and as a result, security is a bigger problem. But the iPad is becoming a “post-PC” device precisely because it always works, lasts forever on a charge and is beyond easy to operate. The resulting pain-in-the-rear associated with “patch days” is one of the reasons people hate Microsoft devices.

Then there is Windows 8… When two people visiting my office for different reasons tell me they uninstalled Windows 8 in favor of 7 in the same week, you know the OS has a problem.

It is just another reminder of the ease-of-use gap between Apple and everyone else.

I get the sense Microsoft doesn’t understand the problem or doesn’t seem to have a fix. Obviously no one benefits from continuous updates but if you are trying to win in the tablet race, Windows 8 isn’t the vehicle to be using.

Quite often I have found myself using the iPad while waiting for OS upgrade installs on my PC. I am sure many of you have as well.

This is why Microsoft decided to make a larger device. They not only aren’t able to make inroads in tablets but they are losing share to Apple in laptops thanks to the Macbook Air.

This is the reason the Surface 3 is lighter and thinner than this particular device as it was the target. George Ou thinks that no one will use a tablet which is 12 inches in size and he is likely right because it is too unwieldy. It would work on your lap perhaps but holding it for a while like a book could certainly get uncomfortable.

So what we have is an Ultrabook in tablet’s clothing.

The Ultrabook is the ultimate Apple-defense – I have said that before. It seems Microsoft realizes it as well and doing its best to keep Cupertino from taking more share with this hybrid device designed to protect it on multiple fronts.

Will it work? If the reviews and specs as good as I have read and heard then I think Surface Pro 3 is a winner. Not because it creates a new category like smartphones or tablets did but because people need to upgrade their laptops. Moreover, the price here does seem high – they are going after the premium buyer – the same way Apple is. What will be very interesting to see is how well Microsoft can keep to list prices on these devices. Do they get nervous and slash them or keep them high and try to make the fight really apples to Apple?

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