Monday, May 06, 2013

Bill Gates: The Surface is the tablet iPad owners really want

Is it sour grapes? Quite a few people would characterize it that way. In an interview Monday morning on CNBC, Bill Gates, Chairman of Microsoft, described the Surface tablet as the tablet that iPad users really, really want.

Claiming that the current crop of tablets suffer from a lack of PC features, Gates said:
With Windows 8, Microsoft is trying to gain market share in what has been dominated by the iPad-type device. But a lot those users are frustrated. They can't type. They can't create documents. So we're providing them something with the benefits they've seen that has made that a big category but without giving up what they expect in a PC.

If you have Surface (RT) or Surface Pro, you have the portability of the tablet but the richness of terms of the keyboard, Microsoft Office of the PC.
If they are frustrated, there are a lot of frustrated iPad users out there.

Last quarter, Apple sold 19.5 million iPads and iPad minis (the company does not break out the segments). Meanwhile, the world's top PC maker, HP, sold 11.7 million PCs, according to Gartner.

What about those Surface tablets? According to research firm IDC, Microsoft shipped about 900,000 Surface RT and Surface Pro tablets in the same quarter that Apple sold 19.5 million iPads.

Microsoft, like Apple, does not separate its tablet shipments so it's unknown how many RT tablets were shipped vs. how many Pro tablets. Surface RT tablets run Windows RT, which is designed for ARM processors. Surface Pro tablets run standard Windows 8, the same as on currently shipping PCs and laptops. It can thus run standard Microsoft Office, too.

Gates would be correct if every iPad user wanted to use their iPad like a laptop. Most don't, though. The iPad is stellar for surfing the web, light emailing, videos, and games, and iOS is easy for even the most stubborn luddite among us to pick up.

That doesn't mean that Surface Pro tablets won't make a dent. We, ourselves, were close to buying one, until we were turned off by two things: a) poor battery life, b) Windows 8.



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