Microsoft Surface Pro Tablet: What They Got Right on Hardware Design


Microsoft Surface Pro Tablet: What They Got Right on Hardware Design

The gadget repair blog iFixit claimed today that Microsoft’s new tablet Surface Pro is even harder to repair than Apple’s iPad.  I’m not surprised at all. The entire ‘Surface’ tablet initiative is an attempt from the software giant to go vertical, go mobile and go relevant after all. Apple has been practicing the ‘vertical model’ artfully for years, and with great success. Tighter integration between software and hardware offers more streamlined products, which is extremely essential in the mobile era. Microsoft got it right when designing the Surface tablet’s hardware in several fronts:

1. They design the device to be a mobile device, not a portable version of a desktop counterparts. (cough..netbook…cough)

They seems to adopting ‘Mobile First’ motto in hardware design. That’s why they cram every components together tightly to make it as slim as possible. (which they had to, Apple has set the bar so high now with iPad and iPad Mini) This also lead to why it’s so hard to repair, because it’s not designed to be so like desktop/laptop PC did.

2. Go high quality, high-end, instead of cheap

When Microsoft first announced the price for Surface tablet, everyone was hit with surprise. It’s even more expensive than iPad. Crazy? Reality. Because the materials and components they use on the tablet are good quality ones, not cheap plastics. This at least enables them to compete with Apple on hardware, which is a very prevalent strategy adopted by most Android OEMs. Meanwhile, let’s not forget that Windows is not designed to be ‘lean’ and ‘streamlined’, they are designed to be ‘everything for everyone’, thus requires more hardware power to run smoothly, or at least not to sluggish.

I don’t really believe Microsoft want to move into hardware and compete head-on with their loyal OEM partners. I think what they really trying to do is like Google making Nexus: Set the yardstick and standard, so OEMs can follow. And showcase what the ‘best practice’ can do. OEMs not moving as fast as Microsoft has expected is another reason too.

3. Make it harder to repair instead of easier. 

The normal life span of a desktop/laptop PC is around 2 to 4 years. For mobile device, the number is much smaller. We’re talking about 9-18 months. Mobile device is designed to be disposable in the first place. This is actually a positive drive on the sales for mobile device since people will upgrade their device every year or so, buying new models. Making the device less ‘repairable’ will in effect encourage people to replace it with newer model instead of repairing it. (And R&R is a cost on Microsoft side too, which isn’t what the company used to handle as a software company)

Now it seems the hardware is pretty competitive already. The Windows 8 OS, on the other hand, seems to still has a long way to go on user interface and user experience. Early reports of Surface Pro sold out in Microsoft Stores and Best Buy could be an encouraging sign, but no one can say for sure before the actual sales number released.

What do you think of Surface Pro’s design? Will it gain any traction on the market? Leave a comment and let me know!




One thought on “Microsoft Surface Pro Tablet: What They Got Right on Hardware Design

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