Why has Microsoft entered the device market with the Surface?

Why would a software company that is flat out creating new versions of all of its key products from Office to Server to desktop to accounting and CRM be biting off a chunk of the device market as well?

Microsoft has always seen the equipment manufacturers as partners and has not entered into their market place much until now.

Recently I was talking with some Microsoft executives and it was explained to me that one of the frustrations for Microsoft has been the low end of the PC market, where a PC may meet the minimum requirements for the Runs with Microsoft badge but it has some low-end components that undermine the quality of the operating system.

For example, a PC may look great when one reads its component list but it may lack a quality graphics card and so images load so slowly as to render the machine a dud for running Windows 7.

So with the release of Windows 8, Microsoft has set more stringent requirements for each and every component of the hardware that allows a machine to qualify for the Ready for Windows 8 badge. They have also had thousands of staff (I heard 6500) working on the design and manufacture of the Surface for about four years to force the device suppliers out there to lift their standard.

It has long been observed that Apple software runs well because Apple controls the quality of the hardware, which Microsoft did not do until now.

Microsoft do not want the Surface to be the only device for Windows 8 the way Apple make the iPad the only tablet for IOS. But they do want their clients to get a great device to ensure Windows 8 runs as well or better than the iPad.

I am still waiting for Microsoft to send me a Surface (unsubtle hint) so I can compare the two devices but I am excited about the features and functions Windows 8 has to offer and will be grabbing a Surface as fast as I can to see how easy life becomes with one platform across all three of my devices – phone, tablet and PC.

When we look at the range of tightly integrated products Microsoft has across its range of platforms and devices I believe there are a lot of compelling reasons for people and businesses to switch from previous platforms and devices to the Windows 8 environment; especially when it is combined with Office 365 and SkyDrive to allow us to access our files on the move from any one of the devices using the same applications.

This is set to remove the frustrations of the things you can do on one device but not on the other that has us shifting files around to view and edit them appropriately.

I am not suggesting that you run out and buy Windows 8 and integrate it into your business. However, I am suggesting it is time to start planning upgrades and deployments and doing compatibility testing to ensure your business systems will migrate to the new platform.

Now more than ever the IT department cannot afford to be complacent in the SME market place, as the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) proponents will be bringing in Windows 8 devices very soon and expecting them to work. As people learned in New York last week, we cannot hold back a force of nature.

Windows 8 and tablet devices including the Surface are bound to be a force of nature in the SME market place which is still dominated by Microsoft technologies. If you are not ready for the onslaught seek help sooner rather than later.

David Markus is the founder of Combo – the IT services company that ensures IT is never an impediment to growth.




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