In the last couple of years, Microsoft has finally started to feel threatened from the likes of Google and Apple and have often been seen trying to play the catch up game. Last year, when the company unveiled Windows RT and the Surface RT tablet running it, it was considered as Microsoft’s answer to the iPad and iOS. However, unlike the iPad, Surface RT turned out to be a huge flop, setting back Microsoft by $900 million.
Come 2013, and Microsoft is back with Surface 2, the successor to Surface RT. Microsoft has made a number of improvements in the new tablet, including a more powerful processor, an improved display and other changes here and there. Yet, the biggest problem that plagued the original Surface RT continues to haunt this one too. Yes, we’re talking about Windows RT.
No doubt the new Windows RT 8.1 is a much more appealing package than its predecessor. Yet, it is fundamentally the same OS that cannot run legacy apps and has a desktop mode, which doesn’t find much use. Unlike iOS, Windows Store doesn’t even have a lot of apps to. Some of the most basic apps used by consumers like Instagram, VLC and Chrome are missing from the Windows Store and, well, that’s the only place from where you can install anything on your Surface 2.
So one can’t help but ask why is Microsoft trying to shoot itself in the foot the second time? Well, we don’t know. It might be a small part of a greater image that is unclear to us (since the company needs to succeed in the ARM space as well). For now we’ll just concentrate on what could have been instead.
Given that Surface Pro 2 is the tablet that will do all the heavy work, Surface 2 is supposed to be a tablet that can be used as an entertainment product with occasional work. Well, if you’ve been following the tech industry, you’ll know that the Intel Bay Trail processors are out and they show a lot more promise than last year’s Clover Trail. These Atom processors are fully capable of running Windows 8 (or 8.1) without stressing the battery. Yes, they aren’t even close to the performance that the Haswell (fourth generation Intel Core I processors) chips offer, yet they are neck to neck with the ARM offerings. That means that although, you might not be able to do a lot of things that require huge processing power, your day to day apps should be fine.
Microsoft could have easily chosen a Bay Trail powered Surface 2 that would have cost the same and would have offered a similar battery life. Not only that, but it would have sold in much more volumes and also help avoid the confusion between different operating systems for the consumers.
Not only that, but they could have also reduced the price by opting for a smaller form factor than 10 inches. Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 are a perfect example of how not the biggest and best translates into the biggest source of income for the company.
We don’t know yet what Microsoft is saving for the future. However, it seems like there could have been choices made otherwise this time around. Hopefully the Surface 2 isn’t as big a hit on the company’s finances as its predecessor.