Microsoft Just Getting Started with Surface Brand

Microsoft recently told ABC News that the Surface line is just getting started, possibly hinting to the rumored Surface smartphone slated for the second half of 2013.

Currently the company is facing "tepid" reviews stemming from the pricey Surface Pro tablet which just launched here in the States on Saturday. It also hasn’t released official numbers regarding the total number of Surface RT units sold since its debut back in late October 2012. The latter tablet has seemingly suffered from a lack of mainstream retailer support whereas the new Intel-based model may suffer setbacks due to its "professional" price.

"We are focused on the professional segment and the road warrior," Panos Panay, the General Manager of Microsoft Surface, told ABC News in a phone interview. "The Pro is targeted at the professional road warrior who's moving and traveling and cannot compromise performance whatsoever."

The Surface RT was developed as a cheaper-priced grab-and-go tablet whereas Surface Pro should be viewed more as a laptop. As it stands now, the ARM-based Surface RT starts at $499 whereas the Intel-based Surface Pro model, which can run desktop applications, starts at $999.

"The focus really was to bring to bear a great PC that can be used for everything you want it to as a professional and when you want to transform it to a tablet you have that," he said. "As opposed to the Surface RT, which came out where we wanted to create a grab-tablet experience, where if you wanted to do a little more or do work, you could."

Mike Angiulo, Microsoft's Corporate Vice President for Windows Planning, added that Microsoft didn't develop a Surface laptop because its partners are doing an excellent job producing Windows 8 solutions in that form factor. He then went on to indicate that Microsoft may have already had a Surface tablet on the drawing board when it began developing Windows 8.

So what's next? Does Microsoft plan on producing a Surface laptop anyway? Panay wouldn't comment directly on future product plans, ABC News said. He instead said that Microsoft considers this a marathon, not a sprint, and that it may take some time for the Surface Pro tablet to adopt. Previous rumors indicated that the next step is a Surface-branded phone from Nokia using the newest build of Windows Phone 8.

"This is a good marathon for us, we are pretty excited about the short term and the long term," Panay said in the interview. "When you ask if you are making a laptop or a notebook, we have a pretty good selection of things we have been working on. It's pretty exciting."

Given all the feathers Microsoft ruffled with its partners after the announcement of its own Surface tablet last year, it's interesting to hear Microsoft say it hasn't developed a laptop because of its partners. That said, we may have a 50-50 chance of seeing a Surface smartphone this year.

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  • diddo
    Someone please explain Baldmer that running after other successes of 5 years ago is hardly called a marathon.
  • back_by_demand
    Currently the company is facing "tepid" reviews stemming from the pricey Surface Pro tablet
    Kevin, where are these "tepid" reviews? you mean the ones on every other tech website on the face of the planet apart from Tom's Hardware?
    You mean like the review from Anandtech?
    Post your own review, use as much detail as they have, then come back, till then I just can't stomach this deliberate anti-Microsoft agenda that is being ram-rodded down our throats by what has frankly become a shoddy excuse for a tech website
  • Soda-88
    Concept of Surface Pro is fundamentally brilliant, the thing that's making it get 'tepid' reviews (even though they aren't as tepid as you might try to make people believe it is) is the fact that tech is not up to par just yet. Just imagine how much better Surface 2 Pro will be with Haswell CPU, GT3 IGP, 256-512GB SSD and hopefully a higher capacity battery.
    If rumours about GT3 being on par with GTX 650 are true, it'll single-handedly cause a true revolution in casual gaming, not the angry birds and other similar garbage that has been quoted as such for past few years.
    If they add couple of extra USB ports for mouse and proper keyboard, it'll make for a great BYOC LAN events too which could eventually help that niche, opening possibilities for more e-sports tournament organizers who can't necessarily afford to secure dozens of PCs for players to play on, but are willing to organize small events on a more narrow scale (regionally speaking), for example small prize tournament for BarCraft event (watching Starcraft II tournament in a bar, basically) goers.
  • NightLight
    still waiting for one here in europe, damnit!
  • goodegg
    Will it be like the Zune marathon they ran, where at the end, it was that one runner hobbled over as we painfully watched every labored step closer to the finish line, and then a complete collapse at the end? I like the Surface, and I can only hope that they decide if they want to make a very fast tablet or an extremely light (albeit mediocre) ultrabook.
  • susyque747
    Good luck with that, will be another Zune.
  • crabsncancer
    Companies and individuals who want an inexpensive laptop solution will not buy this. Companies and individuals who want an inexpensive tablet will not buy this. Like the Zune, this will have a niche market of followers but ultimately will fail in the end and in this case, the failure is critical because it decides Microsoft's future into the touch and tablet space.
  • -Fran-
    Man... I hope they come out with the Surface Toilet Paper for me.

    I'd put it to good use, not like the tablet that I don't know what it's good for.

  • people talk about windows 8 and the windows market place having to few apps like it's just another failed venture. the thing i don't think many understand is that it is Windows now, there's no reason for them to just can it in the future, it will only grow. All the future versions will have it, or at least some form of it. plus it just came out it takes time to build all the apps that the other platforms already have. As for the surface pro an the rt, i think as they get cheaper and they can make different models it may catch on, but i think it will be more likely that after people began to buy new computers they will see the advantage to have a tablet withe the same functions, give it a few years.
  • CaedenV
    what holds Surface RT back is the lack of development for desktop RT apps. If MS would open that up (as well as win8 desktop apps in the store) then it would change a lot very quickly for the platform. Nothing particularly wrong with metro, it has it's place, but let's not neuter a product that is perfectly capable of something more. Droping the price a little bit would be nice as well.

    Surface Pro is great, and is selling great. Problem is that they are not building more. Part of this is because they are conservative and do not want to jump all in on something that actually could fail. Part of this is because they are relatively new in their relationships with their hardware partners and it is going to take a little time to get them to be willing to ramp up production at a low price. Part of the reason is that they know that Haswell is going to have much better parts for Tablets, so they do not want to go full bore until they have the product that they want, rather than the first revision product that is merely fast enough to make things work. Take your pick, but my bet is that they will not really start true bulk manufacturing until gen 3 products.

    Surface Phone sounds interesting... but I think that Nokia has such a monumental following for the WP platform that this will probably be their hardest sell out of anything. Nokia has some 70+% of the WP market, and they were late to join the WP bandwagon... that is some serious work on their part. Still, I will be curious to see if they come up with something that is better than my 920... it is one sweet phone!

    At this point I will be very surprised if the NextBox does not get introduced as the Surface PC. Make it a closed system box with win8 that can do both the social/causal and hard core games, and then release Office for it, and bring the entire Windows Store to it. Then, take Xbox, and completely turn it into a distribution platform (like steam) rather than a piece of hardware. Instantly you have access to a huge market of computers more than capable of gaming which can tap into the service, and MS will get a cut of every game sold for both consoles and PC. Just be sure to have good sales from time to time to keep Steam users (like myself) happy.

    You want to make a closed ecosystem work? That is how you do it: Make an ecosystem where lots of people can bring their products in and sell them. Make solid hardware that becomes the standard, but do not close out other hardware vendors. Make good standard software for web browsing, searching, email, and multimedia viewing, but do not prevent software developers from making their own stuff which may be better. Make a closed app ecosystem, but do it in a way that makes viruses and malware a thing of the past, and where software developers can keep more of their money than on other platforms. In other words, make a complete package, but still make it profitable for others to come in and do their thing. Don't become Apple who alienates everyone, but also do not become Android which is so open that is lacks coherence. MS is shooting for that middle ground, and while I am not convinced MS will succeed at this, but I am more than happy to see them moving in this direction.