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.