Microsoft announced the Surface Pro 3 today, which aims to put the squeeze on enterprise tablet shipments. It’s a WinTel all-the-way tablet that is also an Ultrabook that looks like a very capable alternative to buying both types of devices. In light of Apple’s 16% year-over-year decline in iPad shipments last quarter, the potential for the pure-play large tablet market may be over estimated, because while touchscreens are important, keyboards are needed to get work done. Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 was designed to fit this opportunity, which Android and iOS tablets with accessory keyboards don’t address as well as a Windows 8.1 device does with a keyboard.
The Surface Pro 3 is a family of tablets running Windows 8.1 that, in the beefy configurations depicted below, won’t be discernable from a notebook.
The high-end Surface Pro with 512 GB of ROM and 8 GB of RAM at $1,949 competes very favorably with top-of-the-line Ultrabooks, such as the Dell XPS13 and Thinkpad Helix, and has a big advantage over both, with more ROM for solid-state disk because storage is so important to notebook functionality. The Surface Pro 12-inch display with a 2160-x-1440 resolution beats both the Dell and Thinkpad Ultrabooks, as well as the Macbook Air. Microsoft’s entry here beats all three as the lightest, at 1.76lbs, and the thinnest, at 0.36 inches.
Microsoft has paid a lot of attention to designing this device to include the necessary full-featured accessories that makes it adaptable as an Ultrabook. The keyboard, called a “typepad cover,” received a strong review from The Verge, and the hinged support has been redesigned for a wider range of adjustment to allow the Surface Pro 3 to be used comfortably on one’s lap. Handwriting recognition and the stylus have been improved and integrated with OneNote, so that a tap from the stylus will awake the device and simultaneously launch OneNote.
This is a very good alternative for the enterprise to replace the notebook and tablet because it runs all of Microsoft’s productivity applications. The oft-maligned Windows 8.1 may surprisingly be an advantage for both enterprises and Microsoft in this converged tablet and Ultrabook segment. Although enterprises have resisted Windows 8.1 in favor of Windows 7, compared to many enterprise iOS and Android tablet scenarios, a Windows 8.1 tablet device is an advantage because it will be easier for system administrators to secure and manage. This dual-purpose tablet and Ultrabook will be a smooth first introduction to Windows 8.1 for some customers, because Windows 7 doesn’t run on tablets and won’t be an issue.
The Surface Pro 3 does nothing to help Microsoft in its disappointing consumer performance; however, the Surface Pro 3 will get a thorough look from enterprise buyers who need to deliver tablet and notebook functionality, Microsoft productivity application compatibility, and enterprise-grade security.