Microsoft’s Surface Pro 2 is said to be readying itself for launch soon, in time for the holiday season. Does it have what it takes to reverse the downward spiral the Windows brand is in? Can it get people excited to use Windows again? Based on the mismanagement of the previous edition of the Surface Pro, I have my doubts. But the good thing is it’s got all the reasons and many indicators in its favour, if MS plays their cards correctly. And that’s a BIG IF. Is THIS the post-PC world’s ideal device? Let’s see what it’s got and how they can plan to up-end the fastest growing segment of the tech industry ever (courtesy the iPad).

It’s said to use Intel’s new Haswell processor. Haswell, as you may already know, increased the 13″ Macbook Air’s battery life from 7 hours (great) to 12 hours (ZOMFG!!). Even the 11″ MacBook Air went from 5 to 9 hours. As good as an iPad!

MacBook Air battery life - All day, no sweat.
MacBook Air battery life – All day, no sweat.

For the Surface Pro, the battery life will go from 5 hours (meh) to…..7 hours!! (hmm)

Oh oh before I forget, it will also have a 2-way adjustable kickstand, compared to the single option pop-out kickstand last year!

The perfect angle for your stomach
Surface Pro kickstand

Really?! In the entire year that Microsoft had to upgrade its ALPHA device, the future of its hardware, the thing they want other OEMs to follow, what they would ideally want to base their company off – they got a new chip from Intel and added another step to its kickstand??

I guess people are sure gonna be lining up for that!

Here’s a few suggestions:

Optimise the Windows 8 OS to the point where they could get at least 9-10 hours of battery life? That’ll at least get the Surface Pro 2 in the same league as the iPad, leave alone the Macbook Airs.

Make it thinner so people can also use it as a tablet. They could also look at the aspect ratio. There can be something like too wide a screen.

Surface Pro vs iPad4
Surface Pro vs iPad4

Let go of the Windows brand. It’s over. I don’t want a legacy brand with a fresh coat of paint. I’d rather have a gutsy new electric bike with an option to go back in time just in case I needed my dad’s old scooter. This is why bicycles and motorbikes fared better than mopeds. Imagine if Xbox was called the Windows Playbox or Windows Gamestation. Would it have sold as much?

Reposition the tablets and have a clear purpose. The current Surface isn’t the best of both worlds (laptop / tablet). It’s a bad compromise, not doing either of the jobs well. It’s too bulky and wide for a tablet, since no one uses a 10″ widescreen tablet in  landscape mode. And not the best laptop, since you can’t use it as a ‘lap’top with only the 22 degree kickstand angle.

Is it a laptop with a touchscreen? Is it a tablet with a keyboard? Is it both? What is its ideal use scenario? And don’t give me the jackofalltrades bullshit. That’ll take it nowhere. Have one clear purpose, and market the hell out of it. Maybe make it the ideal executive device, you can use it for all your office work, and it’s great for a conference table presentation too. Yuppies were defined by their Blackberries. Now they’ll have Surfaces. Or something else, just find that niche and go with it, the market expands once you hit critical mass.

Surface Pro Zombies
Surface Pro Zombies

Currently, it’s just a glorified desktop that can sometimes be used a a tablet. Don’t get me wrong, I was one of the few extremely optimistic people with the Surface Pro, and was planning to get it to replace my old MacBook. But the reviews and specs just didn’t let it fly. While Microsoft claimed a ‘no compromise’ approach for the Surface, it just seemed like one big compromise.

The world is now an ecosystem race, not a hardware / software market like the old days. Make Windows 8 developer friendly, get developers without having to pay them. Give a larger share than Apple / Google’s 70%. Make it easy for them to develop on any platform, be it Windows, Chrome, Mac OSX or even iOS and Android. Even Apple had to release iTunes for Windows in order to get the iPod deep into the mainstream market. Sometimes, you’ve gotta lose the small fish to get the big one.

I wouldn’t knock down MS’s attempts at innovation. They have some crazy things happening in R&D, most notably the Kinect sensor, their ‘Courier’ tablet concept (which was shut down because it didn’t have the Office or Windows branding possibilities). But they need to let go of legacy brands and systems and be prepared to cannibalise their own markets to break in the new. Or someone else will.