Microsoft Is Planning An iPad Killer

Microsoft Is Planning An iPad Killer
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The Microsoft Surface has been a massive success. Although it might not have the biggest sales volumes, it defined the desktop-tablet computer product category and put the company on the map as a maker of premium hardware. But, at the same time, Apple’s iPad has remained the leader in the 9-inch tablet space. That’s set to change with a smaller, low cost Surface expected later this year.

A Bloomberg report says Microsoft will be making a US$400 tablet that will look similar to the iPad with a 10-inch display and rounded corners. Unlike the current Surface portables, it will have USB-C ports for external connectivity and charging. It’s expected to run on Intel silicon.

One of the barometers I use to understand what devices people are using is to observe what devices people are using on planes and in airport lounges. In those places, I see a lot of Surface Pro devices and other similar tablets. That’s a big shift from a couple of years ago when I’d see a lot more Macs.

What I don’t see are a lot of people using iPads for work or business – Microsoft’s sweet sport when it comes to computer hardware. Similarly, my observations in schools, particularly secondary and beyond, is that iPads are no longer the flavour of the month with Surface Pro and similar devices also favoured.

That begs the question – why would Microsoft bother? Perhaps, given they have done all the hard technical work in designing the larger Surface Pro, they figure the effort to add another option to their range is a relatively low cost and low risk. It will likely run one of the current versions of Windows 10 so there’s so special software to develop and the company has their hardware supply chain in order.

So, it looks like a relatively easy addition for the company to add and it will give them another entry point by engaging customers at a lower price point.

My feeling is this is part of a longer-term strategy to create life-long customers. If they can get customers using and liking their products earlier by offering a low cost device that kids can get their hands on then it potentially creates a lifelong association.


  • I love my surface (pro 3) and would get another one if a) the warranty was still 2 years and b) the screen size was bigger (something around the 35 cm mark) but then this eats into the surface book space which is in another league of premium device and the complete lack of repairability or upgradeability is somethething that does limit its longevity.
    windows 10 still isn’t tablet friendly enough to shrink the size down further. the scroll bars, windows explorer, non uwp apps and parts of the os screens still have a very windows xp/vista/7 feel to their design and use with a mouse.
    A phone on the other hand…knowing one could plug it into a monitor to do desktop type productivity, that would be more appealing (I reeeeallly miss windows 8.1 and 10 mobile 🙁 (android for my windows mobile only past, just feels like such a mess of menus and hidden options, i am struggling with it)

  • What I don’t see are a lot of people using iPads for work or business

    Yeah but they’re in nearly every school on the planet. Acer are even releasing a Chromebook tablet to try and break into that market.

  • People don’t use iPads because they the best tablet, they use iPads because they arguably have the best-supported ecosystem that works so well with other Apple hardware.

    • I feel it’s the other way around, they have an Apple ecosystem because they have iPads. They have iPads because Apple’s marketing strength is in it’s evangelical marketing so people buy them because everyone else is rather than because they are the best option.

      • Apple launched the iPad in April 2010 with roughly 30,000 applications and by March 2011 they had 75,000 specific iPad applications for it. Their ecosystem sells their products because it isn’t replicated as easily on other ecosystems due to Apple having an iron-grip on their hardware/software.

  • Small Windows tablets have been tried before – and nobody really wanted them because Windows is still an awful tablet OS. The reason the iPad has consistently performed well in the tablet sector is because of its strong app support and iOS also working well on a larger screen. Apple did the right thing (surprisingly) by strongly encouraging devs to support larger screens and higher resolution displays, and trying to make iOS seamless across both smartphones and tablets.

    Windows 10 is still a compromise between a desktop OS and a tablet OS, except while it’s a competent desktop OS, it’s still an awful tablet OS. The fact that the Windows App Store has effectively languished with poor 3rd party dev support only compounds this problem. To get any sort of work done you’re going to need desktop apps and you’re going to have a shitty time using them on a touch screen, especially one as tiny as this.

    The tablet sector in general appears to be failing anyway – people end up using them as laptops if they really want to get work done, or they end up using their oversized smartphone (remember ‘phablets’?) if they don’t.

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