7 Ways to Save the Microsoft Surface

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It has a more dynamic interface. It has Office inside. It can run two apps on the same screen. And it has a USB port and a built-in kickstand. The iPad has none of these things, and the Microsoft Surface does. So why does Microsoft's first tablet already seem to be on the ropes? According to one estimate, Microsoft is slated to sell only between 500,000 to 600,000 Surfaces running Windows RT during the December quarter, well below expectations. To put this anemic performance in perspective, Apple moved 3 million new iPads and iPad minis in three days. 

Hope isn't lost for the Surface. There are some things Microsoft can do immediately to boost sales, as well as some changes the company should make to ensure that there is a second and third Surface. Given that this tablet is a beacon for Windows 8 adoption, there couldn't be more at stake. So listen up, Steve Ballmer & friends.

Editor-in-chief Mark Spoonauer directs LAPTOP's online and print editorial content and has been covering mobile and wireless technology for over a decade. Each week Mark's SpoonFed column provides his insights and analysis of the biggest mobile trends and news. You can also follow him on Twitter. 

Author Bio
Mark Spoonauer
Mark Spoonauer, LAPTOP Editor in Chief
Responsible for the editorial vision for Laptop Mag and Tom's Guide, Mark Spoonauer has been Editor in Chief of LAPTOP since 2003 and has covered technology for nearly 15 years. Mark speaks at key tech industry events and makes regular media appearances on CNBC, Fox and CNN. Mark was previously reviews editor at Mobile Computing, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc.
Mark Spoonauer, LAPTOP Editor in Chief on
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  • Phil T Says:

    I would just blame the OS....lol.

  • JW Says:

    you are a complete idiot. W8 runs every W7 app. The Surface RT runs Windows Store apps.

  • Larry Says:

    Probably too late to save Surface RT. Announcing Surface Pro at the same time was a mistake. Why buy something that the manufacturer tells you is obsolete?

    Surface RT with a smaller screen and no keyboard or desktop would have sold better as a $300 tablet.

    Surface Pro with the large screen and included keyboard, Windows 7 Pro and no touch screen would sell well at $600. Users are being loaded with features they don't need and don't want to pay for. Besides that you have to learn to use a UI that will surely change again in a year.

    W7 Pro s a better OS than W8 for productive users. W7 Pro has true legacy application support (XP Mode). W8 does not support pre W7 apps.

    Why spend $1200 for Surface Pro, then spend $100 to downgrade it to W7 Pro, so that you don't have to spend $2000 to upgrade your CAD apps?

    For the same money, you can buy a Samsung series 9 Ultrabook with W7 Pro that has better battery life, runs your old apps, and doesn't require you to waste a week of your valuable time learning a new UI? The 11.6 inch model is comparable in size and weight.

    A swiss army knife does nothing well.

    The cost of the machine is less than half of the total cost. Lay out the tasks you want it to run. Total the cost of the new app software you will need to run on it. Estimate the amount of hours you will take to learn the "new" UI and multiply them by what you sell your time for. Add it all together and decide if you can afford it.

    If you use it for entertainment with free apps and your time is worth nothing, go for the cheap tablet.

  • SWolf Says:

    Makes a lot of sense, though I would ditch the camera period BUT keep the Desktop UI. Finally understanding there were 2 UIs, for different purposes, was an epiphany moment. Too much stuff on the web focuses on comparing Windows Rt to iOS to Android machines. These miss the key issue. There is no perfect tablet out there and there never will be. In the abstract comparisons are always apricots to oranges to bananas. Every individual has to figure out what their needs are and then look for the tablet that comes closest to meeting those needs. For me it was time to move on from XP on an Asus netbook. I have some productivity needs, don't game or watch movies, but do want to surf, read and write emails and read books/magazines on a device. Having started with MS in the dark ages of MS-DOS, I'm just accustomed to things like office. So the Surface RT made (and makes) sense. Perfect? Hell no! Frustrating to learn? For sure! However, the instore personnel are great. And I would prefer access to Dropbox, Firefox and/or Chrome. In the final analysis, it comes closest to meeting my needs.

    Thanks for an objective and sensible overview. A nice balance to all the fanboy comments of all stripes as well as to the always-ready-to-erupt flame wars.

  • Lucho Says:

    Excellent comments! Specially the one about ditching the desktop completely on the RT version. It´s just too confusing to have 2 interfaces, specially when one of them is so limited.

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