Microsoft Surface: Not a tablet, not a laptop, it’s a third category of device.

October 22nd, 2013

SurfaceMost people still look at Surface as a head-to-head competitor with the iPad and Android devices. But it’s not – it’s a different kind of machine. It fills a need not met by the current generation of laptops and tablets.

Notebooks are, of course, great content creation devices. You can take them around and about, put them down on a desk or table, and work. The latest MacBook Airs and ultrabooks are so light and thin you can slip them in a briefcase and go, like a legal pad. And you can attach a laptop easily to a keyboard, mouse, and big external monitor. But laptops aren’t great content-consumption devices. Laptops are, ironically enough, awkward to use for hours at a time on your lap top. You’re pretty much limited to sitting upright at a flat surface if you want to use them for long stretches. That’s a lousy way to read long prose, or watch a movie or TV show.

Content consumption is important to business. Business users need to read reports, email, whitepapers, business news, presentations, spreadsheets, and information delivered over analytics dashboards. That’s where tablets come in. Tablets are great content consumption devices. You can bring ‘em anywhere, use them standing up, lying down, or sitting around. You can easily tap out a couple of paragraphs of response to email, or annotation on a PDF. But tablets are lousy for creation. For most people.

Because the Surface Pro 2 is an x86 Windows machine, it can be managed like any other laptop or desktop in the enterprise, including Active Directory, group policies, and Microsoft and third-party management tools. The Surface Pro 2 runs Microsoft Office with Outlook RT, and it supports third-party Mobile Device Management (MDM) tools and third-party VPN clients.

The Surface looks to be a tasty meal for enterprise and business users. That’s if Microsoft can sell it.

Read more by Mitch Wagner.