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Surface Pro 3: A big clue about Microsoft’s future

That is not the pill we anticipated. However it says rather a lot about the place Microsoft is headed.

Somewhat than saying a brand new Surface Mini yesterday, the Redmond firm went in the opposite direction, unveiling a super-sized, 12-inch Surface Pro 3 with new options designed to make it a extra affordable laptop computer alternative.

Bloomberg reports that new Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and new gadgets chief Stephen Elop nixed plans to point out a smaller Surface on the occasion, involved about robust competitors available in the market for small tablets — not solely the iPad mini and Android gadgets but in addition current Home windows tablets.

clickinClearly a Surface Mini was within the works. The corporate had strongly hinted at the Surface Mini by inviting reporters to a “small gathering.” And Microsoft Surface chief Panos Panay appeared, at instances, like he was dragging issues out on stage, maybe filling the void left by the canceled Surface Mini launch.

The choice indicators that Microsoft won’t attempt to fill each area of interest with its gadgets, and be all issues to all customers, except it may well deliver one thing distinctive to the market. And it additionally signifies that Elop is shaking issues up with a distinct perspective as he rejoins the corporate to steer its {hardware} and gadgets group, following the latest completion of Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia’s gadgets and companies group.

It’s additionally shaping up as a defining second for Microsoft’s new CEO.

Right here’s how Nadella defined Microsoft’s mindset in his opening remarks: “We’re not fascinated by competing with our OEMs relating to {hardware}. In truth, our purpose is to create new classes and spark new demand for our total ecosystem. That’s what evokes us and motivates us with what we’re doing in our gadgets and {hardware}.”

Whether or not the corporate’s {hardware} companions see it that means stays to be seen. Microsoft’s on-stage scale might have featured a MacBook Air, however most of these laptops that the Surface Pro would substitute come from Lenovo, Dell, HP and others that make Home windows machines … and, more and more, Google Chromebooks.

Wall Avenue appears to love Microsoft’s transfer, with the company’s stock up modestly this morning.

In a notice to shoppers this morning, Nomura analyst Rick Sherlund wrote favorably about the choice: “We appreciated the bigger display screen format, which performs extra to Microsoft’s strengths in productiveness than the a lot anticipated 7- or 8-inch Surface mini pill/laptop computer that’s extra interesting to the pill person the place Microsoft has no presence and many competitors (there could also be no “oxygen” down market the place iPad Mini and Android tablets dominate the market).”

However the bigger query is whether or not the Surface Pro 3 will truly be taken severely as a laptop computer alternative. Customers will nonetheless have to make some compromises with a Surface Pro 3 vs. a standard laptop computer.

For instance, reviewer Ed Bott discovered rather a lot to love, together with an improved Kind Cowl keyboard, however noted in his initial hands-on report for ZDNet, “The most important stumbling block for some would-be consumers goes to be that kickstand, which is much extra versatile than earlier than however nonetheless will really feel extra awkward within the lap than a standard clamshell design. (There’s a cause they name them laptops.)”

Anand Lal Shimpi writes on AnandTech, “In apply the brand new hinge with extra secure kind cowl creates a way more laptop-like base, which positively is useful when typing in your lap. In my transient time with the evaluation unit I nonetheless discovered it to be much less secure than a laptop computer, nevertheless it’s a far nearer approximation to the laptop computer expertise than it ever has been earlier than.”

The Surface Pro 3 ranges from $799 to $1,949, with no keyboard, which prices $130. Pre-orders begin to day, and the pill hits shops subsequent month.

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