Microsoft has not seen the results it hoped for with its Windows RT Surface tablets or its Windows 8 operating system. Will consumer reception of its latest Surface PCs be any better?
Microsoft on Tuesday announced its Surface family of PCs is growing. Dubbed Surface Windows 8 Pro, the newest model hits store shelves next month in Microsoft's U.S. and Canada stores, MicrosoftStore.com, Staples and Best Buy, among other locations.
Despite the lackluster sales, the official line out of Redmond is optimistic. Panos Panay, general manager for Microsoft Surface, said "the response to Surface has been exciting to see."
An $800 PC-Like Tablet
The Surface Windows 8 Pro is powered by an Intel Core i5 processor. That gives it the power and performance of a laptop in a tablet package. Microsoft is positioning the new product as suitable for home, office and the road because of its size and ability to run Windows 8 applications, as well as current Windows 7 desktop applications.
The Surface Windows 8 Pro comes in at $800 and is available in 64 GB and 128 GB models. A Surface pen with Palm Block technology, designed to work with Surface to let customers edit, collaborate and get things done, is included with Surface Windows 8 Pro.
Microsoft also announced it would soon make the Surface Windows RT model available in 13 additional markets. That's more than double the number of markets in which Surface is currently available. What's more, the company said, new Surface accessories will soon be available to allow customers to personalize their experience. But is that enough to turn consumer's heads?
Who Wants a Surface?
According to NPD Group, touchscreen laptops account for only 4.5 percent of Windows 8 sales. NPD also reports that the consumer electronics market in general is in a downward cycle, which doesn't help Microsoft's chances at stellar success with its Surface line-up or Windows 8. Microsoft has publicly stated that it has sold 60 million Windows 8 licenses to date.
Roger Kay, principal analyst at Endpoint Technologies Associates, said the Surface RT tablets have not been a big hit nor have the desktops with the Windows 8 operating system. Will the new Surface Windows 8 Pro break that trend?
"My sense is that businesses will buy only a few, since the use case has yet to be established, and businesses are quite conservative. Several I've talked with have said that they expect to experiment with touch-enabled Windows platforms, but that doesn't sound like a whole lot of volume," Kay told us.
"If RT was appealing to anyone, it would be consumers. Windows 8 Pro gives Surface a shot at some business volume, but I still think it will be modest. Businesses are slow adopters of anything."