Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A quick look at Microsoft's Surface

There are lots of articles and reviews on Microsoft's recently launched Surface and Tablet devices so it is hard to have a "new" viewpoint.  However, here is my initial reaction to MS Surface model I have been playing with:
  • Sweet spot: A neat tablet for office workers. Familiar Windows look-and-feel retained in the “desktop” mode. Caveat: will require user-training re-learning (pinch, toggle apps etc) to run apps in the metro/tablet mode
  • Should have a seamless windows experience once we dock and use a bigger screen, mouse and regular keyboard
  • Assuming windows authentication, security, single-signon etc apply, easy to enforce current IS management policies
  • Big plus: comes with USB port: for users to transfer data and files without the need to be on the cloud/network. I could easily connect a mouse, keyboard etc to the Surface and work in a desktop mode.
Where it Surface may get challenged by other BYOD alternatives:

  • Corporations are already moving user/business applications to VDI mode. This will make other alternatives (iPADs) equally attractive in the workplace
  • Cool factor: If MS/Market positions Surface as a tablet for “grown ups.” Road-warriors may be hesitant to bring it to sales/client meetings on the road, a fate BB is suffering (ref: recent #NYT article - The BlackBerry as Black Sheep and my blog post on the topic)
  • Practical challenge: Cold boot time is over 45 seconds. iPad and Android tablets take much less time to boot up. Not cool.
  • Backward compatibility: ARM version running Windows RT is not backward compatible. Users will be unable to install oder Windows apps.  Cost benefit of x86-powered device will have to be factored in
Note : What I meant by “official alternative to BYOD” is around the thinking: if a good percentage of mobile users go for BYOD, corporate IT may rethink their llaptop upgrades and replacements (would be at a smaller scale). This is assuming iPAD/BYOD users who can access business applications using VDI wouldn’t really want a work-laptop replacement. Corporate IT will then offer an “official alternative to BYOD” (laptop replacement) only for the smaller subset of users. 

Bottomline Yes, Microsoft Surface can be "the official"  (Corporate IT) alternative to BYOD and will get the job done nicely!


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