Microsoft Surface tablet price the least of IT pros' concerns

Money is no issue for IT pros considering the new Microsoft Surface tablet. Its app ecosystem and its productivity value are still major concerns.

If you ask IT pros what they care about most when they choose a tablet (other than the iPad) for the enterprise, you might guess they will say pricing.

You'd guess wrong.

In fact, Microsoft recently disclosed pricing for its ARM-based Surface tablets that puts it on par with Apple's iPad. For many IT pros, it's not enough to drive lasting interest in the device because the true value of the product remains in question.

"Enterprises might buy 10 to 15 [tablets] to kick the tires, but after that it's a different story," said Brian Katz, director of mobile engineering for Sanofi Pharmaceuticals, based in Bridgewater, N.J.

Prices for the Microsoft Surface tablet, which runs Windows RT, will start at $499 for the 32 GB version without the Touch Cover, which is a keyboard/cover hybrid. A 32 GB version that includes the Touch Cover will cost $599. Microsoft also sells a 64 GB model for $699 with a Touch Cover included.

Having Office is a big differentiator favoring the Surface tablet over the iPad, but it's unclear how robust Office will be on Microsoft's tablets, Katz said. Another drawback is that the keyboard cover isn't included in the price of the tablet.

"If you can't use the [Surface] for work, then what's the point?" Katz said. "Do these devices make sense if an organization's iPad program is going well? No. There's nothing about the Surface I've seen that makes me think businesses would prefer it over the tried and tested iPad."

Two versions of the Microsoft Surface tablet -- double the confusion

Another common complaint is that having two versions of the Surface tablet (the RT and the x86-based Pro) could create market confusion for both consumers and enterprise IT shops.

The Surface Pro seems to be the preferred version of the device for IT shops because it can run existing legacy applications in desktop mode, can be managed with Microsoft's Systems Center, can be plugged in to Active Directory, and supports Exchange and ActiveSync via Outlook. "What company today doesn't use Exchange?" said Jack Gold, an IT consultant at J. Gold Associates, based in Ashland, Mass. "So many companies use Outlook because it does stuff that a generic email client can't do, like setting up a meeting. What good is the Surface RT if you can't use Outlook on it?"

Microsoft has not said whether the Surface RT has those capabilities, or whether its application ecosystem will be competitive with the abundance of apps that exist for iOS and Android devices.

Plus, the operating system, Office and a few other apps come pre-installed in the 32 GB version of the Surface tablet. That means users will have only approximately 20 GB of usable hard-drive space. In comparison, the iPad typically uses just 2 GB of hard drive space for the OS and several apps.

Further, pricing hasn't been revealed for the Surface Pro, which will be priced comparably to ultrabooks and won't be available for another three months, according to Microsoft.

One IT manager said he thinks he will steer his end users to the Surface Pro if they are looking for full functionality on a device.

"The confusing thing is that both OSes are basically the same" said Scott Ladewig, a network and operations manager at Washington University in St. Louis. "There's danger because they look the same, act the same, but aren't the same. If I give up having legacy apps by using RT, what am I gaining with app availability and battery life?"

More on Surface tablets

Will new Microsoft tablets scratch the Surface of what IT needs?

Under the Surface: How Windows tablet security meets BYOD challenges

Windows 8 tablet review: Fine for newbie, awkward for iPad user

Though the Surface Pro will be more enterprise-ready out of the box, it's probably too costly for users who buy their own devices, Ladewig said. Even though he said he is excited to test out the device and believes a Surface tablet would plug into the university's Microsoft environment more seamlessly than other tablets, he wonders whether end users would choose it, given their other tablet options. Google and Amazon.com both provide clear reasons for an end user to choose a Nexus tablet or Kindle Fire as an alternative to the iPad.

Beyond the price, Microsoft hasn't demonstrated to IT departments any management or support advantages for its tablet, or what apps are available, Gold said.

"There are going to be a number of companies that will look seriously at Windows-based tablets because they have the infrastructure in place and they've been managing PCs forever," Gold said. "But a lower price doesn't do any good if the tool doesn't meet your need."

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What is your biggest concern regarding the Windows Surface tablet?
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Windows devices are historically bloated and unstable.
Who will want the device if it crashes while playing a video.
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I'll wait for the right combination of Windows 8 Pro devices. At this moment, my favorites are the Dell XPS 27 One, the HP Envy X2, and the HTC 8X
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Price
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The pricing for the RT tablet is a bit disappointing. Was hoping that it would cost the same or less than a comparable iPad with the keyboard included to give it a try. Since I already have an iPad 2 don't think I'd shell out 599 for a "limited" function windows tablet with keyboard. But I'd definitely consider the full windows 8 tablet when it comes out if it's priced around 1k or less as a laptop/iPad replacement.
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M$ should skip RT and go directly to PRO version at $499. The time is now, not a year from now. I fear the train is leaving the station for M$.
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It should be a laptop replacement at cheap price
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need x86 .exe compatibility!
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Surface pro is a badass tablet at it's specs and the cover ....but how much do I have to pay for it ?
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The issue is while plenty of people are going to love this table with a keyboard, nobody wants to pay $600 for one with a keyboard.

At that point, why not be "cool" and get an ipad?

Microsoft should have priced these at production cost and focus on profiting from the app store like Amazon did.
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It's like Bob - remember Bob?

It's so simple that even minor organization of apps like the Ipad allows is impossible with the Tiles. They can't be stacked into groups. That means lots of page swipes to get to your apps.

Forcing this same front end on the desktops to drive user acceptance of the 'Modern UI' interface is simply going to have people adding a little 'Start Button Add-on' to avoid the mental break hitting the new'start page' will cause.

This whole idea of a unified environment would be just as silly as the Mac OS making their IPad Iphone operating system be the front end on the desktop apps. What a bad idea that would be for Apple. But this is exactly what MS has done with Windows 8.

I love the desktop improvements windows 8 provides. But the UI should let the users skip the 'Modern UI' unless they want to pop to it and operate the desktop without the 'Modern UI'.

Forcing the 'Modern UI' is going to make the majority of people demand a downgrade to 7 which is too bad since under the covers Windows 8 is lighter/tighter code than Windows 7 and inherently more malware/virus hardened.

I have an Ipad and a Galaxy Tab running Ice Cream sandwich. Both can be used without having to go through a tutorial. I spent much more time trying to figure out the 'Modern UI/Metro' than either of those two platforms and find the 'Modern UI' much more cumbersome in so many ways.

Oh, and in a typical desktop like I have, I have so many applications installed, to not have a nesting folder application capability like the start button used to give you is just a killer problem.

For a tablet it won't be so bad, though still not near as intuitive as the Ipad and Android based tablets. But for the desktop, this is really a big step backwards.

The Windows metaphor is superior for productivity apps to the tile metaphor. No one using w8 on a desktop is going to like having to go through both metaphors.

Wow, I deal with about 2000 users all around the country. I started playing with W8 because I know some of them are going to call 'I got this new W8 computer and need to run our Medical software on it and I can't even figure out how to turn my new W8 computer off!'. Ugh - so stupid.

Oh, most of our calls are regarding printers. At least in the past I could get them to printers by 'hit start, settings, printer' and be where I needed them.

On the Modern UI, since the whole W8 world is schizophrenic, they'll probably pick devices and not see any printers. Boy, this is going to be real ugly.

I'll probably pop out a letter in our next support billing urging everyone to install 'Classic Shell' to get their start button back and skip the Metro UI.

Oh, here is another thing. The area people have to hit to pull up the Metro Charm bar if they have a high resolution monitor is very very small. A lot of my clients are going to be going nuts just trying to get their mouse to just that right spot to pull up charms and shut their machines down.

Yep - this is going to be worse than ME, Bob and Vista put together.
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What happened to the $199 pricing?
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Screen resolution
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Ipad is a much more proven device for the same price. It's madness from Microsoft. I am bitterly disappointed as an IT professional
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Controlling both hardware and software, Microsoft have the potential to make a huge impact in both work and home space with the Surface, however by forcing the consumer to purchase a keyboard-cover with the entry level device is not a smart move. Early adopters will no doubt lap the device up, but will it have enough to capture the imaginations of the rest of us?
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I use remote desktop at my office and a Juniper VPN to log into my server when not in the office. iOS and Androids aren't compatible. From what I've read the RT probably won't be either?
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The pricing is too steep, there should only be one version and that the full windows 8 OS. The battery life should be better and they probably should've gone for intel clover trail for all their 1st gen surface tablets with Wacom active digitizer. At $499-$699 I would've loved to have bought one. It would have been perfect for school. I understand that they couldn't afford to wait much longer and I hope that this would spur enough innovation in both hard ware and chip quality to make the 2nd generation Microsoft surface worth buying...
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apps and usage
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Microsoft has to get pricing right. I think the pricing on the RT model starting at $499 is already too high. People are going to wonder if it's worth paying as much as an iPad. The Pro version is where Microsoft can justify a higher price. But again, it still needs to be handled carefully, since there will be ultra-books that will more-than-likely provide more functionality.
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corporate safety, durability
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Not concerned at all. The surface tablet is more of a tablet pc than a cheap Internet pad. Every ones going to keep comparing apples and oranges...
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Hard Drive Space...Too Small...
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It should be for less than ultrabook!
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I want the pro to show off.
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I would love to able to use VBA.
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Looks like a great device. Wish it was under 500...
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I like the functionality of the Surface Pro, especially as it relates to running legacy apps, of which I have many, but when a tablet is approaching $1K, it gives me cause to pause.
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Only interested in the PRO.
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Management, how well thought out is the management exposure/plan for devices that won't be a node on a corp network?
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What you can do using a device, at what cost is the operative issue. Technology for its own sake is meaningless.
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software ( app) availability
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Productivity of Windows RT, does it make any sense for the environment with limited capabilities
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This device does not add anything really. It does not replace the laptop or desktop, nor is there an actual need for a 3rd device.
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The price is a killer.. on this device, sorry but people would just buy the iPad at that price. Tried tested, and works.. The RT version should be coming in at half the price to fight the Android tablets..

However, the lack of legacy apps means that for most its a none starter...
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Confusion and poor alignment. 2 versions and not including the keyboard cover in the price is a fatal mistake.
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what a totally un-informed article that helps no-one. There's no facts for the assumptions made and the RT is aimed at the "consumer" NOT the enterprise. The Pro version is for that purpose and I'm those who want to be productive will wait for it as it provides the inter-connectivity with the work machine.
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Are you KIDDING me!?! The gimped version of the tablet doesn't even come with the silly keyboard cover and STARTS at $499!?! PLUS, no one is going to develop for something that is destined to go the way of the Zune.

This thing is DOA.
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want to be able to do my job without jumping through hoops
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manageability
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Backward compatibility
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> That IT shops demonstrate the same 'it's
> new, it won't work dont want it' attitude
> that appears to be prevalent among half
>the so could objective technical
> proffesionals arround.

Maybe you are new to IT, but Microsoft have a clear history and strong track record of not-quality in all regards.

It is folly disregard a consistent history.
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Security
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Most tablets are for consumption only. For business users though, there is a need to create, as well as consume. I figure the Surface will NOT gain significant adoption without the ability to create much like a desktop/laptop; furthermore, its software ecosystem will need to be the same as a typical desktop/laptop.
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I went with "Pricing" due to your Avg' Joe Tech will have to pay for this out of pocket to learn it and support it. Maybe the other manufacturer will price more competetively, since they're competing with MS. We'll see after its luster has worn off..
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Losing 50% productivity for a couple of days, and 25% for a week will cost a company about $600-$1000. WinXP to Win7 might have cost $200. Not clear what you get out of it that's worth that much
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Surface tablet needs a keyboard cover as standard...
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user acceptance
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It has to be inexpensive enough for me to take the time to make it do what I need it to do.
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Application ecosystem is key.
We just started a pilot rollout of iPads to our sales staff. Once we get past the maps and salesforce.com and such... the questions start... What about working with my presentations and spreadsheets and documents and...
I think that having a tablet that will run actual MS Office (even at 50% fidelity of the desktop version) is awesome. Being able to access HTML 5 apps (like salesforce.com touch) is already there. Add in Sharepoint (online / onprem) in a little nicer way, along with the upcoming SkyDrive Pro... I think that the use case scenario is quite compelling, and I am excited for it. MS will need to make fast and strong strides in exposing capability to MDM providers, but I would be willing to eek along a little bit for that.
As far as the 250,000 apps Apple has available - how many do you use? Quality, meaningful apps are key - I don't need millions of them.
Are they late to the game. Sure. Big woop. If they can bring in a a device with quality construction and some quality applications, including Office 2013, I would want this over an iPad any day.
I see some gripes about the price not including a keyboard?! That is just silly. What ipad comes with a keyboard?
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Infrastructure alignment
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flexibility to run 3rd party software, eg. open source, etc.
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Price is very important,, if it is going to be an ipad and user can just read mail then keep the ipad
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Manageability (and we don't run any iPads -well, just a couple)
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I am waiting for the PRO VERSION
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I look at the Surface tablet to replace the classic laptop - running applications, such as DBMS and development tools, and accessories connectivity
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Windows
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will have to wait for his release.
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Will consumers buy these and bring them into the enterprise via BYOD? How well can the enterprise manage and support them? Will the Microsoft WinRT ecosystem produce the necessary applications to make the device compelling?
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should reduce the price if want to compete with China product where they giving a wide of range built in apps.
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Citrix application restrictions on RT.
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wondering how much the pro version will cost
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Microsoft should have released the fully-featured "Pro" version first. First impressions are the most lasting.
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I wish a lower price for Pro.
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i'm not worried about productivity with the pro version, since I have been running win8 for months now. I am concerned that the price point will be too high to be competitive. I would never buy the RT version. The app market is not mature enough to exclude legacy applications.
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3g
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Availability in my country.
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Microsoft lock-in
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Lack of compatibility with Windows PC software
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