Earlier today, Microsoft announced that the Surface Windows 8 Pro will be launching in the United States and Canada on February 9th for $899 for the model with 64GB of internal storage. Many around the net are crying foul, unable to fathom how a tablet would retail for $899. With the industry leading iPad retailing for just $499 ($699 for the 64GB model), how can a tablet selling for almost $1,000 hope to compete with the cheaper, thinner iPad?
On the consumer side, at least, Microsoft will have a tough time pushing the Surface Pro tablets. Despite having specs that rival that of an ultrabook in a tablet package, the general consumer will likely be unable and/or unwilling to purchase such a highly priced tablet when a cheaper alternative could get the job done. But Microsoft isn’t really targeting the consumer market with the Surface Pro.
When the device launches next month, the Surface Pro could become be the darling of IT departments everywhere, with companies lining up to test Surface Pro in an effort to determine whether it’ll make a viable workplace alternative for an increasingly mobile workforce. While the Surface Pro is undeniably beefy when it comes to its functionality as a tablet, when partnered with a docking station it’ll likely become a productivity powerhouse, while matching the built-in encryption and security features that keep Windows operating systems in the workplace.
Provided consumers and IT leaders get acquainted with Windows 8, an almost certainty given the onslaught of new personal computers running on the platform, your next work-issued machine may very well be a Surface Pro (or whatever professional grade tablet Microsoft comes out with next). The Surface Pro comes with built-in pen functionality as well, which can be viewed as a regressionary piece of technology (per Alex Wilhelm of The Next Web), but is also one many businesses view as an essential feature when it comes to the mobile workforce.
Businesses are showing more and more acceptance of tablets in the workplace. I work in Healthcare HR by day for a large chain of hospitals and clinics, and it has become commonplace to see consumer iPads and Android tablets loaded with meeting materials (or, perhaps, Angry Birds) at meetings with executives glued to their screen as they make important business decisions. Our IT team has even embraced tablet computing as a necessary evil, as I was offered choice between a desktop, laptop, or the tablet/laptop hybrid of yesteryear as an option when selecting my personal work machine, and I can easily see this last option replaced with Surface Pro in the not too distant future.
Dare I say that if my company is doing it (healthcare corporate offices are usually the last place you’ll find the latest and greatest in consumer technology), yours probably is or soon will be as well. And because Outlook and the Microsoft Office suite have become staples in the workplace, so too has Microsoft’s Windows operating system, for better or worse. Though you may balk at the prospect of your company paying $900-$1,200 for a fully loaded Surface Pro tablet, consider that they’re already paying Microsoft significant amounts of money for Office products and can likely swing a discount on bulk hardware. Additionally, the average price of enterprise-grade laptops still averages somewhere between $1,000 and $2,000 apiece, with the Surface Pro coming in on the low end of that range.
Like it or not, we think the Surface Pro will sell extremely well to the enterprise, just don’t expect to see it in too many consumer households. Do you think we’ll see an onslaught of Surface Pro tablets in the enterprise? Sound off in the comments section below.
This article was written by Anthony Domanico
Anthony is the Editor in Chief of Techgress, and a big mobile and gaming geek. He's covered mobile technology for the better part of three years, and gets excited about shiny, new things. He currently uses an iPhone, iPad Mini, and Nexus 7, but Windows Phone 8 and BlackBerry devices are never too far away.