It does underscore one important thing, of course—that Microsoft has understood that having control of both hardware and software makes it easier to create a great user experience. Further, Microsoft are trying to lock down some of the software elements too—restricting the choice of web browsers on the ARM version of Metro.
Many media outlets are hailing the Surface as Microsoft's competitor to the iPad. Whilst I think some serious competition to Apple's iPad is a good thing, I share Justin Watt's opinion that Microsoft is not, in fact, competing directly with the iPad as such.
Whilst I know from personal experience that people in businesses are loving their iPads and iPhones, as Justin points out, the "enterprise" IT-integrated iPad experience is very locked down—for reasons of "security", of course.
Basically, most IT departments that I have encountered are highly conservative at best: at worst, they can be lazy, hide-bound and arrogant. Personally, I think that many IT departments are signing their own death warrants**, but they will be around for a good long time yet.
Enterprise employees can be inspiring, but that depends on said enterprise that they work for. A place that fosters creativity, thinking outside the box, and new ideas leads to happy workers who are open to change if it means making their day to day routine more enjoyable. Let’s just say that having 30,000+ workers doesn’t make for an accomodating work environment for new ideas and embracing change. Integrating iOS and thinking of mobile development in parallel with desktop software development for this many users isn’t an easy or quick task and for that reason the Surface may succeed very well in the enterprise. It’s more of the same. Buried underneath that beautiful Metro interface is Windows. Pure Windows able to run that software developed in 1992, not needing Citrix remote desktop apps, and not needing 100’s of new apps bought to open Office documents that don’t format or display properly on iOS.I agree with this: the Surface will be largely adopted in enterprise environments.
Goliath Wants Your Market
In enterprise, Apple is David. The Goliath in enterprise that is Microsoft wants Apple’s market in mobile enterprise. Apple hasn’t entrenched itself nearly deep enough in enterprise. Microsoft has the ability to successfully corner the mobile enterprise market just as it has with the desktop enterprise market. Goliath is bringing the Surface to the table and inside of the enterprise market, it has a fighting chance of succeeding.
Outside of enterprise, I think it’s a different story. I think the Surface will fail miserably, but that’s another post I intend on publishing later this week.I'll look forward to that.
* For a start, there is no firm availability date, nor any indication of pricing.
** In the businesses that I work with, I am finding more and more CEOs and executives are becoming more tech-savvy. And, in all too many organisations, the IT departments are fighting the management.
The result: more and more outsourcing of entire IT functions. This is especially happening amongst many of the smaller, nimbler organisations but larger ones are also started to adopt this trend.
And, of course, if your IT supplier says that they won't support the CEO's shiny new iPad, then it is far easier to change them supplier than it is to fire your IT department.
Especially when more and more of your productive work environments are outsourced to web suppliers or Cloud applications.