Bill Gates' comments about the Surface and the tablet market are so 12 months ago

Bill Gates' comments about the Surface and the tablet market are so 12 months agoThe Microsoft Surface. We can argue about the specifics, but what isn't in doubt is that Microsoft's debut tablet hasn't sold as many as the company was hoping for.

But Microsoft chairman Bill Gates is still a believer, saying the Surface is the solution to users “frustrated” by the limitations of the likes of the market-leading iPad.

“With Windows 8 Microsoft is trying to gain share in what has been dominated by the iPad-type device,” Gates told CNBC. “But a lot of those users are frustrated, they can't type, they can't create documents, they don't have Office there.

“So we're providing them something with the benefits they've seen that have made [tablets] a big category, but without giving up what they expect in a PC.”

The problem, of course, is that those exact comments could have been made a year ago before the Surface even launched.

The fact is that the Surface is now here and those users Gates is talking about who are “frustrated” enough to jump from their iPad-type devices to Microsoft's tablet alternative just aren't as many in number as Microsoft thought.

To a degree it's a question of ideology. Microsoft's concept of the tablet being a PC-based product is at odds with the existing norm of tablets being effectively smartphone-based devices.

And no matter who's right or which approach is better, the point is people have got used to tablets as mobile devices and it's going to be hard to change their minds. And with the distinction between smartphones, tablets and PCs likely to dissolve altogether over the next few years, it probably doesn't matter anyway.

They've also got used to living without Office on their tablets, while the comment about the keyboard would be easier to agree with if the Surface's keyboard was actually included in the cost of the device rather than a paid-for add-on.

Gates' comments do a good job of explaining why Microsoft decided to get into the tablet game in the first place, but we're still a long way from seeing those theories played out in the real world.

Arguably Microsoft would have been better off simply releasing the Surface Pro and not even bothering with the Surface RT, as it's hard to see what the latter has contributed to Microsoft's efforts to woo existing tablet users to its way of thinking.

The Surface Pro truly does give users "what they expect on a PC" and for a very good reason: it actually runs the same OS they get when buying a new PC.

I'm surely not alone in thinking Microsoft should focus its efforts there, and hoping the rumours are true that the Windows/Surface RT experiment is largely going to be swept under the carpet and absorbed into Windows 8 proper once the "Blue" update materialises down the line.

Or if Windows RT is to continue to exist on its own, Microsoft needs to deliver an update that changes the perception that RT is just a dumbed-down version of Windows 8 for cheap devices. Right or wrong, it's not helping, and it's about as far away from Gates' vision of the Surface as it's possible to get.

Feel differently? Let us know - that's what the Comments section below is for!

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13 comments

IndianaBlues  May. 7, 2013 at 11:12

The trouble is, users of iPads and (presumably) Android tablets can choose to type, using a BT keyboard. And they can create documents that are compatible with Office using the iOS Pages app etc (I'm sure that an Office app is also on the cards for iOS?). As you say, the surface keyboard costs extra. Is Office bundled? I'm guessing not, so you have to pay extra for that too...so what is the difference in consumer choice, other than having the same OS as your desktop PC or laptop, which the Surface will make partially obsolete...?

Stelph  May. 7, 2013 at 12:04

“With Windows 8 Microsoft is trying to gain share in what has been dominated by the iPad-type device,” Gates told CNBC. “But a lot of those users are frustrated, they can't type, they can't create documents, they don't have Office there."

They dont have office there because Microsoft havent released it you numpty, they do have several solid alternatives now tho since MS have been dragging their feet .

I agree with what you are saying about the RT tho, the Pro (and other x86 tablets) are the future for laptops (and arguably premium tablets) for sure, allowing touchscreens and clamshell keyboards to work as both a tablet and also a laptop for even better productivity, the RT however has found itself dropped into the middle of a pitched battle with two other OS's that already have huge advantages of large app support (OS) and a wide range of affordable tablets (Android).

Ive only met one person who owns a W8 RT tablet, and he massively regrets it since he only bought it thinking it "looked cool" without realsing its not as good as a similarly priced Android tab/iPad

barrybarryk  May. 7, 2013 at 12:27

There are no Office alternatives for Android or iOS, there's barely one for Windows. If you only need a basic Word processor, Spreadsheet or Database application then you don't need Office, that's not what it's for.

Lots of people are quite happy with their web browsing tablets, not everyone needs a mini-pc that they can carry round all the time.

JanSt / MOD  May. 7, 2013 at 16:08

Feed differently? Let us know - that's what the Comments section below is for!
Oh no, you really, really don't wanna get me started.
Suffice to say, the comments are sub-Elop... Did I mention, Gates is one of the TOP profiteers from the Irish bank bailouts?! That's right... Maybe that is why he sounds so unfocused these days when he talks about tech? He's now busy ruining countries. Yay. Philanthropy 2.0. Start Me Up.

CurtisQuick  May. 8, 2013 at 10:14

I have a Surface RT and it was worth every penny! I live in Taipei and had to fly to San Francisco to get and it was still worth it! It beats the pants off of every tablet out there because I can use it to get real work done. It comes with MS Office and a full-featured web browser. With these two tools I can get pretty much everything done that my job requires. I don't need apps. With those two, I have all I need. All I ever hear from the media is how bad RT is and how much of a failure that it is for Microsoft. Give me a break. It's awesome!

There are so many things Surface RT does that an iPad cannot do. Can an iPad have a split screen? No. Can an iPad extend it's desktop to another monitor or television (not just duplicate)? No. Can an iPad connect to all my office printers wirelessly and without hassle. No. Can a naked iPad stand on its own? No. Can an iPad connect to a detachable magnetic keyboard without any hassle? No. Can an iPad get files off of my USB drive? No. Can an iPad change out its SD card for more storage? No. Can an iPad run MS Office? No. How many iPads are used without covers that add to the weight of the tablet? Surface with its cover/keyboard does not even need a cover. The naked Surface looks great with it's touch cover and is lighter than a clothed iPad (and I don't see anyone with a naked iPad).

The media complains that the RT does not run legacy Windows programs and pronounces it a failure. Does anyone even realize that an iPad does not run MacOS programs? Seems like a bit of a double standard here.

The media point to a lack of sales to show RT is a failure. Nobody realizes however that Microsoft never intended RT's success to be measured by sales. Surface RT & Pro were made to showcase what Windows 8 can do in a tablet form factor, not to take over the tablet market. Microsoft wants Windows to win, Surface is just a vehicle to show the PC makers how to make a good Windows tablet. Fortunately I was one of the lucky ones to be able to get a Surface. It was not easy to get, but I'm glad I have it. By the way I also have a Surface Pro that is great, but I still prefer the RT because it is lighter, thinner, and has a longer battery life.

CurtisQuick  May. 8, 2013 at 10:22

MS Office is bundled on the Surface RT. The license is not for business, but if your office has a license for your PC to run MS Office, you are covered. I use my RT all the time to run MS Office and it is quite a joy to use.

I do think that Microsoft made a mistake in not bundling the touch cover with the Surface RT. Without the keyboard, the benefits of Surface are not nearly so great as with it.

JanSt / MOD  May. 8, 2013 at 11:28

There are so many things Surface RT does that an iPad cannot do. Can an iPad have a split screen? No. Can an iPad extend it's desktop to another monitor or television (not just duplicate)? No. Can an iPad connect to all my office printers wirelessly and without hassle. No. Can a naked iPad stand on its own? No. Can an iPad connect to a detachable magnetic keyboard without any hassle? No. Can an iPad get files off of my USB drive? No. Can an iPad change out its SD card for more storage? No. Can an iPad run MS Office? No. How many iPads are used without covers that add to the weight of the tablet? Surface with its cover/keyboard does not even need a cover. The naked Surface looks great with it's touch cover and is lighter than a clothed iPad (and I don't see anyone with a naked iPad).


I think that is why one is called iPad and the other is called Surface.
2 different things; different purposes yada yada yada...
Most social networking is now done on phones, e.g...
Usage has changed.
Stuff we used to use a laptop or PC for can now be done differently. Not everyone needs everything. A lot of people who use Office regularly do NOT actually all the features Office has. Pages, Libre Office...heck: Text Edit can deliver the required features. The number of people who need EVERY feature of Office is relatively small.
Clearly there is a market for that thing that can't do anything - ahem, the iPad.
And clearly that thing sold many times more than the Surface. That doesn't mean it's better, of course. The first iPhone and the first Android phones couldn't do half of what a BB or Nokia smartphone could do at the time...

barrybarryk  May. 8, 2013 at 12:31

MS always have targeted enterprise and professional users, that's where the Office suite shines. Businesses use Office because it has a MASSIVE features list, second to none compatibility with other business software suites like various SQL servers, mail servers, even lots of old school highly specialised mainframes like z/os machines are supported because it's built on rock solid, extensively documented frameworks that are easily expanded coupled with the best support network available both through MS's own teams and people already MS certified with office technologies being available to hire all over the world. There are no alternatives that are remotely competitive for business use.

The vast, vast majority of home users don't need MS Office unless they're planning on trying to get more familiar with it for work because 'normal' people don't need to shuttle data through 10 systems, automate alerts, imports and report mailouts, enforce rules, review versioning and the million other routine day to day business tasks because they just aren't relevant to a home user. For basic bashing out documents and spreadsheets with basic formulas etc there's a half dozen applications that'll do it just as well as Office completely for free

Of course tablets like the iPad have a market, personally I think RT is an abomination and a complete waste of effort splitting the Windows codebase to support ARM. But with current Intel chips still not giving the kind of battery life people expect from a tablet, they obviously didn't have much choice

Stelph  May. 8, 2013 at 15:04

I have a Surface RT and it was worth every penny! I live in Taipei and had to fly to San Francisco to get and it was still worth it! It beats the pants off of every tablet out there because I can use it to get real work done. It comes with MS Office and a full-featured web browser. With these two tools I can get pretty much everything done that my job requires. I don't need apps. With those two, I have all I need. All I ever hear from the media is how bad RT is and how much of a failure that it is for Microsoft. Give me a break. It's awesome!



Its great to hear that you really like your surface RT and good on you, however you asked a lot of questions so I thought I would answer them for you:

Can an iPad have a split screen?

Yes, jailbreak and install Qasar

Can an iPad extend it's desktop to another monitor or television (not just duplicate)?

Nope, tho thats not useful. It can duplicate the screen which is useful

Can an iPad connect to all my office printers wirelessly and without hassle.

Yes, airprint

Can a naked iPad stand on its own?

Why would you want the iPad (or surface) to be naked? Scratch city man

Can an iPad connect to a detachable magnetic keyboard without any hassle?

Yes, google logitech keyboard case for example

Can an iPad get files off of my USB drive?

Yes, jailbreak and iFile

Can an iPad change out its SD card for more storage?

No, but at least the storage originally contained on the tablet isnt taken up by 20-30GB of Operating system as it is with Windows 8. 16GB is plenty for my tablet

Can an iPad run MS Office?
Plenty of excellent alternatives available until microsoft stops messing about and releases it for iOS

How many iPads are used without covers that add to the weight of the tablet? Surface with its cover/keyboard does not even need a cover. The naked Surface looks great with it's touch cover and is lighter than a clothed iPad (and I don't see anyone with a naked iPad)

So you agree that the iPad should never be naked? So they shouldnt be naked so they wouldnt get scratched, so if you have a surface you either let it get scratched or you put a case on it which knackers the inbuilt stand....

Im not trying to be confrontational, I just wanted to point out that my own personal responses to the questions you posted are above. You may not agree or say ive cheated on some of them (jailbreaking for example) and thats fine, youre entitiled to say that just like youre entitiled to buy and love a surface RT. But you have to agree with facts which are the RT is being pummled in the market at the moment by both iOS and Android despite the advantages you list above and Bill Gates' reasons, so the general public seems to agree with what is written in this post

JanSt / MOD  May. 8, 2013 at 19:59

+1
It's what I alluded to earlier. People have changed the way/s they use the web, and computing power.
I really don't think M$ get that. The fact that they thought WP7 was ready for take-off showed it, and the Surface RT nonsense reconfirmed it. Ooh... It has Office and a wobbly kickstand-typethingy... C'mon, really?
I'm not dissing the Surface per se. Any device that suits a "you" is good for that "you". Just don't blame iPad fans for the Surface's flopping! Blame Windows fans who don't put their money where their mouth is!
Alternatively, just say nobody actually needs a tablet-anything. Case closed.

CurtisQuick  May. 9, 2013 at 02:57

On being naked - just like people, the iPad was created to look beautiful all by itself. It is a pity that such beauty must be covered up to protect from scratching. It also increases the weight. The beauty of my Surface is not hidden behind a case. I have been using it every day for six months and I do not see any scratching on it. It remains lovely. It is also lighter than an covered iPad.

I think we should stick with non jail broken comparisons here (that is to say we should argue based on what the manufacturers intend their product to do). There is software that jailbreaks my Surface and allows it to run all manner of software that Microsoft never intended RT to run.

As far as screen extension goes. It is very useful as it allows me to work on different things on different screens. I can show my email on one screen and do my work on another. Duplication is good for showing others, but that's about it.

Wireless printing - airprint is fine IF you happen to have a printer that was made to support it. On the RT side I have had no problems connecting to the printer and copy machines in my office that we not specifically designed to work with it. Also, I did not have to purchase any software to do this. airprint is not free.

Detachable magnetic keyboard - good one - but it does cost a pretty penny (US$ 150) and it does not connect directly (goes through Bluetooth) and is not as responsive.

MS Office - there are no excellent alternatives for MS Office and they do not come free with your tablet either. There is always editing that must be done to make the formatting work properly. No thanks.

Multiple User Accounts - I forgot this one - the Surface can be shared with my family without my worrying about my stuff being accessed. I can hand my Surface to my wife and she logs in with her own account to use her own Start screen and apps. My son also can do the same. the iPad does not support this.

I realize that many love their iPads and are eager to defend them, but the truth about Surface's many capabilities is being ignored at best and actively dismissed at worst. Microsoft's poor distribution strategy has also worked against Surface by making it nearly impossible to find one in a store to purchase. I understand that Microsoft is not really interested in high Surface sales numbers as that shoots them in the foot with their partners, but it is a problem for us customers. Also, store clerks often give incorrect and dismissive information (I have seen this first hand) about the Surface to steer customers toward an iPad or an Android tablet.

I realize that I am swimming upstream here, but my love for the Surrface RT is based on my using it and how much it helps me with what I want to do. There is not other tablet that comes close to the RT in capability (except the Surface Pro).






I have a Surface RT and it was worth every penny! I live in Taipei and had to fly to San Francisco to get and it was still worth it! It beats the pants off of every tablet out there because I can use it to get real work done. It comes with MS Office and a full-featured web browser. With these two tools I can get pretty much everything done that my job requires. I don't need apps. With those two, I have all I need. All I ever hear from the media is how bad RT is and how much of a failure that it is for Microsoft. Give me a break. It's awesome!



Its great to hear that you really like your surface RT and good on you, however you asked a lot of questions so I thought I would answer them for you:

Can an iPad have a split screen?

Yes, jailbreak and install Qasar

Can an iPad extend it's desktop to another monitor or television (not just duplicate)?

Nope, tho thats not useful. It can duplicate the screen which is useful

Can an iPad connect to all my office printers wirelessly and without hassle.

Yes, airprint

Can a naked iPad stand on its own?

Why would you want the iPad (or surface) to be naked? Scratch city man

Can an iPad connect to a detachable magnetic keyboard without any hassle?

Yes, google logitech keyboard case for example

Can an iPad get files off of my USB drive?

Yes, jailbreak and iFile

Can an iPad change out its SD card for more storage?

No, but at least the storage originally contained on the tablet isnt taken up by 20-30GB of Operating system as it is with Windows 8. 16GB is plenty for my tablet

Can an iPad run MS Office?
Plenty of excellent alternatives available until microsoft stops messing about and releases it for iOS

How many iPads are used without covers that add to the weight of the tablet? Surface with its cover/keyboard does not even need a cover. The naked Surface looks great with it's touch cover and is lighter than a clothed iPad (and I don't see anyone with a naked iPad)

So you agree that the iPad should never be naked? So they shouldnt be naked so they wouldnt get scratched, so if you have a surface you either let it get scratched or you put a case on it which knackers the inbuilt stand....

Im not trying to be confrontational, I just wanted to point out that my own personal responses to the questions you posted are above. You may not agree or say ive cheated on some of them (jailbreaking for example) and thats fine, youre entitiled to say that just like youre entitiled to buy and love a surface RT. But you have to agree with facts which are the RT is being pummled in the market at the moment by both iOS and Android despite the advantages you list above and Bill Gates' reasons, so the general public seems to agree with what is written in this post


JanSt / MOD  May. 9, 2013 at 07:21

Curtis
I realize that I am swimming upstream here, but my love for the Surrface RT is based on my using it and how much it helps me with what I want to do. There is not other tablet that comes close to the RT in capability (except the Surface Pro).

That is fair enough, I suppose. Yet flawed.
And I could say, yes, there is something more powerful: a laptop.
You talk about screen extension. That requires a second screen. Portability out the window.
It's about usage. Needs, wants, preferences.

It may not show, but I do write a lot - in 2 1/2 jobs and for "recreation". Maybe 1 out of a 1000 times do I need the actual power of Office.

An acquaintance who is a fairly busy accountant switched without any problems to Libre Office. Hasn't lost a single client...

iPads are not desktops or laptops. Microsoft's very strategy was to launch something similar but different. Now... That's what it is.
That doesn't diminish the inherent values of a Galaxy tab or iPad.

But I don't blame you. Tech news and bloggery have relied on "dark side" nonsense from day one.. Sony Ericsson fans hated Nokia and their smartphones. So much so that SE refused to call their M600 a smartphone in any promo material... It was a taboo word. He who mustn't be mentioned, you know ;)
I don't derive pleasure from the Surface's low (relative) sales figures. Nor from Apple's ludicrous profits...
Nor from bullsh*t arguments - even if I'm the bullsh*tter. Some people do.

Stelph  May. 9, 2013 at 09:45

I realize that many love their iPads and are eager to defend them, but the truth about Surface's many capabilities is being ignored at best and actively dismissed at worst.

I find this statement funny because this can just as easily be said about you and your surface. As I said above, for your own list of requirements (including the ones you list) the surface obviously fulfils what you need and thats great, I am happy you find it so perfect. My point is tho that for me none of the advantages you list are important to me, I have other requirements wich include wanting the maximum app support possible (which currently is iOS), portability (8" ipad mini is perfect), ease of use, apps I can use for content creation

Would I want the iPad to do more? Of course I would, i look enviously on at the native individual screens of the note and microsoft office, but those drawbacks are masively outweighed by the benefits of the iPad, especially when it is jailbroken. And the sales figures suggest the majority of people out there also agree that the iPad is the best option of the tablets available (athough samsung are making BIG inroads)

I realize that I am swimming upstream here, but my love for the Surrface RT is based on my using it and how much it helps me with what I want to do. There is not other tablet that comes close to the RT in capability (except the Surface Pro).


Again, thats great to hear, recently I had an iPad and an acer w510 ad although I did like the acer I have now sold it as compared to the iPad, it just didnt fulfil my requirements. Trust me I am looking forward to the day when I can ditch the iPad but until there is a solid alternative Android or MS offering I am stuck :)

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