I slept with my credit card tucked under my pillow last night in anticipation of pre-ordering my Microsoft Surface tablet in the morning. This illusion came to an abrupt end when I sat down with a cup of coffee for my morning Skype chat with my business partner in the UK. He pointed me to the official MS Surface release pricing on the Microsoft web site ( www.surface.com). All dreams of being able to caress my own Microsoft Surface evaporated in an instant. No need for a shot of espresso to wake me up this morning !!
My opinion is that Microsoft might have made a real boo-boo in their foray in to the tablet market.
Windows RT Surface tablet with 32GB of storage costs S$499, which has a similar starting price with Apple’s iPad. The 64GB cost $699 ( excluding the keyboard accessory). With the 32GB model, Microsoft is also offering an optional Touch Cover accessory, which is a magnetic cover that also functions as a keyboard. The 32GB model with a Touch Cover will be priced at US$599, while a 64GB model will come with the Touch Cover for US$699.
In dollar terms the top end Surface will put me $1,134.98 NZD out of pocket with the keyboard attachment. This is a big disappointment for me as I see real potential for the Surface within the education and training market. The majority of schools in New Zealand run Microsoft Office based on the New Zealand Ministry of Education contract (MOE Contract).
The Surface tablet with RT is 680 grammes, 9.3 millimetres thick and has a 10.6-inch screen. It will come with 32GB and 64GB storage, and a quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 processor, which is based on an ARM processor.
Some companies have also already started developing education Apps for Microsoft Surface. Infusion (http://www.infusion.com) have developed the Infusion Education Suite for use on the Microsoft Surface 1.0 and 2.0. It is a set of interactive educational learning tools designed to help teach primary school students essential skills. Each activity in the suite promotes a collaborative element that encourages the students to learn the presented material while interacting in a cooperative manner. Players receive a “game tag” used to identify individual students and accurately track accumulated scores, achievements, and progress.
Hundreds of applications are available for Microsoft Surface 1.0, including a set of core applications that have been were customized and deployed in different venues. The following are core and sample Microsoft Surface 1.0 SP1 applications and applications from Microsoft Partners that have been certified for Microsoft Surface 1.0 SP1.
So – what’s the verdict?
The Surface is attractive and in tablet terms looks both hip and functional, and shows that there is another big contender in the tablet market on the horizon. Apple beware as I do think that the Microsoft Surface has a real opportunity of becoming a big competitor in the education arena should they play it right.
The education market is the consumer of the future. The Surface would be the ideal fit for New Zealand schools.
I trust that Microsoft makes a good business decision of making this innovative venture affordable as an educational / cognitive tool.
Only time will tell if (after it’s available) the new Surface will impact the education market and provide real competition for the Apple Ipad.