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3 Reasons Microsoft Corporation's New Surface Pro Is a Winner

Now that we've had a little time to digest the unveiling of Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) pseudo-tablet, the Surface Pro 3, the question is whether or not new CEO Satya Nadella and team took a significant step forward in the fast-growing mobile computing market. It's no secret that Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) and its iPad devices dominate the sector. With over 210 million units sold since its inception four years ago, the iPad is clearly an unmitigated success. That's a big mountain for Microsoft to climb, to be sure.

So, how does the Surface Pro 3 stack up compared to the iPad? Not bad, actually. The next step in Microsoft's transition to becoming a devices and services company is a significant one, particularly considering how badly it missed the mark with the over-priced, under-performing Surface RT tablet. Granted, many of the wins Microsoft has enjoyed since Nadella took the helm were in the works prior to his ascension, but with the Surface Pro 3, there are several reasons he can add another arrow to his quiver.

Reason No. 1
What may prove to be the defining feature of the Surface Pro 3 is its positioning in the market. When Microsoft Surface head Panos Panay took the wraps off the new hybrid device last week, he called it the "tablet that can replace your laptop." That's a market that places this new Surface iteration, at least for now, in the enviable position of being in a class of its own.

Panay wasn't shy about alluding to Apple's iPad during his presentation, and one factoid he cited was particularly intriguing. According to Panay, 96% of iPad tablet owners also have a laptop. That's a staggering figure that begs the question, why? It's likely that the portability of a tablet, with its light weight and smaller size, is what differentiates it from the "bulky" laptop, and why so many iFans opt for both. But what if you could combine all the features that appeal to tablet owners into a laptop? Now you can, and it's called a Surface Pro 3.

Reason No. 2 
The Pro 3 is Microsoft's thinnest Surface iteration yet. At just over a third of an inch thick, Surface Pro 3 is about the same width as the old iPad. But remember, Pro 3 isn't what most would consider a traditional tablet, making its lean construction that much more impressive. When you add in the fact it's a mere 1.76 pounds, Pro 3 really separates itself from the laptop and tablet pack.

For comparison's sake, Apple's MacBook Air, with its 11 inch screen, weighs nearly 2.4 pounds. Granted, the iPad Air is a mere one pound, but Air is the ultimate tablet with nowhere near the screen size of the Surface Pro 3. Score another one for Microsoft.

Reason No. 3
In addition to the Pro 3's crystal clear screen -- it sports a 2160 by 1440 resolution -- its aspect ratio and enhanced Windows 8 OS translates to users being able to view more, with less. As Panay said during his presentation, the 12-inch Surface Pro 3 allows users to actually view more content than MacBook Air aficionados, even though it sports a 13-inch screen.

Final Foolish thoughts
Thinner and lighter than a traditional laptop and excellent resolution that allows user to see more with less positions the Surface Pro 3 as a legitimate alternative to both a laptop and tablet. And these key features are hardly the only upgrades from prior Surface devices. A digitized pen that's fully integrated with OneNote and instantaneously saves writing to the cloud, improved ergonomics, and a quieter, more energy efficient cooling system are also standard to the Surface Pro 3.

Microsoft is on quite a roll of late: expanding its cloud and data offerings with SAP and closing the Nokia deal, to name just a couple. Now you can add Surface Pro 3 to Microsoft's growing list of recent wins. Making a dent in Apple's tablet and laptop share will be a challenge, there's no doubt about that. But Surface Pro 3 has the features, and Microsoft's diversified revenue sources gives it the time to become a serious player in defining a new pseudo-tablet market.

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Read/Post Comments (8) | Recommend This Article (8)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On May 28, 2014, at 7:30 AM, JJ82 wrote:

    3 reasons why Surface 3 is a loser.

    1. Tablet customers are mostly not willing to pay more than $600 on a tablet let alone $799 for the CHEAPEST version.

    2. 12" is too BIG for a tablet and makes many of the reasons for having one difficult, it is also too SMALL for a laptop and does the same for laptop functions where screen size is prime real-estate and laptop/notebooks under 14" aren't big sellers.

    3. Most people in the market for a laptop want a portable PC, not a tablet, they don't care about mobile apps because its a freakin PC and the Windows 8 UI designed around touchscreens hampers EVERYTHING PC related!

    This is just another niche market Surface that wont sell well as its not designed for the average consumer...actually, this one isn't even design for professionals as its missing the mark for each market. MS needs to stop treating all markets the same and understand that consumers needs are not the same.

  • Report this Comment On May 28, 2014, at 8:07 AM, kwright62 wrote:

    Agree that the Surface 3 is a winner.

  • Report this Comment On May 28, 2014, at 10:19 AM, techy123 wrote:

    The comment why surface pro 3 is the loser has much better arguments than the article itself.

    Price is way too expensive for the very limited value you receive. Windows 8.1 OS is a farce and the overall surface experience is bad. From the strategy standpoint, Microsoft is taking a huge risk upsetting their long time partner OEMs and Intel for a device that has publicly failed already twice. The big winners out of this? Google and Apple yet again...

  • Report this Comment On May 28, 2014, at 3:48 PM, tridentsea wrote:

    I agree with comments, this is the third strike and they have striked-out.

    Its funny to see a company waste shareholder money even though the data says its a failure they still push to market.

    I know that Satya doesnt want another failure as this makes a couple already since he started.

    So they will play this out as a win and promote it like such even though its the opposite.

    They are hurting cause everyone knows that follow the leader game in this fast development cycle is over for mega companies like this. They can never compete with innovation, they only steal other ideas after they have already gone main stream, after they release the fad is long over. Its funny to see these companies try and fail. Its like a batter from the minor leagues competing in the majors for the first time. Bloated Amateurs playing follow the leader.

    It proves again they create nothing worthy anymore and have been competing with their own divisions. Strange company headquartered in the ghost town of Redmond, abandoned buildings and empty streets and for sale signs everywhere. The town is empty.

  • Report this Comment On May 28, 2014, at 9:45 PM, sesvs43 wrote:

    Microsoft's primary business is to sell software. Their vision, from a software standpoint, is the convergence of the mobile and desktop experience. To that end, They are innovating what they think is the next generation of "this experience". Communicating this vision requires a piece of hardware that is capable of "some amount" of convergence. The surface 3 seems to communicate this convergence pretty well for a start. Since converging mobile and desktop is something that most folks haven't even considered before (especially because it wasn't possible), I think it is way too early to dismiss it. We might also find that should they converge, the pro 3 may have only planted a seed that evolves into something we have yet to see. Innovation sometimes makes some folks uncomfortable (at first) just like moving their cheese. Weather you like the device or not, you can't argue the fact that it makes you question the what and how you do things today. I myself will wait and see with interest.

  • Report this Comment On May 28, 2014, at 10:02 PM, FiendishFig wrote:

    Good grief, already stating something is a failure before the product is even out for sale is idiotic. It won't sell as well as the iPad, that's obvious, but that doesn't mean it's a failure. You never know what the "average consumer" will want when technology comes out. Who knew people would want a small, touchable, laptop screen to browse the internet when tablets first came out.

  • Report this Comment On June 11, 2014, at 4:02 PM, rjparker1 wrote:

    A surface is NOT a tablet. It's a laptop, so to say the surface will replace a laptop is redundant.

    A Tablet is a device with INSTANT access. the Surface is NOT instant access. It boots quickly, it has a small form factor, and it's relative low price..

    but on ALL 3 counts it comes up short.. and NOT comptetive.

    I will add 3 more reasons why the Surface is a loser.

    I can have the SAME productivity on an iPad with a smaller screen. Office is a FULL app on iPad, even can use my existing 360 account to install Office (for FREE).

    The surface is heavy.. even if it's 3 pounds.. that's 3 times MORE than the iPad.

    Windows OS is anything BUT light weight, it requires patching and maintenance, and oh yeah ANTI-Virus to truly be effective. Still needs drivers, yadda yadda yadda..

    The surface comes up WAY short to be considered "winning".

    Not sure if the editor of this article is a MS stock holder or fan boy but it's definately NOT written objectively.

    Anyone with a half wit and 2 good eyes can plainly see the Surface is HARLDY a worthy competitor to the iPad.

    Android is a joke for tablet or any "real" work that's why I purposely leave it out of the conversation, I switched to the iPad for THIS very reason. You want a REAL tablet.. get an iPad.

    Period, price, performance (Air) AND usability \ useful apps.. you can't beat Apple

    Short background: I am an MCSE, system engineer, been working on Windows for over 20 years, I am an AVID Android \ Linux user and EXPERT in ALL OS. I am FINALLY fed up with the fragmented Android \ Linux platform waiting for Gamers to adopt the platform.. and Windows is disappointing me for the LAST time.

    Done. Get iPad, you will NOT be happier, period bar none.

  • Report this Comment On June 11, 2014, at 9:11 PM, npco543 wrote:

    "Done. Get iPad, you will NOT be happier, period bar none."

    Your being being rather arrogant and presumptuous. I've owned both iPads and Android tablets, and they've all been given away or are sitting on a shelf collecting dust. They offer nothing beyond simplistic tasks and media consumption. Sorry, but I need to be more productive than they're capable of being.

    I'd wager a sizable bet that 95% of the people who complain about the Surface, have never used one.

    For the people claiming it's too big for a tablet, that assumes everyone looking to buy a tablet is willing to accept enormous limitations in capabilities. The Surface isn't intended for people who only want a simplistic, limited entertainment device, so that argument fails.

    For people claiming it's not a good enough notebook, that assumes everyone who needs more than a media consumption tablet needs to do significant amounts of typing, and often has to do that on their lap. The Surface isn't intended for people who specifically need an uncompromising laptop form factor, so that argument likewise fails.

    For the people claiming it's too expensive, name a single comparable device or combination of devices that matches the Surface's power, features, weight and build quality. I'll save you time, there is none that does it for any less than the Surface costs, so again, that argument fails.

    For people rigidly defining a tablet or notebook as everything the Surface is not, exactly who are you to dictate what makes the perfect device for each basic form factor?

    I needed more than a simplistic consumption tablet, had little need for frequent major typing, on my lap or otherwise, and wanted a single, compact device to travel with. The Surface Pro is exactly what I wanted:

    Sure, it's heavier than a dedicated tablet, but let's be honest here - a less than 2lb device can't be considered "heavy". And for that additional weight, it has the power of most desktops. The minor compromises it makes in dedicated tablet and laptop modes are far, far outweighed by it's ability to combine probably 85-90% of the strengths of each in a single device. Windows 8 needs a little more work, but it functions perfectly well in tablet mode, and is every bit as good a desktop OS as any previous version.

    To anyone who hasn't made up their minds yet, don't listen to the complainers. Evaluate your own needs and see if the Surface fits them. It fit mine perfectly and has proven to be the single best portable system I've ever owned.

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Tim Brugger

Tim has been writing professionally for several years after spending 18 years (Whew! Was it that long?)in both the retail and institutional side of the financial services industry. Tim resides in Portland, Oregon with his three children and the family dog.

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