The first wave of hands-on reviews for Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) new Surface with Windows 8 Pro is coming in.
It hasn't been very flattering.
Tech reviewers seem to have mixed feelings about Microsoft's second shot at standing out in the crowded tablet space. Yes, Intel's Core i5 processor gives the device great processing power as it takes on traditional Windows applications. It also boots up surprisingly fast.
However, the negatives appear to be outweighing the positives given the tablet's stiff price tag that starts at $899 and quickly dives into four digits if buyers want the keyboard cover or enough storage capacity to make the device useful.
Tracking down a charging station
Surface Pro has a problem. It's a tweener. It's bulkier than most stand-alone laptops. Its battery life is clocking in at less than four hours for a couple of reviewers. For those scoring at home, that's less than half as long as Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) market-defining iPad can hold up between charges.
It's also priced nearly twice as high as the entry-level iPad.
The bullish counter here would be that folks will be buying the Surface Pro when it hits the market on Saturday because it can be both a tablet and a slick ultrabook.
Yes, there's a market for that. However, reviews claim that Windows 8 Pro software and recovery tools take up between 30 gigabytes to more than 40 gigabytes of the tablet's capacity. Folks paying $899 for the 64 GB model will be in for a rude awakening when they see that they only have half of that storage capacity available to them. Unlike the iPad's rigid platform, the Surface Pro can be expanded through a memory card slot, but all that does is bump the already high costs of ownership even higher.
Microsoft is already treading on dangerous turf here. Surface is competing with hardware partners. Companies are shelling out for costly Windows operating system licenses for their tablets -- knowing that open-source Android would cost them far less -- and now Microsoft is a threat to that market share sliver.
The relationship status is getting more than merely complicated now.
Microsoft's move to offer up $2 billion in Dell's (UNKNOWN:DELL.DL) privatization efforts this week open up a new can of worms. How will other PC manufacturers feel about supporting Windows at a time when computer sales are already tanking and the software giant is playing favorites?
Mr. Softy has become a greedy jockey. It's buying and breeding racehorses.
Microsoft has every right to do exactly that, but then it can only blame itself when consumers and its own partners turn on the company.
Too many second chances
Surface Pro was already facing an uphill battle after analysts slashed their sales projections for the original Surface, which was more economically priced but ran on the feeble Windows RT platform. Now that reviewers aren't exactly singing the device's praises, it may be time for Microsoft to bow out of the tablet space before it's too late.