Today I watched the live stream of the Surface announcement from NYC. It was a fantastic show! Many expected an announcement for a Surface mini, including me. What happened was an introduction of a larger model, the 12" Surface 3 Pro. What was distinctly different in this announcement was the tone. I loved it! See I've long been frustrated by the marketing positioning of the Windows 8 tablets as gaming, kids drawing and essentially commercial only use machines, that it is a device in addition to your other devices. It makes it really hard to convince companies that these tablets are serious machines. The BIGGEST differential between a Windows 8 Pro tablet and the others is that it a full blown Windows machine. Period. Done. If you are looking to buy a tablet to just watch Netflix or check email or facebook, than any other tablet will be fine. If you are looking to actually CREATE content, like documents, spreadsheets, aka business content, or for in front of clients, then you have few choices there and then it depends what you are "presenting" and what your business is. Typically, the infrastructure of businesses is dominated by Microsoft technology. So to work on those business systems, you need to be able to talk, interact and connect to those business systems. Windows 8 Pro tablets run the same software as your desktop machine. It runs the same software as your laptop. It inherently knows how to talk to those business systems that you clients have. The specs have been there since the beginning that mimic many of the existing non-tablet machines. You don't need to think about having one machine for work and one for casual content consumption. It can be the same device. That was the best message from the press conference today. One that I hope I hear over and over from the MS marketing machine.
So in reality, users have been able to replace their laptops with a Windows 8 pro tablet for several years. Don't believe me? I am a prime case in point. I have been running a Windows 8 Pro tablet as my primary computer since Dec 2011, and a machine that I do development on at that. Yes, you read that correctly, Dec 2011. My first Windows 8 tablet was a Samsung Slate 7 which I bought because I was starting to write Windows 8 Store (then Metro) apps. I say first Window 8 tablet because I had also just bought an awesome Sony Tablet running Android OS in October when it was introduced. Great tablet/device... for consuming content.
For the Samsung Slate, I had the Developer Preview on it and then the Consumer Preview and then the RTM versions on it. It really wasn't an optimized machine for Windows 8, mostly because it was made before there was a Windows 8, but it worked and it was one of the best models on the market at that time. At the time I bought it (Dec 2011), I had a new-ish Sony Viao Z with an i7, 8 gigs of RAM and a 128gig SSD. It was (and is) an awesome laptop, but it was missing one important thing that I needed. It didn't have a touch screen. Nothing did then. So I bought the Samsung Slate. It had a docking station, a Bluetooth keyboard and I could connect it to my 27" monitor, just like my laptop. Now, the specs were not as great (i5 and 4gig RAM), but I was still able to use it to develop Win8 apps and other things, do email, present, teach, write SSRS reports and dashboards, and create pretty much anything I wanted. Pretty soon, I was on it all the time, working. So I transitioned to it full time as my primary machine and the kickass Z ended up gathering dust on the bookshelf. When I would show up to client meetings with it, people couldn't believe I used this tablet just like a laptop.
About 11 months later, Microsoft introduced the first Surface Pro. Because my Samsung Slate was the exact same specs as the Surface (and I had just gotten it a few month earlier), I didn't get my first Surface until the next year, June 2013, as part of //Build. It was much lighter than my Samsung. It had a crisper display. And it had a slick slim keyboard. The Samsung went on the shelf with the Viao. I then upgraded to the Surface 2 Pro (this time selling the then just barely used Surface Pro) when it came out because I wanted more RAM (remember that development stuff??). It has been my primary machine, dev and all, since. Since I do type for a living, spending anywhere from 8-15 hours a day working on the machine, the keyboard does matter. My personal experience is that the Surface type cover works just fine for me and is my one and only keyboard. Because I do do development work, I have issues with the default setting for the function keys to control media and other function rather than the "real" functions they are meant to. That is a pain, but only when I'm debugging something.
I am interested in the Surface 3 Pro, mostly because of the addition of the i7 model and new pen and Adobe collaboration. I've been doing so much App Design work for clients that I'm about to buy a Wacom digitizer to connect to my Surface 2 Pro. If I can get that combination in one device... well, I am interested. I need to play with the new pen to see how it is and also to see what tip and pen options will be available. I'll let you know what I find out. The only other thing I need to make this an ultimate machine for me, would be a 16gig RAM model. I could then use it for local hosting of Hyper-v images for dev and training at client sites. So I do wish and hope and plead for a 16 gig RAM model sometime soon, but I don't think that is in the stars.
So I like the new model. Like where the "message" about them (and other Win8 Pro tablets) is going. Interesting stuff.