Microsoft says Surface is superior to OEM devices, admits they missed out on mobile

Craig Mundie, senior adviser to Steve Ballmer, has opened up at Microsoft's TechForum event about the companies' thoughts on a range of topics, including the Surface's position in the market. Mundie said that Microsoft had "stopped some years back really trying to actively curate what the devices looked like." Microsoft was happy with the wide range of products produced by OEMs, explaining:

"We said, 'oh the OEMs, that's their design, they deal with it.' We got huge diversity out of that at all possible price points, but it became hard to guarantee a uniform quality of experience that the end user had."

Mundie said that Microsoft had taken the "flak for the fact we had this highly variable experience" implying that it is the job of the OEM to ensure that the entire experience is good. 

Mundie also recognised that Microsoft is becoming a hardware company, saying: "[Microsoft is] paying a lot of attention to what that device looks like, what its attributes and specifications are." Later on in his talk, Mundie said that Microsoft had produced a range of devices before Apple, but had failed to "capitalise" on what they had "for a variety of reasons." This is at odds with the history books which say that Microsoft missed the boat on mobile devices and MP3 devices in a pretty spectacular way. In fact, Steve Ballmer laughed off the iPhone when it was first announced, a point he may feel rather shameful of when you consider Apple now has a 37.8% share in the US, verses Microsoft's 3.1% share. 

Microsoft's claim that the Surface competes with the iPad isn't at all surprising considering the hardware and software are manufactured by the same company. Microsoft has the opportunity to pair the Surface's hardware with Windows 8, something OEMs do not have, which is why many consider Apple's "whole widget" approach to be superior.  

When asked if risking Microsoft's relationship with OEMs for the Surface was worth it, Mundie replied "absolutely," before saying, 

"One of the big challenges that the company faced in the last couple of years was just the question of, would there be a very high quality physical device that would go up against Apple?"

Mundie said that people had "acknowledged" that Surface proved that Microsoft can compete with Apple on a hardware front, something sales figures do not reflect. Critics praised Microsoft for their bold approach, but said neither Surface was as good as the iPad; the Surface Pro received 7.75 out of 10 from Neowin, a long shot from the iPad's 9.5/10

Microsoft has not released any sales figures for either Surface device, and the only indication of sales coming from the "sold out" notices from many retailers. However, Microsoft has never issued any official numbers which casts a shadow of such notices; being sold out of 1,000 Surface Pros means they only sold 1,000. Only time will tell if people are really acknowledging that the Surface is superior to it's rivals, and worth the effort Microsoft went to. 

Via: The Verge

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28 Comments

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derekaw said,
Too bad its running Windows 8 which is really no better than Vista.

Too bad that you can't support that claim with any proof.

It is an opinion, I have no proof however Samsung and I agree. Its not proof but Samsung is a HUGE company that has been selling PC hardware for many years. I'd say Samsung know what they are talking about. What do you think about that?

Max Slater-Robins
Mundie said that people had "acknowledged" that Surface proved that Microsoft can compete with Apple on a hardware front, something sales figures do not reflect.

First of all,if you want to be a real journalist,you don't make idiotic statements such as these.

Surface RT managed to grab %3 tablet marketshare in one quarter with barely any apps and no desktop compatibility,limited distribution and exposure. Author or articles makes it seem surface has been on the market for years and fails to gain traction. He doesn't even have Surface Pro sales figures to make such a statement. All we know of surface pro is sold out as soon as some are available in stores or on Microsoft website. You have zero knowledge of how many units they sold.

vcfan said,

First of all,if you want to be a real journalist,you don't make idiotic statements such as these.

Surface RT managed to grab %3 tablet marketshare in one quarter with barely any apps and no desktop compatibility,limited distribution and exposure. Author or articles makes it seem surface has been on the market for years and fails to gain traction. He doesn't even have Surface Pro sales figures to make such a statement. All we know of surface pro is sold out as soon as some are available in stores or on Microsoft website. You have zero knowledge of how many units they sold.

This +1

Because many people ordered one without using it first, why is Samsung discontinuing their RT devices if RT is doing well enough? Samsung want to make money and I am sure they will continue to sell RT devices if the market exists.

I hate that MS is becoming a hardware company partially fueled by having so many issues with OEMs. I really hope they can work it out and MS can just take over the high end.

Really, comparing the scores of a tablet with a slate? Oh Neowin...

The Surface got dinged for Apps and a lower resolution screen, which I think are both very subjective. If we look at hardware alone, I'd think they're pretty comparable (I don't really see the massive benefit of a "retina" display. I've used it, but I've never been like wow I can't go back to a lower res screen. I can only really tell if I put my face to the point where I'm kissing the device, guess that explains why some fans are able to notice).
In regards to Ballmer, that's because the iPhone was essential a $600 feature phone at the time. I can understand not doing anything, but at that time I think he was justified to do so.

This, at the time of launch iPhone was basically less advanced than say a Nokia Asha 311. And I am not joking there. With that said they charged a stupendous amount of money and IMO only because Jobs was able to make so many believe it was he next best thing people fell for the hype.

At the time I owned a Nokia N95 which easily was more versatile except for the touch screen. Remember initially there was no app store and no way for 3rd parties to make or sell apps for iPhone, it was completely closed. Only when Apple created the store did the phone really take off.

Love my Surface Pro, no need to carry a tablet and a laptop anymore. I carry the 2lb Surface. My work laptop feels like a old plastic clunky poorly made piece of equipment now. (It's a Dell)

dagamer34 said,
Steve Ballmer laughed at selling a $500 phone with a 2-year contract. Wouldn't you? Why do people forget this? -_-

He laughed and then did nothing. Now look where Windows Phone is, compares to the iPhone.

well except that let's not re-write history, apple soon found out it had to drop the price and it did so. so much for your knowledge.

neonspark said,
well except that let's not re-write history, apple soon found out it had to drop the price and it did so. so much for your knowledge.

Did I say Apple didn't?

dagamer34 said,
Steve Ballmer laughed at selling a $500 phone with a 2-year contract. Wouldn't you? Why do people forget this? -_-

It was starting at $600 and Ballmer was right. iPhone didn't take off until Apple dropped price (and added 3G).

I remember one article on Microsoft in editorial but the confusion for so many version of Windows 8..

Surface looks like a tablet pc running Windows 8 but wait, its not Windows 8 rather bricked version of Windows 8 where you cant install anything apart from apps store..

Confusion and confusion even with Windows Phone OS too...

Streamlining effect didn't quite work here

Choto Cheeta said
I remember one article on Microsoft in editorial but the confusion for so many version of Windows 8..
There's the Surface with Windows RT (fairly limited experience), and the Surface with Windows 8 Pro (full experience).

LogicalApex said,
To each his own. For me the Surface Pro is priced too high to be a useful buy.

You generally pick two of the following when purchasing a laptop,
1. Cheap
2. Fast
3. Build quality

Surface checks all three.

You're not very logical considering your name.

Surface Pro is priced well in comparison to other devices with similar hardware - Ultrabooks and the 11" Macbook Air.

The Macbook Air does not even come with a 1080p screen, it's not touch based, and it has no wacom pen.

LogicalApex said,
To each his own. For me the Surface Pro is priced too high to be a useful buy.

Two weeks passed since I sold MacBook Air 11.6 and bought a Surface Pro. There was no second of regret, only happiness of having both an ultrabook and a tablet

1Pixel said,
You're not very logical considering your name.

Surface Pro is priced well in comparison to other devices with similar hardware - Ultrabooks and the 11" Macbook Air.

The Macbook Air does not even come with a 1080p screen, it's not touch based, and it has no wacom pen.

Yes, my determination that the surface lacks value at its current price point lacks logic. I'll share some logic with you...

When it comes to spending my money I'm the only source capable of ascertaining the value of something. This is how capitalism works.

There is nothing wrong with me finding the Surface Pro expensive and lacking value.

I spent $1100 on my Lenovo T530 w/ a near maxed out configuration. It holds more value for me than the Surface Pro and nets me over 10 hours of battery life. Again, to each his own

no, you should've compare Surface Pro with the cheapers Chinese knock-off,
if those cheap (just 1/3 of Surface Pro pricing) chinese products allow me to easy-ly change the SSD, i may buy that one instead.

LogicalApex said,

Yes, my determination that the surface lacks value at its current price point lacks logic. I'll share some logic with you...

When it comes to spending my money I'm the only source capable of ascertaining the value of something. This is how capitalism works.

There is nothing wrong with me finding the Surface Pro expensive and lacking value.

I spent $1100 on my Lenovo T530 w/ a near maxed out configuration. It holds more value for me than the Surface Pro and nets me over 10 hours of battery life. Again, to each his own


I think your entire reasoning lacks logic. Why the **** would you even compare a 5+ LB laptop with an ultra portable? I mean I can buy 200 pizzas for $1100 - that has more value to me than a 5LB laptop!

BajiRav said,

I think your entire reasoning lacks logic. Why the **** would you even compare a 5+ LB laptop with an ultra portable? I mean I can buy 200 pizzas for $1100 - that has more value to me than a 5LB laptop!

It is a fair comparison for me because it is all about what I will use while being portable.