Microsoft Surface head: Surface Pro is a PC, Surface RT is a tablet

You might look at the Surface RT and the Surface Pro devices that Microsoft has launched and think that both of them are supposed to be tablets. After all, both have basically the same tablet-style form factor, with a 10.6 inch touchscreen, and both devices have optional Touch and Type covers to serve as keyboards. So that makes the Surface RT and Surface Pro tablets, right?

This is the Surface RT. It is a tablet.

Nope. That's the word from Panos Panay, the head of Microsoft's Surface division. GeekWire.com reports that Panay made a brief presentation at Microsoft's U.S. Public Sector CIO Summit today and while he didn't address topics such as sales of the Surface products, he did clarify that the Surface Pro was not made to be a tablet, even with its tablet-like case.

Panay stated:

Surface RT was designed as a tablet first. I want to be super-clear on what we designed Pro for. Very easy to understand. This should be the fastest PC you pick up. Period. People get confused because of the form factor. … It was designed as a PC. We often get judged as designing a heavier tablet and not enough battery life. Be very clear: What we designed was a PC.

This is the Surface Pro. It is a PC .. and it has a stylus.

Panay also told the audience at the summit that Microsoft is working to expand the market for the Surface family, saying that they were designed with large corporations and governments in mind. He added, "We did design them to get the consumer market first, or retail. No doubt. But we’re right on the cusp of turning that corner and bringing these products into the market where we really want to be."

Source: GeekWire.com | Images via Microsoft

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Bloody hell! Each one is a computer, simple. So in fact; smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktops, servers, etc. are computers. How difficult can that be, I am shame of humanity and fashionable crap.

You all may sit and debate this and be little school kids but this statement just made my day. I am in the middle creating a presentation for my divisional CIO on the possibility of replacing our ipads with win 8 pro tablets. This could help seal it.

They should have some kind of marking to differentiate the devices. Anything subtle really should suffice, the fact that they are too similar is not very consumer friendly and probably prone to create confusion amongst consumers.
This is also an issue with the software they're making. I've seen people getting mixed up when there is an update of an app, thinking if that update relates to a Web app, the Office package app or a Metro app (best example is Outlook). Those are all different, but all under the same branding.

Now if they can just make that clear by making sure "desktop" is remove from the "touch first" experience and proper missing element are added to the "Modern" experience : complete control panel, some sort of file explorer.

Is there finally hope? Someone at Microsoft is seeing the light...

I don't care what people think. I have my Surface Pro and love it. The continuous updates is great and what I really care about is that Microsoft keeps making updates.

Panay also told the audience at the summit that Microsoft is working to expand the market for the Surface family, saying that they were designed with large corporations and governments in mind.

I'd say the same when a product is failing among consumers. Interesting though that most of their Surface ads are targeting consumers.

.Neo said,

I'd say the same when a product is failing among consumers. Interesting though that most of their Surface ads are targeting consumers.

Most of the Surface ads are actually targeting teenagers...(p.s. terrible ads).

BajiRav said,

Most of the Surface ads are actually targeting teenagers...(p.s. terrible ads).

Last time I checked teenagers are in fact consumers. In any case my point being is that the guy from Microsoft's Surface devision claims the product is made for corporations yet the majority of ads don't reflect that: They're targeted at regular consumers (teenagers or otherwise) instead of business users.

It's not complicated.

Surface Pro is a PC with some secondary tablet capabilities.
Surface RT is a tablet with some secondary PC capabilities.

I think they should have made the RT a pure tablet all along, just made a bigger WP8 device with apps that sync to both like the iPhone/iPad. If you want a desktop environment go for the Pro

He doesn't say the Surface Pro isn't a tablet. He says that the Surface Pro is first and foremost a PC, and secondarily a tablet. But the Surface RT is first and foremost a tablet.

This isn't a complicated concept.

rfirth said,
He doesn't say the Surface Pro isn't a tablet. He says that the Surface Pro is first and foremost a PC, and secondarily a tablet. But the Surface RT is first and foremost a tablet.

This isn't a complicated concept.


It is confusing: what is the difference between a PC and a Tablet? None. A Tablet PC is a PC as for the original concept behind such device as envisioned by Bill Gates. An iPad and clones are media Tablets as envisioned by Steve Jobs.
I will never understand why MS did not patent the "Tablet PC" concept but... it is what it is and the more MS try to elaborate the worse it gets.

Torolol said,
so Ballmer was wrong all this time saying: "Tablet = PC, and PC = Tablet" !??

No, Ballmer and Sinofsky wanted to kill the "Tablet PC" project but because Gates was the one behind it they could not. Gates was right from the beginning and the Tablet is a portable PC with added capabilities, mainly handwriting.
Bought my first Tablet PC in 2002 as a replacement for my laptop and never looked back.
My Tablet PC... is a portable PC, period.

I've always said this. It should be obvious. But as always humanity is a disappointment and people can't understand extremely basic stuff, like what Win 8 is meant to be and what Metro is designed for (touch input, and not a desktop replacement. Again i have to point out the obvious).

What exactly does Win 8 not do that you want it to? It can do everything 7 can and a lot more. And basic common sense has nothing to do with having your head up anyones arse.

And "M$" ? ... it's not the 1990's anymore you know... grow up.

W32.Backdoor.KillAV.E said,
I've always said this. It should be obvious. But as always humanity is a disappointment and people can't understand extremely basic stuff, like what Win 8 is meant to be and what Metro is designed for (touch input, and not a desktop replacement. Again i have to point out the obvious).

If the Modern-Style UI is for touch input only, why the hell does it exist in an OS that's being installed on NON-TOUCH equipment? Why is that hard to understand?

It doesn't get any more personal if you carry a device with you all the time.

HTC One X is my PC.

And that big box I have at home is my MAINFRAME (or a workstation at the very least!)

zhiVago said,
It doesn't get any more personal if you carry a device with you all the time.

HTC One X is my PC.

And that big box I have at home is my MAINFRAME (or a workstation at the very least!)


I don't know if you were making a joke or not, but if we were to use PC by it's standard definition and not the Steve Jobs spin on things, cellphones are much more of a PC (personal computer) than both tablets and desktops.

If we use the IBM PC clone definition, than sure, the Pro is a PC, while the RT is not. But then so are Macs yet no one calls them PCs.

zhiVago said,
It doesn't get any more personal if you carry a device with you all the time.

HTC One X is my PC.

And that big box I have at home is my MAINFRAME (or a workstation at the very least!)


I'm inclined to agree that a personal computer isn't limited to a particular form factor. The problem is the human desire for the "next" thing. If 'PC' is branded a thing of the past, nobody will want to call anything else a PC, opting for a fresh, new name instead.

It's petty and vain, but it's how it is.

virtorio said,
Microsoft continuing to be just as confused with what they've made as the public is.

I think the only one confused is you.

ingramator said,

I think the only one confused is you.


No I'm not confused. But they have failed to differentiate the two products, and that has caused confusion; he even states people are confused in the quoted text.

They have built two products, aimed at two different types of users, that look exactly the same. The only thing I'm confused about is that people at Microsoft actually thought that was a good idea.

ingramator said,

I think the only one confused is you.

No, virtorio is right. I've yet to hear an average consumer say: "I want a Windows RT device!" In fact, if asked: "What is the difference between the Surface RT and the Surface Pro?" I'd be willing to bet that the average person would say, "What's a Surface?" Once you tell them what a Surface is and what RT means and what Pro means in contrast to RT, they already purchased an iPad or a Nexus 7/10.

Microsoft has always struggled with branding. It's confusing. And I don't see it improving.

I really believe that Microsoft should just build the device and work out all the kinks (poor battery life..etc), and let customer decide what the device means for them personally. It is just silly to define what the device is, when the battery life is already a deal breaker here.

Yeah...way to confuse consumers and fight an uphill battle, MS should just take back the TabletPC moniker from a decade ago.

Its very simple :
* If It runs a full desktop OS == Tablet PC
* Not a full OS, mobile OS etc == Tablet

Surface Pro comes with a stylus and no keyboard. It is a tablet. To be precise it is a Tablet PC.

Anyone who says Surface Pro is not a tablet is being ridiculous. That is what that form factor is called regardless of whether it is a PC or not.

Avatar Roku said,
Anyone who says Surface Pro is not a tablet is being ridiculous. That is what that form factor is called regardless of whether it is a PC or not.

Correct. The Surface Pro is first and foremost a PC, but secondarily a tablet. The Surface RT is first and foremost a tablet. That's all they're saying.

I know a lot of people in the computing industry that tried the OS for 5 minutes and said that - IDIOTS.
Windows 8 is here to stay and thrive.