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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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