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Jack Gold: Microsoft re-Surfaces the Pro, for the enterprise

Jack Gold | May 22, 2014
The enhancements in the Surface Pro 3 are aimed straight at the enterprise.

How this could shake out

If successful, the Surface Pro 3 device will stimulate traditional OEMs to offer enterprise-class tablets running full Windows systems and powered by x86 chips. That would give a major boost to Intel (and potentially AMD). But the ARM chip providers (including NVidia and Qualcomm) that had hoped Microsoft's new device would continue to endorse their chips while runnig Windows RT have been disappointed.

Also happy are Windows app developers and providers, which now have a true tablet platform to deploy to without needing a full-blown conversion effort.

Apple could see its incursions into the enterprise curtailed. The many corporate users who have tried to get work done on their iPads and saw Windows tablets as far inferior could now re-evaluate that position, especially if IT groups seek to influence their choice. Also affected could be Microsoft OEMs, which now have a high-end Windows-based tablet to compete against from their OS supplier. But an even bigger loser could be the Surface RT family of devices, since the Surface Pro 3 eliminates any reason for enterprises to look at it and its inferior capabilities. Of course, some users need more compact units than the Surface Pro 3 with its 12-inch screen, but I'd expect Microsoft and its OEMs to offer smaller devices (some already do).

The price is still a bit high for many, at $799 for the entry unit, plus the required $129 attachable keyboard. Nonetheless, I expect the sweet spot for many enterprises will be the $1,299 i5-powered unit with 256GB. That's a high-end device with full capability for corporate users for whom a premium price of a few hundred dollars is far outweighed by the device's productivity-enhancing features.

I believe Microsoft will be successful with the Surface Pro 3 in their targeted market. How will it affect the overall enterprise tablet market? Only time will tell.


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