Windows RT Tablets DOA; Will $900 Windows Surface Pro Tablets Do Better?

Microsoft Surface tabletIt looks like musicians wanting Windows-based multi-touch computers may have have to pay a premium.

Windows 8 RT devices – multi-touch ARM-powered computers – appear to be dead on arrival. Microsoft has cut production of its Surface devices in half after weak sales. And sales of third-party Windows 8 RT devices have been ‘almost non-existent’.

While the devices impressed many tech analysts when they were introduced, they failed to interest buyers. Technology research firm NPD Group reports that sales of Windows computers have actually declined significantly since the release of Windows 8, dropping a whopping 21% from the same time last year.

It’s too early to know why people aren’t buying – but Microsoft confused a lot of people with its Windows 8 introduction. And the idea of a Windows tablet/computer that doesn’t run Windows software hasn’t proven to be appealing to buyers, either.

Surface with Windows 8 Pro Computers

With Windows 8 RT devices apparently DOA, attention is turning to Microsoft’s Surface Pro computers. Microsoft today announced pricing for its Intel-based Surface With Windows 8 Pro systems:

  • 64GB standalone version at $899
  • 128GB standalone version at $999

Both systems will come with a stylus. Adding a keyboard cover will add about another $120 to the price.

Key features of the ‘Surface with Windows 8 Pro’ computers are:

  • It really runs Windows apps;
  • Intel i5 processor;
  • 1920×1080 screen resolution; and
  • It;’s both a Windows laptop and a tablet.

Microsoft plans to release the Surface Pro computers in January.

What do you think of the idea of a $1000 Surface Pro for music making? Does this look like an interesting hybrid – or a premium frankenthing?


33 thoughts on “Windows RT Tablets DOA; Will $900 Windows Surface Pro Tablets Do Better?

  1. A month ago, I was telling my buddies this would be in the $1000 range. They called bullshit, saying I was a Microsoft hater. We spent 20 minutes of a podcast arguing about it. I guess I was right. I’m not dissing it, to be sure. It looks like a whole hell of a lot of cool tech (especially coming from Microsoft). But since I use a Mac and an iPad, it wouldn’t make sense for me, considering the money I’ve spent on apps and the integration I’m used too. We’re at that point now. We have to pick sides, because lock-in is pretty inevitable. If you don’t want lock-in, Linux is really your only choice now. I’m Dr. Strangeloving this: How I learned to stop worrying and love the Borg.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

      • Yeah, why not buy the cheaper Windows version and replace the OS with What ever Linux you want? After all, the people that want Linux are going to do that anyway with the Linux version (unless they love Ubuntu, which I used for over 5 years).

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

    • I tried out the Surface tablet and found it to be a little strange to work with. As a tablet, it’s pretty big, so it’s sort of awkward to hold. As a tablet, the keyboard is a little funky. I don’t think you could really use the Surface as a ‘laptop’ because of the flimsiness of the keyboard. I was only able to test the keyboard out on a display, though.

      I’m passing on the Surface line, but I will be interested to see what other companies come out with. I like the idea of the screen doubling as a tablet, just not Microsoft’s execution.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

      • But I can carry an extra battery for my laptop (I actually carry two). Am I just missing the ‘swappable battery’ feature? If not, then yes, that’s pretty much a showstopper.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  2. Too expensive, no i7, no keyboard as standard … That’s pretty sucks.

    I was waiting to get one, but at this price I’ll go for an Asus Ultrabook Instead …

    Too bad Microsoft, they didnt learn from the Surface RT fail …

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  3. tl;dr – Why is the mobile computing market so damned complicated now.

    I was in the market for a new laptop early next year (well, until I decided I’d rather spend that money on the Analog Four). I’m a Windows user. I was interested in the touch screen, but, it seems that it’s wonky with “desktop” software (vs “apps”).

    The last laptop I bought was a custom RKC ASUS in 2007 (when the Merom chips had just come out). The landscape of portable computing has changed quite a bit since then. Now, I have no idea what I would need (nor am I particularly interested in learning about portable chromebooks to find out). I’d rather just build another desktop from newegg parts, or breakdown and get a Rain custom laptop.

    There seems to be no real clear cut difference between “laptop/notebook,” netbook, ultrabook or tablet (well, save the general lack of keyboard on the tablet). ARM doesn’t run desktop software, ok, that’s out. Which are the Intel formfactor? Oh, it’s not clear? Then why make that the arbitrary main division in filtering out products?!

    There is a TED Talk about how too much choice is not a good thing. This seems to be one of those situations for me. I’m not saying “it comes in any color you want as long as that’s black” is the right way, but, that “here are 40 wholly different products which could be summed in 6 with options” is better.

    I kinda wanted an iPad (I kinda still do), but, I have an iPhone and all the iPad only apps, while cool, don’t look like they’re worth the price of entry (i.e., getting an iPad). The mini seems like it’d be worth it, until I think about how irritating the constant inaccuracy of iPhone apps due to far-too-compact UIs that Devs think are a good choice. Maybe I’ll get one of those Chris Randall / Jordan Rudess setups with a Windows based large touchscreen.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

    • I’ve switched from a “desktop and laptop” format to a “laptop, tablet, phone” format. They sort of mirror my usage scenarios: heavy duty creative work or play (laptop), light creative work or play (tablet), and personal/casual/extremely portable (phone). Also mirrors my environments: studio/work (laptop), couch (tablet), outside world (phone). I actually welcome the consolidation of laptop and tablet, but I’m not convinced we’re there yet with the surface.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

      • For me, it’s currently a “desktop, phone, hardware” situation. I have my desktop for Ableton (and most other computer usage), my phone for the couch and hardware sequencers / synths for “live” music.

        My desktop is running just fine at a couple years old, but, my laptop is not in the best condition. I wanted to get a touch screen laptop in hopes that I could use some “iPad” like apps with it. But, it looks like that’s a pipe dream for now.

        I’ll wait a year and see if it takes off.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

    • Actually the worst thing is Microsoft’s naming – Surface with Windows 8 Pro computer.

      Is it any wonder people are holding off? They can’t figure out WTF is what.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  4. 1000USD:
    - i5 cpu
    - 128GB
    - stylus
    - runs Windows software
    - made by MS

    This seems tasty. The stylus is the cherry on top. Picking all those small faders and knobs would be hard without it.
    I just want to see Cubase, Reason and Maschine working on this. Then I’m sold.

    I love my iPad, but the only reason I bought it was because I could not get a decent alternative for music making on a tablet. I use the iPad everyday and I love to play with so many nice music apps, but I miss my DAWs. And no, I don’t like to carry my laptop around (MBP).

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 7 Thumb down 3

    • Or you can get a pretty tricked out ultrabook for $400 less that’s way more powerful and has a keyboard that works.

      I can’t figure out why Microsoft doesn’t just make a kick ass Windows tablet. They seem to be hung up on the idea that people want to run Microsoft Office on their tablet, which seems idiotic.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  5. I bet that if Apple makes a 1000USD “Air touch” it would sell like hell!.
    It would be more reliable and appealing for so (too) many reasons.
    Specs and price looks fine, but IMHO, people are confused and scared that win 8 will not be a smooth experience as iOS- OSX on Mac.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 7 Thumb down 3

  6. I’m confused. I tried Win 8 and it left me disappointed. It’s and inconsistent OS and if that’s what will run on the Surface… sorry but no. The price is pretty high, yes, but the hardware is good, too. The real showstopper for me is the OS. I read a review that said there are actually two IE applications on the OS (one in the metro mode and one in desktop mode) and they don’t “know” about each other. If such a simple thing is not consistent what other inconsistencies could be lying underneath?

    Also, will the Surface work with all kinds of interfaces? Can you install drivers on it?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

  7. Oh c’mon. When do you ever judge a windows computer based on IE. Just install chrome/firefox and move on. And yeah, I’m running Windows 8 on my laptop and you can install drivers on it pretty easily.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 4

  8. Do these have replaceable batteries? A 4-hour charge on my laptop is only acceptable because I have an extra battery. Unless I have layover time enough to hit a charger, this wouldn’t get me from coast to coast on a 1-stop flight. And I’m betting that battery time drops by 25% if you’re playing SimCity or something instead of being a good little drone and working in Office.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  9. My quad core desktop with windows seven is near on three years old I’ve just boosted the ram and everything works perfect including with a few drivers my ipad controls my ableton and resolume in 1080p real time three screens controlled by my ipad wirelessly brilliant. Until then I’m not getting a windows tablet until ableton works entirely on a touch device.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

    • That is key. This is just a crappy laptop until true touch software arrives for it. And we all know that’s not happening.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

      • It’s frustrating to see so much change happening on iPads and just nothing happening on Windows.

        I had hopes for the Surface but it seems like a miss more than a hit.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  10. a tablet powerful enough to replace my laptop. runs all the software.

    this is the device I want. just wireless keyboard, mouse and monitor. and you’ve got your desktop.

    the real issue is windows 8. not great for tablets. not great for desktops. lose/lose.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  11. a tablet powerful enough to replace my laptop. runs all the software.

    this is the device I want. just wireless keyboard, mouse and monitor. and you’ve got your desktop.

    the real issue is windows 8. not great for tablets. not great for desktops. lose-lose.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. As long as ASIO is the “standard” for windows based computers, they will continue to not be relevant to the serious producer.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  13. Microsoft Surface is a solid idea, Windows RT is not. It’s a decent OS with fantastic driver ability right out of the box, but at the end of the day, Microsoft is in the same predicament that they’re in with mobile phones: It’s an Android and Apple world for ARM devices.

    I “made” myself use Windows 8, and after a week, I liked it. A lot of manufacturers are tackling the touchscreen side of things in different ways (Check out Dell and Lenovo’s multiple approaches!), but Windows 8, like it or not, is the future. When I can run my VSTs from a Windows touch-screen device the size of an iPad for the same price, I’ll be a happy man. :)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  14. Microsoft should have implemented their own low latency audio system with Vista and 7, but they didn’t, and we still have to rely on third party drivers to get low latency. That was one of the reasons I moved all my music production over to OSX. I still use Windows cause it’s a solid OS for some things, but I don’t like having that extra layer in there because it’s another thing to go wrong

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  15. Microsoft is trying to break into a market that Apple is dominating. They need to take a page from the XBOX playbook. Sell the hardware at a loss to get some market share. Cut prices in half to get units in consumer’s hands.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

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