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Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer: Forget the iPad, Surface Is the Tablet People Want 403

zacharye writes "Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer undoubtedly knows that Apple has sold more than 100 million iPad tablets at this point, but according to the outspoken executive, that's not the tablet people really want. While speaking with CNBC, Ballmer said no company has built a tablet he believes customers want. 'You can go through the products from all those guys and none of them has a product that you can really use. Not Apple. Not Google. Not Amazon. Nobody has a product that lets you work and play that can be your tablet and your PC. Not at any price point,' he says."
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Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer: Forget the iPad, Surface Is the Tablet People Want

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  • by oDDmON oUT ( 231200 ) on Monday October 29, 2012 @12:49PM (#41806307)

    One vendor lockin in enough and with the Copyright Board saying jailbreaking tablets is verboten, one is all I care to have.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 29, 2012 @12:49PM (#41806319)

    Get out!

  • by CajunArson ( 465943 ) on Monday October 29, 2012 @12:50PM (#41806333) Journal

    "Nobody has a product that lets you work and play that can be your tablet and your PC. Not at any price point,"

    That's actually a true statement. Ballmer's problem is that it is still a true statement after Surface debuts.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by CastrTroy ( 595695 )
      I would have to say that a MacBook Air (if you don't really care about touch, or a Dell XPS Touch Ultrabook with the flip around screen if you insist on a touch interface, would come pretty close to this. The MBA and ultrabooks are basically small enough that they take up about the same amount of space as a tablet, yet they contain a real OS and a real keyboard that let you get real work done. The problem is that for the price of them, you could pick up both a laptop and a tablet, and have the best of both
    • by MozeeToby ( 1163751 ) on Monday October 29, 2012 @12:59PM (#41806555)

      That's because 'work' is almost always (except a very few niche cases) about creation, and creation without precision input devices is tedious and frustrating. Precision input in this case means a keyboard that I can type at full speed on, and a pointing device that is pixel accurate. Even with the keyboard cover that the surface uses, I don't think it meets either of those criteria.

    • I think 'Surface Pro' has the potential to be "that" tablet.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 29, 2012 @01:03PM (#41806637)

      It will be interesting to see if they actually get their sh1t together for "surface 2" or whatever they will call it. Right now Microsoft seems to be firmly in the middle of a "crap nobody wants" cycle with Windows 8 and Surface. And with Surface, I see some potential in the concept, they just fumbled the delivery badly.

  • by WillAdams ( 45638 ) on Monday October 29, 2012 @12:50PM (#41806337) Homepage

    - too expensive
      - too confusing (it's obvious that the iPad won't run Mac OS X apps, it's not obvious that the RT Surface won't run Windows apps)
      - too late

    (and I write this as a guy who'd like to replace his Fujitsu Stylistic Tablet PC w/ a Surface (Intel version, if it's possible to install Mac OS X on it)

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by nurbles ( 801091 )

      - too expensive

      Compared to what? a 64GB iPad (3rd generation) is $649 and a 64GB Surface tablet is $699, but the surface comes with a cover that includes a stand and a keyboard AND a customized version of Office. Both will run anything you can find in their App Store -- granted, Apple's has a bit more at the moment, but that could easily change. So, to me, the Surface seems more like a bargain than the iPad.

      - too confusing (it's obvious that the iPad won't run Mac OS X apps, it's not obvious that the RT Surface won't run Windows apps)

      Obvious to who? When I first saw an iPad I expected it to share apps with a Mac. At least the Surface will do t

      • - too expensive

        Compared to what?

        Compared to a laptop.

        The netbook I currently use on trips cost €220. Since it's fully encrypted, it means that having it stolen or leaving it on the train is a fairly minor annoyance (I've had one stolen already).

        Since I have a nice laptop at home and a nice desktop at work, I'd gladly replace it with a tablet, as long as I can encrypt the flash, view PDFs, run LaTeX, and plug in a projector. But not at that price.

        • Since it's not clear from your post, the Surface (even the RT version) can do all of that.

          Full storage encrypting is available, based on BitLocker as you might expect. It works seamlessly; my company mandates device encryption and enforces it when connecting to the Exchange server, and I didn't even realize the BitLocker encryption was actually in progress until I got a notification saying it was complete.

          There's a built-in PDF viewing app; no more need for third-party software.

          Editing LaTeX files on Window

      • by Mike Buddha ( 10734 ) on Monday October 29, 2012 @01:47PM (#41807501)

        One of the features that I look forward to using in the Windows 8 world is the ability to automatically sync data between like programs on different devices. I'm already seeing that somewhat on my Windows 8 laptop (a Macbook Pro), and the Vivo Tab RT I picked up on Friday. Everything is tied in to my single account and everything syncs up nicely.

        I've been waiting for someone to get this right. I thought Apple was going to be the one, hence the MacBook, iPad, and iPhone purchases, but syncing data between these devices is still fairly archaic. Google nearly had me when they allowed devices to link to my Google account. Microsoft is taking home the prize for the seamless integration between my two devices. When WIndows Phone 8 comes out for Verizon, I'm there with bells on.

        And to pre-empt any accusations: I'm a total shill for Microsoft. That's why I have all my Apple stuff, and a Google Nexus 7. That's also why I bought an Asus RT tablet.

      • Microsoft behemothicity didn't exactly make the Zune or the previous generations of Windows devices major market performers. One can argue that the XBox division did greatly benefit, but then again, Microsoft dumped a helluva lot of money into it, and it's likely to be years before that investment is ever paid off, so it's difficult to call it a success.

        Apple is also a behemoth now, so there's no longer Microsoft and everyone else. It has actual competition, and competition that has had a couple of years no

    • by sinan ( 10073 )

      To me it's OK, if it doesn't run full OS X. If it runs
      2)Logic compatible Music creation(Like GarageBand)

      It might be a useful addition to what I have.

    • - too expensive = agreed, for a device that is entering the market they should have made it a bit less expensive

      - too confusing = kind of agree. they've made it clear x86 apps won't run, i think there are enough signs everywhere

      - too lad = disagree, that would imply once a vendor grabs most of the marketshare, it's pointless to enter the market. macosx and linux should give up trying to grab more marketshare in the desktop/laptop space?
  • by nthitz ( 840462 ) on Monday October 29, 2012 @12:52PM (#41806375)
    Somebody seems to be wanting those iPads
    • Somebody seems to be wanting those iPads

      No, Apple marketing is just so good, that people buy expensive stuff that they don't want.

      And Mr. Ballmer is raving bat-shit crazy jealous bite-the-head-off-a-chipmunk pluck-his-Pussy-Riot mad, that Microsoft cannot do the same . . .

      • by mspohr ( 589790 ) on Monday October 29, 2012 @01:41PM (#41807381)

        Ballmer has his own reality distortion field just like Steve Jobs.
        The difference is that nobody believes Ballmer's RDF while Jobs was able to get a lot of people to buy into his.

        • by v1 ( 525388 )

          was just gonna say that myself so I'll refrain from a dup and just forward my chuckle. I dare him to say that while standing in front of a market share pie chart. anytime. actually, I'ld like to see him lose a bet and be forced to do it, a year (or two) from now.

          (didn't MS try that same line with the Zune / iPod?)

  • Returning surface (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 29, 2012 @12:53PM (#41806381)

    I was excited to get my surface on Friday. By Sunday I decided to return it. I found it to be a compromise both as a tablet and a laptop. Many ui items are too small and I did not like the transitions from tablet ui to laptop ui and back again. I love the custom tiles of the start screen, unfortunately I found it to be all downhill from there.

    • by Quila ( 201335 ) on Monday October 29, 2012 @01:07PM (#41806685)

      Microsoft has had their OS in tablets for years and they never took off. The reason: They tried to be both a tablet and a PC.

      The iPad showed tablets work great as tablets, not PCs, and vice-versa, and in one year probably sold more than all other tablets combined in history.

      Now Ballmer wants to do the combined tablet/PC again. Honest, it'll work this time.

      • Fortune-30 company checking in here.

        We buy the "convertible" tablet PCs. Very few of them, but they do exist. They are stupidly expensive, bulky, heavy, clunky pieces of equipment which suck in every way in comparison to the non-tablet version of the same notebook for all tasks that they are not explicitly purchased to perform.

        However, in those tasks which we purchase them for, the users love them. Here's to that form factor going the hell away in favor of something like the Asus Transformer, except with

      • by mcrbids ( 148650 )

        I actually thought they just might pull it off. Right up until I bought Windows 8. It's such a schizophrenic pile of annoyances that there's no way I figure I could love it. It's everything you want in a PC, except that it switches all around on you and eagerly tries to be a tablet, but only in a way that's both counter-intuitive and confusing.

        It's worse than painful. At least Vista, when it worked, did. Win8, when it works, is still confusing as hell.

  • Wether they know it or not consumers really want a tablet they can what they want with it. Not what you just give them. Which is what everybody is doing.

  • by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Monday October 29, 2012 @12:55PM (#41806449) Journal

    If not, then don't bother me until it does. If I want a crayon-level interface, I'll go with the one that has a bazillion apps for all my media content consuming needs. When a really useful, 256+ pressure level, pen-accurate input with palm/heel rejection gets here, then I'll consider switching.

  • Track Record (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ericdano ( 113424 ) on Monday October 29, 2012 @12:56PM (#41806465) Homepage

    Go back and look at Balmer's track record with his "statements". It's not really good at all.

  • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Monday October 29, 2012 @12:57PM (#41806489)

    Yes. Tim Cook Will say the iPad is what people want. Balmer will say the Surface is what people want. Google will be pushing Chrome...

    Time will tell what people really want. Focus group are sometimes wrong. Even what the internet buzz thinks it want isn't what people really want.

    We here tend to figure if people didn't make the same choice that we made, some how their decision is corrupted by marketing, or misinformation, while we are more pure... But we all see things and weight them differently. If someone says they like x for reason y. You really shouldn't discredit reason y, if reason y is important to them. Reason y may not matter to you. But that is the great thing about choice... We get to pick what we want. So trying to discredit someone elses choice is just stupid.

  • Loser (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pubwvj ( 1045960 ) on Monday October 29, 2012 @12:57PM (#41806501)

    The iPad isn't perfect, yet, but the Surface is so far down from perfect that it is not even a contender. Ballmer is dreaming. Or spinning PR.

  • Force Fail? (Score:5, Funny)

    by hutsell ( 1228828 ) on Monday October 29, 2012 @12:58PM (#41806509) Homepage

    Sounds as if he was trying to the use the Force, as in: Stormtrooper, "These aren't the Droids you're looking for."

  • by Picass0 ( 147474 ) on Monday October 29, 2012 @12:59PM (#41806529) Homepage Journal

    Sounds like what you say when you're late to the party.

  • Hm ... (Score:4, Funny)

    by garry_g ( 106621 ) on Monday October 29, 2012 @12:59PM (#41806549)

    May I assume he thought the same of the Zune? or Windows Mobile/CE?

  • by Viewsonic ( 584922 ) on Monday October 29, 2012 @01:02PM (#41806607)

    It's not like people with tablets will be racing to go buy ANOTHER tablet.

    Just seems to me Microsoft jumped into the market two years too late. This isn't a knock on Surface or anything, just an observation.

  • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Monday October 29, 2012 @01:08PM (#41806711) Homepage

    This is just corporate bluster until such time as Microsoft can trot out sales figures proving that people are actually buying these.

    As a general rule, when the CEO of a company says "our product is teh best and our competitors are teh sux0rs" ... well, they're mostly talking out of their asses for their own purposes.

    And, in the case of Steve Ballmer, he's got a long history of speaking drivel that he wants other people to believe, and being out of touch with what people actually want.

  • Microsoft is in the tablet market since many years. If I'm not mistaken since shortly after the launch of Windows XP with these UMPC things. Nobody ever wanted tablets with Windows.

    • Microsoft is in the tablet market since many years. If I'm not mistaken since shortly after the launch of Windows XP with these UMPC things. Nobody ever wanted tablets with Windows.

      It goes back further than that. I remember the Casio PA2400, which ran CE 2.0 or somesuch. It was released in 1999.

  • Well Bill, (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AdmV0rl0n ( 98366 ) on Monday October 29, 2012 @01:15PM (#41806871) Homepage Journal

    I hate to point it out to you, but you've not really made a PC that can be my tablet and or PC too either. You keep fucking failing. I know, I've spent hours and hours testing windows 8, just like I tested XP on a Q1 and 7 on the same Q1 before it.

    The ARM move you made probably does have a place - but its got ZERO to do with running my 'PC' as a tablet. In fact I can't do any of that. The PC part doesn't even exist. As for your X86 tablet - oh sure, I can have my PC - but minus the start button. And minus anything to do with tablet - unless I accept Metro/Notro as my new PC life. Only 99% of everything PC I used or use is desktop based. I have no idea who you think you are talking to - Its not me.

    And the real world information is rolling through the isles. The real benchmarks are closing in. Worse performance in use, worse gaming, worse multitasking, worse application compat, and continuing doese of screw me.

    To be frank, by forcing this broken Notro paradigm down my through - I've never ever going to be less than hostile to your dumb sales pitch. Your new OS is a cut down 7 with some nice engineering changes in the normal method of win development - and to get them I am forced to use WinRT and this garbage UI (I won't - I'll re-engineer machinery not to - end of.) - and thats all she wrote according to you. It deserves to fail, and it deserves to supply the big pink slip to the people inside MS who ignored all the feedback from the userbase that said no.

  • by JDG1980 ( 2438906 ) on Monday October 29, 2012 @01:19PM (#41806961)

    By this interview, Ballmer proves what I had suspected: that Microsoft doesn't understand why tablets are popular, and what tablets are for. And this failure to understand is why they are ruining Windows, by trying to make it a "universal" OS.

    Tablets are not a substitute for a laptop or desktop PC, nor do most people want them to be. They are a more convenient and portable way of surfing the Web, listening to music, watching videos on YouTube or Netflix, playing simple games, doing Facebook, reading e-books, and so forth. They are, in short, content consumption devices. They aren't good at producing stuff, and aren't supposed to be. A tablet is not a "junior laptop" and when Microsoft tried to treat it as such with their previous attempts, they failed miserably. But nor is a desktop or laptop a scaled-up tablet; if it was, no one could ever get any work done.

    Ballmer doesn't seem to understand that for the average home user, firing up MS Office is a rare use case, and one that is easily enough satisfied by a 6-year-old system running Windows XP that the buyer sees no reason to upgrade. As for businesses, they like things the way they are; many of them would still be running Windows 2000 if they were able to. Microsoft doesn't see that the fact that they would benefit by people spending more money is irrelevant; what matters is if the buyers see the benefit in spending more money. And when it does come time to spend, they have to demonstrate why their product is better than the competitor's. It's not enough any more just for them to show up.

    1. You are feeling sleepy . . . sleepy . . .
    2. "that's not the tablet people really want" . . . give your iPad to me . . .
    3. "none of them has a product that you can really use" . . . give your iPad to me . . .
    4. "Not Apple. Not Google. Not Amazon." . . . give your iPad to me . . .
    5. "Nobody has a product that lets you work and play that can be your tablet and your PC." . . . give your iPad to me . . .

    Thank you, Mr. Ballmer, maybe I will get a free iPad out of this . . .

  • I understand that a CEO should be pushing his own products, but really? This is his reasoning? And it's not even reasoning, but sad marketing pulp that I don't think anyone actually believes (including the Microsoft people). People love their iPads, and people love their Android tablets. Sure, there are people who aren't happy and maybe flip, but I somehow doubt Microsoft is going to be the innovator in this part of the market.

    I would have actually agreed if he said something like: most people are f
  • by Kaenneth ( 82978 ) on Monday October 29, 2012 @01:28PM (#41807139) Homepage Journal

    I got a Surface RT on launch day, and was sitting at the bus stop playing with it, and some guy ran past and grabbed it.

    I was about to give chase, but as he was running he looked at it, stopped, turned around, and gave it back saying "Sorry man, I'm so sorry for you man."

    It's basically theft-proof.

  • Steve Ballmer is the kind of guy that makes comedians lose their jobs. After he talks, there's basically no room to mock him, nothing funny or idiotic left to say, no better snarky riposte than what he just said. The comedic absurdity is built in. He mocks himself. He does it all, from soup to nuts. He's just that kind of guy.

    Why he's still there, though, is baffling.

  • Steve Ballmer may be fat, ugly and stupid... but he has a sense of humour.

  • Microsoft has spent 10 years trying to crack open the tablet market, and always failed. Now that Apple has done it, suddenly Microsoft's response is the real holy grail?

    The tablet market is fueled by hype and will die out in a couple years once the consumer realizes how limited they are. Just like netbooks

    Microsoft has tied win8 to this sinking ship with every rope and chain they can find.

    • by Lifyre ( 960576 )

      To be perfectly fair this is roughly how Microsoft achieved success. Let someone else blaze the trail and then come pave them over.

      • by 0123456 ( 636235 )

        Yeah, 'cause they let someone else write the most popular OS for PCs and then released MS-DOS and took over the world.

        Oh, wait, they owned the PC market with MS-DOS right from the start, and then released Windows 3.x when IBM were dabbling with OS/2 with much higher system requirements.

        The only way they could get 'success' in the console market was to blow billions of dollars buying market share. If they'd put the same money into Apple shares, they'd be vastly richer today.

  • by Cyko_01 ( 1092499 ) on Monday October 29, 2012 @01:30PM (#41807195) Homepage
    Are you kidding me?! Surface is revolutionary! Its like a laptop, but the screen is where the keyboard goes and vice verse, and you use it the other way around! Then instead of a touchpad you just smear your fingers all over the screen and, if you are lucky, it doesn't tip over - Brilliant! Its like an ipad but without all the apps and fanboism, no wait... Its like a tablet for people that don't like tablets, wait...nobody likes tablets.
    • Oh, and it makes that wicked *snap* noise when you smack the stand, and the keyboard comes off so you won't lose it.
  • by runeghost ( 2509522 ) on Monday October 29, 2012 @01:33PM (#41807229)

    Ballmer continued to speak, explaining how he felt almost bad for Apple's losses after the Zune drove the iPod from the portable music player market. He then announced that Windows Vista had reached a new record of 92% market share, before taking a call on his Windows Phone and zipping off on his Segway.

  • I would like to see their sales forecasting. I mean outside of Apple, you've still got the Nook, the Fire, the Nexxus, and a plethora of other Android tablets eating up market share. Add the iPad Mini and the new HP Envy and I really don't see how this could go well for them.

    Surface doesn't have any real competitive edge other than working with other Microsoft products (which is closer to a disadvantage IMHO).
  • by Sponge Bath ( 413667 ) on Monday October 29, 2012 @01:46PM (#41807481)
    Forget the iPad. Live with us in forests of Surface. Out here on the perimeter there are no stars, Out here we is stoned - immaculate.
  • by Kittenman ( 971447 ) on Monday October 29, 2012 @05:16PM (#41810565)
    "Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer undoubtedly knows that Apple has sold more than 100 million iPad tablets at this point, but according to the outspoken executive, that's not the tablet people really want"

    In Mandy Rice-Davies's immortal words, "Well, he would say that, wouldn't he".

Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing. -- Wernher von Braun