Microsoft itself has recently hinted that the future of Surface could see many more products down the road, which fits in line with past rumors that a Microsoft Surface Ultrabook could be in the works.
With that in mind, designer Clement Puertolas has come up with a concept design for such a device, where he takes the Surface touchscreen capabilities and puts them into an extremely thin ultrabook chassis.
The design presented by Puertolas isn’t anything that new, and looks somewhat reminiscent of the Lenovo Yoga series. Of course Lenovo has been the most successful Windows 8 hardware partner so far, so sticking to something similar isn’t necessarily a bad move.
Okay this is just a concept and not at all associated with Microsoft, but it does bring up a good question: should Microsoft venture outside of tablet and gaming console hardware? I mean, they have built a fully working game system already– which isn’t that terribly different from a PC. They already have the Surface RT and Pro, why not expand?
To Expand or Not to Expand, That is the Question
Recently I wrote an article here at Windows 8 Enterprise about how Microsoft is missing out in the 7-inch market and why they should at least consider developing a Surface RT Mini. At the same time, we’ve covered news about slow growth for the Surface brand.
With limited success with Surface so far, why would Microsoft want to spend further money investing themselves down this path? Simply put, you have to spend money to make money.
The Xbox 360 was not at all profitable throughout most of its life, and on the whole the Xbox gaming division has spent WAY more than it has made. Microsoft is no stranger to costly gambles, as evidenced by their entrance into gaming, their entrance into tablet hardware and the creation of Windows 8 and RT.
If Windows 8 is going slowly, it stands to reason that creating reference device All-in-one Touch PCs and ultrabooks could be a big step forward. The problem though, is that this was the same mentality that Microsoft had with the Surface tablet to begin with– and it has seen limited success.
Subsidized Pricing and Contract Services as a Way Forward
Personally I feel the concept of a Microsoft tablet was a good move, the implementation and pricing were not. If Microsoft really wants to jump-start the market, they need to be more confident in their Windows Store and other services (Xbox Music, etc).
If they can push these services, they can sell at a loss or smaller profit margin. Having lower prices could certainly jumpstart the Windows 8/RT market.
Personally I’d love to see the Surface RT at around $300 with a required two year subscription to Office 365. A similar deal with Surface PRO around $600, and an ultrabook and all-in-one also with similar discounts providing the willingness to sign a contract.
This model wouldn’t attract some types of customers, but I wager there are people out there that would pay for Office 365 on contract in return for around $200 off the purchase price of Microsoft hardware.
What do you think about the Surface brand? Should Microsoft offer a subscription service similar to what was tried with the Xbox 360 not too long ago? Additionally, should they focus further on their own hardware or go back to simply relying on hardware partners?