Previous version of Microsoft’s Surface have existed within the world of tablets, but always been there making up numbers. Not much stood out for the Surface, as it had a tuned down version of Windows (RT.), and the app store didn’t compare to that of Apple iOS or Android. What users of tablets have wanted is the ability to be rid of a laptop, to not feel as if what they have in their hands is a toy.
Users of tablets want to be able have a similar experience as they do on a laptop, plain and simple. So, Microsoft worked out how to put a full 64-bit Windows 8.1 into the 3rd generation of Surface devices. Also promised is a future upgrade to Windows 10 (Which is to be available as a free upgrade to any Windows 8.1 user.), which as a user of the Technical Preview I can say it’s a worthwhile upgrade.
The Surface 3 looks similar to what it did before, with its magnesium case and rounded corners. As usual with these devices, the kickstand still exists, this time in three positions. For camera, there is a front camera if 3.5MP, and the rear camera upgraded to 8MP from 5MP. Using the standard cables is also a plus of the Surface, with the charging port a micro-USB slot and a USB 3.0 slot included. This helpful, as keeping things standard like this means you’re likely to be able to find a charger for your device somewhere around you.
Paper seems to have been an inspiration for the Surface 3. Its display ratio, 3:2, size, 10.8 inches, and the ability to use a pressure sensitive pen or the N-trig pen digitizer is something that adds more use to the Surface 3. For creative types, such as digital artists, the ability to draw on the screen will put more creativity literally into their hands. Microsoft has said that wanted the look and feel to be more like that of a piece of paper, and also to fix up the screen when in portrait mode. The resolution of the Surface 3 is 1,920×1,280, which is an update on the previous 1,920×1,080.
The keyboard connection remains the same, meaning that those who already own a keyboard won’t be forced into buying a new one. The sizing is a little off, but that’s not so bad considering you’ll save $100+. There’s a hidden microSD slot under the kickstand, a Mini Display Port, headphone jack and volume rocker.
All the specs are fine, but it’s the apps and software that make a big difference. If there’s not the support there, then users won’t be able to use the device. Microsoft’s app store doesn’t seem to have the same choice as Apple’s store. On Windows 8.1, there was rarely a time when I’d go to the app store for software. It was always better to search the web for other options. This was possibly the same for many users, as the choices weren’t there, or the software you’ve come to use didn’t exist in Microsoft’s store. The good thing is that you can fully run regular the regular Windows programs, though most of them are not optimized for ‘tablet’ use.
A difference between Apple and Microsoft is Apple’s use of in-house software that integrates heavily into iOS/OSX. Microsoft’s Internet Explorer is the default browser on Windows devices, but it’s always one of the first things to be replaced by a different application. One wonders why Windows products even bother to come with Internet Explorer (Probably why Microsoft are doing away with this browser.). For the Surface 3 to finally be a device that users want, then the apps and software are going to be critically important. Especially as Microsoft are attempting to steal customers away from Android and Apple tablets, and to move users away from laptops.
The previous Surface models failed to build any momentum for Microsoft. Where as Apple has people salivating for months over the next release, Microsoft’s tablets don’t have people fussed. Previous promises from Microsoft have left users wary of any of new products. It’s easy to make promises in advertising, but much harder to live up to them. Perhaps playing catch up meant that Microsoft was underperforming, rather than being a leader as they were for so long.
The next generation of the Surface 3 tablets are available from May 5th. Prices start from $499 for the base model, which has 64GB internal drive and 2GB of RAM. The next model up is double those specs at 128GB and 4GB of RAM. This doesn’t include a keyboard, though. A LTE version will also be on shelves, starting from $599. There will be a new optional accessory, a dock that contains four USB ports, an Ethernet jack and a Mini DisplayPort.
For the Surface 3 to gain Microsoft any momentum, it will have to have a decent range of apps available in the store and be able to replace laptops. Chances are that iPad users won’t be changing their choice, but it’s more than possible Windows laptop users may upgrade their laptop to a tablet.