Why I think Microsoft's new Surface 2 is great, and why it doesn't matter

Microsoft this morning announced the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2, the successor to their ever so popular Surface RT and Surface Pro, respectively. I kept tabs on the announcement and overall I think Microsoft has made a good product even better:

Core i5 upgrade on #Surface2 Pro is awesome and should increase battery life immensely.

— Dave Zych (@DaveZych) September 24, 2013

200gb SkyDrive for 2 years is a great incentive #Surface2

— Dave Zych (@DaveZych) September 23, 2013

Power Cover on #Surface2 is a great idea!

— Dave Zych (@DaveZych) September 24, 2013

The new Type Cover looks awesome – it’s thinner. It has a backlit display with a proximity sensor so that it turns off when you’re not using it, saving battery life. There’s a new Power Cover that includes a battery for extended life. They released a docking station to set up the Surface as a “real” computer. And, obviously, they’ve beefed up the specs, with the Pro version using an Intel Core i5 Haswell chip. Awesome.

This is all on top of what was already a great tablet. The original Surface RT and Surface Pro had great performance. They had USB ports for external storage or third party devices. They both had (some version of) Office installed. Windows 8, although criticized on the desktop, made for a great tablet OS. Being able to view 2 apps simultaneously provides a huge productivity boost for many people, something you still can’t do in iOS.

I don’t own a Surface, but that’s really only because I don’t have a need to replace my current laptop. If I was in the market, I would highly consider a Surface because it offers the best of both worlds with no big drawbacks. I would also recommend it to a friend.

But there lies the problem. I would have to recommend it to a friend.

The original Surface RT was released on October 26th, 2012, and most people still don’t know what it is. Microsoft has not done the best job promoting their tablet. Apple, however, has done a great job promoting the iPad, and they’re selling them by the millions. Everyone knows what an iPad is. My mom has one. Heck, my grandma has one, and she’s 90 years old.

The Surface is technically the better tablet with it’s USB’s and Core i5’s and all that razzmatazz. But that doesn’t matter. Consumers are simple people. They want options, but they want options that they can understand. That’s one thing Microsoft has failed at. Like always, they have come out with a confusing product line. On the original Surface, Microsoft make users choose between Windows RT and Windows 8. What is RT? How is it different than 8? Do I need it? Who needs it? Why doesn’t the Surface RT just run Windows 8? Microsoft seems unable to make a non-confusing product line for any of their products. Just look at the different versions of Windows 7:

  • Starter
  • Home Basic
  • Home Premium
  • Professional
  • Enterprise
  • Ultimate

I’d be willing to bet that 99% of people see that and have no idea what to get. Consumers like options. Microsoft has that part right. Consumers, though, like options that they can understand, and Microsoft has clearly failed on that. The Surface, and sadly Surface 2, are premium examples that they still have work to do. Until they do that, the Surface will be a footnote in computer history.