Microsoft's Surface tablet hasn't had the best of luck with consumers, so Microsoft is hoping the device will fare better with the enterprise.
Panos Panay, Microsoft's corporate vice president of the Surface tablet unit, told an audience at the U.S. Public Sector CIO Summit in Redmond that the Surface will now expand beyond the consumer market and into the enterprise.
“Granted, for your organizations … it wasn’t our primary target at launch, but please understand that when we designed these products, we designed them with you in mind,” Panay said. “We did design them to get the consumer market first, or retail. No doubt. But we’re right on the cusp of turning that corner and bringing these products into the market where we really want to be.”
Microsoft has already started allowing enterprise customers to order the Surface with Windows RT and Surface with Windows Pro through its volume ordering program.
Panay made the argument that Surface RT is designed more as a tablet while the Surface Pro is a PC that is powerful enough for the enterprise.
“Surface RT was designed as a tablet first,” Panay said. “I want to be super-clear on what we designed Pro for. Very easy to understand. This should be the fastest PC you pick up. Period. People get confused because of the form factor. … It was designed as a PC. We often get judged as designing a heavier tablet and not enough battery life. Be very clear: What we designed was a PC.”
Surface with Windows RT made its way to the public on October 26, 2012. It features the Windows RT operating system and an ARM processor for a starting price of $499. Surface with Windows Pro was released February 9, 2013 and features the Windows 8 Pro operating system with an Intel processor. It starts at $899.
Back in December, Boston-based brokerage firm Detwiler Fenton said that Surface's main problem was distribution. Customers could only buy the Surface with Windows RT tablet at Microsoft Stores, and the issue with that is there's only 31 of them, with another 34 smaller Microsoft kiosks around the U.S. The lack of exposure at places like Best Buy and Staples was hurting the tablet after its Oct. 26 release.
This was resolved later in December, when Microsoft started allowing third-party retailers to sell the Surface -- near the end of that quarter.
Earlier this month, a Bloomberg source anonymously revealed that Microsoft had sold 1.5 million Surface tablets to date. More specifically, the company had sold a little over a million Surface with Windows RT tablets and about 400,000 Surface with Windows Pro tablets -- missing analyst expectations.