Brace yourself: Microsoft Surface ad barrage may start tonight
It sounds like it's time for Microsoft to finally start sharing more information, beginning with TV ads and a new official Surface blog, about its coming tablets and PCs.
Mary Jo Foley
Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network.
Microsoft has yet to advertise its coming Surface PC/tablet devices
other than via some display ads in various cities in the U.S. and
elsewhere. Here's a picture I snapped this weekend of the Surface ad in
Times Square that is right above the Microsoft Times Square holiday
pop-up store that is under construction:
The ARM-based Surface RT devices are due to go on sale starting on
October 26, which is the same day that Windows 8 and Windows RT PCs and
tablets from Microsoft OEMs also will go on sale at retail. The
Intel-based Surface Pro device will go on sale approximately three
months later, Microsoft execs have said.
Microsoft also has yet to open up about Surface pricing or make the
devices available through pre-order. The Softies have said repeatedly
that the Surface devices will be sold through Microsoft's
brick-and-mortar stores, its 34 holiday pop-up stores which open on
October 26 and via "select Microsoft online" stores.
The Surface devices are Microsoft's first foray into selling its own
Microsoft-designed and -branded PCs/tablets. Microsoft officials have
been playing up Surface's differentiators from existing Windows tablets
and devices. Among those differentiators are the choice of different
colored touch keyboards and type keyboards that "click in" and act as a
cover for the Surface devices. ("Click in" is the tagline on Microsoft's graffitti ads for the devices.)
Microsoft is really is focusing on the keyboard as what enables the
Surface to work equally well for consumption and creation. Another shot
from the still-under-construction Times Square site shows a huge Surface
keyboard hanging on a transparent plastic sheet in the entrance:
Microsoft still hasn't allowed any independent reviewers to have any
quality hands-on time with the Surface RT. Hopefully that will happen
soon, as no one has yet written about the experience of typing on these
keyboards in a non-simulated setting, the performance of the Windows RT
operating system on the devices, real-world battery performance -- or
anything that would allow potential buyers to realistically evalute the
Microsoft's advertising and retail strategies are going to be
inordinately important for the Surface, given Microsoft's tiny current
tablet share and its decision to compete against its own OEMs for the first time in this space. As I've blogged before, the company's challenge is to prove it has a premium product worth a premium price, if it decides, as expected, to use something other than price as its primary competitive weapon.