Tag Archives: Surface

“Damned if we do, Damned if we don’t” – Is 15M on day 1 bad for @Surface Sales?

So the much awaited Surface Pro was launched on Saturday and I was having fun watching the excitement from the sidelines, till the tweets about ‘Sell out’ started trickling in. Funniest was one from Jeff Attwood!

I piled on with the following –

 

However my @Surface stream on Tweetdeck was filled with complaints from folks genuinely interested in the the Pro but returned home empty handed because their nearest retailer didn’t have enough Surface Pro’s (128G was in greater demand than 64G).

By Sunday everyone was up in arms (virtually speaking).

So I did a little rough calculation

1. There are about 70 MS Stores in US and Canada. If each store stocked 50 Surface Pro each they would have 3500 devices. Outer limit 100 per store gives 7000 Surfaces.

2. There are around 1000 Best Buy Stores around the US and most people on Twitter complained that the BB had 2-5 Surfaces only. Most of them the 64GB version. So 1000 x 5 = 5000 devices.

3. Then we had Microsoft Store online that sold out on all the Surface 128 Gigs in a few hours and the 64Gigs later (now the 64 Gigs were back in stock). So let’s say they had 10,000 devices.

I didn’t bother with Staples but say they pulled the same number as Best Buy at 3000-5000 devices.

That’s a total of 21,500 to 28,000 devices on day 1. At $1000 bucks a device that $21,500,000-$28,000,000 in sales. Not bad at all! This is a little different from my original estimation on Twitter earlier –

 

But all this is speculation. For all we know Best Buy had only half those numbers and Staples had even smaller numbers. Sales could be as low as 15-16K devices. That’s still 15M in sales on day 1.

Then why are people riling MS because they ran out of Surface stock?

Well for one, when a blog with the name ‘AppleInsider’ brings about the ‘sellout’ comparison with Zune you can always take it with a pinch of salt. But Zune did happen, and so did the Surface RT which was similarly out of stock after initial launch. So people are ruffled by the suspicion that MS was deliberately playing it safe and creating artificial scarcity to show ‘sell-outs’. While I cannot fathom a reason for such a tactic, if it’s was even remotely in their heads, I would say BAD MOVE and a missed opportunity!

Next, who runs ‘out of stock’ in a online store unless you have run out of your entire inventory and refilling it would mean firing up the entire supply chain again and you don’t know how long that will take? Why could MS take back orders?

Next, Microsoft’s lack of numbers. If they were to declare the numbers they sold over the weekend on Monday or say in 5 days, it would be a smack in the face of these bloggers. As I showed above, 15K x 5days would be 75K Units in < a week, with almost 75M in sales. Those are good numbers!

To be honest, the Tech Blogging world can be damned, most of them are Apple fanboys anyways, why bother. So MS (and some of it’s evangelists) would do well to ignore the naysayers and spend efforts in figuring out the ‘rocket science’ that is ‘demand v supply’ relationship. It’s an extremely difficult thing to do and MS’ investments in Dell is a tacit acknowledgement of this fact (that they don’t have the distribution muscle or the supply chain expertise to be a strong devices company on their own. XBox is not enough!). But Apple has mastered it, so if you want to fight Apple, you’ve to get guns to all your fights not just the design and aesthetic one!

Also, for a change, give us some real numbers instead of 60M licenses crap!

Go Surface!

Surface is a very nice set of devices, I already got the RT. If I had an immediate need for a portable computing device I would have blown a good $1,100 on it and begged someone coming from US to get the Pro for me. But right now I don’t have the need, so I’ll wait till the Haswell processors starting coming in, giving the battery life a kick in the pants and hopefully a higher memory config for the device itself (8 Gigs to start with).

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Who needs the Surface Pro?

01-22SurfaceTypecover_Web

(Image Copyright: Microsoft Corporation, not to be reproduced from here)

So the Surface PRO reviews are out and the pundits are all confused with what to do with it. I am having fun watching them trying to make sense out of the PRO and trying to like it. Those who don’t like Microsoft, just because it’s Microsoft, are having a field day hating on it.

After being heavily influenced by the pro-Apple brigade when I was in the States and having invested in a iPhone, MacBook Pro, iPod Touch and using an iPad that I got as a gift, it’s fair for me to say I have seen both sides of the PC story.

Today I use a self assembled Windows 8 Desktop for 90% of my work and it’s fair to say that in the last 10 months or so I’ve become a MS Shill. Now that I have given you the context, let’s see who I think needs a Surface PRO and why.

Let me start by saying I have a Surface RT already and even if the Surface PRO was available in India I wouldn’t be rushing out to exchange it for the PRO. But hey this is not about me, back to topic who is the Surface PRO for. Let me give you a little background first.

In my previous job I was a contractor with a Network Equipment company in the Bay Area (no not starting with C). It’s a mid-sized company big enough to have a fully staffed (over staffed?) IT department supporting the company’s core competency – Network Storage equipment design and manufacturing. I was a part of the IT dept. and for four years worked for a Team referred to as the Operations Team. If you considered the whole company a car, these guys where kind of the gearbox. Technically sound but rarely writing code. They used the Office Suite, Adobe Products and the browser (unfortunately saddled with IE6 thanks to Oracle but that story is for a different day) some had specific hardware design software on their machines. Essentially most of their work in office involved a computer. The company issued pretty decently configured Dell Latitudes to the Operations team and they could lug it home or keep it docked to their desk. Every employee’s desk was equipped with a docking station that had a keyboard a mouse and one or two Dell 19” 4:3 Monitor. Most people used the docking station to turn their setup into a dual monitor setup. Now 90% of the people hated their PCs. Why?

  1. Windows XP used to take 10 minutes to boot
  2. While docking if your PC was running it would BSOD, repeat step 1.
  3. While un-docking if your PC was not in sleep/hibernate it would BSOD, repeat step 1.
  4. Every once in a while people’s hard drives would crash resulting in a costly rebuild backup/restore process for IT.
  5. If Hard Drives worked the NVidia graphics chipsets would conk out resulting in what the IT referred to as ‘chassis swap’ where they would take the hard drive of the broken laptop and dump it into a working on with the same (or nearly similar) configurations.

Now these folks were always moving from meeting to meeting, conferences to conferences and would often travel to their factories in US, Mexico and China. The mobility offered by the ‘laptops’ were a hindrance more often that they would have liked. Result, people who could, ditched their office PCs and started purchasing MacBookPros. Was a small number but it started happening 2 years back, I can only assume that it progressed since then.

Does it start making sense as to who the Surface Pro is for?

Yes, the Surface Pro is for the above Operations Team. It’s perfect for them, runs all their software, dock it at office, take it home or travel with it or seamlessly move between meetings with it. You cannot ask for more. For the IT this will be heaven sent. No crashed drives, no loaner laptops, no cribbing users claiming their machine is crawling, all peace and quiet.

I think it was Mary Banscombe of ZDNet who got this first when she wrote Microsoft built the Surface for itself. It’s probably true, that they modeled it after their ‘Operations Team’ but as I see it Surface is a winner for all ‘Operations Teams’ in all medium to big sized companies and its Pricing is targeted for these very people. After all how many consumers go buy a Dell Latitude for home or a HP EliteBook? Surface Pro is taking aim at those devices and not at the iPad.

The SideShow of Dell’s ‘Privatization’

 

Dell going private is coincidental, given the poor quality of products they dished out, ‘PC Assemblers’ did better job of assembling computers than them. Hope they grow some guts and do something right to differentiate their products.

I’ll give them a few hints, build a wireless monitor that works with the Surface! Let Apple innovate all they want with $50 cables, one up them by taking wires out. I don’t see why it’s not possible. Think of devices beyond a single piece of equipment, think of an office desk, think of the entire office, think of a usage workflow.

Even with a wireless Desktop, Keyboard and mouse I have unimaginable ‘wire clutter’ on my desk. Go figure out a way to clean this up.

If you want to continue assembling stuff or putting labels on things assembled by others, might as well fold up and go home.

 

So bottom line, do I buy a Surface Pro or not?

 

I can’t say for you, but I can say what I think for myself. My current Desktop is working fine and the MBP with the Bootcamped Windows 7 scrapes through for my mobile needs (which are few at the moment). So I am not rushing out to get a Pro. I got the RT because I needed Windows RT to test my Windows 8 Store apps and it’s good enough for me at the moment. Here are the (only two) things I’ll wait for in the Surface Pro.

  1. The next generation Intel Haswell processors that kick butts with respect to battery life. If the Pro can run as long (at least upto 85%) as the RT with the next gen processors count me in baby!
  2. Established reliability of the Surface Pro, specifically the Wireless connectivity

Other good to have stuff

  1. Maybe a drop in the Type Keyboard’s price. The touch keyboard with my RT just isn’t working for me.
  2. More memory and hard drive space/bigger hard drive at ‘reasonable’ price increments. $100 per 64 Gb is rather steep!!!

Last Wish

A much leaner Windows OS, but that’s probably a pipe dream!!!

So given all the factors it’s more or less certain my next mobile computer will the nth incarnation of the Surface Pro.

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First Surface RT Update – Error 8024004C

If you just got your Surface RT recently (let’s just say starting December 5, 2012…) and try to run windows update you might get an error with the cryptic code 8024004C. As of typing this, it’s ‘unreported’ in Google or Bing. I got it and was initially worried but I looked at the list of updates and saw the Firmware update in the list of scheduled updates. I unchecked the Firmware update and kept the optional update of Microsoft Office unchecked, Re-Tried updating and the updates worked. I am assuming the Firmware update needs some of the other updates to be in place. The updates are still going on. Will update this post, when I am able to install the firmware update!

[Update 1]

Okay, Windows RT updated itself with the other items first, then installed the firmware during reboot, so I didn’t have to go back and install the update manually. The only optional update remaining was Office RT update. That’s a 500+ MB download, currently in progress! BTW Windows sets you up for auto-installation of updates. If that’s not your thing do change it from Control Panel!

[Update 2]

As pointed out by Joey in the comments below, it is more likely that your RT won’t install firmware updates if you don’t have enough juice. I clearly remember my Surface being on charge when I was trying to update. So thanks Joey, that’s a very useful remark.

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