A Word On Microsoft Surface Sales

I just got wind of an article that rumors that Microsoft is cutting orders for its Surface RT tablets in half. It was previously reported that Microsoft had ordered 5 million of the tablet units to be produced, but due to lack luster and modest sales figures, it seems Microsoft want to cut their coat according to their size instead of sticking it out and hoping things will change in the next year.

I’m not a fan of rumors, but if this news is true, here is my recommendation to Microsoft. “Stop Selling the Touch Covers as a separate bundle with a higher price“.

You can currently get the Surface RT ONLY for $499 or Surface RT + Touch Cover for $599, and the Touch/Type Cover only for $119. WTF Microsoft. Your entire advertisement cycle indicated that the Surface tablet was MOST useful when used with the Touch/Type Cover. There was even a whole song and dance routine to the effect, so why sell the two differently instead of just as a replacement when necessary?

I personally believe the sales method chosen has attributed to customers taking a wait and see approach with the Surface devices because most of them would consider it a waste of money to get the tablet alone if they don’t have enough spare cash now, and then have to shell out another $120 – 140 later just to get a Touch/Type cover.

Microsoft continue to hurt themselves with their marketing, pricing and product naming, even though they have “better” products than most of the competition. WTF does “RT” mean by the way? Even though I’m inclined to purchase the device, I would love to know what that abbreviation stands for just in case I have to defend my purchase. Also, if you plan to sell to general consumers, stop naming products as if only business tycoons with loads of money and no idea how the item they are purchasing works are going to purchase the products. (I think the “i” in iPad, iPhone, iMac add the necessary level of “personal” that drives their sales)

It’s not too late for Microsoft to turn things around. They should NOT be like Apple and try to squeeze the life blood out of their customers, but should rather do what they have always done in the past that has made them successful with hardware, i.e. bundle the necessities together for a good price. Desktop PCs are currently not sold with the mouse and keyboard separately simple because they are essential. The Surface tablet should also not be sold without the keyboard because it is essential. WTF am I going to do with Office RT if I don’t have a decent keyboard to go with it? I know several counter arguments can be made about devices, but essentially, don’t let people feel like they are being cheated on quality.

Microsoft have a unique product advantage over other Windows 8 device makers, Apple and Google. If they want to be able to taut their sales figures from the roof tops, then they should make full use of this advantage and not fear under cutting their own competition in the Windows 8 space, because frankly, none of them are really making any sales impact at the moment.

Windows 8 Has Enough Apps

Over the past week or more as things had been building up to the launch of Windows 8, one common theme has been running through a good number of the tech blogs and review sites, i.e. “Windows 8 does not have enough apps“. I call bull on that.

I’ve been running Windows 8 Enterprise Preview for the last 3 months on and off dual booted with Windows 7 and personally, I don’t use that many Metro/Modern UI style apps because I’m a coder, I live in Netbeans. But over the last week, many more apps have been added to the Windows Store and personally I think there are more than enough applications.

It’s been said and it has been proven many times that most people do not use more than 30 applications at any given period in their life time. How many games can one play simultaneously, if I might ask? At best, one will have approximately 5 good games they will alternate through given their daily schedule or interest. Currently the Windows Store has over 990 games. Some are crap, and others are pretty good. But truth be told, I’d only ever play at most 10 of them.

Beyond games, we have productivity suits and dedicated apps for web services, like the WordPress App I’m using to compose this. Most people will only ever need a handful of these, and the rest they can have access to directly via their favorite web browser. Then we have communication tools such as Skype, which is already present, and I expect the official Facebook and Twitter apps to arrive soon as well. In the mean time, I can use my web browser, or the Windows People application for Facebook.

News apps? I fail to see the need of these applications, when I can just fire up my browser and hit their web page. No added value in my opinion beyond wanting to have a presence in the store. And there are over 50 of these already in the store.

When I look at people using an iPad or Galaxy Tab, the above applications mentioned are all I see them use them for, and most of these basic applications are already present in the store, so I really don’t buy the argument that Windows 8 doesn’t have enough apps. Once again, I call bull on that.

I don’t think anyone should use that as a valid reason not to consider purchasing a Windows 8 device, and actually if you go Pro, you won’t need all those Modern UI apps because you can just install their desktop counterparts and get stuff done, or better still, open up a browser and hit the web service and get stuff done via that channel as well.

If you don’t like Windows 8 or you are already heavily invested in another platform such as iOS or Android, that is cool, but it should not be the basis for criticizing a platform before you try it.

I think Windows 8 is going to do well on its own and although I won’t be writing any Modern UI apps in the short term, I certainly will be putting a whole lot of stuff on the world wide web. So just get a browser and hit the interwebs. I always recommend Opera.

Windows 8 Needs A Notification Center

Using Windows 8 for a while now, I noticed it needs a Notifications Center – somewhere you can go to see previous notifications that have come in so you can react accordingly.

The current notifications just pop up and fade away after a few seconds, never to be seen or heard from again. Indeed it is true that you can go to the start screen to see apps that have counters for new notifications like mail and messaging, but it would be cool and functional to have either a pull down list or a dockable list of all notifications that can be viewed, since most often you would like to have quick heads up view whiles in Desktop Mode without having to switch back to the Start Screen to see what’s new.

These ideas certainly aren’t new and are already present in Andriod and iOS devices, but it certainly never  hurts to have functional additions to your OS over time. Windows 8 has a notifications button on the Setting “fly out” but it is only useful for disabling notifications.

That’s my rant for the day. Feel free to post your own ideas or additions below, perhaps someone from Microsoft might casually stroll by and send it off for inclusion in Windows 8 sp1 or Windows 9, whichever one comes first.

Microsoft Skydrive Waiting In The Shadows

I just read an article here: http://venturebeat.com/2012/09/23/microsofts-cloud-service-skydrive-is-great-and-no-one-has-noticed/ and just wanted to respond with my opinion here.

Personally, I use Skydrive and I love it. It is true very few people know about it but that is bound to change by the end of October when more Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 devices come to market. The skydrive experience is also not complete until Office 2013 is released and users can benefit from the document sync functionalities that have been built in. I’m using the preview as well and I think it is pretty solid stuff.

Microsoft is simply bidding time until all its products are ready, and then Skydrive will really take off. For us early adopters, we just need to enjoy the free ride until then because it won’t be completely free then.

Words With Friends Fixed In Opera 12.50

I’ve not been a long time player of the game but I noted that for a long time in the past, the web version of the popular Facebook game by Zynga had been broken in Opera. Not sure who made the fix, but as at Opera 12.50 pre-alpha the game works . 

Words With Friends

The long standing issue seemed to be a bug in the way Drag and Drop was being handled by the game. When tiles were moved from the rack, they disappeared from under the mouse, and could not be placed on the board. 

Opera 12.50 has seen loads of fixes to their Drag and Drop implementations so perhaps that has been the source of the fix for this issue.  

Anyway, back to gaming and taking down people in a battle of words