Just What Are ‘Tablets’?

Timothy B. Lee, writing for Vox, says the Surface Pro 3 shows that Microsoft “doesn’t get the tablet revolution”:

But this makes as much sense as selling a digital camera that also takes film photographs. Anyone who needs the power of a PC can and should just buy a PC. The point of buying a tablet is that it’s cheaper, smaller, lighter, simpler, and more power-efficient than a traditional PC. Those advantages are only possible because tablets don’t try to be all things to all people.

I’ll take the devil’s advocate position here. I think Microsoft now fully understands what the iPad is and why it’s popular. What they’re saying with the Surface Pro 3 is that the tablet form factor isn’t necessarily only for iPad-style devices, but that it’s a good form factor for full-featured PCs as well.

This isn’t new to the Surface Pro 3 in particular — it’s been the point behind the Surface Pro all along. As Harry McCracken noted on Twitter, “Surface Pro 3 seems less like an iPad-era tablet, more like the Tablet PC which Microsoft couldn’t design in 2000.”

In other words, Microsoft’s point is less about Windows 8 vs. iOS, and more about the tablet vs. laptop form factor for full-featured PC users.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014