Looking Forward to 2013: Assessing Microsoft’s Strategy with the Surface Pro and Windows 8

Since the early 2000’s, Microsoft (one of the grandfathers of the computer technology industry) has been losing ground and marketshare to the new titans of the techie industry, Apple and Google. Apple has had the handheld device market under their thumb, and around 2/3rds of all search enginge searches performed in the U.S. are on Google.com.

Despite all the doom and gloom, there is a silver lining for Microsoft. They are following up the Surface RT with the Surface Pro in early 2013. The Pro will have an Intel Core i5 processor (though the RT’s Nidvia Tegra 3 is no slouch) and boast Microsoft’s newest operating system, the uber ambitious Windows 8, while still having the capability to run Windows 7 applications, as well. The Surface Pro will also be fully integrated with all Windows 7 Microsoft Office products, giving Microsoft a very interesting and significant advantage with the business crowd.

About 70% of the computers in the US are used for business, and traditionally the vast majority of those computers have been PCs running Windows. Its no coincidence that Microsoft is unveiling its most revolutionary operating system ever, Windows 8, and simultaneously releasing a tablet to compete with Apple’s Ipad; Forrester Research has found that PC’s dominance in the business sector has dwindled dramatically, as 46% of businesses surveyed admitted to issuing Macs to employees. Apple without a doubt has a stranglehold over the home-use/ entertainment market, so Microsoft knows that they need to go on the offensive to defend their hold over the business sector.

Obviously, integrating Microsoft Office with the Surface Pro is a big draw for business users. As is the convenient removable keyboard, which is integrated much more seamlessly than the Ipad’s equivalent. Finally, Microsoft is hoping that the big changes in Windows 8 pan out and seal the deal with the business crowd. Windows 8 will offer a completely new touchscreen-based interface designed specifically for new notebook and tablet PCs, and includes the new SkyDrive, a cloud storage app that allows Microsoft account users to easily migrate between different PCs. These innovations are specifically geared towards modern businesses and their mobile information needs.

Over 350 million PCs running Windows 8 are supposed to be sold within the next year. The Microsoft Surface is a publicity play to get the Microsoft name back in the headlines, garner some attention for Windows 8, while sticking a bit of a fork in Apple’s ribs. It’d be nice for Microsoft if the Surface RT and Surface Pro sold a few million units this year, but if they don’t, Microsoft will be just fine. Windows 8 — on the other hand — will either put the company back on top, or permanently bury them under Apple and Google.

Microsoft’s plan for resurgence begins with the Surface RT, and relies on companies sticking with the trusted Windows name, buying new PCs and tablets because their computers already run Windows, and for the new features that Windows 8 provides.

By their strategy it seems that Microsoft has long ago ceded the entertainment gadgets market, and control over the cloud, and instead hopes to focus on providing technology for companies. If they can regain their stranglehold over the business market, Microsoft can continue to survive, and even thrive, moving forward.

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