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Blurred Lines – The Surface 2 Announce

September 23, 2013

Surface Pro 2 – portability and simplicity of a tablet with the power and flexibility of a laptop.
Best of both worlds, or a “mullet”?

Me, I’m comfortable with blurred lines. I know I want it. It’s happening with my smartphone and my tablet. Not to mention my TV, gaming consoles and service providers. I want to drive a crossover (CUV) to go hiking during the day and then run it through the car wash and go to a fancy dinner that evening. I realize that a perfect balance of fun and functionality isn’t always attainable; otherwise we’d all be sporting mullets (business up front, party in the back!) but I’m willing to give it a try (the productivity tablet, not the hairstyle).

In June 2012 I wrote about the surprise unveiling of Microsoft’s first generation Surface convertible PCs/tablets. A few months later, at the launch of Windows 8, I discussed whether it was time buy a new PC with my decisive Yes, No and Maybe post. Today, Microsoft announced the impending release of its second generation Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2. In short, there’s no major change in Microsoft’s Surface strategy or direction and the improvements are in the Olympic tradition of “Citius, Altius, Fortius” – better, lighter, sturdier, faster, longer (lasting battery…). Also, a nice collection of accessories and value-added services were announced.

Like the first generation Surfaces, the Surface 2 is a “productivity tablet” (think iPad with an optional keyboard and Microsoft Office – but built on the Windows platform). Surface 2 is designed to only run applications built specifically for it and similar devices from a handful of other manufacturers. The Surface Pro 2 (note the addition of the word “Pro”) looks pretty similar but is a full-fledged PC in the form of a tablet. The Surface Pro supports existing Windows software and the ability to work in the familiar “desktop mode.”

More than a year since the original Surface launch the names and concepts may remain a bit confusing to some because we are still working through the awkward “convergence” years. Personally I’m comfortable with this ambiguity. Others, not so much. Will Oremus writes in Slate that Microsoft has created Surface 2 “[for] people who hate fun” and condemns both the products and the company for attempting to bridge the gap between work and play. The article cites a Statista chart that shows tablet owners spending 50% of their time doing entertainment things (games, reading, music, photos), 26% communications (email), but only 15% on productivity (writing) and 9% finding information (weather, news, product searches). I’d argue that at least half those things are indeed “productivity” – which at least makes it a tie. And on some days it may be well more than half. Reading a blog post is entertainment until you decide to whip out your keyboard and write a rebuttal. Then it’s all business. Watching a movie on a cross country flight is a great escape, especially if you can weed through some of your email before, during or after.

The blurring of the lines between work and play isn’t cognitive dissonance,  it’s common sense. Bring it on. You know I want it!

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