Office 365 and Surface Tablets: Microsoft’s Killer Combo?
Can the first Microsoft Surface Tablets coupled with Office 365 emerge as a great mobile-cloud business combination? It’s far too early to say for sure. But it’s safe to expect tight integrate between Surface Tablets and the Office 365 cloud suite — which features Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Lync Online and more.
As you may have heard, Steve Ballmer unveiled the Surface Tablets today in Hollywood. The first two tablets offer an ARM design running Windows RT or an Intel design running Windows 8 pro. (Here are photos.) Microsoft has not announced pricing but watch for the devices to debut this fall.
On the consumer side, pundits expect tight integration between Microsoft’s tablets and Xbox Live — the online gaming platform. On the business side, you gotta expect Microsoft to march directly into CIO offices promoting:
- Windows Intune as a cloud-based service that manages Surface tablets, ultrabooks and Windows 8 systems.
- Office 365 as the most ideal productivity suite for the Microsoft tablets.
But how will cloud integrators and channel partners react to the Surface tablets? Generally speaking, cloud integrators are adopting emerging mobile devices before they go mainstream. Cloud Sherpas, a Google Apps integrator, for instance has rolled out Google Chromeboxes internally and to some customers. The devices are cloud-centric notebooks.
I suspect Microsoft Office 365 channel partners will rank among the first adopters of Surface tablets. And if the tablets work as advertised, we could finally see some real competition with Apple’s iPad…
… but it’s far too early to predict success for Microsoft. The company has attempted to integrate hardware and software together before. Exhibit A is the Xbox 360 sitting in my family room. It’s loud and runs extremely hot… but the gaming experience is pretty awesome. It took Microsoft several years to eliminate the early Xbox bugs.
I don’t think Microsoft will have the same luxury with its Surface tablets. If the devices are buggy or don’t quite live up to the Apple’s user experience, we could see an entire generation of technology users move further away from Microsoft and even closer to Apple and Google.