In case you forgot, mobile is all about the apps and, despite more than $1.5 billion in marketing, Microsoft’s Surface fails badly on that count. Consumers and, by extension, developers are leery of the Windows phone and tablet platforms, resulting in a long list of apps that aren’t yet available to the small number of Surface buyers.

If there is one must-have mobile app, it’s Facebook and Surface ain’t got it.

“That’s a bad thing,” Ray Velez, CTO, Razorfish, told AdAge. “But Facebook doesn’t have the greatest track record. They are really hard to work with.”

Interestingly enough, Facebook is absent from the Surface even though Microsoft took at 1.6 percent in the social networking giant for $240 million back in 2007.

Another signature mobile app and developer, Flipboard, describes the issues facing Microsoft’s Surface in familiar terms.

“It’s the exact same challenge that happened with Android and Google Play,” said Marci McCue, head of marketing for Flipboard. “It’s a new type of user and you really have to think about the way [the device] is used.”

However, with Apple’s iPad already dominant and Android tablets playing catchup vis-a-vis unit volume and developer mindshare, neither consumers nor developers have much interest in Microsoft’s late-to-the-game offerings.

Little wonder then that Microsoft Surface sales modest. Moreover, this dismal trend tracks closely with sluggish at best Windows 8 sales.

It seems nothing about Microsoft’s grand desktop-tablet-smartphone Windows 8 operating system grand unification strategy is going well at all.

Is there still hope or is a Microsoft Surface fail all but certain?

image BusinessWeek

  1. Failure is all but certain. Just like the Zune.
    It doesn’t matter if the product is as good, or even better. It brings nothing to the table that people need.

  2. Ok…please tell me how (or why) a developer can write for Windows 8 and shun Surface?

    Several apps in Windows 8 (The OS the Surface runs) have the ability to read/post directly into Twitter and FaceBook.

    Do your research on how long it took Facebook to create an iPAD version of their app. It was way after the iPad v2.

    Amazon is in the Windows 8 App Store…

    Chase, Groupon, Yelp, Word with Friends, FaceBook, Twitter, Spotify, and more are already on Windows Phone 8…. The same source code can be used to target Windows 8… so it should not be long before they too show up in the Windows App Store…

    Historically.. Windows Phone and Windows 8 are getting big named apps faster than either ios and android. If you look at the dev market.. There are properly over 100 windows developers for every one ios developer. Now the Unity game engine now allows dev shops to target Win8/Win Phone 8 just like they can now for iOS and Andriod.

    So writing an article on how developers are shunning Surface makes you sound like you do not understand the subject that you are trying to write about. Especially since it has only been out since 10/26…

  3. I have to say… being an Android fan and also fluent with Apple products, I ADORE my surface. It is faster and way more user friendly. No Facebook app? No problem, the Surface uses a comprehensive social media interface that incorporates my Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc all in one, easily accessible program. And Flipboard? That’s okay, theres a similar application for that too. You could not pay me to trade this in for an Android or an iPad!

  4. People forget something about windows 8: it’s not a mobile os… And it doesn’t depends on app to sell a boat load of it. An iPad w/o app is a glorified music player and a crapy web browser. Android w/o apps is fancy search engine. Windows w/o apps is still windows, with office, photoshop, steam and millions of legacy software that people will not give up anytime soon. People may not be buying w8 for apps and for tablets, but they will buy them for pc. When developer realized there is a mkt place with hundred of millions of install base, they will fill that app store faster than you can blink. It won’t happen this year, but it will happen

  5. Windows RT cannot run Photoshop or thousands of other legacy desktop programs. It only runs Metro apps and the weird Office in desktop mode.

    You need the far more expensive, fatter, heavier, hotter, lower battery life Surface Pro to run legacy apps, but then you’re better off just buying an Ultrabook for the same high cost.

  6. Yep, it is the Zune all over again. Knife your hardware partners in the back as Microsoft did to all their Plays For Sure partners and then slowly fizzle out as the Zune did against the unstoppable iPod.

    Welcome the ZunePad.

  7. I think his point was that people will install Windows 8 a lot of places where you can use Photoshop, etc, and by creating that base, there will be a large market for apps, which will in turn benefit the Surface which generally can run Windows 8 apps.

  8. If the Surface was the Pro version at iPad prices then we would have a game changer. The Pro specs that are coming out are silly. Fail!

  9. Silly? A 10″ tablet that is .5″ think with an Intel Ivy Bridge i5, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD, 1080p Screen, digitized screen with a pen included, TPM security chip, mini DisplayPort, USB3, MicroSSD and etc… for $999… How is that a fail?

    The Surface case is more durable than my Samsung Series 7 Tablet and the Samsung has less features than the Surface Pro and the Samsung is $1400.
    The Surface Pro should be a big hit in the Business world.

  10. Half the battery life, thicker, heavier, hotter and far more expensive than an iPad. You might as well buy an Ultrabook and not have to balance that flimsy typepad and kickstand on your knees to run all these desktop programs.

  11. My Samsung Slate has a sandy bridge i5 with similar specs to the surface pro. My Samsung gets more than 6 hours. I would image that the surface pro would get more than 7 hours.

    I have a surface rt and the keyboard and kickstand are not as flimsy as you seem to think.

    And try to find an ultrabook with an ivy bridge i5, a 1080p screen, a 120gb ssd HD, a tpm security chip, and the other features that the surface pro has for the same price or lower…

  12. With the iPad delivering real world battery life figures of 13 hours, the Surface Pro delivering 6 or 7 hours is not very competitive considering how much tablet users use their devices.

    Regarding using the keyboard and kickstand, try using it while standing or on your lap and you’ll see why I call it flimsy.

  13. I have a Surface and I have used it lap with no issues. Last weekend, I let another parent try typing with it on his lap and he was impressed with how fast and accurate he was. Do you have one have you tried it or are you just repeating BS that you have read on line?

    I have an iPad gen1, an iPad gen3, a Surface RT, a Samsung Slate with an i5, 4 GB, and a 120gb hd, and several other tablets.

    As I said before the Surface Pro is similar to my Samsung. My Samsung has a TPM security chip and that allows me to use it as my “corporate laptop” at work. I can run full outlook 2010/2013 on it. I can run full Visual Studio 2013 on it. I can run Win8’s Hyper-v on it. I could load the full Value’ Steampowered client on it.. If I wanted to. If I just want to treat like a tablet, I could sit on the sofa and watch Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Instant Watch or ANY Adobe flash based streamed content for over 6 hours on battery. So you say on my iPad I could do it for over 10 hours… Yes the iPad’s battery last for 10 hours… But I can’t be as productive on an iPad as I can be on my Samsung. My Kindle’s battery last days… But I can’t use it like one of my ipads or my surface or my Samsung.. The people saying that the Surface Pro is over priced… Just don’t get it.

    on another topic… Do you realize that the Surface RT has a flash player and a battery that last forever? The surface also has a TPM and each one is shipped with an encrypted drive. Note to self.. I will need to try bitlocker to go.

    If my surface had a builtin LTE modem.. I would leave my iPad Gen 3 home. The role of my iPad has become more of my daily newspaper. But because the Surface can do more… I am starting to use it more than my iPad. The appstore for the Surface is growing so fast that even the role of kid’s educational game device is switching over to the Surface from the iPad…

  14. Whoever wrote that article apparently has never used a surface.. Or just hate MS for some reason. People were talking crap about Android when it first came out and look at where it is now. Windows 8 should and surely will get a facebook app but all people (adult people) fell the need to have a facebook app…

  15. Not yet, but I’ve certainly read reviews that indicated how much more difficult it is to use the keyboard and kickstand on your lap compared to a notebook and how impossible it is to use it standing up.

  16. Already failed. It is way too late and no apps.

    Never mind Facebook. There is no Microsoft Office for Metro after 4 years since it debuted. No Microsoft Office for Android after 4 years. No Microsoft Office for iOS after 5 years.

    Microsoft bet against iPhone and iPad and they lost. They should have made the Touch Cover for iPad and the Office apps should be #1 business apps in App Store. They could have taken $150 from a lot of iPad users that way and kept $75 of it — more than they make off a Dell PC.

    It is clear that all systems that are less than a Mac are going to ARM, and maybe the Mac also at some point. Microsoft simply has no real ARM code. No apps, and Windows CE is retired, Windows NT is 1.0 on ARM.

  17. Surface may be a lot of things, but it is not faster than iPad by any description. Not in the way it feels, and not in raw compute power. Apple is the only ARM SoC maker who puts in PC-sized GPU. Surface is running a phone chip bought off the generic phone market.

  18. Developers are not writing for Windows 8, either. And to the extent that a few are, they are writing Windows XP/Vista/7/8 software that does not have Metro and cannot be shipped through the Windows Store.

    Developers today almost all run Intel Macs. The Intel Mac took the whole high–end PC market from 2006–2010. App Store acted as bait for those who had not yet switched in 2008.

    When you look just at mobile software developers, or Web developers that you want to make mobile software, it is even worse for Microsoft. Even the Android debs are in Macs because of Microsoft’s anti-Java work.

    Apple has 2 app stores, one Mac one iOS. The Mac one works on the last 3 OS versions and the iOS one works on all 5 years of iOS devices. Microsoft has one app store that ships only Metro apps, only for Windows 8 and RT and Hone 8. They are betting on Metro and touch but their customers do not have the devices.
    Only 2–5% of Windows 8 systems shipped in 2013 will have touch. There are no Metro users to build apps for. What few have Metro also have Explorer — they are going to get old style apps for $100 each instead of $5 video editors like on the $329 iPad that is half the price of Surface RT.

    Software developers are all focused on iOS and Web and to a lesser extent, Android. High-end software developers like Adobe are more focused on the Mac than ever, because it is almost 100% of PC sales above $999, and who else has money for $2500 Creative Suite but users of $999+ PC’s?

  19. Yeah, but nobody is buying ultra books, they are buying Macs since Intel Mac shipped 6 years ago.

    Microsoft Windows systems sell for an average of $400. All of Microsoft’s competition today is iOS and Android. All of their apps need to be consumer-focus touch apps that appeal to buyers of $400 devices like iPad 2.

    The old Windows was already killed by Intel Mac. We are talking now about Surface failing to stop iPad from killing the new Windows (Metro.)

    So Surface RT did not need to run Photoshop, it needed to have a $10 Photoshop Lite or $5 iPhoto like iPad.

  20. Only maybe 10% of legitimate Photoshop users are on Windows, and they are not on 8.

    You are looking way too upscale for Windows, which sells for an average of $400 per system. Photoship is $599 by itself. You need to look at consumer photo editing like the $5 iPhoto or $10 Photoshop Touch on iPad.

    Nobody disputes that you can still replace a Mac with Windows if you are a masochist, but almost nobody is doing that anymore. What is happening is that iPad is replacing Windows PC’s at the same price point. A big reason is that you can spend $50 at App Store and get an office suite, video editor, and photo editor — all world class.

    Microsoft has a low-end system with some high-end Mac apps that run on it (Photoshop, Illustrator, Word, Excel) but no low-end “pop apps” for consumers. This is a problem because almost 100% of Microsoft sales are low-end PC’s.

    Again, trust me when I tell you Microsoft has no apps.

  21. Wintel tablets have been available for over 10 years. iPad outsold them all in its first month.

    Surface Pro is $999 including the keyboard — that is $600 more than the average Windows PC sale, but $300 less than the average Mac, which also has an iPhone chip in the trackpad to provide touch that works today and is supported in apps today.

    Right now, most Microsoft customers are used to spending $400 on a Windows system, and they have 3 great iPada to choose from at $329–$499. Surface Pro offers nothing new to change the dynamic.

    And again, there are almost no Metro apps.

  22. Ultrabooks don’t sell. At $999 and up it is almost all Macs.

    Paying $999 for Surface Pro won’t make tablet apps appear.

    The price points are everything. In January 2010, the $300–$800 PC market was 100% Microsoft. Today, it is 30% iPad, which doubles in unit sales every year. Windows goes down 20% in unit sales every year. What $300–$800 computer is going to displace iPad? None is on the horizon.

  23. The main thing is that iPad is designed for a world where you are bathed in wireless Internet 24/7, and you want to have a PC with you at all times to take advantage of that at any time that it is convenient, wherever you are, standing, walking, sitting, riding in a vehicle. Even the apps are designed for that.

    Surface is designed for what? All the desks out there that don’t have AC power under them and Ethernet nearby? What is that, 1% of desks? It has the same office workflow and even the same office apps from a 1985 Mac. At a time when people are shooting 1080p video with their iPad, editing it in $5 iMovie on the device, and publishing directly to YouTube.

    Microsoft commoditized PC hardware to make PC software more expensive. Apple commoditized mobile software to make mobile hardware more desirable. Apple won. Even if a user an afford the additional cost of a Windows PC over an iPad, they cannot afford the Windows software or the I-T help neede to install it.

  24. The fact that a gear collector like you bought one of the 500,000 Surface Rt units says bad things for Microsoft. They are trying to sell these as iPad replacements, not a new toy for nerds.

  25. Android was crap when it came out and, right now, the Samsung Galaxy S III is the quality exception to the crap rule.

  26. I’ve been trying to use Windows 8 ever since it came out on MSDN channels. Still having a hard time getting used to the rather quirky interface. I picked up my sister’s iPad and in 2 minutes I was flying through the interface with no problems.
    THAT is what’s killing Windows 8.

  27. The Microsoft PR machine hard at work. Put all the lipstick on the pig you want. It’s still a pig. No facebook app = fail. Sorry, thanks for playing.

  28. Idiots! The stupid Surface audio is so low you can’t hear half the movies and vids in a quiet room! WHY CAN’T TABLETS HAVE AN AUDIO AMP YOU DON’T HAVE TO RUN WIDE OPEN?!

    I told it to open a video and, of course, it HAD to drag me to a DAMNED STORE TO SELL ME!

    My new WinXP super laptop ($225) is LOUD and DOES WHAT I WANT, NOW!

  29. or just install RDP on iPad…take about a minute and cost nothing. the redomnd shills are still funny though after all these years, lol !!! 🙂

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