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Microsoft Surface: A Study in Erroneous Product Definition

Stocks in this article: MSFT NVDA INTC AAPL GOOG

What about Microsoft Office?

This is always Microsoft's last line of defense. You want to run Office on your tablet!

No, you don't.

First of all, you're not going to "real work" on anything that's 10.6 inches (or smaller) in screen size. So we're back to the argument above regarding the Surface not making it as a laptop.

Secondly, Office itself is losing in relevancy rapidly. Increasingly, people find that Google Docs does the job for free -- and with better collaboration and cross-platform compatibility. Google has even made QuickOffice available for free, further improving Office compatibility.

The situation with Office alternatives is the biggest threat of all to Microsoft. Without Office, Microsoft seems totally out of gas in terms of a sales argument.

If you are truly not just in need of Office, but are convinced that the (free) alternatives to Office are not enough, then you are also likely the same very serious person for whom a 10.6 inch-anything (tablet, laptop, whatever you want to call it) is not enough either.

Microsoft made a huge mistake in its launch of Windows 8 one year ago. It shifted the focus to new form factors and a second interface residing in the PC side by side with the traditional desktop.

Windows 8 solved the biggest problems with previous Windows versions: Speed, security and stability. People came to dislike Windows in the past because it was slow, had virus problems, and was generally a maintenance nightmare.

Windows 8 boots extremely quickly, runs smoothly, has a far more secure environment, and shuts down extremely quickly. It is extremely competitive with Apple's Mac in this regard, and you can buy a decent Windows laptop for $500 (or even less) -- half compared to Apple.

The good news here is that you can buy a good Windows PC (laptop) today, at a fair price. It just isn't Microsoft's own Surface device, which is an ergonomic nightmare and generally too expensive for what its form factor offers.

With the Surface -- and to some extent Windows 8 in general -- Microsoft finds itself squeezed between the following competitive pressure points:

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