Why I Won't Be First In Line To Buy A Microsoft Surface Tablet

Microsoft Surface Steve Ballmer

Photo: AP

Microsoft is all the buzz right now between its Surface tablets and Windows 8 phone.I don’t have a tablet yet. I like Windows and so the Surface could be the tablet for me. But I’m not going to stand in line to get one.

Microsoft is great at hype. But it almost never meets the hype, at least in the first round. The one exception is Kinect. Kinect worked as advertised and made Xbox hot and Microsoft cool again.

So that’s one in the win column for Microsoft.

In the second-time-around column there is just about everything else:

Windows 7 — which was basically an improved version of Vista.

Windows Phone — Almost no one bought Windows Mobile, which came before Windows Phone 7.  Windows Phone 7 is a decent phone but most people prefer iPhone or Android and rightly so. Now we’re waiting for Windows 8.

Internet Explorer — For years IE was the absolute dog of the browser world. IE 9 was finally pretty good, but by then Firefox and Google Chrome, with their amazing collection of extensions, were a lot better.

There’s examples on the enterprise side, too.

Windows Server 2008 Release 2 blew away Windows Server 2008 in performance and features.

Office 365 blew away Business Productivity Online Standard Suite (BPOS), at least in terms of using the latest versions of Microsoft Office and Exchange.

The general rule is, enterprises don’t buy Microsoft software until Microsoft ships its first big service pack (SP1) typically six months to a year after the software is released. And sometimes not even that quick. Many enterprises are only now starting their upgrade to Windows 7.

You can blame the slow pace of enterprise IT for that. But Microsoft trained them to go slow.

So, while Adrian Covert at Gizmodo thinks that “Microsoft is the most exciting company in tech, hands down,” I can’t agree — yet. Windows 8, particularly on PCs, is shaping up to be another first-round disaster.

Plus, it looks like Microsoft will initially price its Surface tablets way too high.

So I’m thinking the best time to buy a new Surface tablet might be in December — of 2013.

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