back to article Acer big cheese: Microsoft Surface sales will be 'superficial'

Microsoft Surface tablets Microsoft Surface: No competitive threat, says Acer Acer EMEA boss Oliver Ahrens has brushed aside Microsoft's foray into the tablet market, dismissing the Surface as a competitive threat. Last week the covers were lifted off the Surface, a 10.6 inch devices, based on ARM and Intel platforms. " …

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I bought an Acer tablet in the UK 7 years ago - never again. Poor support, refusals of Acer outlets in Europe to honour their so-called international traveller's warranty, and when I complained both to Acer HQs in London (phone & email) and Taiwan (email and web-forms) - no reply.

Acer offers no competitive threat to anyone who wants a decent consumer experience.

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Anonymous Coward

Not to mention the build quality.

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Should be able to squeeze a cheapish laptop AND a tablet out of $800. An only slightly compromised device to 'work' + something to throw in a bag/on the sofa/breakfast table/bed for browsing seems much more appealing. Can never have too many screens.

Everyone I know with a tablet also owns a laptop and sometimes several of each to go round a family. We've had assorted transformable tablets and keyboard addons for a couple of years now and demand seems MIA. I think manufacturers have mistaken the swapping of laptops for tablets as a sign that people really want both, when in reality they've often worked out they don't need the laptop at all and definitely worked out their 2nd screen isn't going to be one.

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"Everyone I know with a tablet also owns a laptop and sometimes several of each to go round a family."

Then surely there is a market for a device that is both. Convenient and (unless you want to buy very cheap tablet / laptop) a cost saving. And less hassle moving from device to device when you want to do different things. Also, as it actually has user accounts (there's an idea!), those of us who are a bit less well-heeled, aren't quite so pressed to buy them for all members of our families.

"I think manufacturers have mistaken the swapping of laptops for tablets as a sign that people really want both, when in reality they've often worked out they don't need the laptop at all"

Didn't you begin your post by stating that everyone you know who has a tablet also has a laptop? There's obviously a market for people who want both. Even your own experience supports it.

The Acer spokesperson, well, unless they're very, very sure that their comments are going to reach investors, they aren't going to say anything other than that they don't think the Surface is a threat. And the analyst is going down the wrong track in comparing it to an iPad in the first place. It's only a competitor to an iPad in that it has a superset of the iPad's functionality, not the same set. Saying that people don't use Office on their iPad is like saying in the 80's that people don't use the Internet whilst travelling. It just wasn't affordable or convenient. But when it becomes so, then why not?

The real question about the Surface is not if it will sell. It's whether MS will make enough for everyone who wants one or if they're just using this as a stick to beat the likes of Acer.

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"Didn't you begin your post by stating that everyone you know who has a tablet also has a laptop? "

Yes, but they owned laptops to start with ;)

I'm commenting on the widely believed and ongoing decline in laptop sales, while tablet sales rise. I speculate people simply aren't replacing their tired old laptops as quickly or at all, presumably because all the media consumption has now switched to the new shiny and there's not much left for the laptops. I know when mine dies I won't bother replacing it. Hell, I'm not even going to replace its battery, my smartphone replaced it.

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Anonymous Coward

Higher price...

... means low sales!

HP and RIM prime examples.

Add the MS experience (bugs galore) and its a disaster waiting to happen. When will they ever learn? Or is it just another ego trip? (me too)

We shall see.

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Joke

Wait, Acer said that? The Surface may turn out to be successful after all.

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Thinking the same thing

Is this the same guy who said that tablets were going out of fashion and that people would return to buying laptops?

IIRC, Acer then went on to lose >$200m in a single quarter, so this guy clearly knows what he's talking about.

Mind you, the biggest problem here is that El Balmer says that Surface will be a success, they can't both be right.

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Wait for the backlash

I wonder how customers will feel when they discover their $600 Windows tablet doesn't even run Windows software. I see more appeal in the more expensive actual Windows 8 version but then again for that price (which almost certainly does not include the keyboard), the question is why not just buy an ultrabook.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Wait for the backlash

Being the undisputed world leaders in that field, Microsoft is preparing for that by hiring thousands of new astroturfers and putting them through speed typing, quick rebuttal and thread hijacking training in Camp Astro, Redmond, USA.

I already got an offer in the post.

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Re: Wait for the backlash

Funny. Because if you make a pro-MS software comment on these forums, someone will mod you down no matter how factual your post. Yes, it must be a great conspiracy of paid astro-turfers.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Wait for the backlash

if you make a pro-MS software comment on these forums, someone will mod you down

I just did. Or wasn't your post pro-MS? :)

Joking aside, El Reg forums is not what decision makers read - too much like the real world. No, they will suffer (cough) the usual wining and dining and breathless reporting and golfing that is reserved for the upper echelons of cluelessness. Seen it, been there, nicked from the buffet etc. MS knows full well, as long as there is incompetence they will never run out of sales opportunities. "Sort of works" when demonstrated is enough to get the sales, after it's left to poor IT saps to get the crap to actually deliver - naturally, the only thing you'll hear in CEO magazine is that IT staff quality declines instead.

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Re: Wait for the backlash

I think there is a bit of that going on. Slashdot has been infected by a number of new users who leap on any Nokia and Microsoft article with unusually positive things to say. So much so they're getting called out for it. I wouldn't be surprised if it's going on elsewhere.

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Re: Wait for the backlash

Or it could be just that MS is doing some really good things these days. Do you assume the same thing about any positve comment about Apple products or Google products? Seriously, if someone is so blinkered that they can't understand enthusiasm about a product without thinking it is a plant, then they have no business being in IT in the first place because quite frankly, MS have brought out some great stuff (as I'm sure Apple and Google have, but I only really know MS and Linux). Go and read the Windows 8 development blog and see all the cool stuff going in for developers and then tell me someone is wrong to be enthusiastic.

Look at these forums without bias and what would one logically conclude? Seeing numerous posts heavily down-voted just for being positive or enthusiastic about an MS product, one would conclude if there were anything going on, it would be against MS. So why assume the opposite? Because it fits ones own preferences better? It's the only explanation I have.

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Re: Wait for the backlash

I'm not talking of people defending Microsoft as part of their held opinion. I am talking about astroturfers who by definition are professional liars, who hold no opinion that they are not paid to hold. I don't call people shills or astroturfers and I'm not paranoid to think they're lurking in every thread.

However the number of posters on Slashdot of late who have low, throwaway histories who have only positive things to say about Microsoft products IS suspicious. It's reasonable to believe they are either astroturfers or trolls posing as astroturfers. Personally I think they are genuine astroturfers given recent launches by Nokia and the build up to Windows 8.

It's certainly not hard to find other people voicing suspicious about astroturfers. Look at this one about Amazon reviews for the Lumia 900 for example.

http://www.theverge.com/2012/5/7/3004523/beat-em-up-astroturfing-or-fanaticism-with-lumia-900-reviews

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Re: Wait for the backlash

"However the number of posters on Slashdot of late who have low, throwaway histories who have only positive things to say about Microsoft products IS suspicious. It's reasonable to believe they are either astroturfers or trolls posing as astroturfers. Personally I think they are genuine astroturfers given recent launches by Nokia and the build up to Windows 8"

Well your first mistake is thinking Slashdot isn't awash with trolls and muppets in the first place. ;)

But secondly, do you apply the same criteria to people who just make a stupid anti-MS comment? Or a pro-Google or pro-Apple one? Have you checked whether your perceptions match up with the actual number of new users there? Because it will be a lot. And again, I repeat the question as to why you would conclude that people are paid astroturfers rather than newly arrived people who genuinely are enthusiastic? Especially during an exciting new product launch. What is your evidence or reason to believe it's not the latter? I was one of those people once. Except I wasn't posting endless enthusiastic comments about MS, I was doing it about Linux and OSS. Different religion, same unreasoning faith. I dare say you could find some absolutely embarrasing posts by me on Slashdot if you wanted to. But just as I was a young and starry-eyed UNIX developer, I'm sure lots of people come to it through the MS path before equally just settling down to realize it isn't a war and everyone has something to offer. There is such a thing as confirmation bias - if you are expecting such comments, you'll see them and this will reinforce your perceptions. I'm not insulting you here - this is a real psychological phenomenon that affects everyone unless you go to a lot of effort to avoid it. And by a lot of effort I mean actually going to look at the data and seeing if it measures up to what you thought.

"Personally I think they are genuine astroturfers given recent launches by Nokia and the build up to Windows 8"

This is probably informed by your opinion that these aren't awesome things. Windows 8 has all sorts of great stuff in it. Native vector graphics are a small thing that I love, but they have made it easier to develop for WIndows than ever before. I'm verging on saying that they've made it easier to develop full stop, than ever before. And I don't mean the obnoxious Visual Basic dumming down sort of development. They're adding all sorts of good things. Windows Phone 8? You have almost a single unified development environment that will take you across Phones, PCs and probably even consoles! And all sorts of clever ways of integrating things. Just read through the developer blog on how contacts will be handled and an API for them provided. Basically, there's no reason why you shouldn't see new and enthusiastic people being positive about MS. Just as there's no reason why you shouldn't see new and enthusiastic people appearing positive about Linux. But the install base of Windows is vastly larger than Linux and much as I love gcc and vi, you can't deny that MS Visual Studio (free, incidentally), is pretty good fun to use. I'm just getting into it. So I hope you're taking that into account when you start counting pro-MS comments and comparing them to the number of new users and reviewing people's histories to see what else they say.

"It's certainly not hard to find other people voicing suspicious about astroturfers. Look at this one about Amazon reviews for the Lumia 900 for example"

No. But it's not hard to find people voicing suspicions about the government, Google or aliens. This is just circular reasoning: I think there are astroturfers because I can find someone else who thinks so. And they can say the same about you.

And if none of that will make you reconsider throwing accusations around, and if the sheer obviousness of how people more rapidly get voted down for a positive comment about MS than up doesn't disillusion you from the MS Marketing conspiracy, then I ask you to consider, at least, what sort of value there would be in spamming Slashdot? ;)

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Re: Wait for the backlash

I apply the same criteria regardless of the topic, and in the context of the place in which it is being said. As I'm quite aware Slashdot contains trolls and I suggested that is one possibility. However I don't think so in this case.

As for pro-Google / pro-Apple comments, I think in both cases it comes down to both companies fostering genuine support far more than Microsoft ever did. They have fanboys in other words. I'm favourable to Google myself but I don't find myself holding back when I'm slagging them off for something I really don't like such as ChromeOS, Wave or various other things.

Uncritical adoration of any company isn't as bad as astroturfing but it's not rational either.

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Re: Wait for the backlash

"As for pro-Google / pro-Apple comments, I think in both cases it comes down to both companies fostering genuine support far more than Microsoft ever did."

It's basically as I said. You yourself do not appreciate how cool much of the new MS stuff is, thus you have difficulty appreciating someone else's sentiment as sincere. But if someone is enthusiastic about an Apple or Google product, that wont be astroturfing because these companies are good / worth being enthusiastic about.

Have you considered that accusations of astroturfing are both offensive to many and actually unethical to make? You are, after all, attempting to damage the reputation of a company with no reasonable evidence. Is that a good thing to do? Would you like it if the same climate was fostered against any other business?

"Uncritical adoration of any company isn't as bad as astroturfing but it's not rational either."

And allowing that it may not be astroturfing, you fall back to implying that if it isn't, then it's "uncritical adoration" instead. I think firstly that I don't see "uncritical adoration" much for MS. I see posts saying what is liked, often enough with criticism, but seldom if ever posts expressing 'MS is the best ever and can do no wrong' which is what "uncritical adoration" means to me. Why would you see such? I might post on the subject of my WP7 device that I really like the interface or that it only cost me £160. I'm not going to randomly tag on that the Calendar app in Windows 8 needs a three week ahead view as well as calendar months. It is just not relevant. That doesn't mean that my post is "uncritical adoration". It's just On Topic.

Secondly, I point out again that if you don't like something yourself and lack the ability to see things from someone else's point of view, then you're going to see positive comments from others as "uncritical adoration" or "not rational". You should be very, very sure that you yourself do not have a bias before attempting to judge whether someone else's comments are biased.

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Anonymous Coward

Content Creation

Microsoft's strength is the vast amount of content creation software available on the PC. None of this however is relevant to tablets, which are really only suitable for content consumption. MS therefore brings nothing new to the table, and is handicapped by a relative deficiency in content consumption software, compared to the huge number of apps available for both iOS and Android devices. Bundling a version of MS Office on a tablet shows that MS still does not Get It.

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Anonymous Coward

No 'surface wound' puns?

Sub-editors asleep at the keyboard again?

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Coat

Re: No 'surface wound' puns?

No, it's got no real depth..

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the keyboard has got potential

I don't think the tablets will sale.

The ARM version will be too dear, and the Intel version too heavy on power requirements..and too dear.

However these keyboards really have some style and show some innovations.

They would complement iPads and or other Android tablets very well. (in Pro and extra-slim versions)

The accessories division of Microsoft should be selling those puppies separately and make a few bucks.

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Re: the keyboard has got potential

> However these keyboards really have some style and show some innovations.

The keyboards use a connector with a floppy connection. This has several disadvantages that I see:

* They only work in landscape mode.

* They do not support the screen unit, surface with keyboard will not be usable on your lap.

* They must be connected to be usable, while bluetooth or USB keyboards are not locked to the unit.

The are only the usual 'microsoft innovation', copying what others have done.

Since when has neon colours been 'style', maybe in the 1950s.

http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-31747_7-20091329-243/keyboarding-your-ipad-best-keyboard-cases/

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Anonymous Coward

He's Right

D minus to Microsoft, must try harder.

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Business Users and Corporates

Are surely the target market. I for one would happily replace my EliteBook with a decent tablet, much lighter as hand luggage. As long as it runs all the software required of it and as long as it is stable. Can't see much consumer leverage though, unless MS believe we are all going to replace laptops and desktops with these?

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Joke

Re: Business Users and Corporates

Try a Mac Airbook..

(if that doesn't stir things up here I don't know what will) :)

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Joke

Re: Business Users and Corporates

OK, I'll bite...

I'd love to try an Air, but I don't have that kind of cash

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Any bets?

Anyone want to make a bet that 1 month after Microsoft releases its Surface tablet, we will have no idea how many they sold the opening weekend? That we'll have to rely on third-party estimates and guesses?

That 3 months later Microsoft still won't have released sales figures?

When they finally get around to releasing some numbers, they'll tell us how many units they've 'sold' to retail outlets and not how many were sold to actual end users?

Why am I so certain that Microsoft will act in this manner? Easy:

That's the kind of BS they've pulled with the Kin, Zune, and Windows Phone 7.

Even now, it's hard to track down the real sales numbers for those products.

Notice that MS had no problem tracking and reporting sales numbers for Kinect when it came out. Every time you turned around you were hit with another story about how well it was selling, and how many units had flown off the shelves.

This time, they haven't even waited for the Surface's release to start their obfuscating. Try finding any meaningful information:

What's the battery life while watching movies, surfing the web, on standby?

How much space is the OS going to take up?

What's the price?

What kind of warranty will it have?

How and where will you get apps?

How well does it perform compared to the competition?

How will it get its updates?

How will you get the kickstand replaced when (not if) it breaks?

Has anyone actually seen anyone type using the keyboard cover? It represented one of the biggest selling points for the Surface, yet not one of the presenters did any actual typing. They didn't explain how the Surface and keyboard communicate with each other, nor did they talk about the keyboards power source. Does it have a separate battery, and if so, how do you charge it? Why weren't any of the tech reporters allowed to have any hands-on time? That all leads me to believe the keyboard was a mock up and not a functional item. Pretty ballsy, if you ask me.

So - OK then. Anyone willing to bet me that 1 year from release date the Surface will have been sunk?

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WTF?

Re: Any bets?

I cannot believe that you've been down-voted.

None of your comments were biased, all of them were based on easily repeated observations.

I can only conclude that some Micro-softies or people paid by Microsoft are haunting this place and down-voting anything which may offence Ballmer sensitivity.

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There's another non demonstrated feature

Obviously apart from the keyboard, the other feature everyone is hoping for the Intel version of those is to be able to install different operating systems. A small and light Linux machine does have some value, particularly if you have a working keyboard.

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Re: Any bets?

Actually, a number of the things you state are incorrect. See the (hands-on) review at http://www.techradar.com/reviews/pc-mac/tablets/microsoft-surface-tablet-1085839/review. Apparently you CAN use it on your lap, among other things.

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Re: Any bets?

> Apparently you CAN use it on your lap, among other things.

I see that it can be set on one's lap, but the question was: can it be _used_ on the lap. The photo shows that the screen angle is quite wrong for lap use, far too upright. The floppy hinge for the keyboard will limit its ability to add stability and any attempt at swiping the screen will result in disaster.

I suspect that it may not fit well on airline seat tables. The floppy hinge would not help there if the keyboard overhangs the front of the table, and the fixed screen angle would conflict with the seat in front.

As for portrait mode this may have some small usage, but the keyboard can only be connected in landscape mode which would be limiting. And 16:9 is just wrong for portrait.

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Re: Any bets?

> See the (hands-on) review at

While there is a line that says 'hands on' (Hands on: Windows 8 review) it is a link to a completely different review. The piece itself is just fluff and may have been written by Microsoft.

For example it says that the magnetic keyboard/cover is " in no way similar to any competitor idea... ", yet it is just a poor copy of what Logitech and others have done for iPad.

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Facepalm

Well for me its simple

You can keep your surface, I would spend the $800 which will mean more like £1000 and buy an Asus tf300, its a prime in all but name and still have £600 plus for a nice laptop.

Best of both worlds for the same money and 2 of us can have something to use at the same time.

MS have shot themselves in the foot by designing an OS that enterprises will not want and hardware thats aimed at enterprise level budgets. OK windows 8 will be a success but only because OEMS will have nothing else to put on computers. But otherwise forget it, in the IT department I work in Windows 8 is laugthed at for business and from what we have seen so is the surface.......

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Re: Well for me its simple

You are right from a pure logical perspective, but that's not the game Microsoft plays (it never has). They sell to the stupid, but the idea of doing their own tech is going to hurt them very quickly IMHO.

Ballmer is desperately trying to do an Apple, and the first thing he does is screw up by pissing off his OEMs. Apple has a rather well working distribution chain and support model in place, Microsoft has zip (how well did those Microsoft shops do?). Thus, MS needs to get all of that in place, replacing OEMs which were until now making some money off Microsoft driven sales.

Those OEMS were kept from cheaper alternatives by "incentives" (more the absence of tax) on pre-install copies of Windows, but now Ballmer has told them that MS wants to go without them they are not quietly going to lie down and die - they will find alternative software, with or without tablet hardware. This is likely to be Linux, for instance, Linux Mint has a passable pre-install release out that would do well.

In short, I think Ballmer will seriously regret losing control over those OEMs by what he's done with Surface - they represent a MASSIVE competitive threat because they operate in the same or even lower price bracket, and they will now wake up The Penguin. If I was a shareholder in MS I'd reconsider my position..

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Re: Well for me its simple

And I have done just that. Picked up my TF300 a week or so back and it is great. Quickoffice HD (bought for my Motorola Zoom so effectively free) covers my mobile word processing and spreadsheet stuff (its basic but ok). LInked to both Dropbox and 8GB of ASUS cloud storage I am sorted. Oh and I have an Alienware laptop through work so serious stuff gets done on that.

How Microsoft think they can sell against a £400 device with a more mature OS, keyboard and swift overall performance I just don't know. Will be interesting to see how Surface and Win 8 on tablets fair. I am not putting any money on them succeeding.

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Anonymous Coward

If Surface sales are superficial, Acer tablet sales will be nonexistent.

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Anonymous Coward

This is the dilemma for Microsoft

In order for any businesses to start buying Surface, they need to know Microsoft is in the hardware business for the long haul and this is not just a one-time Win8 promotional after which they will go back to the OEM model. If Microsoft commits to being in the tablet/PC business for the long term, it is going to really upset their OEM partners who may start looking for greener Linux pastures. It is really a poor deal for the OEMs even if they manage to sell some tablets, Microsoft is going to be taking the bulk of the profits. They are unlikely to sell tablets because Microsoft is competing head on with them.

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WTF?

That's rich!

Coming from a company that REBADGES cheap plastic crap laptops from Compal, the same guys who make Toshiba laptops. I fix Acer computers every day, they are nasty plastic cheap JUNK that always have broken casing, damaged hinges and power socket shorting problems.

Sort your own shit out before saying Microsoft should stick to "knitting". Maybe Acer should knit Shreddies like the grannies in the ads... Oh wait, the grannies do a better job, they don't break before you eat them! The Iconia is the only good Acer product that comes to mind, even that isn't THEIR own

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