Microsoft Surface: How will it fare with the Enterprise user?


With the announcement of the new Surface tablet, Microsoft is on the verge of going head to head with the Apple iPad and relegating Android to third place in the tablet market. While this is interesting purely from an Apple v Microsoft competition standpoint, it also could provide Dynamics CRM with a mobility game changer for the Enterprise space. As everyone already knows, the tablet of choice is the Apple iPad for home and business users. It is the business user segment that upon which this blog post will focus.

Market Share
According to the latest numbers from Netmarketshare.com, iOS dominated the Mobile/Tablet space with a resounding 66% of total market share, Android with 20% and Windows Phone (7, 7.5) only had one percent overall share. Safari had the largest browser market share for the Mobile/Tablet space, also at 67%, with the Android browser coming in second with 20%. Again, Microsoft Internet Explorer was poorly represented with only a one percent share.

Figure 1: Total Market Share – Mobile/Tablet OS (www.Netmarketshare.com)

Figure 2: Total Market Share – Mobile/Tablet Internet Browser (www.Netmarketshare.com)

Enterprise Acceptance – Usability
Noted in the numbers above, Microsoft Surface will have to come out of the gates strong in not only functionality/usability but pricing to supplant the iPad or Android.

Enterprise iPad and Android users do not typically view the devices capabilities the same as they would enjoy on a standard notebook or ultrabook.  Applications built for iOS and Android allow users to remote control or emulate their desktop experience for those functions that are not yet tablet capable.  Microsoft is wagering that the Surface tablet will provide the best of both worlds.  Tablet ease of use and the power and capabilities of a Ultrabook.

Windows 8 does offer the enterprise user a unique “touch” experience, incorporating all of the core Microsoft programs (Windows, Office, etc.), but may cause some users to struggle to get back to a more “classic” experience such as Windows 7.  ZDNet had a less than stellar usability review of Windows 8 Pro on the Surface tablet.

While Microsoft Windows, Office and Dynamics products are moving toward the new “Windows 8 Style UI” (…ahem code name “Metro”), it will take some time for non-Microsoft programs to catch up.  How this will translate into early adopters from the Financial Services, Technology and Healthcare industries, which are key iPad/tablet user populations, remains to be seen.

Lastly, the announced Microsoft cover/keyboard/mouse must work well and avoid the version 1 glitches as much as possible.

Enterprise Acceptance – Pricing

Microsoft has not yet revealed the pricing for the Windows 8 Pro model, which will be most prevalent within Enterprises.  In order to compete with iOS and Android devices, the 64GB Pro model will have to be in the $800 – $900 price point at its highest.  If pricing comes closer to similar ultrabook pricing of $1000 – $1300.

What does Surface tablet success mean to Dynamics CRM?

Microsoft CRM has opportunity to significantly improve its mobile options with the “Metro” UI interface for CRM, which will have its optimal experience on the Surface tablet (and other Windows 8 tablets, when available).  The convergence of Windows 8, Office ’13, Dynamics CRM and Yammer could definitely prove to be a game changer against Salesforce.com and others in the CRM space.  If Surface does not prove successful, Microsoft will have to revisit and bolster its mobile options for the on-premise customers, or continue to count on the partner community for innovation in the mobile solution.

What do you think?

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Author: crmhobbit

The CRMhobbit (Shawn Tabor) is a CRM Architect and a licensed securities representative. He has 12+ years experience in the Financial Services industry and 10+ years working with Microsoft Dynamics CRM and other CRM solutions. The purpose of his blog is to share his knowledge, experience and thoughts regarding CRM in the hopes of benefiting those in the CRM community. If anything on this blog has helped you, please comment or rate the posts. Thank you!

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