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Windows shops look to Surface Pro tablet for salvation from BYOD chaos

Diana Hwang

Early adopters of the Microsoft Surface Pro have experienced bugs that some say could slow enterprise adoption, but Windows shops that struggle with managing non-Windows devices could be willing to overlook initial problems with the first-generation device.

Adopting the Surface Pro tablet would enable Windows customers to standardize on one platform and manage their environment more easily, according to Josh Weiss, CEO of TeliApp Corp., a New York-based mobile application development company focused on small and medium-sized law firms.

TeliApp's chief technology officer wants to bring Surface Pro into its environment and consolidate various bring-your-own-device (BYOD) issues that surround its support for a variety of desktops, laptops and tablets.

"For any employee who does travel, [such as those in] marketing, business development and sales, [our CTO] has been pitching me to get them a Surface Pro," Weiss said. "Surface Pro [will] eliminate all [the] other machines that the employee uses."

Surface Pro tablets can provide small businesses with professional-grade computing at a far lower price point than a professional-grade desktop or laptop can, said Jim Cigliano, vice president of services and new business technology at the Framingham, Mass.-based Staples Corp.

Staples has used a Surface Pro tablet in its IT department. A lighter-touch mobility option, such as Surface Pro, is oftentimes everything senior executives without specialty

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software need, Cigliano said.

"Part of what [is] happening, especially when dealing with a small-business environment, [is that you] have a lot of different pieces interacting with each other," Cigliano said. For the most part, Staples has received positive feedback for the Surface Pro tablet, he said. For that and other reasons, "it's a safe assumption that Surface Pro will lead the demand for small business," he added.

Surface Pro tablet demand grows

Given that Microsoft is being closely watched for the Surface Pro tablet, the problems that early adopters report -- including wireless connectivity problems and battery-life issues -- could tarnish the company's image as a hip new leader in the realm of tablet providers, a field that's already dominated by rival Apple Inc. and to a lesser extent, Google Inc. The company must rely on early-adopter enthusiasm and temporary fixes to outweigh what businesses see as value for using the Surface Pro in their environments.

If Microsoft can resolve its out-of-the-box problems, early adopters could look more kindly on the Surface Pro's price of $1,000 for a 128 GB device, based on the benefits of its use and applications such as the new Office 365 service to spur on sales, not only of Surface but also subscriptions to Office.

Meanwhile, there is a growing demand for Surface -- but that may simply reflect pent-up demand for tablets in general, according to ChangeWave Research, a service of 451 Research.

The company asked 1,506 corporate respondents involved with IT spending whether they would purchase a tablet in the first quarter of 2013, and 24% said they planned on purchasing tablets during that quarter. Of those, 16% said they would buy a Microsoft tablet, compared to a whopping 73% who said they planned to buy an Apple iPad.

Results from a previous survey reported that only 5% of respondents said they planned to purchase a Surface device in the fourth quarter of 2012.


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