Microsoft Surface: $199 (?)

Discussion in 'Mobile Phones / Entertainment' started by mattCR, Aug 14, 2012.

  1. Hanson

    Hanson Producer

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    http://www.theverge.com/2012/11/9/3622306/surface-touch-cover-audio-issues

    "A number of users have spotted that the Touch Cover edge appears to be fraying, exposing the wiring of the cover. The Verge staff has a unit with the defect and Microsoft is shipping a replacement free of charge to affected users. A Microsoft support person admitted that the company is dealing with "a lot" of Touch Cover returns."

    I would think that "hard rice" wouldn't split like that.
     
  2. Hanson

    Hanson Producer

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    The first device you shouldn’t buy is the Microsoft Windows Surface Pro. It’s supposed to be a dual use tablet/ultrabook hybrid. Attach the optional keyboard cover, and it’s “like” a laptop. Take it off, and it’s “like” a tablet.



    First problem: It’s too heavy. It’s over half a pound heavier than the iPad 4. Now, 8.65 ounces may not sound that heavy, but you will feel the burn if you try to hold this for long periods of time like the iPad. Consider that people complained that the iPad 3 was heavier than the iPad 2, and that difference was a mere 2 ounces. The Surface Pro is almost 50% heavier than the iPad 2. Apologists suggest you use the fold out kickstand to relieve the stress on your arms. The problem is, what’s the point of having a tablet if you have to stand it up on a flat surface? If you have to rest it on a flat surface, why don’t you just get a laptop?



    Second problem: Your arms won’t get too fatigued since the tablet only has a 4 hour battery life. In an age where 9 hours is about the average for a tablet, Surface Pro rocks a laptop like 4 hours. The reason is because unlike your typical iPad or Android tablet, which runs a low power chip designed for portable devices, the Surface Pro uses a full fledged Intel desktop processor that devours electricity at twice the rate. And by the way, that4 hours is for “typical” use. If you are in fact running a program that requires a lot of processing, you will get even less than 4 hours. On the bright side, it’ll run out of juice by the time you start to lose the feeling in your arms!



    The worst problem: It’s way too expensive. The base tablet (with 64GB storage) is $899. The hard keyboard cover adds another $129 to the price (the membrane one isn’t worth buying). That means the base price for this tablet/laptop functionality is $1,028. If laptops were $700-$1,000 and tablets were $700-$1,000, this might be a worth a look. But you could buy a laptop and a tablet for less than $1,000, and that’s a laptop with a fully functional keyboard and a tablet you can actually hold for more than 4 hours. If you had an extreme use case like you travel all the time and you’d rather carry a single device instead of a laptop and a keyboard it’s still a dubious purchase. The reason tablets exist is because of the long battery life and the ultra-light, ultra-portable form factor. The Surface Pro has neither.



    Don’t buy this.

    http://cobravision.wordpress.com/2012/12/04/dont-buy-this/
     
  3. Hanson

    Hanson Producer

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    Last week, I advised not to buy the Surface Pro Tablet. This week, the product not to buy is the Surface RT Tablet. So they’re not the same product? No. No they aren’t. In short, Surface Pro is an awkward Windows 8 laptop that you can’t use on your lap that converts into an awkward and terrible tablet, while the latter is simply an awkward and terrible tablet that runs on the Windows 8 tablet operating system called Windows 8 RT. Is this confusing? Yes. Yes it is. It’s been on sale since it was released in October to middling reviews. In order to placate the other Windows equipment manufacturers (who were crying competitive foul), Microsoft released it in hard to find Microsoft Stores and the online Microsoft store. Since no one else bothered to make Windows RT tablets after all (because they’re not stupid), Microsoft is now putting them in retail stores. That is the reason why I am warning you not to buy it. In many ways, Surface RT is actually a worsepurchase than the Surface Pro.



    1) There are no apps. Do I mean that there are actually no apps in the Windows RT app store? No, there are apps, technically speaking. Microsoft likes to throw out the figure “20,000 apps” in the Surface RT app store. The problem isn’t the sheer number of apps, it’s the actual breadth and depth of the app selection and the functionality of said apps. Even more so than the Windows Phone, the Surface RT market has huge holes in its app catalog and many function poorly. And to compare, the iPad store has 250,000 tablet apps while the Google Play Store has 700,000 (Android doesn’t make the kind of distinction between phone and tablet apps like Apple does). It gets worse — at least Surface Pro allows you to run the same apps you installed on your Windows 7 desktop. Not so with Surface RT. The only apps you can install are the ones in the app store (which, as I explained, is a threadbare selection).



    2) It’s awkward to hold. Here’s the thing — on a gram by gram basis, the Surface RT is only 18 grams heavier than the new iPad. And really, 18 grams in and of itself is totallysomething to sneeze at. However, the Surface RT runs a 16:9 aspect, which means that when you hold it in landscape mode, it feels heavier. Although apologists bring up the marginal weight difference and write it off as nothing, it’s the distribution of that weight that makes the iPad feel lighter than Surface RT. The extra 1.3″ width in landscape mode puts the center of gravity further away from your hand and makes it feel like a load. Well, okay then, there’s a kickstand. But if you need to use the kickstand, it has already failed as a tablet. And what about Android? The Nexus 10 is .42″ narrower than Surface RT in landscape mode, but here’s the thing — it’s a full 77 grams lighter as well. Plus, the squared off edges make the Surface RT feel thicker too. It’s simply a terribly designed tablet, and they were so gung ho on running side by side apps (which required a wide screen) that they threw all ergonomics out the window.



    3) It’s using yesterday’s screen resolution. The iPad 4 screen runs at 2048 X 1536 with 264 pixels per square inch. The Nexus 10 ups the ante and runs 2560 X 1600, for an iPhone-like 300ppi. Meanwhile, the Surface lags behind at 1366 X 768 for a paltry 142ppi, barely outdoing the first iPad’s 132ppi. Does this make a difference? Absolutely. My Transformer Prime has 149ppi, and I can totally see the pixels. It’s not a terrible screen in and of itself, but when you compare it to the iPad 4 and Nexus 10, yes — it is a terrible screen.



    4) The value isn’t there. The Surface RT tablet is priced at $499 for 32GB onboard while the entry level iPad 4 is $499 for 16GB. The Nexus 10 is $499 for 32GB and $399 for 16GB. So it looks like the Surface RT is undercutting the iPad4 considering the 32GB iPad 4 is $599. Look at it — it’s $100 cheaper! Except it’s not. The reason has to do with the fact that onboard storage is not the same as usable storage. For instance, about 2GB of the 16GB in the iPad 4 s used for the operating system. The actual usable storage is around 14 GB. Meanwhile, Surface RT reserves a whopping 16GB for the operating system. So Surface RT doesn’t really have “double” the storage of the iPad — in fact, for the extra $100, you aren’t getting storage parity like Microsoft leads you to believe — the $599 32GB iPad 4 has almost twice the usable storage of the Surface RT. Now, the Surface RT does take microSD cards, so you can make up some of the storage difference for much less than $100. But that won’t help when you’ve installed 16GB of apps since those won’t transfer to the microSD. Well, at least you get a detachable keyboard thrown in, right? Wrong! That costs you another $119-$129 depending on the style of the keyboard. Now, it is true that keyboards are extra purchases for all tablet brands. However, Microsoft is using the type covers as a selling point. In fact, the whole commercial campaign revolves around the “click” sound it makes when the keyboard magnetically attaches to the tablet. That would be like Samsung advertising the stylus capabilities of it’s Note 10.1 tablet and then charging you extra for the pen (it is, in fact, included). Essentially, Microsoft is pitching the keyboard as integral to the experience yet making is a optional purchase. Does that make any sense? Oh, and if you’ve ever seen these things, it’s simply not possible they cost anywhere near $100 to make. It looks like a vastly overpriced accessory. iPad keyboards, in contrast, cost $40-$100. I can’t understand why Microsoft is trying to gouge their customers with the keyboards. Especially $119 for a membrane keyboard that is literally falling apart at the seams.



    By the way, if you are still really keen on purchasing this product anyway, I suggest you wait until next year. I assure you, there will be price cuts and or bundles in 2013. That’s the surefire way to clear out excess inventory.



    5) It’s slow and laggy. There’s really not much more to say about this. The experience is on par with an Android tablet from 2010.



    6) It has nothing to offer that isn’t better on Android or iPad. This is when the cries of, “OFFICE!” howl up from the Microsoft Fanboys (yes, they do exist, but many are MS employees pretending to be regular folks from multiple user accounts). The truth is, the RT version of Office is not the same as the full fledged version and lacks tons of features. In the meantime, both iPad and Android have at least a half dozen apps that can read, edit, and create Word and Excel documents. If you get a Surface RT tablet simply to run Office, you’re not spending your money wisely. Oh, and by the way, Microsoft Office for Android is coming next year. The iPad vesion is up in the air because Apple is enforcing their 30% cut rule for the app store, but it’s very likely that Office will be available on both platforms outside of Surface RT very soon. So there is literally no reason to buy the Surface RT over the iPad or Nexus 10.

    The bottom line: Get an iPad or Nexus 10. The Transformer Infinity is nice as well, and that has a keyboard dock that adds 6 hours of battery life. Buy the Surface RT package now for $528 and you’ll cry when it’s bundled for $499 or even $399 in a month or two. You’ll cry even more when you realize no one will ever develop apps for this dead in the water ecosystem ever again. In six months time, Surface RT will join the Blackberry Playbook and HP TouchPad in the dead tablet bargain bin.



    DON’T BUY THIS.



    http://cobravision.wordpress.com/2012/12/12/dont-buy-the-surface-rt-tablet/
     
  4. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    I agree with the sentiment but feel its bad form to CnP entire articles like that.
     
  5. Hanson

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    Yes but... I wrote it.
     
  6. mattCR

    mattCR Executive Producer
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    Hanson-

    Have you tried or do you own either the Surface Pro or the Surface RT? I'm just wondering in regards to your sentiment.

    I will openly admit, I have one of both. I also have an iPad3 w/LTE, a Nexus7, and a Kindle FireHD 8.9, a Blackberry Playbook, and yes, I have several of the HP tablets which were given away free when we purchased workstations a few months ago.

    Here are some of my thoughts:

    The Surface at the current price is not a good deal. You're paying to be an early adopter, and you're right, it only works if Apps come along. I'm not sure how that is going to work out. We'll have to see.. I am on the record as openly being one of those people who punted my iPhone5 for a Nokia920, so I'll be in the group that buys into the OS... but the problem I do have is that my Nokia920 has the exact same resolution as the Surface RT.. and at 4", a 1280x768 resolution is fantastic.. not so much at the size of the Surface.

    The Blackberry Playbook came to the market touting a few big ideas which really intrigued me.. and in months after it' release, none of those promises ever materialized in any way. This wasn't a matter of apps, it was a matter of core functionality. HP's WebOS device was frankly just DOA before even hitting the street because they obviously didn't really want to support it, they couldn't link it to their own devices, etc.

    In regards to app development, frankly, unlike HP or Blackberry, I'm not that concerned about app development for MS. They've committed serious $ to this, and their development tool for RT and the Phone is basically the same, and I'm pretty convinced that they are committed there. But here's the hitch.. on the phone side you now have 3 really good phones: The Nokia 920, the HTC 8X, and now the Samsung ATIV S (which is basically a Galaxy S3 with WP8). And you look at those devices with all their options and realize that they basically have more power, more space, and high resolution then the surface RT. That's an issue.

    I realize that Sam is very negative on Windows 8 for a desktop OS ;) Yet, the more I use it and work with it, the more I really appreciate it; it runs very well on any level of hardware, and with a few tweaks, it does exactly what I want while at it. And, I cannot blame MS for trying something new and unique. If you don't like it, you don't like it, that's fine.. and there are issues I have with it, but having been someone who was in the Beta all the way through, and who stays with their programs, I have really come to appreciate some of the devices that have happened since than and go "that's kind of unique".

    That having been said, if I were someone who didn't go through a lot of tablets or have a means to buy, the tablet to get right now (IMHO) is a no brainer.. and that's the Kindle Fire HD.
    While you knock the Surface, and rightfully so for the RT (I cannot/willnot comment on the Pro as of yet), the worst tablet currently shipping (IMHO) is the iPad Mini. It's the same processor as an ipad2, running in a smaller body at the same low resolution (1024x768) and at a price point that makes it ridiculous for what you get. On the opposite front, the Kindle FireHD can be had at a pretty good bang for the buck.. about $100 less then the iPad Mini. Amazon's marketplace is a snap compared to Google's Play, it's organizational sense is fantastic, and Amazon's clean integration with their platform is the most painless for any user.. with the exception of the iPad. As far as user acceptance, right now the Ipad and the Fire just are way above everyone else, and that doesn't mean just hardware, it's total experience.

    The Surface RT fails at everything that windows phone 8 succeeds at.

    WP8: NFC Support, Skydrive integration with Office + Cloud
    SurfaceRT: No NFC. Skydrive integration isn't remotely seamless.

    WP8: High resolution (most are 1280x720, 1280x768, or now 1366x768), with a pixel density at 326ppi..
    SurfaceRT: as you point out, a ppi of about 142.. blah


    This isn't to totally bash the RT. I play with it, and there are quite a few things about it that I do like and appreciate; but it's not enough. It appears obvious to me that Microsoft's foray into hardware is one that they should have taken more partner advice on. Both Samsung and Nokia have put out some real, serious hardware to back their phone platform.. and Microsoft's Surface RT just isn't there..

    But I don't know if I'd equate it with a Playbook.. or WebOS. And I think people expecting that are going to be waiting a long time.
     
  7. Hanson

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    I was at a conference at the Microsoft Center last week and I was hoping they'd have some lying around, but alas all they had were Dell systems running Win7. Kinda disappointing.

    If the OEMs aren't going to make RT tablets and the next wave of Android and Apple tablets are going to smoke the RT (never mind the disparity in ecosystems), I can't see this thing gaining any traction. Maybe Lenovo releases an RT tablet out of obligation that falls on its face. But if Surface is going to be the whole ball of wax for RT, it's cooked. And think about the hurdles for OEMs -- they have to purchase the RT license and deliver it with spec parity for $499 plus have their own keyboard solution that will add to the cost. I just don't see it happening.

    I think your a bit harsh on the iPad Mini. While it's a tad overpriced, there are a lot of people content with the iPad 2, and the ppi for the Mini is better than that just because of the size. It still has the iOS ecosystem and it's really light. I'd get a Nexus 7 first, but that's just me.
     
  8. Hanson

    Hanson Producer

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    ozar.me/2012/10/why-im-returning-my-microsoft-surface-rt/
     
  9. mattCR

    mattCR Executive Producer
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    A tad over priced? I can get a full iPad2 for $20 more at Microcenter. It has a slower processor and significantly lower resolution then the kindle fire or nexus.
    I get that it will fly off the shelves, but wow it comes across to me as one of those product that people will buy primarily based on the name, because if they bought on the specs, they could have a significantly higher resolution, PPI, faster processor, better cameras, etc. with the Fire or Nexus.
    But that's just me.

    I won't say anything on the Pro yet.

    I will say, the best "mix" device I've worked with thus far is easily the Lenovo Yoga 13". And yes, it's not RT.. but so far, in my use, it's the best implimentation of Win8 I've seen, and it's a pretty fantastic device (IMHO)
     
  10. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    isnt the mini a "full" iPad 2 in a smaller, lighter body?
     
  11. mattCR

    mattCR Executive Producer
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    So, in other words, for a unit with considerably less screen and no new features, a $20 price difference seems "OK". (?) I'm just trying to figure this out when I can go grab the Fire or the Nexus for $100-$150 less and get more, in almost every category.
     
  12. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    Hey Matt cmon now, at least I have hate for things I have actually used =p
    The one area I disagree with you on is in the specs battle. This is nothing new in the Apple world, it's actually new that things like the 4th gen are competitive or ahead for once on raw processing power. But I don't think specs and expandability matter to the vast majority of people. Those that got swindled on netbooks and asian $79 tablets seem to bear that out on one end and that people are paying for experience over specs on the Apple side of things seems to give it a nod on the other....
     
  13. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    Oh, that was not clear. I did look for the author signature but couldnt find it, and now I see it in your signature that it is yours.... Carry on.
     
  14. mattCR

    mattCR Executive Producer
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    See, I think I've pointed out that I've used almost everything I'm talking about. And, while I don't have a mini, I have an iPad2, and everyone here is in full agreement that they are spec wise identical, just a smaller body. By that, I'm not arguing that the unit is junk, I'm just saying it's extremely over priced in comparison to it's counterparts.

    Your statement "I don't think specs or expandability matter to people" to justify the mini is funny when this thread moved this direction bashing competitors based on their specs an expandability.. in fact, you finish off by pointing out that people got swindled on bad netbooks/etc.. and what was their problem? Specs. netbooks were underpowered slow little buggers, and those asian $79 tablets sucked because their resolution and horsepower sucked.. specs. So, in the end that "vast majority of people" decided they were swindled.. based on specs.
     
  15. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    Same or better screen, same pixel count, less surface area. And after playing with one at the Apple store, I see the appeal. Lighter and thinner would make it great for reading in bed.

    The mini is the most expensive 8" tablet. But with two Macs, two iPhones, and two iPads, a $100 cheaper tablet is actually more expensive to me as it won't trivially plug into my current system.

    If shopping formy first tablet for web browsing, the Fire looks appealing. Especially with Kindle and Amazon x-ray for video. But with a household of technology, saving a few bucks on a new device is less important.
     
  16. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

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    Matt,

    It's definitely all about the use case if you choose iPad Mini over iPad2.

    I plan on getting one for my mother, who wants one that she can bring anywhere w/ her (in her handbag) and is light/easy on her aging hand(s). That means no to fullsize iPad. Nexus 7? I almost got that for her before hearing that iPad Mini is coming. For her, I think iPad Mini is more suitable since she's tech/computer illiterate... Also, will be easier for me to manage an iPad Mini for her (from my iOS/iTunes share) than the Nexus 7 for apps/music/etc, especially the Pleco dictionary app I already bought for iOS (though they do allow you to add Android support for free), which was the primary reason she wants one.

    Still debating which to get for my son though... he's undecided on whether he wants fullsize or Mini.

    _Man_
     
  17. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    Wasn't you i was zinging =p
    Multiple separate points being mixed here.
    I think that the vast majority of people are more price conscious than they are specs conscious these days, especially when solutions that 'just work' in a variety of form factors from multiple vendors are out there. And the low web usage statistics for cheap tablets is interesting in this realm too. Are those being shelved due to bad specs, bad experience, not shelved at all, or just people buy em and find out they really didn't need em after all? Are they more or less inclined to buy a better specced tablet instead/nex having been burnt once alreadyt? I don't know.
    i also think that platform buy in is more important than others do, but we have been over that too.
    The pricing thing works against apple, but also a bit for it too, if you agree with the idea of Veeblen goods. Ultimately I believe there was pent up demand for a lower priced iPad, Apple delivered on that, and they are selling well. but the critical thing there is Apple can still add retina down the road, add faster chips AND still has runway at the mini's price range to drop prices. It's still very early in that game. Hanson and others believe that the shine has worn off of Apple's desirability. I'm not so sure on that either.
    Anecdotally, I'm not personally a fan of the form factor but my nephew loves his and his brother is dying for his own, as his 8 year old sister. I can't argue with that. Anecdotes don't equal data either way tho!
     
  18. mattCR

    mattCR Executive Producer
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    Ah, I see. ;)

    I think the one thing that is really at play here though is going to be the intent of the company to stick behind it; HP had absolutely no will at all to stand behind WebOS. And Blackberry royally screwed the Playbook.

    But the big thing that killed both of them really was that basic functionality was wrong. The Playbook couldn't handle EMAIL when it was new out of the box.. I mean, WTF. And WebOS never got an exchange connector that worked worth anything, and it's web browser was clunky as all get out.

    I do believe in your point buying into an environment; that's why for me, the FireHD is the first real, hardcore competitor toward Apple's lock on the mobile market. Most people don't think of it as "android" or whatever because Amazon goes out of their way to market it as "ours". And Amazon's marketplace and inbuilt supports just bash the heck out of anything, whoever is running their mobile division really has a handle on things... now, whether or not people adopt it in comparison, I don't know..

    Dave brings up a valid point, which is "I already have a ton of apps in X".. and that's a big point for Apple. Their head start really helps put them over the top for a lot of people. Amazon counters that by repeatedly giving away free apps and providing new ones at a steep discount. The logic of Amazon seems to be: give it 6 months, and as all the new apps come out, you save $.

    Amazon's method may pan out, I don't know, but I have a gut feeling they are in it for the long haul, the same way I think MS is. How it all works out, who knows.
     
  19. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

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    Speaking of Amazon and apps. How the heck does a non-techie find his/her way to their Market app on a new Android phone, LOL. I was trying w/ my wife's new GN2 -- it's awesome, BTW -- but couldn't find it on their site or via the included Amazon widget, and couldn't see anything to do w/ their app store either. Weird. Is it just me or is something fishy going on here?
    _Man_
     
  20. Hanson

    Hanson Producer

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    If you look at the consumer market, the shine hasn't worn off of the iPhone/iPad brand... much. But trends filter out there slowly. If you read the tech sites and blogs, there are tons of people recommending the Nexus 4 or S3 over the iPhone and the Nexus 7 as the best tablet in the market. That's the kind of thing that will eventually bubble up to the mainstream. Just a year ago, every site was handing the crown to the iPhone and iPad. There was no real competition. Now Time gives the iPhone 5 their Gadget of the Year designation. But hold up -- CNet gave their device of the year title to the Galaxy S3 instead. I know a lot of people who recently bought an iPhone...4S. They said it was because the iPhone 5 wasn't really much of an upgrade and the 4S is selling for $49 on contract. I've heard a lot of people in the mainstream who aren't tech savvy telling me that. Again, they aren't agreeing with me, they are telling me that without any prompting and at times apropos of nothing.

    I agree Matt, the Playbook was just a fumbled mess, but there was a reason for its existence -- for people who wanted a tablet that gave them the Blackberry experience. But the HP Touchpad was actually even worse -- it was a solution for a problem that simply didn't exist -- who wanted a WebOS tablet at that point? There was zero compelling reason to buy it and the ecosystem was threadbare. And that was the only model -- there weren't a dozen OEMs mixing up form factors and specs to appeal to different slices of the market. This looks like the same recipe MS cooked up for Surface RT. Except they they aren't really a manufacturing house and the OEMs stayed away. Maybe in its inception it was going to be a vibrant hardware and software community, but it's a ghost town in both respects and if you think MS won't abandon it simply because of the money invested, I give you three letters -- K-I-N. Besides, they have the Surface Pro line that the OEMs seem to want to make. I just don't see MS breaking into the mobile space without something truly innovative and desirable because -- and I firmly believe this -- most people dislike the Windows brand. They tolerate it on their PC, but they're not going to make the same mistake in mobile.
     

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