Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 20th May 2014 17:48 UTC

Microsoft has unveiled a new Surface Pro 3 device at a press event in New York City today. Like the previous Surface tablets it still includes a kickstand, but Surface chief Panos Panay says it's designed to remove the conflict of buying a laptop or a tablet. The kickstand on the device is multi-stage, and the device is just 9.1mm thick. "This is the tablet than can replace your laptop," claims Panay. Microsoft has moved to a 12-inch screen on the Surface Pro 3 with a 3:2 aspect ratio and HD display, but the new tablet also has thin bezels with a silver and black design. Microsoft will start accepting pre-orders on the Surface Pro 3 tomorrow starting at $799.

It's an amazing piece of hardware, and Microsoft really deserves praise for the amount of power it has managed to pack in such a slim and light package, but the same could be said of the previous Surface Pro - and that one hasn't exactly taken the market by storm either. The problem, is software - something Microsoft was remarkably hush-hush about during the unveiling.

Something else Microsoft was hush-hush about: Windows RT and ARM. No new RT/ARM-based Surface device, and I have a feeling that particular experiment has met its end today.

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The idea of one device that "does it all" is appealing. Just as the "one application that does it all". In real life however, it turns out that these "jacks of all trades" are often compromises all over, and therefore basically suck.

The XBox One also aimed to replace game console AND TV Settop Box. Turns out it is good as a console but not a good settop box. Yahoo is a website that "does it all". Sharepoint is an enteprise-program that "does it all". Yet in usability they suck. They do it all but all in a lousy way.

In the non-tech world it is the same. That famous 75-functions Swiss Army Knife is not a very pleasant knife to use. That 80-functions kitchen machine that blends, grinds, chops, cuts, cooks and bakes is a horror to use.

On the other hand, "do one thing well" products & apps are usually nice. The iPad is a great tool for media consumption. Google is great for searching. Wordpress is a fantastic blogging tool.

Still, you can go TOO specialized. A tool like mutt (linux email program) is very powerful but extremely specialised and needs so many additional programs, that many people prefer a more "complete" program - less powerful, but good enough for the average Joe. So, some extra funcionality is good, but only for less important and less used work. A Swiss army knife with 3 or 4 functions is fine (the knife is most important and should be good, plus it may have an "OK" can opener, screwdriver or mini-scissor. Likewise, on the iPad some fuctionality for light office work is fine.

But don't try to make one tool that effectively replaces two or more *often used, important* tools. Remember those old science fiction "flying cars"? Well, they DID actually build real "helicopter cars". They sucked as helicopters and they sucked as cars. Or those boat cars? Yep, sucked as a boat AND sucked as a car.

So, will the "laptop + tablet killer" do better? I doubt it. Compared to a real tablet, it is heavy, power hungry, big & clumsy. Compared to a real laptop it is small, cannot be used on you lap (!?), expensive, lousy keyboard.

Maybe, if your use case is "just in the middle" this is the ideal tool for you. But I think that's a small niche market. And again: would'nt an MacBook be a better choice? What does the Surface do what the MacBook (with Windows in a VM for windows-only apps) can't do?

Edit for typos

Edited 2014-05-21 10:59 UTC

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