What’s wrong with Microsoft Surface Windows 8 RT devices in the enterprise ?
I had high hopes for Windows 8 RT when it was first revealed, here was a future for Microsoft, a very good looking, smart and well defined user interface for their OS of the future. And then they released the Surface RT machine.
Now don’t get me wrong I loved the machine, it was an Apple iPad for the Microsoft world, I hoped it was a tablet for the massed unwashed. And the inclusion of Office in the packages was great and so were the adverts and detactable keyboards – such fun ! But it’s only is the last 24 hours that I have realised, this is not such a great device for the enterprise. Here are my reasons why:
1. Its a consumer device. Now so is an Apple iPad, but the difference is that Apple have over the years added features to allow enterprises to use their devices. Microsoft however have currently decided to exclude these enterprise features.
For example currently Microsoft have deliberately not published the API to any non-Microsoft MDM providers.
“Right now, if an employee comes to work and tries to do the BYOD thing with his new Surface RT, the only way you can centrally manage it is with Microsoft tools: System Center 2012 or a Microsoft service called Intune. There’s an API in there, but Microsoft has not yet published it or disclosed it to other MDM vendors. These other MDM vendors are anxious to have the API. Some of them, including SOTI and Zenprise, have promised support for Microsoft’s MDM for Surface. ”
So you can control a Surface RT but you need to use a Microsoft product: Exchange ActiveSync for messaging or System Center 2012 or Cloud service Intune.
2. There are much better Tablet devices on the Market.
– An iPad with added detachable keyboard is 20% cheaper than a Surface RT device.
– Windows 8 Pro Tablet – 40% more expense than Surface device but supported by multiple vendors – e.g. Microsoft Surface Pro / Thinkpad Tablet 2 / Dell XPS 10 / Samsung Activ / Acer Iconia etc etc. See Also: http://scn.sap.com/community/mobile/blog/2013/02/22/windows-8-surface-pro-vs-surface-rt
– Samsung Android with SAFE/AES2 – again 20% cheaper than a Surface RT device.
All these tablet devices have published MDM API’s and are supported by SAP Afaria and other MDM’s.
3. Proprietary and secretive
Microsoft with the Surface RT device have managed to create a proprietary and secretive device from an MDM point of view. Why is this ? were they hoping to corner the MDM market ?
Its interesting that no other manufacturers have taken up with this version of the OS. All efforts seem to be concentrated on its bigger brother – The Windows 8 Pro tablets.
And lastly, initial sales have been very disappointing, this leads me to wonder if the Windows 8 RT is going to be a white elephant and I fear it is as doomed as the WinPhone7 OS.
I also worry why Microsoft is deliberately delaying the publishing of the API to any non-Microsoft MDM providers – SAP, SOTI, Zenprise.
Conclusion: If you want an Enterprise ready tablet, choose an iPad or Win8Pro or Samsung Android device and control them all with SAP Afaria.