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Microsoft is starting to find out what Acer meant when it said that the hardware business is like "hard rice" and "is not so easy to eat." Yes, those are real quotes, albeit probably a rough translation. The point Acer has repeatedly tried to hammer home is that Microsoft has no business competing against its OEM partners, and that it should focus on software, not hardware. Initial reviews of the Surface Pro aren't likely to change Acer's opinion, but will they change Microsoft's?
Steve Kovach at Business Insider said rather bluntly that "the Surface Pro is just like the first Surface except it's thicker, heavier, costs at least $400 more, and has about half the battery life. It looks like a tablet, but you can snap on an optional (but essential) keyboard cover that turns the Surface Pro into a pseudo-laptop. So why would anyone buy that?" He went on to conclude that Surface Pro falls into a "strange product category" that will only appeal to a small number of people "who want to try a funky form factor."
That's the the polar opposite of a glowing endorsement, though far from the only negative review. David Pierce at The Verge found the form factor frustrating, though conceded that if you're planning to buy a Surface, buy a Surface Pro, and get the 128GB model.
"But if you're going to buy a $900 tablet, get the decked-out iPad with LTE and 128GB of storage, and if you're going to buy a Windows laptop, check out the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga or th Dell XPS 12. Which leads me back to the same question Josh asked about the Surface RT: who is this for?," Pierce said.
Boy Genius Report was less critical of Surface Pro, noting that while it's "not a good fit for everyone, those who do purchase Microsoft's new tablet for work or for personal use -- whether they number in the thousands, hundreds of thousands, or millions -- will not be disappointed." At the same time, BGR said it fears "Surface Pro might not be the right product right now."
There's more. Gizmodo questioned whether or not Surface Pro represents "too much future," and Time said that "Surface Pro doesn't prove that one computing device can do everything well. Instead, it makes clear that there's no such thing as no-compromise computing."
This all brings us back full circle to Acer's pre-release warning, and one comment in particular that stands out.
"I think Microsoft getting involved in the hardware business is designed to promote Windows 8," Acer founder Stan Shih said. "But I sincerely recommend they withdraw from the hardware market when they get what they want."
Do the early reviews change your opinion about Microsoft's Surface strategy, or do you thing it's a matter of drinking too much haterade?