Microsoft got out the axe again, and cut the price of some Surface Pro models by $100. While the move may help boost the anemic sales of Microsoft's tablets, it's not significant enough to make a real impact--especially for business users.
It's being framed as a sort of "back-to-school" promotion, following closely on the heels of a dramatic drop in the price of Surface RT tablets. Saving money is great, and $100 is $100, but the cost of Surface Pro models is still high compared with some competing devices, and the reduced price is unlikely to sway a purchasing decision.
From a business perspective, many users could get by just fine on a Surface RT tablet, which costs about half of a comparable Surface Pro. Businesses that want a tablet that runs the full Windows 8 operating system can use something like the Dell Latitude 10, which starts at $500--$300 less than the discounted Surface Pro.
The Dell Latitude10 has a less powerful processor, less RAM, and less storage capacity than the Surface Pro--so you get what you pay for to some extent. However, for less than the discounted cost of the 64GB Surface Pro, a business can buy a Dell Latitude 10 with 64GB of storage that also includes a removable battery, mobile broadband connectivity, biometric fingerprint scanning, and a smart card reader.
Do I think Microsoft should give its tablets away? No, not at all. I do, however, believe that both the Surface Pro and Surface RT tablet lines would benefit from more aggressive pricing.
Just as I argued when Microsoft dropped the price of the Surface RT, I think Microsoft should start by including the Touch keyboard cover for free with the tablet. The add-on is essentially required--especially for the Surface Pro--and tacks on an additional $120 to the cost. Cutting the price by $100 is essentially the equivalent of tossing the keyboard cover in for free without changing the price.
I have used them both, and I think they're both excellent tablets from a hardware perspective. Windows 8--and the features and updates in the upcoming Windows 8.1 make them versatile, functional mobile devices. The Touch and Type keyboard covers set them apart from the competition and turn them into pseudo-ultrabook hybrids.
Those who are already planning to buy a Surface Pro, or are perhaps on the fence, but leaning toward purchasing one will greatly appreciate the reduced price. It makes the Surface Pro an even better value. But, if Microsoft really wants to drive sales, capture some market share, and generate some momentum for the Surface tablet line, it needs to do more than just cutting the price by $100.
If Microsoft were to include the keyboard cover with the Surface RT at the $350 price, and drop the entry-level Surface Pro to $700 with the Touch keyboard cover included, it would have much greater success capturing the attention of both businesses and consumers.