Microsoft’s New Surface Pro Tablet May Make You Dump Your Laptop And iPad; For Advisors On Microsoft OS, Surface Pro Is A Big Deal

Friday, November 30, 2012 12:24
Microsoft’s New Surface Pro Tablet May Make You Dump Your Laptop And iPad; For Advisors On Microsoft OS, Surface Pro Is A Big Deal

Tags: iPad | tablet

The new Microsoft Surface Pro tablet is likely to make PC laptop users rethink their computer hardware. If you use a laptop, you may be able to replace it with the Surface Pro. Since Surface Pro runs on the Windows 8 operating system and runs the Office suite, you can use it as both a tablet and laptop. Surface Pro will bring a real change in computer hardware options to advisors.

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For example, say you are now using an iPad and a laptop. You probably take the iPad around town and to meetings, but in your office you use your laptop. If that’s your hardware profile, then you may no longer need the iPad. You can use the Surface Pro because it will do double duty as a laptop and tablet.


Surface Pro can also play a role in improving your hardware configuration if you need processing power. Say you run a couple must-have applications that require heavy processing power--a desktop rebalancing, video editing, or using other processor-sucking apps. Or maybe you multitask, running multiple browser windows while using a software phone, and other apps that make your laptop  crash  or work painfully slow. If you’re like me, then you use an expensive laptop marketed for having the processing power of a desktop.


An ultraportable laptop with a fast processor easily costs $3,000 or $4,000, when you include the service contract, docking station, and Office licenses. Alternatively, you can use the Surface Pro as your laptop/tablet and replace your expensive laptop with a desktop computer. Desktop computers come with considerably faster processors than the best laptops and are much better suited for multitasking, using multiple monitors, and processor-intense applications.


Microsoft's Surface RT tablet was released October 26. That is not the tablet that runs Windows 8. It runs Windows RT, which is not what you want to run business apps on. The Surface Pro, a more powerful model in Microsoft's new Surface line, runs Windows 8 Pro, and it becomes available in January 2013. It will cost about as much as the $899 64 GB retina-display Apple iPad.


Yesterday, Microsoft announced pricing. The Surface Pro will come with Intel’s next generation Core i5 processor and run 1920x1080 full HD resolution. Moreover, its Mini DisplayPort can drive an external display up to 2560X1440 resolution, which is the new standard that provides much higher resolution than monitors used by most advisors now.


Surface Pro will run your current Windows 7 desktop apps, and you can draw and take notes using a pen. The Surface Pro will cost $899 with 64 GB of storage, $999 for 128 GB. That does not include Touch Cover or Type Cover add-ons ($120 and $130, respectively), which double as a screen protector and keyboard. Surface Pro has a kickstand, so you can stand it up while you type on the keyboard/cover or watch a movie.


For advisors looking to move to the cloud, the new Surface Pro tablet looks like a very sensible solution. You can run Office 365 in the cloud hosted by Microsoft and also run Office locally on your tablet and desktop, and it will automanically synchronize files to ensure you always use the latest version of your documents. Plus, you have a cloud-based back-up as well as a local copy of every file.

For me, my $4000 Sony Vaio Z laptop has become a real disappoinment. Ten years ago, it was great. But no more.

While it has an Intel i7 chip, 8 GB of RAM, a 256 GB solid state hard drive, and 64-bit operating system, it often crashes when I edit videos. The processor overheats. I've repeatedly had this same problem with previous Vaios and have given up on Sony fixing it. Replacing it with a powerful desktop that can handle multiple monitors and that has a faster processor than any laptop seems like my best strategy now that Surface Pro is launching in January 2013.  


Please let me know if you've been waiting for the Surface Pro. It would be good for advisors to share some of their hardware nightmares so that we can figure out together the best solutions.


Comments (4)

I was eying the Surface, not sure I could tolerate waiting for the Pro. After reading this, I will temper my impatience and wait until January. I will still need to keep my iPad for the games!
SherylCPA , November 30, 2012
Andy, excellent observations about the evolving Microsoft ecosystem for businesses.

We've just moved to Office 365 and use hosted Exchange email with archiving, there is no additional cost for unlimited web conferencing with Lync, and Office Pro desktop apps are kept up to the latest version. We also have access to Office online apps and hosted Sharepoint, though we have not yet done anything with those two features. All for $20 per user per month.

It is a great value and I'm actually optimistic about Microsoft as a true technology partner. I plan to test out the surface tablet when pro comes out.

I may even try out a Windows phone in the next year or so.
bramsay , November 30, 2012
With baited breath we wait...

vguettlein , November 30, 2012
Bill, your background in programming puts you way ahead of most advisors. So your validation is appreciated.

Would be interested in knowing what you're using for archiving Exchange in the cloud and what version of Office you're using.

An integrated solution I put together with Erado for RIAs can be found at

You can see from the chart there that the E3 version of Office 365 seems best for most advisors. It gives you offline and online access to your documents plus Exchange archiving and email encryption.

Another option is to go with Office 365 direclty from MSFT like you did and then just add email archiving and encryption separately.

The difficulty advisors are facing is that most consultants are not recommending Office 365 because it will cut their fees dramatically. Probably something I need to write about.

The Lync and SharePoint stuff has great potential but requires lots of customization for an advisor. For you, because you enjoy coding and biulding your own integrated backoffice, this makes sense. But I don't know if it makes sense for the vast majority of advisors. I do think SkyDrive can be a big deal and am trying to figure out how advisors might leverage it. Would be interested in your thoughts.
agluck , December 01, 2012

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