Can the Surface Pro Save Microsoft?

SurfaceProMicrosoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) has a new product set to be released in three days’ time — yet the company has done very little to promote it, a slightly concerning fact as the device may very well determine the software designer’s future. The device is the Surface Pro, a tablet far different from Microsoft’s first hardware offering, the Surface RT, which came out at the end of October.

From the mixed technical reviews the Pro has received, it appears that it has the potential to carve out a niche for Microsoft in the tablet market, but it also has several significant flaws that may prevent it from garnering widespread consumer demand.

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While the similarity of the names suggest a similarity in function, the Surface Pro will run the full version of Windows, the same as on a PC, unlike its predecessor, which uses a mobile version. The Surface RT runs a modified version of the operating system, developed to function on devices built using mobile-focused ARM-based chips (NASDAQ:ARMH). But the Pro has an Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) i5 chip, enabling Microsoft’s new tablet to do some heavy lifting; it can run any program written for Windows, from the full Microsoft Office suite to Adobe’s (NASDAQ:ADBE) Creative Suite.

This fits in perfectly with Microsoft’s developing enterprise-centric business model. But even in that sector the company has lost customers to Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) as more and more computing now takes place on tablets rather than on personal computers. As Apple executives point out regularly during product launches, the iPad has been embraced throughout the business world; doctors use it to keep tabs on patients, restaurant hostesses use it for seating, and even associates at remodeled J.C. Penney (NYSE:JCP) stores ring up customers’ purchases using iPads. With more professionals using the iPad, more business-oriented software will be written for it, which will give it an even stronger lead against Microsoft…