Aussie CIOs back Surface tablet


blog When it comes to tablets in the enterprise, Apple’s iPad is currently the market leader. In fact, we’d suggest that you’d be hard-pressed to find many people working in large organisations in Australia using a tablet which wasn’t the iPad — that’s just how poorly rival tablets from Research in Motion and the cadre of Android manufacturers (including Lenovo) have been adopted in corporate Australia.

However, according to a poll ZDNet Australia has conducted of some local chief information officers (we recommend you click here for the full article), that may be about to change with the launch of Microsoft’s new Surface tablet running Windows 8. ZDNet reports:

“BUPA Aged Care CIO Paul Berryman pointed to the fact that the tablet should work better with existing enterprise systems than the iPad, saying that Apple hasn’t yet provided adequate enterprise management features.”

We won’t be surprised if Microsoft’s Surface tablet does take off in the enterprise, given that there appears to be a current trend of large Australian organisations deploying smartphones running Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 platform, due to its enhanced integration with existing Microsoft platforms in the enterprise.

Over the past several months a number of major Australian enterprises have revealed a switch to Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 platform running on Nokia’s Lumia range of handsets. In late June, for example, Australian iron ore group Fortescue metals declined to comment on an unverified rumour that the company has recently deployed over 600 new staff smartphones, allegedly swapping out its existing BlackBerry fleet in the latest corporate switch to Microsoft’s rival Windows Phone 7 ecosystem.

In late May, the Australian division of tyre manufacturer Bridgestone has also picked Nokia’s Windows Phone 7-based Lumia 800 smartphone as its platform of choice for its corporate smartphone fleet, and CommBank is similarly considering a move to the Nokia Lumia platform. Nokia has also revealed that construction firm Buildcorp has deployed some 150 new staff mobile phones in the Finnish smartphone vendor’s Lumia line.

When it comes to the enterprise, Microsoft’s Exchange/Office/Sharepoint/Lync/Windows Server/etc ecosystem is just so all-pervasive. We’d suggest many CIOs will see smartphones and tablets as just another logical extension of the Microsoft platform and deploy Microsoft devices accordingly. Thoughts?


  1. Makes sense.

    You get to reuse all the data encryption, device management and identity tools (presumably).

    You get to downsize your fleet PC’s and laptops (with the exception of specialist roles) and silence the tablet and “this company isn’t progressive” whiners.

    The real question is: How will the Marketing Directors react to a proposed MS Surface rollout? What about all the Sales Reps who have their own take on BYOD?

    The other issue is Corporates won’t rolling this out of at least 18 months giving the iPad another release cycle or two hardware wise and app wise.

    • I agree. Its too difficult for an enterprise to move away from Windows, but the iPad is still a popular attraction because of its ease of use.

      I suspect that with the rise of Windows 8 and what would seem to be a ‘unified platform’ (an interesting change from OSX and Android) its likely to perform exceptionally well. The real question is how long will it take to move existing Windows 7 / XP based software onto 8?

      ARM should be discounted in an enterprise environment, using a different processor altogther immediately indicates that W7 > W8RT will take time.

      BYOD is nice in theory, but poses massive security risks in a corporate environment, specifically things like the Finance or Health sectors, where you’re dealing with patient or client data. Putting data at risk of being accessed by foreign entities via Trojan Horse or Rootkit isnt easy to keep at bay with the use of BYOD. You’d need to ensure that the BYOD device system never sees these files or you could cause some serious privacy issues if your employees are taking these sorts of sensitive datas home.

  2. If this is true it seems CIO’s still don’t get it. It’s the consumer that decides not the CIO. If it was the CIO why aren’t we seeing large Playbook deployments?
    Step 1: Need to move past Windows 8 hype cycle and get to reality. Can the device be effectively managed via an MDM or SCCM? This is still up in the air and a very moving target.
    Step 2: Will consumers embrace it? If they do developers will embrace it and build apps if not… it will die on the vine.
    Step 3: Will the CEO like it more than their beloved iPad?

    Final note…
    The comment
    Over the past several months a number of major Australian enterprises have revealed a switch to Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 platform running on Nokia’s Lumia range of handsets.
    This is very misleading. 2 companies (1 as a rumour) does not constitute a ‘switch’. Oh and how are they going with the Phone 7 to 8 upgrade… oh that’s right there is not one. hmmm.

    P.S. I think the surface looks great and may very well be a great device. We might just be getting a little ahead of ourselves. Please name a large enterprise who deployed any major Microsoft operating system upgrade before service pack 1? If Windows 8 is like any other new Windows operating system we will need to wait for SP1 in 2013 before taking this seriously.

    • CIO’s will want it due to MDM issues. They’ll also like it due to compatibility with legacy systems.

      Users will dislike the MDM most likely (big brother, corporate lockdown etc). Users will dislike trying to use legacy systems with tiny little icons in desktop mode made for a mouse and keyboard system. They’ll be forced to use the keyboard/trackpad mode for those apps.

      Also, CIO’s will only like the x86 version, so that means chunky hot systems with noisy fans, since last I heard the ARM versions won’t support MDM or Enterprise login.

      I like the idea, but I’m having trouble trusting Microsoft’s implementation and follow-through on the Surface.

      One reason why the iPad is so great is because it CAN’T run Windows software, so people aren’t being forced to try and use standard old legacy desktop apps with a touch interface.

    • On rRamjet’s question of “Please name a large enterprise who deployed any major Microsoft operating system upgrade before service pack 1”. NSW DET (department of education and training) deployed nearly 100K of netbooks to NSW year 9 students several years ago, and the OS was Win7 RTM.

      But on the main thread, the Surface is certainly a serious contender to the iPad, but being first generation will have teething issues that most enterprises will steer clear of. Yes it looks sleak. Yes the staff will all want one. But anything first generation will have potential issues that IT departments won’t have the resources to support – but it has been done before very successfully – i cite my comment above on NSWDET.

      • “Yes it looks sleak. Yes the staff will all want one.”


        Microsoft gave me everything I needed to go anywhere that Microsoft isn’t, and Linux gave me everything I ever wanted – which is the reason why I’d rather eat a dog shit sandwich than install another MS system on any thing I own and or run.

        Anything that makes suicide look like a step up in a depression – has to go.

  3. Does anybody take seriously the opinions of a handful of CIOs from these obscure companies, especially when some of them answer both ‘yes’ and ‘no’ to a question?

  4. Given the Surface Pro is the only x86 device with legacy support, it makes sense that this tablet would be of interest for enterprise use. However we haven’t seen the price yet, and with that configuration I’m guessing 1k AUS at least. At that price you could buy a fast Win8 laptop, so unless people are really in need or want of a touch interface/ sexy new design, then a notebook still sounds like a safer, more dependable choice.

    When Metro on Arm starts to take off and gain enterprise and mass deployment tools it will be a different story. Providing a Windows 8 Surface RT slate is around the same price as the iPad.

    The other thing is lack of cellular support. This doesn’t matter much to me, but I’m sure it’s something many business users would want on their tablet.

    • I believe Microsoft’s countered this with a software-based built-in version of 3G USB Modem software. I remember reading somewhere that Huawei was brought in to deliberately write software extensions for Windows 8, so that any USB stick would comply with the 3G coding. It would then function on the RT and x86 tablets as if the original hardware function was there.

      Whether it actually made it into the device AND works is questionable.

  5. Yes – the usual ‘don’t count your chickens…’ cliché. Windows 8 is still an unproven platform, and given it’s Microsoft’s ‘miss’ cycle (ie WinNT & Win98=hit, WinME=miss, WinXP=hit, Vista=miss, Win7=hit, Win8=?)…

    Actually, I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that Win8 on tablets and smartphones may well be a success for Microsoft given current market conditions – the incumbent Apple has failed to successfully or impressively improve their iOS platform to give enterprise the flexibility it needs (which is really not surprising, given ‘flexibility’ is the antithesis of the Apple business model), while Android has failed to provide business with a compellingly reliable product (massive fragmentation from manufacturers is a huge headache for standardisation and patch releases). Microsoft on the other hand have decades of experience developing, deploying and supporting business. They don’t always get it right, but even when they get it wrong the simple fact that it is Microsoft means businesses will adopt it for ease of integration with existing systems and standardisation (across their own organisation and with partners). Even before it is launched, Win8 for tablets fills a vacuum in the market neither Google nor Apple can hope to fill without radical changes to their products.

    Win8 for desktops is an entirely different story, though. On the desktop you’re not just competing with Apple (and Google and Linux), you’re competing with previous versions of Windows. And frankly, from what I’ve seen, Metro simply gets in the way on any desktop or notebook without a touch-screen. That’s quite apart from some of the damaging changes MS have made to the ‘traditional’ desktop environment.

    I think you’re right, that ‘surface’ & Win8 will capture a fair bit of the business market (particularly in enterprise) where interoperability with existing environments is key, but many will either abstain while they wait for MS’s next tablet OS (once they’ve learnt from their Win8 mistakes) or will continue with their Münchhausen love affair with Apple. Although some other comments have it right that if MS are going to depend on enterprise sales they will be waiting a while – more like early 2014 before any significant number commit to large deployments.

    Slightly off-topic, I think the only way Win8 will see serious success is if the device can showcase/make use of the hybrid nature of the OS – the Asus Taichi is the most compelling example. If we start seeing lots of devices like this next year at cheap price points, Win8 will have a huge competitive advantage.

    • You forgot W2K and 2010 Enterprise, so your logic on the Microsoft ‘miss’ cycle is crap – because they were both massively deployed purely because they worked so well.


      You could argue tho that given 2k was build on NT, 2010 on W7 that they dont count, purely because WNT and W7 were hits anyway.

      I totally agree tho, I do believe that they may actually be on a winner here. I think they were given some stern words from old Gates after Vista, because even he had some unkind words to say about what the development team had done with his software.

      What I dont agree with is your assessment of the product. W8’s Metro interface can get in the road yes – but its quite easy to disable. In an office deployment, you can disable it all together and just move to the desktop after login (as per Consumer Preview). Why people are so scared of Metro I honestly dont understand. Yes its a change, not a life changing one tho – given that bugger all people actually used the Start Menu anyway. Most people will have the icons they need on a Jumplist, Task Bar or the Desktop.
      The Start Menu is just an old feature that everyones used to.

      Where I think people are leading into confusion is the limited availability of a standard desktop monitor with Touch Panel. Take a look at the Samsung TA950. Its a 27 inch Full HD monitor with no Touch screen. For the equivalent screen in touch, Samsung is quoting double the price on their website. DOUBLE! Without touch technology being cheap in a monitor, W8’s metro interface becomes pointless. But realistically given the ‘Current’ removability (and Im saying that based on ‘current’ preview) of the interface, I dont think any serious problems are warranted until we see the RTM.

  6. Metro I could work with for tablets and phones, but on a desktop! Ugh! Terrible.
    Android, as far as a multi-user experience, is sucks and a small sand pit to play in is so limiting. iOS the same. Ask any Family with a Pad in the house. Considering Unix and Linux are multi-user and what Android is, poor one Google.
    But give me Android over Apple any day for a ARM pad. I give praise to Apple for providing a platform for the people that desire or deserve a walled garden, but I think it would not work at all for a Corporate platform. If Apple provided a Corporate platform, I think Apple wouldn’t be able to contain their desire for $$$ enough and it’d be so pricey that Corporations would reject it.
    Microsoft might just pull this one off, to the detriment of Apple and Google. If they do, well whose fault is that?

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