Bloomberg: Microsoft’s Surface Tablet Said to Be Wi-Fi Only

by Volker Weber

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT)’s Surface tablet computer, unveiled this week to compete with Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s iPad, will initially go on sale without a connection to mobile-phone networks, according to two people familiar with the matter. Microsoft is equipping the device with a Wi-Fi short-range connection, said the people, who declined to be named because the full specifications of the new product have yet to be made public.

That would be a major bummer. RIM's PlayBook took a huge hit because it did not work on mobile networks. That is a major headache for an always-on device.

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Maybe they want you to buy a Windows Phone and to do tethering.

Thomas Langel, 2012-07-23

Carriers are difficult to deal with.

mariano kamp, 2012-07-23

Thomas, it would not have to be a Windows Phone. But that is a patch, not a solution.

Mariano, right. That's most likely the issue. The original iPad also shipped WiFi-only.

Volker Weber, 2012-07-23

isn't the Nexus 7 also wifi only?? it's also a bummer then?

Michael Reichert, 2012-07-23

Not necessarily. WiFi only is good for home use. But Surface wants to be in business.

Volker Weber, 2012-07-23

The original iPad also shipped WiFi-only.Only for a month or so. Wifi-only and 3G were announced at the same keynote, but the 3G version shipped after a short delay.

Stuart McIntyre, 2012-07-23

Apple has a better handle on carriers than Microsoft.

Volker Weber, 2012-07-23

I agree, getting all the contracts right with the carriers is no easy task and time consuming, it's most likely ready but just needs the final approvals from the carriers.

Rich Hunter, 2012-07-23

I don't agree that tethering is only a patch. It should be the default, after all it reduces a lot of complexity by having only one device that provides the internet connection to everything else. Similar to cars not having their own phones anymore, but using the drivers phone to make calls.

This worked from the early 2000s with laptops and mobile phones, why shouldn't it work with tablets nowadays? I am not talking about using mobile wifi hotspots or the hotspot function of modern smartphones. Just regular bluetooth dialup/pan ...

Sebastian Herp, 2012-07-23

You are living in the past.

Volker Weber, 2012-07-23

Honestly ... following that argument each computer should still have its own modem, but we went forward and now use routers. So in the future people will walk around with multiple devices which all have a modem built in, all on different contracts or some special contract with multiple sim cards? Doing it this way sounds aweful and very antiquated ;-)

Sebastian Herp, 2012-07-23

It's the future. LTE changes the game.

Volker Weber, 2012-07-24

@Sebastian, by that argument we should all return to vt100 green screen terminals, why ever do PCs or mobile devices need any processing power at all?

The issue is not the multiple 3G/4G/LTE interfaces, it is the hugely antiquated telecomms providers that are the issue, still dependent on their 20 year old business models (minutes, texts, megabytes, roll up, roll up). Why can't we have prepaid always-on devices (e.g. the Kindle), or multiple SIM cards with only one active at a time, or a family plan with a number of GB split over 5 SIMs etc?

You're right Volker, every mobile device should be mobile, and that means having LTE etc. Whether the user chooses to activate it or not is down to them. I can't believe that in a year or so's time that the raw cost of an LTE/Wifi chipset will be significant more than that of a Wifi-only one. Then it is just down to market segmentation...

Stuart McIntyre, 2012-07-24

Stuart, I so agree with you... should you happen to start a virtual network operator offering such contract options, let me know. ;-)

My tablet has a 3G option and depending on the setting, I use that or the tethering of my phone (if no suitable wifi is around, of course). For example, as vowe never ceases to emphasize here, the BlackBerry is pretty strong in maintaining a connection in difficult circumstances - but it's not exactly my first choice as the user interface.

Ragnar Schierholz, 2012-07-24

Don't spend too much time near current carrier contracts. The game changer is licensing around LTE. With UMTS/3G royalties are based on the device cost, with LTE they are based on the modem cost. This drives down the price for providing LTE modems to a level comparable to WiFi or Bluetooth. Everything will have a modem. The carriers will adjust in providing data on multiple devices on a single contract.

Tethering is a kludge that becomes irrelevant.

Volker Weber, 2012-07-24

I didn't quite understand LTE until I did a couple downloads with my newer Samsung Galaxy II Skyrocket and then did a couple tests. Why is my LTE much faster than my (admittedly 4 or 5 year old) Wireless router at home? Very cool. Not sure how LTE works when everyone has one like they have 3G now.

Michael E Kobrowski, 2012-07-24

The Internet is a series of tubes. If there is a single thin tube between you and the places you are fetching data from, things get slow. With two completely different types of tubes, it's hard to tell where the thin tube is. ;-)

Volker Weber, 2012-07-24

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