Microsoft's distribution strategy isn't the only thing holding back Surface Pro in the business market.
Solution providers say the 4-hour battery life for Surface Pro, which is targeted squarely at the business market, is a deal breaker. They say Microsoft needs to move quickly to bring longer battery life to the Surface Pro for it to be a winner in corporate accounts.
"The key word is mobility," said the CEO for a Microsoft enterprise partner who did not want to be identified for fear of alienating Microsoft. "That would be like an electric car that only goes 10 miles and then you have to plug it in. Four-hour battery life stifles productivity. I can't recommend a 4-hour device even if it has a nice keyboard. Microsoft has to fix the battery life problem with Surface Pro."
Solution providers say the Surface Pro battery life comes in at best four hours. That's less than half the battery life of an iPad tablet. Microsoft partners say they have received no word from Microsoft on a Surface Pro replacement that fixes the 4-hour battery life problem. "The Surface Pro battery life is unacceptable," said the top sales executive for a large enterprise partner that is selling Apple iPads and Samsung tablets.
Ars Technica, a tech reviews website, said Surface Pro's -hour had a 3- to 3.5-hour battery life when viewing a video continuously. "This is not an all day machine," read the review.
Walt Mossberg of AllThingsD, meanwhile, said in his review of the Surface Pro that the product was "too hefty and costly and power-hungry to best the leading tablet, Apple's full-size iPad." Mossberg's tests had the Surface Pro lasting "just under four hours between charges -- less than half the stamina of the iPad on the same test."
Microsoft this week set off a firestorm of protest from solution providers angry that they are still unable to sell Surface Pro and Surface RT. Instead Microsoft said only 10 large account resellers (LARs), less than 1 percent of its 127,000 North American partners, have been authorized to sell Surface under the new Microsoft Devices Program. The LARs that received authorization include CDW, CompuCom Systems, En Pointe Technologies, Insight Enterprises, PC Connection, PCM, Softchoice, Softmart, SHI International and Zones.
NEXT: Partners Say Surface Pro 4-Hour Battery Life Is Not Good EnoughDavid Powell, vice president of managed services for TekLinks, a fast growing Homewood, Ala., managed services provider that partners with Microsoft, said Microsoft puts food on his table, but he wouldn't give up his iPad or MacBook Pro for a Surface Pro with 4-hour battery life.
"Four hours is just not long enough," he said. "We hold meetings that are longer than four hours. I have layovers at airports that are longer than four hours. I don't want to be the guy standing in line to use the one plug at the airport."
Powell, a longtime iPhone and iPad user, said Apple's iPad ecosystem is a much more elegant solution that syncs up all his music and content. "I am way down the road with Apple," said Powell. "The ecosystem, with all my devices synced, is enough to keep me there. Apple makes it easy."
Tyler Dikman, the CEO of CoolTronics, a Tampa, Fla., solution provider, said Surface Pro's 4-hour battery life is just not good enough.
"Four-hour battery life on Surface Pro is not a good step forward for a flagship product, especially when every other product out there in this space has double, if not more, battery life," said Dikman. "When you have a limited battery life, you significantly limit your use case options. If you are a road warrior or a doctor on the go, four hours is not going to cut it. These guys are not going to plug in their tablet every time they need to use it. They need something that lasts all day long."
Dikman, for his own personal use, prefers an iPad. "For me an iPad is great," he said. "I don't have to worry about battery life. I may have to charge it once or twice a week."
PUBLISHED JULY 3, 2013