Surface RT finding a place in the tablet market "is not going to happen" while Surface Pro isn't "going to make a dent either".
So said ex-Microsoft senior vice president Joachim Kempin when asked to assess the company's chances of carving out a chunk of the tablet market.
He added that Windows 8 is underperforming, but will at least succeed in popularising touchscreen notebooks for other hardware companies to capitalise on.
"I would've thought they'd have sold a few more licences for [Windows 8]," Kempin told Computing, "but I don't think it's a flop by any means. I think we're going to see a touchscreen on every notebook in the future."
The "real idea" behind Windows 8, said Kempin, "is that [it allows users to] go from from a phone to a notebook to a Surface, and you have the same thing. I think that is very powerful, no Google devices have all that today."
But Kempin was less complimentary about Microsoft's sales performance on both the software and hardware sides of its Windows 8 ecosystem.
"Microsoft has to do more to pull this off," he said.
"I haven't seen them as active as I would have thought. I'm old generation Microsoft. I was there when Windows 95 showed up. Maybe you remember all the hoo-ha about that. A line around the block just to get a copy of software. Today, that happens with Apple, but hasn't happened with Windows 8. The ignition has not been there.
"Microsoft just isn't as cool anymore," Kempin said.
This constant struggle to reach Apple levels of cool, stated Kempin, is affecting the overpriced Surface RT already.
"Microsoft cannot get a premium on that. Only Apple can, because they are seen as cool. Surface RT's success is just not going to happen," he said.
As for the Surface Pro, which launched worldwide on 9 February, Kempin released a volley of criticism in its direction:
"I don't think it's going to make a dent either, because that's the category where most PC manufacturers know exactly what to do," said Kempin, referring to Microsoft's OEM partner releases, including some particularly impressive touchscreen notebooks from Lenovo, Dell and others.
"Just look back. Microsoft and hardware. What have they ever done that was successful?" asked Kempin.
"Hardware isn't cost effective. [Microsoft] don't have their own factory, which although is the same as Apple, Microsoft don't have the long-standing relationships with the manufacturers that Apple do."
Surface Pro has received generally favourable reviews, though the fact the OS itself takes up around 30GB of the device's hard drive has proved a source of consternation, particularly with regard to the 64GB model.
Look out for Computing's own verdict on the Surface Pro soon.
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