Microsoft's 128GB Surface Pro once again available for purchase

Microsoft, Apple target enterprise users with more storage heavy tablets

Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) 128 GB Surface Pro tablet, a rival to Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) 128 GB iPad, is once again on sale after a week of being out of stock.

Both 128 GB tablets are aimed at the enterprise market, where greater storage capacity is key to their usefulness in that data-heavy environment.

Microsoft apparently underestimated the demand for its 128GB Surface Pro, which runs on the Windows 8 platform rather than the lighter but less robust Windows RT platform. The tablet went on sale Feb. 9 and sold out the same day.

"We're working with our retail partners who are currently out of stock of the 128GB Surface Pro to replenish supplies as quickly as possible. Our priority is to ensure that every customer gets their new Surface Pro as soon as possible," wrote Panos Panay, general manager for the company, in a Feb. 9 blog post.

After more than a week, the 128 GB Surface Pro went back on sale, but Microsoft warned that it will take two to three weeks to ship the tablet. "Once inventory is depleted, the system will show as 'out of stock' until new inventory is available to ship," Microsoft's Surface Team said in a Feb. 16 blog. No timeframe was given for the availability of the new inventory.

At least one analyst was not troubled by the shortage. "It's the norm with major new products. It's just a judgment call on how large you want your inventory to be the day you start sales," Ezra Gottheil of Technology Business Research told Computerworld.

In addition, "Microsoft lacked time and Microsoft lacked parts, probably touch-screens. Microsoft wanted this thing on the market as soon as possible, and that ruled out stockpiling. [And] we know that touchscreens are a problem for the industry, probably even for Apple," Gottheil added.

How do the Microsoft and Apple 128GB tablets compare? In a recent article, our sister publication, FierceCIO:TechWatch, examined some of the similarities and differences.

Apple's 128GB iPad uses a flash drive optimized for power efficiency, while Microsoft's 128GB Surface Pro employs a solid-sate drive used in laptops and Ultrabooks.

Microsoft's Surface Pro runs on the Windows 8 operating system and comes with an Intel Core i5 processor and 4GB of RAM. It uses a standard file system, while individual apps can only access their own files under Apple's iOS.

Windows has stated that the 128GB Surface Pro will only have 83GB of available storage space, while the 128GB iPad will have the amount of storage space advertised.

In terms of price, Apple is charging $799 for the 128GB iPad Wi-Fi version and $929 for the Wi-Fi plus cellular version. Microsoft is charging $999 for the 128GB Surface Pro, with no distinction between a Wi-Fi only version and a Wi-Fi plus cellular version.

Based on the pricing and availability, it would seem that Apple has a better understanding of the enterprise market it is targeting with the 128GB iPad. Microsoft again has fumbled the ball. Good thing they have a large advertising budget.

For more:
- read Microsoft's blogs on Feb. 9 and Feb. 16
- check out the Computerworld article

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