Microsoft Surface Tablets and Square Arrives in Canada

Posted on October 24, 2012

Today’s big news is that reviews for the Microsoft Surface are in and the payment / POS supplier Square has taken its first step outside of the US and is now available in Canada.

Microsoft Surface Reviews

The Microsoft Surface tablet has been shrouded in mystery for its short lifetime. At its launch, no one got to use it, or try it out to see what it would be like. But now the review units have been sent out at the first feedback is in.

Feedback is generally very positive. The touch keyboard covers that the Surface was designed for do seem to work very effectively as keyboards, even the membrane version with no key travel. The hardware seems to be very strong and sturdy, more like Apple quality than Android.

On the other hand, Windows 8 seems to be confusing. The touch side of the operating system seems to have garnered a lot of praise, whilst the desktop side seems to be causing confusion. Microsoft really should have separated the two for their tablets, particularly this Windows 8 RT version.

Digital Possibilities’ View of the Surface

Without having tried one, at Digital Possibilities we think that the touch interface will be well received. Microsoft have, in many ways, done themselves a deservice by not fully separating the touch interface from the desktop interface.

The other point that seems strange is that the Surface is always shown with a keyboard. Now one of the points of a tablet is that you can type on the screen and use it without a keyboard, dare I say it, as a slate. I do wonder if this is really practical with the Surface?

Overall, Microsoft seems to have placed on the market the first viable challenger to the iPad as full size tablet that can effectively be used for both content consumption and creation. The fact that it’s tied to an ecosystem of Windows machines and loyal buyers means that it should be easily adopted by enterprise customers wanting to provide tablets to their workforce. For consumers, it’s still a difficult purchasing decision to make given the lack of applications when compared with the iPad.

Square Arrives in Canada

If you are opening a retail store today, be it a permanent one or a temporary one, you will want a Point of Sales system. No longer do you need to invest in an expensive custom made solution, you can just get a Square dongle, subscribe to their service and you’re off.

It is great that Square is now available in Canada as their first journey outside the US. As a Canadian retailer, you now have many more options than you did yesterday.

Combine Square with the new iPad Mini and you have an ultra portable Point of Sales system. You don’t even need a cash desk anymore. In fact, would cash desks have been invented if they didn’t need to support he weight of a cash register? Now with Square and an iPad mini, customers can check out with a sales assistant anywhere in the store. While this may not work in all situations, for low volume per transaction and high-service stores, it is ideal. It’s also great for portable stores.

Digital Possibilities’ View of Square

Square has arrived at a perfect time in Canada with the arrival of the iPad mini. This will be a potent combination for many retailers and it should have POS vendors shaking in their boots if they don’t have a strong mobile-touch vision for their products.

Retailers will be able to experiment with new ways of improving their customer engagement using this new tool.