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In light of the recently-released fourth-gen iPad, which succeeded the iPad 3 after just seven months as Apple’s flagship slate, it’s certainly refreshing to hear that the Surface tablet – created, of course, by rival Microsoft – will be getting an incredible four-and-a-half year shelf life, with support and updates for the product eventually scheduled to end on April 11th, 2017.

Of course, it’s not as though the iPad 3 won’t be supported in future updates and such, but it’s hard to imagine the support extending to the year 2015, let alone 2017. Those purchasing the Microsoft Surface, on the other hand, will be safe in the knowledge that their freestanding device will get nearly half a decade’s worth of support and software updates.

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Companies have, it would seem, lost sight of the fact that consumers like to own their devices for a few years, rather than a few months. Everybody would love to hop on the latest and greatest, but with the economic climate being as it currently is, not everybody has the funds to grab a new tablet every year. We’re in the midst of a culture where a smartphone or tablet is only good for a year, and sometimes – in fact, most of the time – the twelve month mark isn’t even reached before Apple, Samsung, Google et al are waving shiny new products in the face of the consumer.

What has to be taken into account, however, is the fact that the Surface RT is aimed at business folk, and isn’t an out-and-out consumption device like so many other tablets on the market. In that sense, it’s strange to see the software maker drop its usual five years of extended support on business products, which raises the question of whether the Redmond company believes the RT version will be such a big a hit with businesses.

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Barclays UK has spent millions bringing nearly ten thousand iPads to its branches to aid customer service, which has put a slight dent on Microsoft’s hopes of using its strong business reputation to corner the corporate market.

Despite the product support exceeding that offered by most other tablet vendors, still expect Microsoft to deliver new Surface products every year. In fact, it has to, in order to compete with the increasing levels of competition in this extremely fierce market.

(via Microsoft)

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