Microsoft Surface Tablet: Showing Off Windows 8
Microsoft Unveils its iPad Competitor
Microsoft is he master of showing up late to the party. It unveiled the Xbox long after everyone had a PlayStation. It unveiled the Zune once we all had iPods. Now Microsoft has dropped its Surface tablet, now that everyone has an iPad.
This could be the coolest Microsoft product launch ever, though I suggest leaving out the dubstep music in future events. The Microsoft Surface tablet itself is quite beautiful, too: it's great to see a Windows-based product that doesn't look at home in a beige Nineties cubicle.
Microsoft Surface and Surface Pro will showcase the touchscreen-friendly Windows RT and Windows 8, respectively, in two different hardware configurations. This should determine how well the OS works in the wild. For those who prefer a physical keyboard, Redmond has your back: the magnetically attached cover is also an ultrathin keyboard.
I can't help but wonder why Apple didn't think of a keyboard/cover combo, but looking at the product, I can hazard a guess: the overall product looks a bit more complicated and fussy than the iPad, which goes more for futuristic elegance than productivity-friendly ease of input. At the moment, yes, you do have to choose between the two. The Surface tablet, with its keyboard cover extended, is a notebook.
It's a shame that Microsoft still insists on fragmenting its OS offerings: this dilutes the value of the product. Look, just have one OS and release it. Can't Redmond see how well that's worked for Apple? Cupertino charges a hefty premium for an Mac, which uses pretty much the same parts and assembly process as a PC, but the user experience is simple. End users like simple.
Microsoft is really, really late to the tablet party with Surface. Releasing two different operating systems, whose differences aren't clear to the average Best Buy shopper, doesn't help. (Windows RT will be less configurable than Windows 8, and you'll be more restricted in terms of which applications you can add.) Also, please ditch the input pen. Those things only exist to be lost.
When will Microsoft Surface Hit Shelves?
So far, initial Surface tablet impressions are positive. Both versions of Surface will debut in Autumn 2012, along with the general release of Windows 8. However, we don't know how much MS Surface and Surface Pro will cost, or whether or not there will be 3G/4G connectivity.
I want Microsoft Surface to be awesome. The tablet space needs a bit of a shake-up, since none of the Android tablets has yet to really capture the public's imagination. Windows Phone 7 is better than expected: even Siri suggests it. However, fitting into the pattern mentioned above, Microsoft released its revamped smartphone OS once everyone already had an iPhone, a Crackberry, or an Android handset.