Microsoft's New Surface Tablet Computer. Shown with optional keyboard.
Microsoft announced last week their intent to make two new tablet computer devices branded "Surface" that will be released late in the year alongside its new Windows 8 operating system. Windows 8 is a departure from the traditional look and feel that millions around the world have used for years. (Check out my blog about Windows 8 from last fall.) The question at hand is will Microsoft be too late to the tablet computer game?
The Apple iPad is certainly the king of the tablet computing world and when these new devices from Microsoft ship Apple will have had almost a three year head start. Remember the Zune? Yes Microsoft's iPod killer from a few years ago...it came years too late to the mobile music player game, sold ok, then slowly died away. I wonder if the Surface will have the same fate.
The Surface will have two models/styles. The first will run a version of Windows 8 called Windows RT and be comparable to mid-level Android devices in both features and price (using a less expensive and less powerful ARM processor). The second will run the full regular version of Windows 8 Pro and will be more like a laptop without a keyboard and priced similar an upper end Ultrabook (a thin light weight laptop). Both will take full advantage of the Windows 8 "Metro" style interface which consists of different colored square titles. Microsoft has only hinted at pricing and a release time frame. Different colored attachable keyboards will be offered as an accessory for the Surface to give a more traditional typing experience.
Is the Surface too late to this game? Will it get lost in the sea of Android tablets and let the iPad stay king? Is this an attempt by Microsoft to justify the complete re-working of the Windows that millions use? Only time will tell.
(Two side notes: Windows RT is a horrible name for a version of the operating system. Those who been around Windows on the development and IT side know RT as meaning "Runtime" not a version of a new operating system. Horrible name choice for this version Microsoft... Second those in the tech industry will remember the original Microsoft Surface from 4-5 years ago. It was a big touchscreen computer that looked a lot like an old Ms. Pac Man cocktail video game table than a new computer. Once again Microsoft bad name choice...)