Is the new Microsoft tablet going to be something that
will be worth considering vs an iPad?
The natural inclination with any new tablet that hits the
market is to begin by comparing it to the leader of the
pack; the iPad.
In this case, the answer is both yes and no.
Microsoft seems to have figured out that going directly at
the iPad with a ‘me too’ product would likely generate the
same poor results as their attempt to go after the iPod
with their now defunct Zune product line.
Instead, Microsoft is trying to build an ‘ecosystem’
around Windows 8 that will encompass your desktop,
smartphone and tablet devices so that everything works the
same and your applications and data are on everything.
Apple has done this with the iPhone/iPad/iPod but when you
jump on a Mac OS computer, things work in a completely
different way, even though they are still integrated.
Apple is working towards the same unification goal with
iOS 6 for their mobile platform and Mountain Lion for
their Mac-based computers.
Surface tablets are
a hardware extension of this very ambitious initiative
that Microsoft has embarked upon and only time will tell
if it hits the mark with consumers and the corporate
There will be two different devices aimed at completely
different types of users, which is why I say yes and no to
the iPad comparison question.
The entry level device will be called Surface and use a
special OS called Windows RT. Think of it as the
equivalent to Apple’s iOS that runs on their mobile
One of the points of differentiation for the Windows RT
powered version is that it will come preloaded with a Home
& Student version of Microsoft Office (Word, Excel,
PowerPoint and OneNote) which makes it instantly more
productive for Windows users that live in the Microsoft
The rest of what you can do will have to come from
Microsoft’s App Store.
One of the reasons that the iPad is such a popular device
is because of the plethora of apps that have been
developed for it: 225,000 plus another half a million
iPhone apps that will also run on the iPad.
In order for the Surface tablet to give the iPad a run for
its money, Microsoft is going to have to convince third-
party app developers to start creating apps for this new
As a hedge against that being the only way that this
platform could gain traction, Microsoft added a completely
different approach with the more expensive Surface Pro
This one will be powered by Windows 8 Pro, so it will
essentially be competing with lower end laptops and
ultrabook computers (and also priced like them $800-
Unlike a typical tablet, this one will be able to run
virtually any program that you run on your home or office
computer, so it will likely be more attractive to
Some of the interesting features built-into both Surface
devices include a magnetic cover that also doubles as a
touch keyboard, a built-in stand on the back and a wider
screen that more closely mimics a true wide screen
television display so that movies don’t have to have those
black bars above and below.
The best guess is that the Windows RT Surface version will
be released first (estimated August/September of 2012)
followed shortly thereafter by the Surface Pro in time for
the holiday season.
If you live on the Windows platform at your home and
office and use an iPad as your tablet, you are the primary
If they can pull off making what you do at home or work
seamless with the Surface devices, they certainly have the
opportunity to make a dent in the tablet market, but that
is a humongous IF!