This will be the first real iPad competitor. No question. Why? Because this isn’t a Samsung device running an OS licensed from Microsoft. This is a new version of Windows running on Microsoft-built hardware. Yes, this is a page right out of Apple’s play book. In fact, Microsoft already makes good hardware… think Xbox, Microsoft-made keyboards, mice, joysticks, etc. They’ve actually made good hardware for a long time… just nothing with Windows running on it.
What’s interesting is that this directly competes with their other business model though of selling Windows licenses to 3rd party hardware vendors. I other words, why would I buy anything but the Microsoft-made device?
Things I like:
Both hardware and software are made by Microsoft.
The ARM-based version, Windows RT, only allows Metro based apps, not traditional “windowed” apps which allows them to finally break that “desktop” paradigm. It’s why iOS is a completely different experience than OS X, which is a good thing because of the usage difference between tablets and desktops/laptops
The different keyboard/cover options are slick -Almost everything about this feels pretty original. Metro definitely is (which is the most important part) but so are some aspects of the hardware so good on Microsoft for that.
Thinks I don’t like:
The lack of important details like cost and ship date, etc.
Why won’t it be in any stores other than Microsoft’s own stores? Did you even know Microsoft had their own stores? This is a fine plan if you’re like Apple and actually have a lot of stores around the world. 20 stores is not enough, partner with Best Buy and put your device right next to iPads.
Do not announce a product that you’re not shipping immediately or ready to ship within weeks. Apple announces a product and then people go out and line up to buy that product. Nobody knows for sure when they can buy a Microsoft Surface.
So yeah, turns out the things I don’t like (at least without having actually seen or used one in person) are not things that have anything to do with the actual product. It’s how Microsoft is handling the announcement and sales. They should have waited and announced the Surface this fall and had it ready to ship then as well, in time for the holiday season. They weren’t ready. In this video about 55 seconds in, Windows Division President Steven Sinofsky is demoing how “fluid things are” when the device hangs up and he has to swap for another one. Ouch.
I think it will sell great, I just don’t get why Microsoft doesn’t have the announcement part down yet. It’s not like they’re the new kid in town.