The Microsoft Surface is exactly the type of product I was expecting to come out next from Apple. I’ve been waiting for Apple to deploy a version of OSX as their main OS across tablets, smartphones and laptops – but it looks like Microsoft may be there first – at least for tablets.
The main strengths of the Surface is that it is a full Windows environment when on an Intel powered tablet – not a restrained mobile device OS. They have bridged the tablet to laptop nicely with the cover-keyboard. The device will slide easily into a consumer, government, or enterprise environment. There are a bazillion x86 applications available. There are also a bazillion designers who know how to program on an x86 Windows platform.
The main weaknesses are likely to be performance, cost and battery life. But no data is available on those points yet. Also the Windows RT OS which runs on the ARM powered tablet will be very limited in the applications it supports, i.e. no bazillion x86 applications.
The biggest losers are likely to be those hardware vendors who are selling Microsoft-based laptops as this device will certainly cannibalize that market.
My prediction is that this device will receive strong acceptance in the government and enterprise markets where it will offer a great platform for electronic documentation and mobile workers. In those environments it will offer a much stronger value proposition then the iPad. I don’t think it will see strong adoption in the consumer market unless the cost, performance and battery life are exceptional compared to iPad and Android tablets.
Assuming Microsoft gets the penetration in the enterprise and government environment they will be very well positioned to then push Windows 8 on smartphone mobile devices outward.
Strategically a very nice move by Microsoft.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out.