Can Microsoft's New Surface Really Take on the iPad?

On Monday, June 18th, Microsoft announced that it was launching two new Surface tablets. Long expected to present an answer to Apple’s iPad, the time leading up the announcement was full of the usual excitement and speculation. However, in the aftermath of the actual announcement, is it possible that the Surface is a disappointment? After all, Microsoft is a few years too late, Apple already has market domination, and the innovative aspect of the tablet as a smart device has already been burning. What else could Microsoft bring to the conversation?

The Nitty Gritty

Microsoft announced that it will actually be introducing two tablets. According to the run-down at Fast Company, the Windows Surface RT (the lower-end model) will feature microSD and USB 2.0 ports, fully loaded Microsoft Office, and 32 or 64 GB of RAM. The Windows Surface Pro will feature the expanded tablet version of Windows 8, it will be slightly heavier (903g versus 676g), and it will feature 64 or 128 GB of RAM. Wired Magazine goes on to report that the Surface Pro will include a stylus that allows the user to simulate the feel of writing in ink, and both models have an integrated kickstand with a pressure-sensitive keyboard that can pretty much make you feel like you’re typing on a regular computer keyboard.

Microsoft is positioning Surface as a new niche in the hardware industry – a solution in between PCs and existing tablets like the iPad.

Michael Hickins, senior editor at the Wall Street Journal, suggests that the new Microsoft Tablet could be a real game-changer for CIOs (Corporate Information Officers). He notes that CIOs already comfortable with Windows will be really excited to be able to have a more transportable, more easily carried, less expensive device.

Potential problems

For all of this positive feedback, Hickins notes, as do many other writers, that Microsoft may be painting itself into a corner. The new Surface will be competitive with devices sold by companies like HP and Dell. These devices currently use Windows, and Dell and HP may take umbrage at the fact that Microsoft is now competing against them. Wired Magazine also points out that because Microsoft’s announcement is so far in advance of the actual launch of the product, important details like pricing and when the product will become available have been left vague. This begs a comparison with Apple, which always makes sure the Apple.com homepage is updated in short order as soon as the launch conference is over.

Are you interested in checking out the new Surface when it becomes available? Why or why not?

Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nnova/4521364620/ via Creative Commons


4 comments on “Can Microsoft's New Surface Really Take on the iPad?

  1. I just thought the design very behind the times (more 1985 retro) but maybe that will sell to those still loyal to windows 8 and PC. I will not be trying it out other than if a friend from MS visits and has one. Always curious.

    • I think, oddly, that that may have been their intent, you know? They’re really into this “It’s not a tablet, it’s a PC” thing, so I think they want it to look very Microsofty, very Windowsy, and very hybridy. Yes, I just add the letter y to make new words… 🙂

  2. I think the Surface is going to be a great challenger in the tablet space. Microsoft seems to want to evolve the way we use computers while Apple is trying to get us to subscribe to a new device. Perhaps Microsoft is trying to get us to realize the iPad is just an extra device that we don’t necessarily need? I’m an Apple guy mostly, but the Surface is still exciting. This may be a more practical evolution of a laptop especially for those that need more features on-the-go. At the very least, it’s great that someone has finally decided to step up to Apple and compete.

    • that’s a really interesting point. There are some people who feel tablets will replace PCs, but unless Apple can make it much easier to type on the iPad, I don’t see that happening. Most people I know who have iPads still use their computers for any sort of word processing or blogging. Maybe you are right and the Surface really *is* a new kind of computer rather than a competitor to the iPad. We shall have to wait and see how it all turns out! 🙂

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