I, like many of my colleagues in the technology and marketing businesses, sat glued to my computer screen yesterday afternoon watching live coverage (via Twitter, not video) of Microsoft’s tablet event. The world had suspected that MSFT would unveil its own branded tablet, but the tech giant didn’t disappoint in the surprise category. MSFT announced two flavors of its new “Surface” tablet and it geeked one out for productivity and the other out for entertainment/fun. They hit at all the weak spots on the iPad. Both devices are elegant and simple in design. They come with a real keypad – a very nice addition – that doesn’t take up much space. And, of course, they’re THE showcase device for Microsoft’s next operating systems – Windows 8 and Windows RT (Windows RT is the mobile version of the OS, which, for the first time ever, is identical to the desktop version).
Yes – I will probably try one of these devices out as soon as it’s available. I will spend hours looking at it online and I will walk into several stores and try it out. Will I buy one? I want to, but I’m also trying to simplify my hardware footprint. I’m living and working a lot more on my smart phone – I like the idea of reducing the number of devices I’m using – work computer + phone, instead of work computer + phone + home pc + tablet + ipod + every other cool gadget I see. Anyway, I’m more excited about this device that I have been about any news out of MSFT in a long time. Bravo MSFT – very nicely played.
But what does the Surface mean for the PC/Computing industry? It’s a good sign that we’ve hit some pretty strong momentum with the move to mobile computing – that is working on devices that let us move rather than machines that tether us to a desk. PC sales have been declining steadily over the past few years as smartphones and tablets have been on the rise. Microsoft is making a bold statement and it could move the market even further. Ashlee Vance at Businessweek has it right, in my opinion, when he says “The Surface tablet represents an indictment of the entire PC and device industry, which has stood by for a couple of years trying to mimic Apple with a parade of hapless, copycat products.”
What do you think? Will you buy a Surface?