After being first to the game, Microsoft is now late to the game with their new Surface tablet. Not a bad thing if they can come up with a better product, which they believe they have. The premise is that the Surface can be a tablet, for when you want that, but can also be a laptop to replace your standard Windows laptop to run office on. Sounds like a good deal for Microsoft’s core customers. There are however a few flaws in this approach.
First, as a tablet, it looks like a pretty nice piece of hardware. It is however a bit bulky compared to the competition because of the inclusion of the kickstand, and possibly some beefier hardware to run the Windows OS. This makes it heavier and harder to manipulate in your hands. There is also the issue of the lack of apps when compared to Android and iOS. This gap will likely narrow over time, but is an issue currently.
Second, as a laptop, it appears to work fairly well when placed on a table. However it is implied in the name, “laptop” that it works on your lap. The Surface is a bit challenged here because the keyboard is not rigid and the kickstand can collapse on you if you’re not careful.
Finally, there’s the Windows RT OS with the Metro interface. Personally I think the Metro interface is a great design concept and is a very original solution from Microsoft that doesn’t try to copy Apple, as Google did with Android. It also seems to scale pretty well to the tablet, from the phone. Time will tell, but I believe the issue that Microsoft will encounter is that their core market is resistant to change. If they were up for something new, they probably already went out and bought an iPad. The people who haven’t are the more entrenched Windows users, who like it when things stay the same. The Windows 8 interface is a big departure for Microsoft, so it will take time for users to get used to the idea of doing things differently.
Overall I think the Surface will not be very successful. The compromises of trying to be everything to everybody will be to much to support. It will be a mediocre tablet, and a bad laptop. If that’s what I wanted there are plenty of those on the market for a lot less money and they actually have apps to use.