[sc:windows-category ]Ok, first things first, we’re talking tablets, not big touchscreens.
I kind of have to question the decision to go with Surface when they already had a product named that, but I guess as a niche product the old Surface didn’t have consumer awareness.
Now I’ve been a pretty harsh critic of crossover devices over the years, things like the ASUS Transformer convertibles just didn’t get me excited as they added far too much bulk to the device to be truly useful.
However, Microsoft seems to have known this and agreed, the new Surface Touch Cover is on 3mm think and that’s impressive in its self, but paired with the tablets it’s really a nice looking package.
The tablets themselves look quite nice as well, the hardware looks to be current spec and while they were a little short on details, it looks like they’ve spent quite a bit of time and effort to get it right. The only concern I have is the screen size/ratio. I really like the 4:3 aspect ratio on the HP TouchPad, I’m not sure a wide screen tablet works, but just about everyone has moved to 16:9.
There has been a lot of speculation around the net on how little MS must trust its hardware partners (like HP/Dell/ASUS/etc) to make a tablet to have had to do it themselves, but really is that a surprise? They’ve all been floundering around for the last couple of years trying to make an Android tablet to complete with the iPad and have been failing pretty well.
I’ve been thinking about it a bit and what I belive the real problem is that the big PC guys (HP/Dell/etc) don’t get consumer electronics as they have been building beige boxes for the last 3 decades with a speed of innovation (while impressive in the greater world) could be described as glacier like in the new mobile world. Likewise the mobile guys (Samsung/HTC/etc) have an ethos of scorched earth on every iteration of their products, they don’t worry about backwards compatibility they only drive towards smaller, faster, longer lasting, cheaper.
Microsoft doesn’t have a partner that has the right mix of goals to create better/different hardware (this actually includes PC and phones too, though it looks like Nokia solves at least the phone issue) and so they have headed out on their own.
And it’s not the first time either. Few probably remember that the Sega Genesis had an MS OS under its hood, when that failed, MS built the Xbox.
Microsoft isn’t quite abandoning their hardware partners though, more like showing them the way. With limited distribution of the Surface to just the MS stores, mass market penetration is unlikely to happen. However MS can always expand distribution if their hardware partners don’t bring up the bar with Windows 8.
I think this is a good move on MS’s part, it let’s them lead by example. In fact they may want to do something similar in the PC space, Apple has had a free hand for too long in leading change in the laptop space and MS could shake that up.
So the question is, will I buy one? Yes and probably on of each. The Surface RT is going to come out first and while I have reservations about the RT variant of Windows 8 (will it run everything I want) I expect it will still be functional enough. The Surface Pro version will of course run everything I want as it’s a full-blown PC.