So, the big mystery announcement event is over. The rumors before the event was really spot on, it was a tablet. But not any tablet. They have really gone all out in trying to re-invent what a tablet is. My first impression, without actually touching a device yet, is that they have succeeded. By bringing in Steven Bathiche from Microsoft research, one of the engineers behind the original Surface table, they put one of their brightest minds to work and re-invented the cover. Blending the tablet with the PC, exactly what they have been aiming for with their software in Windows 8. So the next version of Windows got some more context.
For me this announcement really was about that, taking the tablet one step closer to a full fledge PC. Using the cover as a keyboard is a brilliant idea and the heavy investment in the kickstand to go along with it. Add to that some small design details like making sure it had the feeling of a book and the investment in making digital ink feeling natural. They’ve really tried to push the boundaries a little bit further on the market totally dominated by IPad.
I like it. I’m enough of a geek to want one and play around with, just about NOW. I want to feel the keyboard, play around with the accelerometer they built into it (the keyboard knows where it is in relevance to the tablet), want to see if it is as light and thin as it looks.
But the market is bigger than us geeks. Just last week I was in a meeting with the head of a large Swedish enterprise that said something in the lines of “If I just had a keyboard and access to my windows apps, I wouldn’t need a laptop. Actually most of my employees wouldn’t need one, I could really do with a tablet”. So that’s at least one customer that will be happy to hear about this piece of technology and I’ve already emailed him the link to the official Surface website.
Still no pricing and no availability though, but time frame for windows 8 seems to be Octoberish according to the news blogs so it would be safe to assume that the tablets will arrive at the same time. What markets and what SKU’s are impossible to say. Yes there will be two SKU’s, one based on ARM and one based on Intel iCore 5 Ivy Bridge (the cooling was really cool as well).
The tech will be solid and the innovation is good, but what about the principles? Microsoft building their own tablets while Nokia, their premiere device partner, is rumored to build their own? Acer and Asus is pushing Ultra books really really hard?
They’ve really succeeded with XBOX and Kinect but failed with the Zune player, is it wise to get this big and risky push into hardware as a software company?
I think it is.