The Big announcement was yesterday. Microsoft is jumping into the tablet game. Everyone has a take on this move, but there are too many unanswered questions to really be concise on an opinion.
Microsoft decided to pull an Apple or Google and do a special, red carpet, invite only reveal yesterday. The item, which was speculated on for over a week, was the new Surface Tablet offerings. The announcement itself is and is not a big deal. Anyone who looks closely at the way the tablet/smartphone ecosystem is could have seen this coming. Microsoft has had an issue with getting Windows Phone out there, even though it is a good OS. They have certain pledges from their normal PC distribution chain, but will any of those actually come out, and if so when? Microsoft had to make this move, they had to pull an Apple or Google and put out their own device.They made some mistakes with the reveal though. Then there are all the questions about how much success will it have?
Microsoft’s special announcement system, while generating buzz, had some really poor timing. First off, there was WWDC last week where Apple made its announcements and Buzz. Last Monday everything was Apple, especially the new MacBook. Yes, pushing the announcement to this week avoided that, but there was other news going on. The coverage of the Surface has not matched the frenzy generate by any Apple announcement. Microsoft could have done this announcement last week on Tuesday and stolen the show. Last week was Microsoft’s TechEd, and that could have been a huge place to reveal the Surface. First you have all the IT pros and Developers there, plus you can invite in all the press. Having the IT Pros and Devs there, along with having the Surface on display to be played with could have generated a much larger amount of publicity than just having the press there. The IT folks and Devs are usually your first adopters, and the ones who will be trusted to make knowledgeable recommendations that are followed.
Issue number two has been touched on by a number of well known tech writers. They had nothing as far as apps and the app store. Not completely true as Office will come preloaded and activated on the Windows RT Surface. The lack of other apps initially for the RT version could hurt it. The real interesting item is the full Windows 8 version on an Ivy Bridge core i5 processor.
The biggest reason the x64 version of the Surface is so interesting is the Application possibilities. Think about it, most machines out there are x64 or amd64 processors in the PC world. As long as the x64 Surface can run PC software, and I see no technical reason it should not be able to, you are talking a true laptop replacement. Think of it, being able to play WoW, Diablo, Civilization or any other PC game on a lightweight tablet. Then there are all the productivity, media and other software out there. The only limit is your resources and storage, and that only should affect the amount of items one can install.
If Microsoft can put a price point not at an Ultrabook price for the x64 Surface, but below the iPad pricing, Microsoft could do the job that Android has not been able to, and kill the iPad. Windows 8 I did get to see on tablets, and it is slick and very friendly for the tablet environment. What Microsoft needs to make sure not to do is price its own device out of the running, which on an ARM processor is not possible. the ARM environment is pretty locked down, unless something revolutionary comes along that is a must have. The x64 tablets are where Microsoft can make that must have. The ball is in their court, and time will tell if this was a revolutionary announcement or the announcement of the beginning of the end of Microsoft.