Microsoft drew the curtain up on their newest project called Surface, which is a tablet computer. So naturally, a lot of people in the industry and consumers alike are trying to compare it to the iPad. I wanted to take a few minutes to downplay this and try to explain a few facts on why I believe these two products are very different and can not be compared.
1. Surface primary target is the corporate user. Yes, the corporate user is now going to get a mobile device that will cater to their professional needs. This is a very nobel approach Microsoft is taking because they finally listened to their customers when they stated these claims. For the normal corporate user to a powerful executive, the only true way to be mobile and be connected is either from a mobile device such as a smartphone or from a laptop either big or small. Nothing in the market is offered inbetween. Andriod offers a tablet called Galaxy but it has no extensions reaching out to the Microsoft stack, and Apple has the iPad which also does not only do the Microsoft stack but it does little to no good connecting a normal or high end user back to their corporate world other than email or web browsing. BlackBerry has a tablet as well as the Amazon Kindle, but they both favor their own software and product needs, thus not addressing the corporate user in any way or fashion. But with Surface, this will be the first tablet engineered to target the corporate user. Sure the normal consumer can use it an I am sure kids can as well, but they are not the target. Who is? If you have a Windows computer as your primary desktop/laptop an you carry around an iPad, then you are the target.
2. Windows App store. This is going to be the challenge for Microsoft. How can they compare to Apple’s app store? Honestly, it can’t. Apple’s app store has millions and millions of apps for sale an download. The Kindle has the Amazon app store as well as millions of ebooks. Google has an app store for their tablet customers which is building very fast. Microsoft has an app store that is so young and fresh that a lot of users may not even know it is there. But Microsoft needs is to convince their 3rd party partners and developers to help build applications so the app store can be big enough to attract an keep customers attached to the Surface just as much as they would any other smart phone or mobile device.
3. Generating more reasons to move to Windows 8. Microsoft is rolling out Windows 8 later this year. What better to attract users to the new operating system by giving them a new way to compute on a new device using Windows 8. Users will be able to harness an experiance the benefits of Windows 8 on Surface probably before their own desktop gets upgraded. But that is part of the focus here. This method works. Apple has been doing it for years with iOS. I know iOS and OSX are not the same, but the push to keep users drawn to them comes when Apple makes major operating system releases. And this method works well. I am sure Microsoft is going to try it, or else we would of seen Surface pre-loaded with Win7 a year ago.
Keep in mind, Microsoft is tapping into the tablet market in a very creative way. They are not going to go “heads up” against Apple and challenge the iPad, that would be suicide. But what they are trying to do is help their already Windows users not only embrace Windows 8, but help them work more seamless using Windows 8 on their desktop and Surface tablet. It is a huge gamble, Microsoft has already tried to jump into the MP3 player world with Zune, and we all know how that went. But with this tablet, it is different, it is very ambitious, and in the end may proove to be very succesful. So in conclusion, in no way do I see that these two products can be compared. They both have areas where one does what the other one does not do and vice versa. I would say, by the time the Surface is released, and Windows 8 is released, it will be very clear just how different the iPad and Surface are.
At least Roy and Moss like it 🙂