The Microsoft Surface: Should We Believe the Hype?
July 20, 2012 | Permalink
From GPS to iPhones and other technological conveniences, Road Warriors everywhere benefit from these nifty gadgets. The latest shot fired in the tablet-computer wars is the Microsoft Surface—Microsoft’s answer to Apple’s iPad.
The questions beg to be asked: Can the surface make more than a surface wound in the massive iPad market share? Will history repeat itself? Will Microsoft again dominate Apple (and the world) with a system based on one that Apple developed? I am, of course, referring to the Windows PCs’ (which used a graphical user interface, very-much based on Apple’s Macintosh and Lisa operating systems) domination of Apple computers in the 90s.
Hewlett-Packard, one of the super-powerful makers of PCs that dominated Apple in the 90s, and Research in Motion, maker of the popular Blackberry smartphone, have both tried to take on the iPad juggernaut, and both have failed to make more than a dent in its market share. So will Microsoft fare any better?
Microsoft has a mixed record when it comes to introducing its own hardware. The Xbox was a smash hit and is now the world’s best-selling personal-gaming console—by no means, an easy accomplishment. When Microsoft released the Xbox in 2001 (which was its first foray into the personal-gaming-system market), it was entering a market with already entrenched, dominant players—Nintendo, Sega and Sony. So Microsoft has experience gaining dominance in a market already solidly dominated by other firms.
However, its attempt, in 2006, to launch a pocket-size mp3 player to compete with the iPod, the Zune, was a smash flop. So Microsoft also has experience (very recent experience) being dominated by an established firm—and that firm just happens to be Apple.
International Data Corporation has forecast that the iPad will account for 62.5% of the tablet-computer sales this year, which is up four percentage points from last year. What does the Surface have in its arsenal to slow down the Apple steamroller, which is just gaining more and more momentum? Well, unfortunately, we really don’t know what kind of heat the Surface is packing. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer tried to replicate the excitement of an Apple product release at Milk Studios in Los Angeles on June 8th.
While an Apple product release tends to pull back the curtain and let us collectively drool over the product’s creative capabilities, the release of the Surface was all surface. Many of the substantial details about the product were left out.
First, we don’t known when we’ll be able to lay our hands on a Surface. Ballmer did not give all the loyal PC-users a release date to circle on their Windows calendars. We have been told that the cheaper, more portable, but less powerful model, the Windows RT Surface, is going to be released three months before the more powerful Windows 8 Pro Surface. But when will that be? Maybe by the back-to-school season? Maybe by the Christmas season? No one knows for sure.
Second, we do not know the technical specs of the Surface. While we were told that the consumer-model Surface will have an ARM processor at its core, and the more professional model will be powered by a 3rd generation Intel processor, we do not know which ARP processor and which Intel processor Microsoft is talking about.
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