First of all, I must note that I am a long-time Apple user – – starting in the 1980s with the Mac Classic, in the 1990s with a Quadra, and continuing with roughly a $3000 purchase every 3 years when something died. I figure that our family has bought close to 20 Apple products over the years, not including iPods – – but importantly, including a one-year old iPad. The appeal of Apple was no secret: intuitive, sleek, inter-device compatibility, and increasingly, no worries about viruses, hackers, blue screen of death, etc. The limitations of Apple were less compatibility with MS Windows software, which made it less popular with the typical office IT folks.
Now it seems Microsoft is (again) going all Apple on us, by announcing the introduction of their SURFACE product, sort of a combination of a pad and a notebook. Following its history of not being a leader in the hardware arena, and specifically being an unsuccessful follower of Apple (Zune, anyone?) I must admit that the Surface has the possibility to break through.
Why? Like Apple has done many times before, Microsoft has taken an existing innovation (there were lots of MP3 players before the iPod) and made it more usable. The Surface tablet addresses probably the key downside of the iPad by simply adding a keyboard (on the reverse side of the now-ubiquitous cover panel). In addition, the Surface products (there are 2 versions) will operate more like notebooks, with relatively full-function Windows desktops available. Lack of a keyboard on my iPad, and inability to manipulate files have driven me to my (Apple) laptop more than I would like; these could be improvements that sort out the optimal capabilities array for this type of product and finally help Microsoft get its footing in the hardware arena.
Unless (until?), of course, Apple responds. Will be interesting to see if Apple announces something before fall, when the Surface is scheduled to debut. That could send MS back under water…