If you didn’t know already Microsoft are releasing a new tablet this month. It’s called Surface. And don’t get confused (like I did initially) the product is not the same as Surface that we saw a few years ago which is now named Microsoft PixelSense. What makes this product really unique is the fact that Microsoft has created both the software for the tablet (Windows 8) and the hardware itself. It remains to be seen whether or not the experience will be flawless, but it likely will due to the hardware and the software both being made for each other. So with this somewhat Apple-ish approach, it really might just work!
Microsoft Surface will be a dangerous move on Microsoft’s part, if only due to the incredible competition in the tablet market and Microsoft will have to keep in mind a couple of very important factors for this new product to succeed. Of course success is relative to the company or individual, for Microsoft it has always been all about the numbers rather than the overall user experience. Microsoft Surface could change this coupled with Windows 8. After all Microsoft are really trying to cater for the average user rather than major corporations with it’s upcoming release of Windows 8.
The first point Microsoft will need to keep in mind is uniqueness. What will truly set apart Microsoft surface from other tablets on the market. And it’ll surely be up against some real heavyweights with better price points. Seriously, since the release of the iPad the tablet market has grown to insane proportions. We now have more Galaxy tabs then Galaxies in the universe, a 7″ £159 all-Google bargain and many others to mention. So what will really make this tablet unique? The roll out keyboard is handy and a little different but it wouldn’t necessarily be a main reason to choose this tablet. Ultimately the software available will be the make or break factor. Certain people will be happy with the fact that they will be able to run their desktop applications on Surface but others not so much.
This is where good implementation will need to come into play. Software HAS to be rewritten to be optimized for this device, and certainly there will be a lot of developers out there banging their heads against the desk screaming why due to the amount of work they’ll have to put in so that their apps work properly with Surface or any other touch screen for that matter. There will be certain applications that still don’t work all to well with a touch screen. The likes of which could include video and audio editing software. Trust me I’ve tried to edit with multiple applications on a touch screen and it isn’t as precise or intuitive as a traditional mouse and keyboard.
So there will definitely be a learning curve with this product, it’s not necessarily a bad thing, change is good, it helps move things along so we’re not stuck with an 11 year old operating system for which support is ending for in 2014 coughWindows XPcough. What I’m hoping for again is that Microsoft don’t leave other users in the dark. For me as a geek Windows 8 isn’t my cup of tea, I prefer certain legacy methods of getting things done in a desktop environment, but to be fair Geeks probably take up around 0.0000000000000003% of the human population, so it’s fair for Microsoft to focus on the average user more, I just would’ve liked at least an option.
The second point that Microsoft will need to keep in mind is the price. If Surface is priced appropriately (within the $200 – $300 bracket) then things might go fairly well, the price will be the ultimate determining factor and if Microsoft manage to make it cheap enough, they’ll be able to use it for marketing. Seriously if it is cheaper then the iPad, Microsoft will highlight that point. If it’s more expensive then they’ll probably just use the completely relative excuse of “It’s better”.
So who knows, Windows 8 is just around the corner and so is Microsoft Surface, we’ll just have to wait and see how things play out.