Can Surface ground the iPad?
As Microsoft unveils its new tablet, our experts debate whether it will take a bite out of Apple
DANIEL FOUNTAIN SAYS...
It’s got the magic touch
I was brought up being told that we should always learn from our mistakes. With the ‘Surface’ tablet, it seems Microsoft has taken that old adage to heart. The tech giant’s recent forays into the hardware market met a tepid response - and that’s putting it kindly.
The ill-fated Zune and Kin were distinct failures for Microsoft as they attempted to break away from their comfort zone in the software market and muscle in on the lucrative MP3-player and smartphone sectors. With the Surface, however, they may well be on to a winner.
Believe it or not, there are millions of people who are not Apple worshippers - myself included. There has been a gap in the tablet market for people who don’t want to use an iPad, don’t like the BlackBerry Playbook or still think Samsung’s Androids are relics from bad science-fiction films. For all the people who have grown to love the simple functionality of Windows on a PC or laptop, this has now been translated into portable, tablet form.
As light and slim as its competitors and with the added feature of the ‘Touch Cover’ - which doubles up as a keyboard - Microsoft has meshed together excellent software with practical hardware, and the whole package even looks good too. I’ve not been tempted to get a tablet so far - but Surface could very well make this year’s birthday wish list.
MEGHA MERANI SAYS...
We’ve heard it all before
The iPad has been around for two years. It’s awfully late for Microsoft to begin its pursuit now. No tablet maker has yet managed to threaten the iPad’s stronghold on the market - and I struggle to see what makes Surface any different bar industrial design and branding.
The App store head start here is massive too - it includes thousands of third-party apps. There are currently zero third-party apps designed for the Surface.
Anyone who’s paid attention to the tech industry for the last five years can understand Microsoft’s approach - designing the hardware in tandem with the software. It’s the same approach that Apple has taken for decades. And really, if you are going to spend around $1,000 for a tablet with a detachable keyboard, why not just get an ultrabook - which is a more complete PC that weighs about the same?
For now, the Surface still lacks a shipping date and a price. The former isn’t too important - the latter is deeply significant. If Microsoft can’t compete with the iPad’s price tag, it’s hard to imagine how it could threaten Apple at all. Of course, we won’t really know how good (or bad) the Microsoft device is until we get our hands on it. But I doubt very much that Apple is losing any sleep over it.