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New Microsoft Surface tablet

Microsoft Surface tablet

I just got a look at the new tablet that Microsoft announced officially today and I am very impressed. Design-wise they seem to have knocked it out of the park — and they really needed to do that with the ultra strong competitor that Apple has in the iPad. So much is riding on this release that was already revolutionary for the shake up of its core Windows operating system, but to introduce an even more radical move in terms of full hardware integration is like starting a new book let alone chapter.

And how did they keep this so secret for so long?

Really though, I am equally impressed with the marketing put into this unveiling website. The site itself is edgy with a touch of hipster – evidenced by the adjectives used in the spec sheet categories – and the video is like nothing I’ve seen from Microsoft before. It tells a compelling product story through powerful imagery. The message I get from the video is a product that defies rules (laws of physics, gravity), offers inexplicable attraction (many odd magnetism shorts), and stands up (literally, once) to the unyielding (hardened steel, stone). I’ve never been stirred by Microsoft’s past marketing attempts (i.e. series of commercials for Vista or Windows 7), and even the Microsoft Stores (I visited the one at Tyson’s Corner outside DC) have a safe if not sterile feel to them. However, if this video is any indication of what MS has in store for the marketing barrage coming over the next six months leading up to Christmas then they may just define themselves as distinct from Apple. That is something they desperately need to do since since, like Apple, they are going with tight vertical integration, a juried app approval process an no side-loading (except for pricey enterprise licenses).

Microsoft is obviously investing heavily into the light consumer market with the stress on the RT, apps and touch devices. It’s hard to comprehend that they are also trying to release to Enterprise concurrently. It is clear though that Enterprise was not expected to pull this new OS into success (I suspect Win9 will have to take up that mantle) so it is natural to assume that the growing market of recreational users is the one to stake a claim in right now. Truly enterpise is not going anywhere too soon away from Microsoft.

As nice as the new Surface is I will definitely wait… mainly because I am not currently in need of another machine right now and partly because I like to gauge market response before I buy. I’ve been fooling around with the RC version of Windows 8 (running on Oracle Virtual Box on my laptop) but find it tough to love without the touch capability. Again, I have a hard time seeing enterpise wanting to deal with widespread confusion among office workers trying to grapple with the schizophrenic dual-OS identity. People in my office have a hard enough time understanding basic operations in Windows 7. As a developer it is mostly useless since I can only use desktop mode to code with Visual Studio.

Anyhow, I wish Microsoft the best with this venture. The tech world needs competition to impel progress.

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