And as all Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) trackers have acknowledged by now, this also marks a serious strategic shift for the company. Taking a leaf out of Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL ) strategy perhaps, the Surface launch marked Microsoft's desire to embrace both hardware and software, rather than relying on a set of hardware partners, as has been the trend till now. While that might prove to be a dampener for companies such as Dell (Nasdaq: DELL ) , Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ ) and Asustek, all of whom are gearing up to launch Windows 8-based tablets of their own, it's probably a sensible move on the part of Microsoft by taking a leadership role and ensuring a seamless integration of their newest operating system.
So, has Microsoft jumped the gun? Probably not, considering that it just cannot afford to sit back and watch tablet computers displace PC's and laptops from their seat of dominance, upsetting the planet's most popular software (Windows) at the same time. And in the process, it wants to be the big daddy of them all. In fact, that's the whole idea behind Windows 8 -- creating software that can be smoothly operated on different hardware platforms such as desktops, laptops, smartphones, and now tablets. And with Microsoft's Windows-based mobile ambitions in clear and present danger, courtesy of a certain struggling Finnish mobile company, the Surface may be its best bet to take on Apple.
All said and done, some basic and unanswered questions remain, starting with the differentiating factors that make the Surface stand out vis-à-vis the iPad. Microsoft has failed to update its followers with the software enhancements which should strengthen its primary stance -- that the Surface offers the best of both worlds, a serious workplace device, and the convenient form factor of a tablet. The other issue centers around its price. While Microsoft claims that it will be on par with similar devices available in the market so far, the company should have a strategy up its sleeve once Apple launches a mini, 7-inch (and obviously lower priced) version of the iPad as rumored. It's gearing up to be a great show this holiday season!
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