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Could the New Microsoft Surface Tablet be the Happy Marriage between an Ultrabook and iPad?

Microsoft Surface Venn Diagram

Microsoft Surface Venn Diagram

Is the Microsoft Surface really going to be that different from the iPad?  Oh yeah.

When the news came out on Tuesday about Microsoft’s foray into the wild world of tablet computers, I literally thought, “Meh.” Really, how could it be anything other than derivative of the iPad? How could Microsoft even begin to be relevant in a post-PC world?

Dutifully I decided, “Well, I’ll compare. I’ll make a Venn diagram! I love Venn diagrams.”  Who doesn’t love Venn diagrams? But in sketching it out, I quickly saw that the traditional 2 intersecting circles showing the where they’re the same and where they’re different just weren’t gonna cut it. The Surface is…more.

The Surface also acts like an Ultrabook laptop. It has a keyboard built in to its case. It stands on its own as well, with a kickstand built into the magnesium exoskeleton casing. It boasts 2 ports, one USB (a feature I’ve longed for in my iPad) and a Micro SD card, for movie and music portability. Speaking of movies, the screen is reportedly designed in movie screen dimensions to eliminate black bars (whole screen utilized!) and rests at a 22 degree viewing angle, reportedly the perfect angle to view the device.

You will be able to purchase it with up to 128 GB hard drive. The larger version will also have a pen. It will be the only tablet to feature the Microsoft operating system, so Office will be integrated. Given the keyboard and the OS, you can actually work on this tablet. Travelers may find the Microsoft surface a welcome departure from carrying a laptop and a tablet with them.  In the future, the device will also incorporate Xbox SmartGlass, a technology that will allow you to seamlessly switch between devices for any activity, including just watching television, so it also has some startling departures from both the iPad and Ultrabook genres.

Besides being an utter bombshell, it’s Microsoft’s first ever self-designed computer. Microsoft took a cue from Apple in terms of product development secrecy. No one was expecting Microsoft, a company that traditionally let others such as HP and Dell develop hardware, to come out with a screaming new little piece of technology.  In fact, the Surface designers were a top secret group of hand-picked elites who previously worked on the Xbox development.

Yes, the tablet will forever, as a concept, belong only to Apple. Apple changed the world with its revolutionary design. But the surface just provides more.  With its additional features the Surface manages to render the iPad obsolete, an entertainment ‘toy’ instead of a tool with many uses. Yes, the Surface will have hurdles to overcome, as Joshua Topolsky of points out here. Will anybody adopt it? Can it create a platform to compete with Apples massive App store? Will it be priced competitively? Is it doomed to failure like the Zune MP 3 player?

So, no, it’s not going to be the happy marriage of the iPad and Ultrabook. It’s so much more.  It’s going to be the mutant rock star baby that the two produce.


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