Microsoft Surfaces the Surface
Rajesh is a member of The Motley Fool Blog Network -- entries represent the personal opinion of the blogger and are not formally edited.
Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT), which has traditionally been a software provider, is venturing into the hardware world by launching its own line of tablets. The software giant announced to introduce its tablet computer Microsoft Surface at the much hyped press event held at Los Angeles on Monday. The decision of entering the tablet market depicts the company’s desire to take on Apple’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) iPad.
For the first time the company is undertaking such a strategic shift of attempting to develop a computer under its own brand, rather than making its software run on others hardware.
The Device in Details
Microsoft Surface, the iPad challenger, is an extremely thin device. The tablets are available in two versions, the Surface Pro powered by Intel and the Surface RT which will have the ARM chip. The Surface RT is to directly compete with the iPad, while the Pro version is designed to take on lightweight laptops.
The device, which comes in a range of five colors, is powered by Windows 8 or Windows RT operating system, It comes with Gorilla Glass and a cover which has the entire keyboard imprinted on it. Such keyboards are preferred by people who favor having more than an on-screen keyboard. In addition, the cover also possesses a kickstand fitted with it to support the tablet.
The Surface RT, which has a 10.6 inch display screen, is to be brought to the market first. The device is less than an inch thick but heavier than the new iPad. It is available in 32 gigabytes and 64 gigabytes. In addition to the latest Windows version, it also features Microsoft’s Office application. Also, the USB 2.0 port that the tablet offers is expected to be compatible with a greater number of devices than the iPad.
The Pro version, which is slated to release three months after the ARM version, will have a stylus. It will come in 64 gigabytes and 128 gigabytes with USB 3.0 port making it much faster than the Surface RT.
How is the company going to set the price?
As of now, no price details have been shared by Microsoft. However, the company said that the ARM version will be priced as other similar tablets, while the Pro version will cost similar to other ultrabooks powered by an Intel processor.
The Looming Competition
Microsoft, which is known for developing software, is not only taking on the iPad but also entering into competition with current hardware partners Hewlett Packard (NYSE: HPQ), Dell (NASDAQ: DELL) and Samsung Electronics. The compan,y which is dependent on them to manufacture machines compatible with Windows, is now making its own device. This is essentially converting its customers into competitors. The issue is that these computer makers or the OEMs ‘will have cost and feature parity on Windows 8 and Windows RT.’
Microsoft’s tablet looks impressive with great screen quality, a keyboard, and other attractive specifications. Also, since the Surface is to run on Windows, it will be compatible with several third party software packages, giving it an edge over the Android tablets as well as the iPad. The Surface portrays great potential, but the question remains: Can we brand it as the iPad killer? Microsoft, which focused on the hardware innovation in the press event, has to share more on the services that will be offered to make the product unique and marvelous.
Fellow rival Google (NASDAQ: GOOG), is most likely to follow Microsoft’s footsteps after its recent acquisition of Motorola Mobility. Apple, which has revolutionized the smartphones market with its flawless phones and tablets, makes both the hardware and software of its product offerings. What remains to be seen is will Microsoft’s Surface be able to stand next to the iPad.
The Surface undoubtedly has immense potential, but is it that great to dethrone the iPad from the market? It takes a lot to be an iPad killer. Microsoft has indeed made a bold move. Not only is it directly challenging Apple, but it is also competing with the OEMs that license its software. It will be interesting to see how things take a turn once the Surface is surfaced.
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