Microsoft has introduced their own range of tablet computers named Surface, in their attempt to compete with Apple and revive their Windows franchise for tablets. While one is a consumer device similar to the iPad, the other device is an ultrabook-like tablet called the Surface Pro. Both the devices, with a screen size of 10.6 inches, will run on the Windows 8 and Windows RT operating system which is expected to be launched later this year.
Microsoft has all along entirely relied on computer manufacturers to produce and promote devices running on Windows. But this move will place Microsoft in direct competition with companies like Hewlett-Packard and Samsung. Since the benefits of integrating hardware and software have been underlined in recent times, Microsoft does not want to take chances and seems to have got it all covered before they launch Windows 8 during the shopping season, as stated by the CEO Steve Ballmer.
Though heavier than the iPad, the thinner version of the Surface tablet will run on an ARM based processor (Nvidia in all likelihood), with a keyboard that doubles up as a cover, a storage memory of 64GB and 32GB and featuring the Office suit of apps. The heavier of the two tablets is an ultrabook, running on Intel, with a storage capacity of 64GB and 128GB. Though impressive with a lot of potential, analysts doubt it will be able to beat the iPad. Microsoft failed to make any mention of integrating features and content from the Xbox game console, Skype and the Barnes & Nobel’s Nook e-reader technology.
The tablet market is expecting sales to increase by three times in the coming two years, rising to 180 million in 2013. Apple alone has managed to sell 67 million iPads during two years since the launch. Since they produce both hardware and software, they are in better control of the performance of their final products. Manufacturing their own hardware is an important change for Microsoft which has all along only licensed their software to other phone makers. Microsoft does not plan to hold back features from the Windows tablets manufactured by other makers, stating that OEMs will have cost and feature parity on Windows RT and Windows 8.
Until now, apart from the Xbox game console, Microsoft hasn’t been successful with either Zune or its Kin phone. They had earlier called off plans of introducing a tablet device named Courier.