The question in my mind is why Microsoft hadn’t acted on the hardware front earlier. Yeah, I know all about it’s relationship with it’s hardware vendors. Sure, it is a threatening move. Apple stuck with that decision from the beginning. Of course, they were a hardware company that produced software to help sell the hardware. Now, of course, they’re an ‘experiences’ company that sells hardware.
The surface is what it is, and we have few real details about quality, feel, and usability to make any kind of good analysis other than how this might impact the marketplace.
In my opinion the x86 market needed a really significant shakeup. The predictable, mundane hardware advances, and lack of real innovation is screaming for disruption. Microsoft itself is delivering that disruption – the company who has demonstrated its ability to keep the status quo, and try to accomodate all players and customers for way too long is leading that disruption.
I know that Microsoft’s moves are causing concern for their corporate customers. It’s causing concern for their developer community and causing some confusion on the consumer side. Its causing relationship issues with their hardware partners who now feel betrayed, and making some competitors curious of their actions, probably evaluating technology & usability patent infringement issues. Its causing competitors customers to laugh outright at the wild changes of what “used to be” so predictable – as if Microsoft is simply stabbing in the dark.
Thing is, this move is significant for the technology industry as a whole. It signals that computing as we’ve known it for 30 years is changing radically. Quicker than many established companies can adapt. Take a look at some of the moves in the industry: Nokia and RIM in steep dangerous decline, Palm & it’s tragic demise at the hands of HP, HP itself who has always made great laptops and desktops and servers but can’t understand mobile to save its life, Yahoo which is only now figuring out that it diversify enough in other technologies, IBM selling off it’s PC division back in 2004 (smart move guys), Dell trying all sorts of new things to find something that sticks so it has a place to hang it’s hat in the future.
When you start looking at the larger picture, and I’ve only pointed out a small handful of things, you see how the Surface is both bold & brilliant, while still being a stunning reversal on one of the cornerstones of modern computing. The Surface will succeed, the definition of success of course is with Microsoft. It was not designed to be an iPad killer (those headlines are overhyped link bait), it was designed to demonstrate Microsoft’s vision for tablet computing. Something it knew that its hardware partners were not able to execute on properly without Microsoft demonstrating some of it’s ideas.
Microsoft Surface… I’ll buy one.