Sunday, November 4, 2012

Does Microsoft Really Understand Tablets

Microsoft's Surface tablet is the company's attempt at re-defining their business in the wake of  the changes to the PC market caused by tablets and smart-phones. At first glance, the Surface is a nice piece of hardware with an innovative new operating system and some neat accessories. But, when I looked deeper I found two things that made me question whether Microsoft truly understands that the tablet market is about content consumption and communication.

First, there are no versions of the Surface with a cellular modem. If you use a tablet on the move you know that you need the Internet, without it your tablet is just a great way to play solitaire. You can't consume content without access to the internet  You can't update your status without access to the internet.

Second, a keyboard is sold as a recommend accessory. Laptops are for typing, tablets are for checking the news and  your social networks. Tablets are for typing short replies with the tablet in your hands not on a table.  Even the commercials show the Surface on a table looking like a little laptop. I've never seen a commercial for any other tablet (Android or Apple) where it was being used with a keyboard. Why, because they are not little laptops, they are content consumption and communication devices.

The Surface was designed to be showcase for the functionality of Windows RT, as such I have to assume that the design choices made by Microsoft were made very deliberately. Those choices show that Microsoft is still looking at the world through the model they find most comfortable -- the PC -- at their own peril.

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