Eight years later, Apple introduces the iPad. It’s essentially a really big iPhone without the calling capabilities, and it’s a hit. It takes off like a rocket basically killing off the netbook market and dominated the tablet market that had it created. Google and the Android tablets followed the same recipe (make a big phone) with some success, but just a fraction of the market (We’ll see how that changes with Google’s recent Nexus 7 announcement.
Recently Microsoft announced Surface Tablets (no, not the fancy table top interface everyone has been drooling over for years). They are thin and powerful tablet devices that will run on the yet to be released Windows 8. There will be two flavors of this tablet. One is the RT which will be thinner and cheaper and run the tablet version of Windows 8. It will compete directly with the iPad in price and specs. The other version is basically a laptop in the form of a tablet. It will run the full version of Windows 8 Pro and will have the latest Intel chipset. It will be thicker and heavier than the RT version and will be priced competitively against ultra-books.
Some of the innovative things they are introducing include a cover (similar to the iPad smart cover) that snaps on but will also act as a keyboard with a touchpad. There will also be a built-in stand that allows for hands free upright usage.
My opinion on the announcement can be boiled down to two points. While Apple is slowly trying to merge iOS and MacOS features, Microsoft is taking the same path, but will implement it before Apple does with Windows 8, Windows 8 RT, and Windows 8 Phone. All the devices with the similar OSes sharing the same UI, built on the same Core Software. The other point is that this is not just a stab into the Tablet market for Microsoft, it’s a stab at the tablet market AND the utlrabook market. People have been waiting for a touch screen, ultra-portable, laptop replacement. They no longer have to make the choice between a tablet or an ultrabook – it’s now a choice between which version of the Surface Tablet.