Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 19th Jun 2012 00:10 UTC
Windows So, the Microsoft announcement - taking place as I write this, 01:45 in my timezone - turns out to be a bigger deal than expected. Microsoft just announced it's going full-on hardware - the company announced a new tablet called 'Surface', and boy, is this thing something to behold. Microsoft's hardware partners? They're not happy right now. Update: Here's Microsoft's official Surface site. I believe someone coined the phrase 'sexy as a succubus' in the comments about Vizio? Stealin' it! Update II: They aren't just taking the iPad head-on - this is a straight-up MacBook Air competitor.
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Tony Swash
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The surface tablet froze at the precise moment that Sinofsky said "I can browse smoothly". You couldn't make that shit up, it's perfect comedic timing. It was a relief after a dose of Ballmer (who I thought looked oddly unhappy and downbeat).

This period is such an intense and dangerous inflection point for Microsoft, they really have never faced anything like it. They thought they were under threat from Netscape and the web but they didn't have to change their business model as a software company in order to see that one off. This time the whole tech business paradigm is shifting in a fundamental way and developing software and hardware separately seems to make less and less business sense. For me the Surface presentation left more unanswered questions than answers. The lack of a firm price or release date is telling. Remember that in order for this new hardware business venture to succeed Microsoft has to not just make these things in a reliable way, and sell them in large numbers, but must be able to organise their production processes and supply chains in such way so that they can make a reasonable profit whilst at the very least matching Apple on price. That's pretty tricky.

It's easy to get lost in the surface hype (no pun intended) and specs game. But this is about business and which company or companies will thrive and grow in the new tech mobile device markets and Microsoft and Google (who I expect will also launch their own 'awesome' tablet at their forthcoming IO) must compete against giants such as Samsung and Apple who have decades of experience and a huge head start in building supply chains and product delivery systems.

I thought it was indicative of Microsoft's insecurity as they move into the hardware game that they had to talk up their track record as a hardware maker. And what does that track record consist of? Mice and keyboards and a gaming console that suffered horrible production problems and has never generated a return on capital.

The next couple of years is going to be really, really interesting.

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