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Microsoft Introduces a Challenger to the iPad

phideaux

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"Surface?" "Surface?" What marketing genius came up with that name?

Are they expecting this thing to dive like a submarine? (like Zune?)

Microsoft Introduces a Challenger to the iPad
By NICK WINGFIELD

Published: June 18, 2012 304 Comments


LOS ANGELES — In its most strategically significant push yet into the hardware business, Microsoft on Monday unveiled a tablet computer called Surface that is intended to challenge Apple’s iPad.


Enlarge This Image

Joe Klamar/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Microsoft's new tablet, Surface, will run a variation of Windows 8, a forthcoming version of the company's flagship operating system.


Enlarge This Image


Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Microsoft’s chief, Steven A. Ballmer, shows off the Surface, the company’s new tablet computer.



At a press event here, the company showed off a tablet that is about the same weight and thickness as an iPad, with a 10.6-inch screen. The device has a built-in “kickstand” that allows it to be propped up for watching movies, and a thin detachable cover that will serve double duty as a keyboard.

The Surface tablet runs a variation of Windows 8, a version of Microsoft’s flagship operating system that is due out in the fall. Steven A. Ballmer, Microsoft’s chief executive, said the product was part of a longstanding tradition at Microsoft to create hardware, like computer mice, that show off innovations in its software.

“We want to give Windows 8 its own companion hardware innovations,” Mr. Ballmer said.

Microsoft executives, however, were largely mum on how Surface would affect the company’s relationships with PC makers, the hardware companies that are the vehicles for sales of Windows software. With its new tablet, Microsoft will effectively be competing directly with its biggest customers.

When asked whether Surface would damage those ties, Steven Sinofsky, the president of Microsoft’s Windows division, gently pushed a reporter in the direction of a stand of Surface tablets and said, “Go learn something.”

Analysts said it wasn’t clear that Microsoft could depend on PC companies to build something as compelling as the iPad. “This was clearly a referendum on Microsoft’s partners,” said Michael Gartenberg, an analyst at Gartner, a technology research firm. “Microsoft felt they could not rely on others to deliver on their vision for Windows 8 in mobile computing.”

Microsoft’s decision to create its own tablet was an acknowledgment that the company needed to depart from its regular way of doing business to get a grip on a threat to its dominance in computing.

While it has made a few hardware products over the years, including the Xbox video game console, Zune music player and computer keyboards, Microsoft is still thought of largely as a software company.

In the computer business, it has for decades left the work of creating machines that run Windows to Hewlett-Packard, Dell and others.

But the response to Apple’s iPad has considerably raised consumers’ expectations of how well hardware and software work together.
That has put pressure on Microsoft to create a tighter marriage of hardware and software if it is to compete seriously with Apple’s products.

As it prepares to release Windows 8, which is designed for touch-screen devices, Microsoft can ill afford a flop.

The iPad already has eaten into sales of low-end Windows laptops, and there are growing signs that Apple’s tablet is becoming increasingly attractive to business customers, a lucrative market Microsoft has dominated for years.
Microsoft said one version of the Surface tablet would come with 32 gigabytes or 64 gigabytes of storage and feature a type of chip called ARM that is commonly used in mobile devices. Mr. Sinfosky said the price would be comparable to that of other tablets that use ARM chips.

He said a professional version of the tablet would come with an Intel processor, which is standard in more conventional PCs, and would be similar in price to ultrabooks, thin laptops that often start at around $1,000.

Mr. Sinofsky said the ARM tablet would be available when the next version of Windows was released this fall, and the professional version would go on sale a few months later.

With the detachable keyboard for Surface, known as Touch Cover, Microsoft seemed to be positioning its tablet as a more business-friendly alternative to the iPad, one that is better suited to productivity tasks that require faster typing. The keyboard has touch-sensing keys that become inactive when the cover is closed.

The keyboard could make Surface more competitive with Apple’s thin MacBook Air and more traditional Windows laptops. It will come in a variety of bright colors, adding a whimsical touch to the dark, hard-edged appearance of Surface. The company would not say whether the keyboard will be sold with Surface or separately.

One thing that will most likely limit sales of the tablet is Microsoft’s initial plan to sell it only in the company’s own retail stores, along with its Web store. Microsoft has opened 20 stores, and five more are coming soon.

On Monday, Microsoft seemed to borrow from Apple in the way it introduced the product. The company invited the news media to the event with only a few days’ notice and maintained an unusual air of secrecy around its details, withholding even its exact location until Monday morning.

If that alone wasn’t enough to pique the interest of the tech industry, the company took the risky step of more explicitly building up expectations for the event by promising invitees a “major Microsoft announcement,” and telling them they “will not want to miss it.”

In part, the secrecy worked, sending the blogosphere into a whirlwind of speculation about what the company had planned. The location of the event suggested to many that the device would be accompanied by a push into entertainment. But Microsoft announced no such plan and offered no explanation for why it held its event in Los Angeles.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/19/t...?_r=1&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20120619
 

Goldhedge

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So far, nothing out there competes with the iPad... look, feel, touch. I've tried them and come away confused as to what to do. :hmmmm2:



This will go the way of the MSFT phone... investors must not be impressed, MSFT stock is blah...
 

Aussie

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Steve Balmer should be fired immediately. They missed with the internet browser, missed with the mp3 player, missed with the smart phone and now 3 years late to the tablet party . . . And let's not mention Vista . . .

I have no doubt it'll be another clunky failure . . . :thumpdown:
 

birddog

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I'll be getting one..... I work in a windows world and this looks like it will do what I need.
 
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newmisty

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Steve Balmer should be fired immediately. They missed with the internet browser, missed with the mp3 player, missed with the smart phone and now 3 years late to the tablet party . . . And let's not mention Vista . . .

I have no doubt it'll be another clunky failure . . . :thumpdown:
But still the loyalists cling tight.
 

birddog

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But still the loyalists cling tight.
And that is different form the apple snobs how? I have had an iPad for over a year and it is just a toy. It can't do what I need for work. From my perspective most apple products are simplistic, not customizable and made for the lowest common denominator of intelligence. Do they work for the masses, yep, they sure do.

This product has the potential of being more like an intel laptop with a keyboard, USB and a memory slot. And I'll bet someone will install Linux on it the first week it comes out. Lol.... Better yet - I'll bet I can boot Linux off a USB stick....

I think competition is healthy and it keeps all the technology vendors on their toes. They keep pushing each other to make better more innovative products. We all benefit and there are enough products out there to make everyone happy.

BTW, I love my new Windows phone.... Lol....
 

newmisty

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No different, they are just Jobs snobs. :p
 

birddog

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I still love this commercial.....

 
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oldgaranddad

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Yawn... it's an overgrown version of the Microsoft phone with Microsoft CE retooled. A dismal failure in the making. Technologically and culturally there is no compelling reason to switch from Apple IOS or Google's Droid operating systems.
 

DodgebyDave

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Insert comment from notoriously cheap skinflint on his second laptop in 20 years.

I couldn't care less what Gates farted at!

:oldmanthatshakescanesmileythatwedon'thavebecauseofthestupidbears:
 

Unclad Lad

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Competition is a good thing, and, as birddog notes, if it's an utter failure then it'll be the next hp Thinkpad--cheap and reprogrammable. At the right price I would get one.
 

phideaux

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Competition is a good thing, and, as birddog notes, if it's an utter failure then it'll be the next hp Thinkpad--cheap and reprogrammable. At the right price I would get one.
$199 at Big Lots for Christmas.
 

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And that is different form the apple snobs how? I have had an iPad for over a year and it is just a toy. It can't do what I need for work. From my perspective most apple products are simplistic, not customizable and made for the lowest common denominator of intelligence. Do they work for the masses, yep, they sure do.

This product has the potential of being more like an intel laptop with a keyboard, USB and a memory slot. And I'll bet someone will install Linux on it the first week it comes out. Lol.... Better yet - I'll bet I can boot Linux off a USB stick....

I think competition is healthy and it keeps all the technology vendors on their toes. They keep pushing each other to make better more innovative products. We all benefit and there are enough products out there to make everyone happy.

BTW, I love my new Windows phone.... Lol....
Not sure if you are trying to make fun of windows or not, http://www.netmarketshare.com/operating-system-market-share.aspx?qprid=10&qpcustomd=0 but more people are using Vista than linux and both apple os...combined and that is their crappy OS.

I really hope this product is good. There needs to be better competition, almost all other tablets on the market are garbage, some of the things they showed in that event seem really good. If the tablet can do everything they say they can do, then Surface will be a great product. If it uses smart glass, if it connects seamlessly to their gaming system, and home networks, this is what over 90% of the market would want.

There are a lot of "ifs" and "maybes" but it could work out. Their xbox has sold over 65 million units world wide and took the lead from Nintendo and Sony in the gaming system world. Windows is the most used OS in the world. Even now, you can use your xbox as your cable box for time warner, and comcast. You can watch ESPN and HBO as well as use Netflix (that has been around for a while.) If they can get everything to play nicely, and automatically without much user input, this could be great for them. If they are not ridiculously priced, I will probably buy the Pro version, because that one sounds better than the cheaper version.

Or it could be the next Zune. It was a great product (I had both zune and ipod, and like the zune way better) but just too late to even dent the market. That would be really bad for them, and pretty much signal apple won the battle of the tablets.
 

birddog

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Not sure if you are trying to make fun of windows or not,
Me? Nope - I make my living off knowing windows products. My company is thinking about going to a mostly BYOD model and I think you should use any device/OS you want as long as it does what you need. I think this device has potential.

I like Zune too - I've had my windows phone for a couple months now and I like it much better than the Itunes store. Way easier to manage my music.
 

Sport

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It's nice to see MS finally step up to the plate with regards to tablets, but it's too little too late. They always do the same thing with regards to smartphone/personal devices. They bring a conservative decent product and then they just sit back and wring as much money out of it as they can. They never make anything that can be upgraded (see the Nokia Windows phone for example) which forces customers to buy new hardware. I've taken the bait on some of their past products and never will again. Apple may be simple, but I have the option of updating my 3GS Iphone to a newer OS.

As for tablets, the cheap devices are going to go away as there is not enough profit in it. The devices are going to be replaced by ultrabooks in the near future. I like my Xoom as it does exactly what I expect from it: internet, email and media. If you need more then get a laptop.
 

Solo

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They never make anything that can be upgraded (see the Nokia Windows phone for example) which forces customers to buy new hardware. I've taken the bait on some of their past products and never will again. Apple may be simple, but I have the option of updating my 3GS Iphone to a newer OS.
Actually most android phones sold only get an update, or maybe two, before being antiquated. There have even been a few that never received an upgrade although the blame lies with the manufacturer and not Google.

FWIW it looks like the Surface has potential, but they're making a mistake by offering it with multiple OS flavors :thumpdown:. Competition is a good thing so I'm looking forward to playing with one here at work.

Here's a funny vid most of the MS haters will enjoy :cool::
 
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phideaux

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[SUP]Apple can be rotten to the core, too.

[h=1]Will every iPhone accessory you own become obsolete?[/h]Published June 22, 2012
news.com.au



  • A still from leaked footage shows the difference between iPhone 5 port and the current design. (TechCrunch)


All those expensive iPhone accessories you own, all the stuff that plugs into the bottom of the device -- speakers, docks, chargers and so on -- may be about to become obsolete.
Tech blog TechCrunch reports that Apple plans to change the design
and size of the connector for the iPhone 5. The old 30-pin connector, which has been the standard since the third generation iPod, is to be replaced by a 19-pin mini connector.
'It's clear Apple is more concerned with space savings inside each device.'​
- TechCrunch

"TechCrunch has independently verified that Apple is working on adding a 19-pin port to the new iPhone. It is a move that will surely send shocks through the iPhone accessory ecosystem," the site wrote.
"The new port is similar in size to the Thunderbolt port available on many MacBook devices but [TechCrunch] has been told by three independent manufacturers that the pin-out will be different."
"It's clear Apple is more concerned with space savings inside each device."
Leaked video footage claiming to be of the iPhone 5 shows a smaller connector.
TechCrunch's prediction that the news will send shockwaves is spot on.
Tech blogger Robert Scoble said the change would give Apple a tighter control on iPhone accessories.
"It will be nearly impossible to make unlicensed devices," he wrote on his blog. "Unfortunately these design goals mean making obsolete the something like 10 power chargers in my home. Sigh."
Awesome Robo's Sirio Brozzi wrote, "People are stunned by this possibility, myself included. I mean, why fix something that's not broken?"
Writing on Forbes.com, Dave Thier said "Apple is great at getting us to buy new products, and this may be one its biggest coups yet. The environment will suffer, like usual, but expect accessory manufacturers to make a mint after an uncomfortable transition."
Mashable reports the iPhone's dock connector "is about to go on a diet."
Apple has yet to respond to questions about the new connector design.





Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2012...ecome-obsolete/?intcmp=features#ixzz1yXmqiWAi[/SUP]
 

birddog

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Hehe that's funny......
 

Sport

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Don't read my praise of my iphone as a praise of Apple. As to the hardware connector, it's about time. The old clunky one they have been using has to be a nightmare to design around.

Here are the pro's and con's as I see these tablet devices:

Ipad:
Pro's
App development is large
Device and OS are tightly integrated
Easy to use

Cons
Itunes is intrusive
Simplified interface doesn't allow you to easily work outside the bounds set by Apple
Apps are too controlled from Apple
Expensive

Android Tablets:
Pro's
App community is large
Device is open to more usage
More options to chose from
Cheaper option

Cons
Not as intuitive
Google is following in Apples footsteps with regards to controls
Manufacturers act differently with regards to updates

I think that Microsoft created more questions than anything else with this new device. We will know more about where this device fits in compared to the iPad when they announce pricing.
 

Solo

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Whoa, did you guys know MS had an e-reader prototype back in the late 90s? Check this article out!

Microsoft’s Downfall: Inside the Executive E-mails and Cannibalistic Culture That Felled a Tech Giant (link)

cn_image.size.ballmer-spread.jpg

Analyzing one of American corporate history’s greatest mysteries—the lost decade of Microsoft—two-time George Polk Award winner (and V.F.’s newest contributing editor) Kurt Eichenwald traces the “astonishingly foolish management decisions” at the company that “could serve as a business-school case study on the pitfalls of success.” Relying on dozens of interviews and internal corporate records—including e-mails between executives at the company’s highest ranks—Eichenwald offers an unprecedented view of life inside Microsoft during the reign of its current chief executive, Steve Ballmer, in the August issue. Today, a single Apple product—the iPhone—generates more revenue than all of Microsoft’s wares combined.

READ
Paul Allen on First Meeting Steve Ballmer: He Looked Like a Stalinist Police Officer
Eichenwald’s conversations reveal that a management system known as “stack ranking”—a program that forces every unit to declare a certain percentage of employees as top performers, good performers, average, and poor—effectively crippled Microsoft’s ability to innovate. “Every current and former Microsoft employee I interviewed—every one—cited stack ranking as the most destructive process inside of Microsoft, something that drove out untold numbers of employees,” Eichenwald writes. “If you were on a team of 10 people, you walked in the first day knowing that, no matter how good everyone was, 2 people were going to get a great review, 7 were going to get mediocre reviews, and 1 was going to get a terrible review,” says a former software developer. “It leads to employees focusing on competing with each other rather than competing with other companies.”

When Eichenwald asks Brian Cody, a former Microsoft engineer, whether a review of him was ever based on the quality of his work, Cody says, “It was always much less about how I could become a better engineer and much more about my need to improve my visibility among other managers.” Ed McCahill, who worked at Microsoft as a marketing manager for 16 years, says, “You look at the Windows Phone and you can’t help but wonder, How did Microsoft squander the lead they had with the Windows CE devices? They had a great lead, they were years ahead. And they completely blew it. And they completely blew it because of the bureaucracy.”

According to Eichenwald, Microsoft had a prototype e-reader ready to go in 1998, but when the technology group presented it to Bill Gates he promptly gave it a thumbs-down, saying it wasn’t right for Microsoft. “He didn’t like the user interface, because it didn’t look like Windows,” a programmer involved in the project recalls.

“The group working on the initiative was removed from a reporting line to Gates and folded into the major-product group dedicated to software for Office,” Eichenwald reports. “Immediately, the technology unit was reclassified from one charged with dreaming up and producing new ideas to one required to report profits and losses right away.” “Our entire plan had to be moved forward three to four years from 2003–04, and we had to ship a product in 1999,” says Steve Stone, a founder of the technology group. “We couldn’t be focused anymore on developing technology that was effective for consumers. Instead, all of a sudden we had to look at this and say, ‘How are we going to use this to make money?’”

A former official in Microsoft’s Office division tells Eichenwald that the death of the e-reader effort was not simply the consequence of a desire for immediate profits. The real problem for his colleagues was the touch screen: “Office is designed to inputting with a keyboard, not a stylus or a finger,” the official says. “There were all kinds of personal prejudices at work.” According to Microsoft executives, the company’s loyalty to Windows and Office repeatedly kept them from jumping on emerging technologies. “Windows was the god—everything had to work with Windows,” Stone tells Eichenwald. “Ideas about mobile computing with a user experience that was cleaner than with a P.C. were deemed unimportant by a few powerful people in that division, and they managed to kill the effort.”

When one of the young developers of MSN Messenger noticed college kids giving status updates on AOL’s AIM, he saw what Microsoft’s product lacked. “That was the beginning of the trend toward Facebook, people having somewhere to put their thoughts, a continuous stream of consciousness,” he tells Eichenwald. “The main purpose of AIM wasn’t to chat, but to give you the chance to log in at any time and check out what your friends were doing.” When he pointed out to his boss that Messenger lacked a short-message feature, the older man dismissed his concerns; he couldn’t see why young people would care about putting up a few words. “He didn’t get it,” the developer says. “And because he didn’t know or didn’t believe how young people were using messenger programs, we didn’t do anything.”

“I see Microsoft as technology’s answer to Sears,” said Kurt Massey, a former senior marketing manager. “In the 40s, 50s, and 60s, Sears had it nailed. It was top-notch, but now it’s just a barren wasteland. And that’s Microsoft. The company just isn’t cool anymore.”

“They used to point their finger at IBM and laugh,” said Bill Hill, a former Microsoft manager. “Now they’ve become the thing they despised.”