It was Einstein that said “Everything should be as simple as it is, but not simpler” and it looks like finally Microsoft has come to gripes with it, understanding that what people want out of a product is the product itself.
By removing anything that is not required, more time can be spent perfecting the remaining aspects of the product. This was the key aspect which drove Dieter Rams ideas, whom much of the inspiration and design for Apple products was drew from.
Microsoft had long been known for excessive packaging, and more time being spent on the advertising then the product itself. This can be easy summed up by this parody video of what if Microsoft made the packaging for the iPod.
This has all changed with the coming of Windows Phone 7 , Windows 8 and now Surface. Microsoft removed the excess and keep just the core brand.
The new Surface is Microsofts attempt to enter the fray in terms of tablet computers. Some will say that Apple made the first tablet, but let me remind you of 2002 and Bill Gates…
How tablets have come a long way since. One of the most obvious, or not so obvious problems with old style tablets were that they were just laptops with rotating screens. This caused what I like to call ‘The keyboard Problem’ -What do you do with the keyboard when it is not in use.
Apple has a keyboard dock but Microsoft have used its 30+ years of research into Human Computer Interaction (HCI) to refine it and to make it as simple as possible. – Include the keyboard in the case.
The keyboard, at just over 1mm is an incredible engineering feat, one that Microsoft should and is proud of, and comes in a variety of colours to suite everyones taste.
Another key issue that Microsoft looks to address is the dock connector itself. Apple has been using for a long time its own special dock connector, allowing a whole host of accessories to be designed to one standard, this meant a whole industry sprung up. Android has failed somewhat by to begin with but is slowly coming round to the fact by having a Micro USB port by standard, however support is limited to availability of drivers and where accessories may work with some, they may not work with other phones.
Microsoft seeing this seems to have gone down the Apple route from the looks of their recent patent applications.
It looks like they have gone one step further than Apple however, by integrating power and data over a magnetic adaptor. If they push this connector out to their upcoming Windows Phone 8 hardware, I can see this standard catching on and helping Microsoft gain more market traction.
The tablet itself comes in 2 flavours, the ARM based Surface RT and x86 Surface Pro. The Surface RT’s main competitor is of course the Apple iPad so the main contending point is price, that is where all previous tablets have failed.
The x86 model is an interesting one, being able to run the full Windows 8, there is no real rival on the market. If the balance of price & battery life hold up this could mark the end of laptops and mark the emergence of a new market – laptop replacements.
The specs are good, maybe not up there with Apples Retina displays but more than usable. I think I will be buying one when they come out. As reported during the keynote we will have to wait till the launch of Windows 8 for the Surface RT model (Q3 2012) and 3 months later (Q4 2012) for the Surface Pro model. If all goes well it should be a success and I believe the only viable contender for Apple, hopefully Microsoft will not make the killer mistake of launching it past christmas.
Till then, sit back and watch the great looking trailer. Every time I see it I believe that you could happily replace the tablet with an Audi and it would look just as good.