Microsoft’s new Surface tablet is a very interesting device. At yesterday’s launch in Los Angeles, Steve Ballmer made much of the device’s productivity capabilities. With its integral ultra-thin keyboard and prop stand it is a tablet to complete on equal terms with lower-end notebooks, including the much-hyped Ultrabooks.
The iPad is a supreme media consumption device but still falls down ultimately on productivity. How many times do we hear that it’s necessary to retreat to a Mac to perform special functions (not least of which is successfully posting to this site)?
Consumers want productivity in addition to browsing, watching videos and playing games. For this reason I think the Surface will find a market. Apple needs to address the iPad’s shortcomings on the productivity side. The lack of an addressable file system is perhaps the thing I find most annoying about the iPad. It makes serious productive work that much more difficult for power users, however much the average user might not notice.
Microsoft is late to the party and I hope the Surface is successful, even if I don’t much care for the name. A bit of competition is always a good thing.