The tablet surface just got weirder. But wait, there's more.

The tablet surface just got weirder. But wait, there's more.

Summary: I might have been wrong about Microsoft's tablet venture but I think we've only scratched the "Surface" with the concept.


Well, well, it looks like I was sort of wrong about Microsoft and its venture into the tablet world. I'm not too big to admit when I'm wrong*. I was partially wrong. They are producing a Microsoft-branded tablet but I was right that it's Windows 8. Xbox-based tablet? Seriously. Gewirtz is just trying to mess with all of us with that one. Good one, David. But, it was no more outlandish than the thought of Microsoft actually producing a branded tablet. I think it's a major error and it will likely not succeed. Think Zune. Think Bob. Think about some of the other Microsoft-branded products over the years that have failed. I can't think of them all right off but perhaps you can. Anyway, who cares about all that--the tablet space just got really, really weird.

Microsoft calls its new tablet, "Surface." I don't get it. I would have used some Windows-related name. Here are my top five ideas that are now too late for production. You should have tipped me sooner. In fact, there's a good message to all vendors, great and small. You need to notify me, Ken Hess, before you hit the drawing board with these things. I'll help you come up with names for them and I'll tell you where to send the check.

  1. The Pane
  2. The Muntin
  3. The Stile
  4. The Frame
  5. The Glaze

My personal favorite is The Pane. Let's try it.

Introducing Microsoft's new Pane.

No, that doesn't really work. OK, let's try another.

Be the first on your block to get Microsoft's Muntin tablet computer.

Mmm, maybe. It has that whole alliteration thing going for it.

Get yourself a Microsoft Stile.

Oh, I like that. Another for further testing.

Get tablet style with Microsoft's Stile.

Yep, that's a winner right there. Project Runway might use it with a name like Stile. Think about it. Make it work.

Frame the future of computing with Microsoft's new Frame tablet.

Not bad.

Microsoft's Glaze tablet. Blazing fast. Very affordable.

I feel Apple beginning to worry already. Come on. Any of those are better than the "iPad." The iPad is a lame name compared to my Microsoft ones.

Now, I guess Google needs to produce a Chrome tablet.

Sheesh, maybe I should delete that before they get an idea to do it. Wait, maybe a Google-branded tablet would be a great idea. Let me start again with an open letter to Google.

Dear Google:

Hey, this is Ken Hess. You know, the ZDNet guy who still hasn't returned the Chromebook you sent me months ago? Yeah, that's me. Yes, I still have it. Yes, it's in perfect condition. No, I haven't had a chance to get motivated enough to carry it to the Post Office. Sorry. It's on my "To Do" list.

Now, for the pitch.

I think you guys should produce a Google-branded tablet. A Chrome Tablet. In fact, I'd call it The Tab. Get it? Because your browser, Chrome, is tabbed.

Yes, I'd be glad for you to hire me to design and market it. I'll even star in the commercials. I have some fun ideas for those too. But, I'm saving those ideas until I hear from you about my new highly-paid position as lead designer and spokesman for The Tab. See? It just rolls off the keyboard and the tongue. The Tab. It works for me. And, it will for you as well.

Yours Truly,

Ken Hess Google Tab Lead Designer and Spokesperson

Clever stuff that. I know, right? It's a bummer that Hollywood still doesn't know about me. They need fresh ideas too.

I don't think that branded tablets are necessarily a bad idea but I still can't believe Microsoft is doing it. I'm shocked. Truly shocked. Are you shocked? And what do you think of the name, "Surface." I'm not really sold on it.

The better question is, "Are you going to buy a Windows tablet?"

Another is, "Are you going to abandon your Android-based tablet or your iPad for a Windows tablet?"

Is there going to be a Windows App Store?

There are so many questions about this whole new, brave new world of Microsoft. I'm confused. But, in the end, Microsoft made the decision that they thought would work for them. It will be an interesting year to see how it fares in the marketplace. I probably won't buy one but I'd like to see one. Microsoft, if you'll send me one, I promise I'll return it in good condition. Notice that I didn't say quickly but I will return it. Eventually.

But, seriously. Great ideas I got. And, when I get paid, I want one of those giant checks that lottery winners get. I just want to carry it into my bank and say, "Hey, can you cash a check this big?"

I know, I know. Ken, get a life.

*My wife and kids will dispute that statement but what do they know?

Topics: Hardware, Laptops, Microsoft, Mobility, Tablets


Kenneth 'Ken' Hess is a full-time Windows and Linux system administrator with 20 years of experience with Mac, Linux, UNIX, and Windows systems in large multi-data center environments.

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  • How about

    Shades? It's lights out for the iPad? :-)

    You still remind me of the kid from the wonder years.
  • Odd choice

    Microsoft already used the Surface name for their interactive coffee tables. Now it's also a tablet. Why must they confuse us so?
  • Fred Savage?

    Do I look like him or sound like him? I'm not sure how I feel about that either way.
    • No

      The brother, not fred savage and you look like the kid.
  • The tablet surface just got weirder. But wait, there's more.

    Surface is a good marketing move. They can build off their previous Surface endeavors with the name. Agreed it sounds so much better than the iPad.
    Loverock Davidson-
    • "Surface" is something a submarine does...

      As for MS previous marketing efforts regarding "surface" how many people in the general public paid that any attention what so ever?

      Pagan jim
      James Quinn
      • Wasn't meant for general public

        It was a business oriented project.
        Loverock Davidson-
  • It seems like every ZDNet blogger is trying their best to find the negative

    It's like you're all tripping all over yourselves to see who can outdo each other to come up with the most off-the-wall, ridiculous, irrelevant commentary on Microsoft's new announcement. It's incredibly immature, and not up to par with what I've come to expect from this site.
    • I blame myself

      Seriously, jaboonday, if that IS your real name, it's not that we're trying to outdo each other because I obviously win at that but it's like we're just shocked that Microsoft has jumped the shark or at least tripped over the ottoman on this one. And, my commentary is terribly relevant. Think of a Google-branded tablet. OK, now stop thinking about it. You can't, can you?
      See? It's not just me, is it?
      • I've argued in other posts here that OEMs have been sucking for a while

        I don't think any OEM was prepared to go to the lengths Microsoft has to produce Windows 8 tablets with this kind of gusto. For Microsoft it seems to increasingly be about the top-to-bottom vision, particularly when dealing with consumers, and the OEMs have been screwing this vision up for a while. I'm biased because I've owned multiple Zunes and an XBox, but I can see that the vision MS has is being derailed by OEMs so it's up to MS to make sure the full potential of that vision is realized. That's why I applaud this move.

        And jaboonday is most certainly *not* my real name, but it's been my online login for the past 18 years so I'm definitely not hiding behind that.
      • Microsoft and hardware

        You may not think that OEMs can go to great pain to do the best in their core competence, hardware and system integration, but you seem to think that Microsoft, a software house can do hardware and integration.. best of all?
        Does not make sense to me.

        If Microsoft were able to do hardware, they would have done that long, long ago.
    • Welcome to ZDNet!

      You just described the 'new' ZDNet, although its not really new since they have been doing this for over a year now since management got changed around as well as the website.
      Loverock Davidson-
      • Microsoft and Hardware

        To danbi; Microsoft has a long standing record for hardware - the X-Box! Take a look at the market share the X-Box has, then you can see that if MS puts the same attitude based effort into the "Surface," it just might be a game changer!
  • LOL, I love when ZD Net shows its stripes

    and posts a "blog" like this (that's all ZD Net really is... a blog... like USENET but where some self-appointed Admin gets to post the master article).

    Don't you think, Mr. Author, that this is a bit of an overstatement? Or just flamebaiting? Google's Nexus Android phone serves as a nice reference phone and hasn't killed the Android market. MS mice and natural keyboards didn't kill Logitech or any of the many peripheral companies. It's about time Microsoft did something like this for PC's as a whole. It might actually reinvigorate the industry.
    • You're right!

      It just might reinvigorate the industry.
  • It could be like google's phones

    Perhaps they are going the path that google went with Android by releasing their own version that they can assure runs it well at the time released. This way, they can show how good Windows 8 on tablet could be before the OEMs start shoving it into bargain-brand crap hardware. Or maybe they just want to Put up a little more of a fight against the iPad's dominance in the tablet market by using their already household name to market a tablet (because that worked so well for Zune). Regardless, I thought the Surface looked interesting and can't wait to see what it can do, but it's too bad I JUST shelled out $600 for an iPad, or I might a gotten it.

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  • There is an old saying, utterly applicable in this case

    "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt."
    Abraham Lincoln
    16th president of US (1809 - 1865)

    Microsoft did just that..
  • I see the vision

    I, for one, have not purchased a tablet because of the following reason...
    I can't produce content.

    At the end of the day, I have a phone and a laptop. Do I *REALLY* want/need a tablet? And for that matter, the current generation of "PADS" can't do what I need to do... work.

    Now, I have a reason to reconsider. USB port for connecting my phone/camera for transfer, CHECK. Compatibility with all of my document formats, CHECK. Network connectivity, and file browsing, CHECK. The worlds largest "app" eco system (aka WINDOWS), CHECK. A keyboard and trackpad, CHECK. Small, light, and affordable, CHECK.

    I still haven't decided if I am going to trade in my laptop for a "Surface" but the possibility just became closer to reality.

    I'll be eager to try one... I just wonder when my local Microsoft store will have one to play with.
  • A good caption for Surface Maybe ? - For Ken

    The Future just [b]Surface[/b]d with [b][i]Microsoft[/b][/i] - Where do you want to go today?

    And then when it gets popular :)
    Wanna [b]Surface[/b] with [b][i]Microsoft[/b][/i] today ?

    Now that I gave this some thoughts - Ken what do you think ?