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Microsoft announced on Monday that it will bring out its own line of Windows 8 PCs, a tablet/notebook hybrid called Surface. The reaction from the business and tech press was all over the map. Here's a summary of the week's coverage.
In fact, the entire tablet was designed in-house by Microsoft's teams, and if you believe what was said in the presentation yesterday, design and functionality in hardware has suddenly become a big deal in Redmond.
That's a big shift, and it's an important one. The announcement of the Surface shows that Microsoft is ready to make a break with its history — a history of hardware partnerships which relied on companies like Dell, HP, or Acer to actually bring its products to market.
That may burn partners in the short term, but it could also give Microsoft something it desperately needs: a clear story.
It's a thoughtful post, with genuine enthusiasm for the idea and some doubt over whether Microsoft can pull it off.
But the Surface announcement raises as many question as it answers. And though it’s pretty clear that Apple and its iPad are the target of this product, Microsoft is taking a decidedly non-Apple approach to its design and creation.
Virtually everything about the Surface tablet is bizarre, even its name, which was previously used for a lumbering series of smart tables—yes, tables, not tablets—that have been unceremoniously recast as PixelSense. But what many on-site reports from the day of the launch didn’t care to mention is perhaps the most bizarre bit of all: The Surface tablet doesn’t even exist. It’s vaporware.
The devices that Microsoft showed off earlier this week weren’t real; they were simply prototypes. And anyone claiming to have gotten “hands-on” time with a Surface tablet was exaggerating, at best: No one was allowed to touch a working prototype, so those typing videos occurred on dead pieces of hardware without a working screen.
It's worth noting Thurrott skipped the announcement, so his reaction is based on secondhand accounts and viewing the video of the announcement. It's mostly a list of questions, interspersed with some sharp jabs. Given his generally pro-Microsoft leanings, it's curiously dismissive.
One factual correction: The machines shown at the Monday event were not prototypes. Microsoft's engineers probably built and tested hundreds of prototypes over the past three years as they refined the technologies in Surface. What Microsoft showed off on Monday represents the results of all those tests from all those prototypes. The Surface designs we saw are identical to the final product that will ship later this year. It might be more accurate to call them engineering samples.