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Fairly generic commentary:
Apple’s direction is clear on the iPad. Sure, there are keyboards you can buy and other accessories that will sort of turn it into a Frankenbook, but you don’t get the impression that the company really buys into that sort of thinking. “This is a touchscreen device,” the company seems to say. “It’s super at things that touchscreens are super at. If you’re more interested in a computing environment, may we direct your attention to these lovely laptops we have over here.”
See, therein lies the difference. Last week, Apple announced some new laptops. This week, Microsoft announced something that it hopes can replace some laptops.
Don't expect any opinions in this post that is so fair and balanced it seems afraid to answer a single question it raises.
This is a full-throated, start-to-finish rave-up, in which Surface is "beautiful and functional and simple and honest":
If Microsoft delivers—which means that the price and the battery life should be competitive with Apple's offerings, and that keyboard lives up to its billing—it has a real chance of stopping the seemingly unstoppable Apple empire. Or at least slowing it down.
If it fulfills its promise, if Microsoft Surface Pro is $800 or $900 and can pull six or seven hours of battery life, then things will change. It's going to be hard, since they don't have the app ecosystem yet, but that will come eventually. Microsoft has the user base, the developer base, and the deep pockets to make sure of that.
The only thing Microsoft was missing until yesterday just was a better platform. Now all the pieces are in place for a well-fought war, just like the good old days.
Consider this the canonical pro-Surface argument until further notice.
Dyed-in-the-wool Mac guy Gruber could not resist putting in his two cents' worth, starting with a heaping helping of schadenfreude:
Watching the Microsoft Surface event video, I sensed uneasiness. Not panic, but discomfort. Some will argue that I’m simply spoiled by Apple’s on-stage polish, but Monday’s Microsoft event struck me as rushed and severely under-rehearsed. Ballmer offered nothing but blustering bromides, and nothing even vaguely resembling a coherent answer to the big question: Why? Steven Sinofsky was nervous and hurried. It didn’t help that his first Surface RT unit crashed before he’d done anything other than wake it up. There was a moment where he said Surface was perfect for sitting down, relaxing in a chair, and watching a movie. He sat in that chair for about three seconds before rushing into the next segment.
I found the presenters far less rehearsed and the presentation far less cohesive than an Apple event. (With the notable exception of designer Panos Panay, who was very solid on stage.) There was no story.
In the 1383-word post, Gruber continually returns to lengthy discussions of Apple's product philosophy and launch procedures and economics. Then, after a few paragraphs, he snaps back to the subject at hand with a start. "Ah, where was I again?"
He concludes with a bold prediction: "If I’m right, it’s inevitable now that Microsoft will acquire Nokia."
I'm filing that under claim chowder.