The week started off with a long day of waiting for the unveiling of something new from Microsoft.
Once it was announced, many industry observers wrote that the new Surface tablet from Microsoft made a solid first impression. The keyboard incorporated into the cover impressed many, as did the back of the tablet which kicks out to a stand.
Cool, colorful and you get a stylus with one of the versions! Yup, two versions. Microsoft is going to deliver two different products. One version running Windows RT, the other running Windows 8 Pro (sounds like a laptop). The rest of the specifications for Surface show it to be thin and light.
That said, my own first impression of Surface was that the product seemed a bit confusing. And I think ZDNet's Jason Perlow got it right in asking, Microsoft, what the hell is wrong with you?
Though clearly Microsoft is making making a move for a piece of the tablet segment, having a version running Windows 8 Pro has me thinking they are going after the laptop segment as well. Regardless, Apple already makes a really thin laptop and tablet.
So which is it? Maybe Microsoft should have called it the Schizophrenic. It's a tablet, it's a laptop, it's a tablet.
The other thing that I did not understand was the need for a stylus, especially since smart phones have been trying to get away from the stylus ever since the first generation Palm. Maybe there will be some secret killer application that will require a stylus, who knows?
And unlike Apple who I have to think purposely drops a prototype off at a bar just before release, Microsoft managed to keep the product a secret. That said, there is much that the company is still keeping secret, like the price, the ship date, no third party applications that were announced, battery life, display specifications.
All a mystery.
The other bit of interesting news was that Microsoft itself will be manufacturing the tablets. Microsoft is not new to hardware manufacturing, so that's not a concern. But snubbing their OEM partners is.
CNN reported Microsoft as suggesting that their partners will also have an opportunity to manufacture the tablet. And also has Microsoft stating that they moved forward in the development of the product because their partners did not have sufficient capital or bandwidth to develop something like Surface.
The really interesting thing here? This appeared to be news to the partners as well.
The Huffington post ran the headline Acer Exec Dismisses Microsoft Surface Tablet: 'I Don't Think It Will Be Successful', urging Microsoft instead, to focus on the operating system. Apple is flexible because they can focus on a single vendor while Microsoft has to focus on dozens. The exec tied it all together nicely by stating that, "Microsoft is a component of a PC system. A very important component but still a component."
To add insult to, well, insult. When Microsoft's Windows division president Steven Sinofsky finally got around to a demonstration, it all went to hell as reported by our own Zack Whittaker.
When he says “I can browse smoothly”, we get a close-up of the tablet and the application choking. He moves on as the camera pans away, clearly frustrated.
“I can play games” his face grimaces, obviously having more issues with the tablet.
“I can play any of the interesting games…” though apparently not today. “Movies and entertainment look great as well,…whoops” Whoops is right. Very Rick Perry moment for him, I thought. He decides that his tablet is done and swaps it out. Tango down!
Today, to cap of off the fun on ZDNet, Jason Perlow and Mary Jo Foley debated if Microsoft threw users under the bus.
Perlow took the position that Microsoft indeed had thrown users under the bus, while Mary Jo Foley took Redmond's side. The last time I checked the poll results it appeared as through Mary Jo Foley had the more convincing arguments with 78% of the votes.
Mary Jo takes aim -- Tango Down!