When tablets come to mind, most think of Apple’s wildly successful iPad. What most have forgotten, or do not realize, is that Microsoft has dabbled in the tablet industry as well. Microsoft enjoyed a successful release of their “Windows For Pen Computing” for the Windows 3.1 platform. Although, once the hype died down, so did the company’s sales of the tablets. Over ten years ago, Microsoft made their first attempt to re-invigorate tablet technology, only to falter in a less than enthusiastic market.
Unfortunately, Microsoft has failed to release a successful tablet since their initial release. Despite multiple release failures, Microsoft may have a shot at redemption with their new tablet, the Surface. Microsoft engineers have harnessed a new approach with the Surface that may turn Microsoft’s tablet reputation around.
A Brief Microsoft Tablet History
In the late 1980s, many computer engineering firms were interested in developing a more natural way to compute. Companies were focusing on developing pens to input data, rather than a mouse and keyboard. The idea behind the approach was that the user would treat the computer as more of a pad and pen. In 1991, Microsoft released their first pen-based tablet to an excited market. These primitive tablets are generally regarded as the predecessors to modern tablets. Microsoft attempted to bring back tablet computing in 2002 with little success.
The Windows XP tablet was criticized as being too heavy, having a short battery life, expensive, and being ill adapted for programs that weren’t designed to use a pen. Throughout the 2000s, the company made several efforts to introduce a tablet appealing to the general public. All of their releases tried something innovative but each time it was not enough to capture the buyer.
Introducing Microsoft’s Newest Tablet, the Surface
On June 19, 2012, Microsoft’s CEO, Steve Ballmer, unveiled their newest tablet addition, the Surface. The Surface runs on Windows 8, their most recent operating system that closely resembles a Windows phone. The tablet is lightweight at only 1.5 lbs and has an optimal HD display. Included with the device is a portable keyboard and trackpad. It is currently uncertain when the new device will be released to the public or what the price will be set at.
The Uncertain Future Success of the Surface
At first glance, the Surface has potential to be successful in today’s tablet market. The Surface offers competition to Apple’s iPad by introducing a fresh display and design unique to Windows. The new tablet could be able to compete with the iPad, particularly in the business market. Business owners could easily use the Surface for running an ecommerce platform and make their business more efficient.
The tablet’s computing power and streamlined design could be an advantage for businesses as well. The hesitation around the Surface comes from the unreleased introductory price. Microsoft not only needs to be competitive with the tablet’s price, but also with the price and popularity of its applications. Overall, Surface seems to be a strong competitor to the iPad but with Microsoft’s history of tablet flops, but it definitely faces an uncertain future.
Kent Richardson writes prolifically on different business and technology blogs.