Commentary on Microsoft’s tablet “Surface”

John Gruber is known for (among other things) his blog, Daring Fireball. A recent post there is quite interesting and worth reading. Among other things, Gruber says that Microsoft had to start selling PCs because there is no longer going to be profit in selling just the software. He ends his post:

Microsoft Surface is not fundamentally about Microsoft needing to control the entire integrated product in order to compete with the iPad on design. It’s about Microsoft needing to sell the whole thing to sustain its current profitability.

Surface is a bold move, and classic Microsoft. If the OEMs don’t like it — and they do not — what are they going to do? Turn to Linux (which no one wants) or Android (which no one wants on anything other than phones)? It’s the OEMs whom Microsoft thinks Surface can put into checkmate, not Apple.

Gruber’s analysis looks at the broad picture of hardware and software in general and the implications of Microsoft’s entry into the manufacture of PCs. But a host of others are making comments more narrowly focused on the Surface machine itself. However, there isn’t actually that much known about Surface. Microsoft hasn’t released much information. It doesn’t seem that anyone outside of Microsoft has actually gotten to use one of the machines (or can’t talk about ). Internet expert Dan Sullivan complains that he was barely allowed to touch a model at the big unveiling. He writes:

After seeing yet another “hands-on” review of the Microsoft Surface tablet, I thought it would be interesting to shed more light on what exactly the journalists who assembled in Hollywood this week for the Surface launch event actually got to do with the tablets. In short, not a lot.

He calls it a “hands-off” review and describes how the Microsoft employees exhibited the new models:

They’d swing them around with a pretty picture on the front, I guess so we’d go “ooh” and “ahh.” If we were lucky, we were allowed to hold one for a few seconds. But if you tried to do anything with it, bang, it was gone.

Added later: At ZDNet, Larry Dignan says Microsoft’s old tactic of pre-announcing a product long before it is available in order to freeze the market won’t work anymore.

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