The new Surface tablet from Microsoft looks interesting -- I actually would like to play with one.1 I’m trying to keep an open mind about this, if only because what Microsoft’s done here looks to be way more compelling than any Android tablet on the market today. That being said, however, I see three big problems:

  1. Nobody knows how much it costs.
  2. Nobody knows when it’ll ship.
  3. There are two versions: Windows RT and Windows 8.

The first two problems are arguably the worst because it seems weird for Ballmer and company to make such a big deal about announcing something that has no price nor a ship date. (Saying it’ll be “competitive” is a cop-out; consumers want tangible information.) Imagine if Steve Jobs unveiled the original iPad yet neglected to mention price or availability -- that'd be crazy. As to the third point, count me as one of the people who believe a Microdoft tablet should be Metro-only. Given the massive success of the iPad, I think it’s clear that the group of people who want a “full-blown” OS on their tablet are an ever-shrinking subset.2 Taking this concept even further, an even better thing to do would be to dump the “Windows” branding altogether -- call it something else.3 Do these things, and I truly believe Microsoft has a product that can exist as a worthy alternative4

Having said all this, I offer you a couple bits of wisdom:

And from Lex Friedman of Macworld:

Of course, we won’t really know how good (or not) the Surface is until we can truly get our hands on a functioning version of the device. In the near-term, though, while Apple might be intrigued, I doubt Cupertino is ablaze with panic in the aftermath of Microsoft’s Surface unveiling.

  1. That is, the ARM-based version.  ↩

  2. There are reasons why the original iPad didn’t ship with Mac OS X.  ↩

  3. Because “Windows RT” is a ridiculous name. That’ll really resonate with buyers.  ↩

  4. Not an iPad killer.  ↩