Is the Microsoft Surface the handy work of Nokia?

Microsoft SurfaceOhhhh this gets me thinking.

Nobody has mentioned yet who is making this damned thing! Mostly the discussions have been around the fact that there are two of these going to be in existence (forgetting the obvious colour options to come), the fact that one will be ARM and run Windows 8 RT (Real Tablets? Rocking Testosterone? Rampant Tripe? Really Terrible?) and the other will be a Pro model. It’s as if Microsoft have spent all their time on gadget blogs and thought “The fanboys all talk of wanting an iPad Pro. Why don’t we make a Windows 8 Surface Tablet Pro 2012 first!”

The smart cover with keyboard – nice idea, but at 3mm thick, won’t be sturdy to rest on your lap for example to be used as a laptop, you’ll still need a table or, some Surface 😉
Oh, and you’ll still be bashing your fingers off that surface (read: the reason why laser keyboards suck). The one with sprung keys looks to be a smarter idea.

But then I get to the headline point. Yes, Microsoft have managed Apple levels of secrecy (pre Jobs’s passing – I’ll talk about this in a separate post) and sung out of the park with a product launch. Not the first time Microsoft have launched a product, yes, but I think the secrecy will have been easy as not many people watch Microsoft for product leaks, just software.

From no where, Microsoft have pulled out a tablet that is different from the rest of the market. Uses exotic materials and isn’t available for purchase yet. Three facts that ring true of the Nokia Lumia launch. The words from Nokia has been a resounding ‘watch this space’ when it comes to tablets and lets be honest, when it comes to being a tech company to embrace and invent new materials for products, there are few that have done it and can do it as well as Nokia.

Proof?

  • 8810 – Integrated aerial with a chrome finish to the handset (plasticised
  • 8800 – Stainless Steel
  • 8910 – Titanium
  • N8 – Anodised aluminium
  • Lumia 800 – Polycarbonate plastic

The new Surface is made from magnesium and given a special VapourMG coating. Magnesium has been an up and coming material for the last few years, mainly in the automotive world given it’s lightness and strength. The covers are Nokia bright, colour wise and the the kickstand is the kind of thinking that got landed on the back of the N96 and countless HTC Evo phones for Sprint in the US.

The industrial design just feels like it’s had the wise had of Nokia in here somewhere.

There are of course things to counter this thinking. The fact that they will be either ARM or Intel based is the main one. Nokia are famed for their propitiatory processors and internally developed hardware so I wouldn’t have expected them to have had a hand in this side of things. That leads nicely to the other main point, being the lack of talk regarding cellular connectivity. WiFi, sure. But a tablet with out WiFi is like a car without tyres. But a phone manufacturer would have been able to throw in an LTE modem in here to keep it reinvent and in line with it’s main (come on, only) competitor, the iPad.

I’ve been using the pre release version of Windows 8 and it is very promising and I’ll expand on why most people are going to hate it soon, but for now, this could be the start of what Microsoft needs to do – even through it wont be. the separation of consumers and corporate.

I think that the time is coming for Microsoft to consider what’s right for them and what they should focus on and how.

Microsoft needs to be two companies. One company, responsible for mass consumer electronics. the Surface tablet, Windows Phone and Xbox. All of this brought in house (namely with the acquisition of Nokia for phones and tablets) and managed End-to-End. Very much like the Apple model, but, importantly, Microsoft are really the only company with the knowledge and expertise to take the fight to Apple (this is true, no matter how much Samsung wishes it wasn’t). This would allow users to adopt the Metro UI across all devices, like iOS & Mac OS.

The second function of Microsoft would be corporate infrastructure. Companies that will need Microsoft’s products on a server and cloud level. For their exchange servers, their .net systems and all the other parts of the company fighting against IBM, Oracle and Sun. A dedicated company would be able to take the fight to them on that level and still own the business world.

It’s what I’d do, but hey, I’m not Steve Ballmer!

 

For more info, you can see the mini site here: http://www.microsoft.com/surface/




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