No one will argue that the iPad is entertaining, engaging and a longstanding market leader. But it was created for consumers, which continue to drive the market and each upgraded release. Its lack of business-focused functionality means leaders like me continue to carry around multiple devices – smart phone, tablet and laptop - to do the job.
That’s about to change. Surprisingly, it won’t be Apple releasing the game changer. It’s Microsoft leading this industry shakedown with its release of the Surface this fall.
The Microsoft Surface was first unveiled to 200-plus members of the media in June in a pomp and circumstance fashion typically expected from Apple, not Microsoft. Industry experts and media alike are calling it a breakthrough device and a genuine challenger to the popular iPad.
I’d venture to say that the Surface could do to the business market what the iPad has done to the consumer market. It already has gotten the attention of all the major manufacturers as it initiates a new standard in the industry.
The Surface combines the functionality of a laptop with the ease and convenience of a tablet. It will look like a tablet – only 9 mm thick and 1.5 pounds. But it will operate like a business laptop. Here are a few of the features that businesses can appreciate:
- Operate with Windows.
While the baseline Surface will run on Windows RT (an ARM-based architecture), the Surface Pro will operate with Windows 8. This opens the door to possibilities currently unavailable on tablets.
- Strong magnetic cover turn keyboard.
Strong is the key word here. Apple’s cover pales in comparison to this cover, which firmly locks in place and functions properly as a keyboard. For those looking to make a statement, the cover will come in an array of colors.
- Touch or click.
Because the Surface will operate on Windows 8, users will have the ability to use a mouse like they do on a laptop.
- Two cameras.
The front camera allows you to initiate a video conference while the rear facing camera is angled to 22 degrees so you can flip out the kickstand and record meetings and events hands-free.
- Sporting a USB.
Microsoft designed the Surface just thick enough to include a full-sized USB port. That allows users to print, share, or even charge their phones on the go.
The Surface is expected to be available in October. Microsoft will follow the fall release with a larger rendition called the Surface Pro that will run on an Intel chip and come equipped with a stylus and an even-sturdier keyboard turn cover.
The initial version is expected to sell for $500 and rival the iPad. The Surface Pro will cost about $1,000 and resemble Intel’s UltraBook with solid state device (SSD) chip set. (I’ll share more on this in my next post).