SOFTWARE HOUSE Microsoft's announcement of its Surface tablets is the latest development in the PC and mobile computing markets that have seen changes following Apple's debut of its Ipad.
Now, all mobile device makers are scrambling to compete with Apple. And Microsoft's decision to go it alone and produce its own devices underlines how seriously it is approaching this market, particularly as it takes another major gamble with its drastic user interface changes in Windows 8.
Will the Redmond PC giant succeed? Only time will tell, but here at The INQUIRER and at our sister IT news web site V3 opinions have been flying thick and fast around the office this morning, so we thought we'd share our thoughts and see what you think. Do you agree, disagree or have another opinion? You can let us know below in the comments or via email.
Carly Page - INQUIRER news editor
I'd have been more impressed if Microsoft had announced a decent set of applications. Sure, the Surface tablets boast some truly impressive specs, but it's more about an ecosystem than a spec sheet nowadays.
With Apple boasting nearly 300,000 dedicated Ipad apps, Microsoft is really going to struggle to win over customers unless it manages to win over app developers first, which given the dominance of Apple and Android, I can't see happening any time soon.
Dan Robinson - V3 technology editor
Sticking my neck out, I think that there is a chance that at least one of these devices could prove a hit with some buyers. The ARM-based Windows RT model is the slimmer and lighter of the two, and with Office apps built in plus a bundled keyboard, it could have appeal for mobile professionals or students.
On the other hand, Fujitsu claims to have enjoyed some success in the enterprise market with its Stylistic Q550 running Windows 7. So, with a weight of less than 1kg and support for existing Windows apps, the Windows 8 Pro Surface model could find willing buyers too.
The Metro interface is going to play a major part in this, because it seems you either love it or hate it. Typically, professional users who have multiple app windows tend to regard Metro with horror, while those who have used tablets seem keener.
However, price may prove to be the deciding factor; Microsoft has not given any figures yet, but the Windows RT model must be competitive against the Ipad to stand any chance of consumers buying it.
Rosalie Marshall - V3 chief reporter
So Microsoft is launching its first tablet computer. Of course it is. Just look at its biggest competitors. Google now has Motorola for Android. Apple has long had a range of its own devices for its IOS and Research in Motion has Blackberry devices and the Playbook for the Blackberry OS.
Microsoft has realised it can't survive and compete with its biggest rivals without its own devices to pair its software with. Well done Microsoft, but you should have come to this realisation years ago.
However, now Microsoft has decided to enter this market, it has to do it well and really focus on making these devices sell. Microsoft can't afford to fail. Doing so would put its whole business at risk. Just look at what happened when HP made the decision to jump into a new market with the launch of WebOS.
Dave Neal - INQUIRER reporter
This isn't so much a "me too" tablet as it is a "so what?" tablet. Maybe, if people that want a tablet haven't already got one by the time they come out, they might buy one. But I won't.
It does seem to make sense of the Metro interface we've been hearing about for years, so as a companion, scatter cushion device, for a new Windows 8 PC, it might be alright. But it would have to be cheap. Like free cheap.
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