Microsoft, one of the world's leading makers of operating systems, has hinted at a strategic shift with the unveiling of its tablet computer, Surface. Analysts suggest it could be a make-or-break moment.
The Windows operating system designer, Microsoft, heralded a major shift in its product strategy by unveiling its line in tablet computers, incorporating both the software and the hardware.
Surface - as the tablet is called - is expected to hit the market later this year.
There will be two versions. The first aims to compete directly with Apple's iPad and the second will be a lightweight laptop, or ultrabook. Both will feature an overhauled Windows operating system (Windows 8) and a touch-friendly interface called Metro.
Analysts have described the product as promising, with Rob Enderle of Silicon Valley saying Surface was a chance for Microsoft to show it has learned a lesson from its failed Zune mp3 player.
"OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) are saying the PC doesn't matter any more and the tablet really is the future," Enderle said, "which is what [Microsoft co-founder] Bill Gates said in the early 2000s - it's just been unfortunate that Apple has been proving him right on their platform."
Apple's strategy has always been to develop both the hardware and software for its products, whereas Microsoft had originally relied on computer makers to create the hardware for its software.
"[The Surface tablet] is a bold move by Microsoft," said Michael Gartenberg of Gartner analysts, "and it shows just how concerned they are about Apple and the threat Apple is to their ecosystem right now."
za / gb (Reuters, AFP)