Surface: Could It Be a Real iPad Competitor?

Microsoft launched its Surface tablet at a Hollywood event in June, and with its 10.6-inch display, Windows 8 OS and handy-looking keyboard built into its cover, the new tablet immediately sent much of the tech press into a flurry of speculation on its possible success and its prospects against the iPad. Given the fact that no one has had a hands-on demo yet, we asked Mary Jo Foley and John Gruber, two of the most well-versed reporters on all things tablet and Microsoft, to comment on the hype.

Could the Surface be a real competitor for the iPad?

John Gruber headshot

John Gruber Publisher and Editor, Daring Fireball

It's too early to tell. We don't know when they're going to ship. We don't know what they're going to cost. We don't know how many apps will be available that are built for Metro. If everything works out in Microsoft's favor -- if at least the ARM-based Windows RT Surface ships this year, and it is price-competitive with the iPad, and there are some compelling apps for it -- then yes, I'd say it would be a real competitor for the iPad. But that's a lot of ifs.

Mary Jo Foley Blogger, All About Microsoft, ZDNet

I am hoping the Surface will be a real competitor for the iPad, as competition is good for customers. There are still so many unknowns about the Surface devices, though, that it’s hard to give a definitive yes to this question.

If the battery life of these devices is impressive (10 hours, at least), that will help. There must be a lot more than just 100 apps in the Windows Store when the Windows RT-based one launches in October; the number of new Metro-style apps needs to be in the multiple hundreds from the get-go. And those touch and type keyboards that none of us have had a chance to really test drive -- and which, to me, are the killer feature of the Surface -- have to be really, really solid, especially if Microsoft is charging extra for them, as rumored.

The Surface is the first and only Windows device I’ve seen that made me believe tablets could be PCs and PCs, tablets. It’s the best shot right now that Microsoft has of making Windows 8 not just palatable, but truly usable.

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