With the Surface RT tablet and the iPad
mini hitting at just about the same time, this was bound to happen: executives throwing lyrical dagger at one another. Apple CEO Tim Cook already called Microsoft's new Surface a "confusing and compromised" product, so now it's Microsoft's turn to return the favor. Steven Sinofsky, who is leading the charge for Windows 8 and the Surface tablet for Microsoft, spoke candidly about the rivalry to AllThingsD. In a conversation about full-fledged Windows notebooks that can be had for under $300, he noted that the iPad mini was more like a "recreational tablet" at $329.
It's a strange thing to say about a product line that accounts for over 90 percent of all tablet browsing. Microsoft's Windows may have the market share crown in terms of desktop OS, but that's not a figure that can't change. It wasn't too long ago that Internet Explorer ruled the browser world. Now, it's advertising like crazy in order to regain ground lost to upstarts like Mozilla and Google's Chrome. Windows 8 is a huge, huge bet for Microsoft. It's a drastic departure from the norm, and educating people on what they can expect from such a hybrid OS will be vital. Yes, they'll sell millions of copies by default, but will people see it as a positive overall? Windows Vista is a reminder that Microsoft can and has released subpar operating systems, but the Surface play is perhaps the biggest risk of all.
Clearly, Microsoft thinks that the Surface is more than recreational. They think that it's made for productivity. But will consumers still be in love once they realize that Windows RT can't run conventional programs, despite the fact that it looks like Windows 8 from the surface? Time will tell.