Microsoft's Surface tablet vs. the iPad: Seven challenges


Junior Member
If Microsoft is going to take on Apple in the tablet wars, here are the key questions that need to be ironed out.
Microsoft came out with all guns blazing yesterday with its Surface tablets. Or did it?

The perceived success or failure of what was shown is obviously subjective, and comes down to whether or not you believe in what Microsoft is showing. Moreover, can Microsoft's strategy with the Surface -- and all Windows 8 tablets, for that matter -- succeed in not just being a No. 2 to the iPad, but in being a true iPad rival?

As a user of both the iPad and previous Windows tablets, I think it comes down to these key points.
Keyboard/touch-pad productivity
The Surface event spent a large amount of time on the Touch Cover and Type Cover, innovative Smart Cover-like accessories that have a soft or physical keyboard and, in the case of the Type Cover, a touch pad bonded to one side.

The iPad can support a wide variety of Bluetooth keyboards and cases like the similar Ultrathin Keyboard Cover, but no touch pad or mouse. That hampers the iPad's utility as a true laptop replacement, but would Microsoft's product make for a vastly improved experience? There's a big difference between a good keyboard and touch pad and a bad one: many Netbooks weren't great productivity tools for the same reason.


Apple's App Store gives access to every iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad app, a catalog that leads the tablet pack. The iPad has also spawned a number of iPad-optimized Web sites and Web apps that work via Safari. Microsoft's tablets take two tacks: the Windows RT versions only run Metro apps, while the Windows 8 tablets run older Windows applications as well. The Surface RT tablet needs to build a convincing catalog of apps, while for the Windows 8 tablet Microsoft needs to make sure that older applications are updated to run well on newer touch-driven software. Windows 7 tablets faced that same usability gulf when running pre-existing software, and the results often weren't pretty.