By CHONG JINN XIUNGbytz@thestar.com.my
Software giant Microsoft surprised everyone with its first ever tablet computer, the Surface.
The Surface is a key move by Microsoft to strengthen its Windows 8 operating system, which will also power upcoming notebooks and desktops, and will be made available by the end of the year according to Tracy Tsai, principal analyst of client computing at Gartner Asia Pacific.
The attractiveness and number of applications available for Windows 8 at launch will be a major factor in determining its success, she said.
"Consumers are looking for a complete solution - one that marries software and hardware for the optimal experience and the Surface has to provide this," she said.
However, Frost & Sullivan ICT consultant Iwan Rachmat was not too upbeat about the upcoming tablet. He said that the tablet market is already quite crowded with iOS and Android devices and the Surface's eventual launch in the region may be too late to cause a big splash.
"Although there is always room for new platforms but it cannot be another 'me too' product if Microsoft wants to challenge the successful Apple iPad," he said.
Consumers will no doubt have more options with the introduction of a Windows tablet but the Surface is less likely to grab significant market share from existing players, he added.
The Surface's success will be largely decided by consumers and one such excited person is Chooi Wai Ken who said he is happy that Microsoft finally took the wraps of its tablet.
"I've been looking forward to a Microsoft tablet ever since the preview of Windows 8 showed that it is designed to support tablets," said the 25-year-old engineer.
However, he will only consider buying it if there are quality apps for it.
Lawyer Amran Aminuddin, 28, said he would consider buying the Surface if the tablet can switch to a traditional Windows desktop environment.
Amran, who has not owned a tablet before, said he requires such an environment because he plans to use it mostly for work.
"If it is able to run Microsoft Office or other productivity apps, the Surface will come in handy for work especially because of its very thin keyboard accessory which will make editing documents so much easier," he said.