one of the largest and most unethical industrial espionage campaigns of the last few decades." I'm not here to take one side or the other, but to point out examples from Microsoft's long history why I believe these new machines are doomed to failure.
I have long experience of Microsoft products stretching back to MS-DOS and further back to the original Altair Basic for CP/M and the Microsoft Z-80 Softcard for the Apple II, forward through a whole series of mice, keyboards, and X-Box gaming consoles as well as their ill-fate Zune player.
But I also remember, from the software side, Blackcomb and Longhorn, leading up to the biggest disappointment of all time, Vista. Features that had been originally slated for what became Vista were dropped left and right while the release date was pushed back years. When it was finally released it was met with considerable blow-back from both consumers and businesses, requiring Microsoft to release Windows 7 just to wash the bad taste out of many customer's mouths.
an astonishing take on the tablet." Less than a year later the Courier would be canceled by Steve Ballmer. As James Kendrick on Gigaom wrote at the time, "The cancelation of the Courier “concept” project, confirmed by Microsoft, is a shame. This device showed the potential of being the most innovative thing to come out of Redmond in years."
Microsoft could have had a real game-changer three years ago if they'd really wanted one, but they killed it through systemic mismanagement. As far as I can see nothing's really changed.
What bothers me about the introduction of the Surface is the lack of availability information; when it will be available and for how much. Add to that a lack of real feature information, and the disturbing way the units were not allowed to be really used (if they were usable at all) during the introduction and I'm personally led to believe that the Surface will follow the same path as so many other high-profile Microsoft projects, into eventual obscurity and oblivion.
The Surface has started followed the same path as the Courier in my little bubble of the universe. As one of my co-workers said at the announcement, the Surface had want written all over it. It's the same emotion we all felt when we first read about the Courier. In both cases, if Microsoft had had product to sell on the day of the announcements we would have pulled out our credit cards and ordered one immediately. But they didn't, in the process losing out to Apple on the Courier and the rest of the market on the Surface. If and when the Surface is finally released I doubt any of us will feel the same desire to buy our own copy like we did when the Surface were first introduced. We will have instead been sated by products from Apple, Google, and Samsung, to name but three.
I look forward with morbid interest to the date that the Surface is supposed to be sold. I'm also looking forward to see how Microsoft's OEM partners will treat Microsoft going forward. Microsoft's introduction of the Surface gained it no good will whatsoever with either consumers or business partners, and I strongly believe it will ultimately come back to hurt them overall as a business.
Update 6 July
Microsoft Win8 Tablet Is NOT a Game Changer