Because they know I love my iPad, people keep asking me what I think about Microsoft's new Surface tablet. Yesterday, one beaming Microsoft fan actually said to me: "I guess that's it for the iPad, isn't it?"
I haven't touched a Surface tablet yet, so I don't know what I think about it. My first impression, though, is that, for all the fanfare around its launch, there's a lot about the Surface that remains unknown.
What will it cost? Microsoft didn't say.
When will it be available? Microsoft didn't say.
What's the battery life? Microsoft didn't say.
How does it feel to type on that fancy cover keyboard? Microsoft didn't let people touch them.
What wireless options (3G? 4G? LTE?) will be offered? Microsoft didn't say.
Where will I be able to try before I buy? Not at Wal-Mart. Not at Target. Not even at Best Buy. The only outlet where I'll be able to handle one? One of twenty-five Microsoft stores nationwide. (Actually, as John Gruber points out, there aren't really even twenty-five of these, since many are "coming soon.")
Especially compared to Apple's iPad announcements (which always include price, launch date, battery life, hands-on opportunities for the media, and wireless provider information, followed by widespread retail availability), Microsoft's announcement struck me as a bit weak. It's easy to be excited about potential … but, in the end, what matters is achievement.
Frankly? I hope the Surface *is* a good competitor for the iPad, because good competition drives faster innovation. But for now, I think talk of the end of the iPad era is a bit overdue.