The Microsoft Surface. We can argue about the specifics, but what isn't in doubt is that Microsoft's debut tablet hasn't sold as many as the company was hoping for.
But Microsoft chairman Bill Gates is still a believer, saying the Surface is the solution to users “frustrated” by the limitations of the likes of the market-leading iPad.
“With Windows 8 Microsoft is trying to gain share in what has been dominated by the iPad-type device,” Gates told CNBC. “But a lot of those users are frustrated, they can't type, they can't create documents, they don't have Office there.
“So we're providing them something with the benefits they've seen that have made [tablets] a big category, but without giving up what they expect in a PC.”
The problem, of course, is that those exact comments could have been made a year ago before the Surface even launched.
The fact is that the Surface is now here and those users Gates is talking about who are “frustrated” enough to jump from their iPad-type devices to Microsoft's tablet alternative just aren't as many in number as Microsoft thought.
To a degree it's a question of ideology. Microsoft's concept of the tablet being a PC-based product is at odds with the existing norm of tablets being effectively smartphone-based devices.
And no matter who's right or which approach is better, the point is people have got used to tablets as mobile devices and it's going to be hard to change their minds. And with the distinction between smartphones, tablets and PCs likely to dissolve altogether over the next few years, it probably doesn't matter anyway.
They've also got used to living without Office on their tablets, while the comment about the keyboard would be easier to agree with if the Surface's keyboard was actually included in the cost of the device rather than a paid-for add-on.
Gates' comments do a good job of explaining why Microsoft decided to get into the tablet game in the first place, but we're still a long way from seeing those theories played out in the real world.
Arguably Microsoft would have been better off simply releasing the Surface Pro and not even bothering with the Surface RT, as it's hard to see what the latter has contributed to Microsoft's efforts to woo existing tablet users to its way of thinking.
The Surface Pro truly does give users "what they expect on a PC" and for a very good reason: it actually runs the same OS they get when buying a new PC.
I'm surely not alone in thinking Microsoft should focus its efforts there, and hoping the rumours are true that the Windows/Surface RT experiment is largely going to be swept under the carpet and absorbed into Windows 8 proper once the "Blue" update materialises down the line.
Or if Windows RT is to continue to exist on its own, Microsoft needs to deliver an update that changes the perception that RT is just a dumbed-down version of Windows 8 for cheap devices. Right or wrong, it's not helping, and it's about as far away from Gates' vision of the Surface as it's possible to get.
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