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Microsoft releases iPad rival to boost Windows 8

To compete with iPad Microsoft launch the Surface Tablet - Image Courtesy Microsoft

It’s very hard to feel sympathy for Microsoft. It is even harder to feel pity for the software giant. It is quite difficult because we’ve seen in the past how it has dealt with its competitors, whether it is Netscape Navigator in the browser wars or real networks in internet audio. In between these two well-publicized digital beatdowns, Microsoft also crushed many competitors throughout the years in many different software niches. Considering its past history of total and complete software domination, it would be hard to find people who would shed tears for Microsoft as it finds itself in its current position in the new post iPhone world. Microsoft increasingly seen its relevance quickly escaped its control and its grasp. It is almost baffling how the once invincible software giant is reduced to shooting in the dark. Its windows phone project went nowhere. Its cloud services are foundering. Windows Zune is a laughable afterthought. Given this long list of digital train wrecks, it does make one ask the previously unthinkable which is, “Has Microsoft finally lost its edge?” and “Has the software revolution in a cloud centric portable and mobile world finally left the station, and Microsoft was left sleeping in one of the benches? Indeed, so many analysts have criticized Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer as having been out to lunch on the top three major trends in the technology world in the past decade.

Microsoft missed the mark on smart phones

The software giant dropped the ball on portable music players. Now it looks like its quickly becoming irrelevant as Google continues to dominate the smartphone, tablet and other mobile device OS space. That’s why, against this backdrop, it makes perfect sense to see Microsoft unveil its Surface tablet to try to take a shot on Apple’s undisputed dominance of the tablet market. It’s looking for a very visible and well-publicized hardware platform that it can control to showcase to the world the full capabilities of Windows 8. As seemingly logical as this objective may be, it appears that Microsoft may be running the risk of burning its bridges behind it.

The problem? Microsoft is a software maker. It always had a clear dividing line between its hardware partners and its core software functions by boldly moving into its partners’ hardware territory. It might be stepping on many toes. Considering the technical competencies and marketing prowess needed to survive in the world of computer hardware manufacturing, this is a risk that might be too rich for Microsoft to take. Simply put, it is just too dependent on its hardware partners for it to maintain its edge in the operating systems market. Unfortunately for Microsoft, it appears that it has thrown all caution to the wind and has decided to go full force with the Microsoft Surface tablet. This might be a serious miscalculation on the Redmond Washington software giant’s part. Sure, it gets a viable platform to showcase the value of Windows 8. However, it runs the risk of pushing its already pressured hardware partners to go to the dark side.

That’s right. Many of them might be pushed to use Android, the free Google operating system as their OS platform of choice. If this happens because of competitive pressure they feel for Microsoft, or eagles being boost, Microsoft might have just signed its own corporate death warrant and speeded up its eventual decline. There’s no mistake about it, Microsoft is still the top dog in the software space especially in the corporate and enterprise software categories. However, it can’t continue to lose ground on the consumers’ space without its corporate edge finally buckling from under the wake of competitive pressure put on it by Google and other providers.

The Surface tablet looks nice and nifty and weighs only 1.5 lbs. It has a keyboard and a nice little stand. It appears to try to make up for the shortcomings of the iPad. However, given the strategic costs just outlined above, it might be too expensive of a gamble for the software maker to take at this time.