The funny thing about the Slate is how closely Microsoft is following Apple’s lead . . .
1. Mysterious Announcement
Everyone generally knew that MS was on the verge of announcing their own tablet, but no one really knew what the device looked like or what it could do. Apple is known for their mysterious invitations to the press and Steve Job’s infamous “One more thing…” presentations. Instead of the usual press release, MS copied Apple and did their best to make splash with their product.
2. Cutting out the Middle Man
Previously MS has relied on third parties like Samsung, Sony, or ASUS to build the hardware while MS just supplied the software. This time, they are getting their own hands dirty and building it themselves just like Apple does with their own devices.
3. Intuitive Interface
Let’s be frank, IOS isn’t the greatest OS out there, but when Apple introduced the iPhone and later the iPad it was brilliant because unlike previous phones and tablets the interface was simple, sleek, and was form over function. It looked so good that people ignored the things it didn’t/doesn’t do very well. MS has followed the Apple lead developed the “Metro” interface. The jury is still out on if it’s an improvement over Apple’s time tested design, but early reports are promising. It’s simple and intuitive and allows people to do what they want with only a single tap or two.
4. An Integrated Experience
At E3, Microsoft made a big deal about their new Smart Glass software. This technology will allow your Xbox to talk to your TV, Phone, DVR, Slate, and even your iDevice. Apple fans have always touted the fact that their devices could seamlessly talk to each other, creating an Apple ecosystem that “just works.” Now it seems that MS is creating similar functionality in their devices, and creating a network that “just works” but are allowing other companies to play too.
So from announcement, to design, to interaction with other devices, it looks like MS is doing their best to out-apple Apple. They tried this before with the Zune and it failed horribly. Mostly I’m guessing because their device was ugly and expensive and Apple was the hot new thing then. Now that Apple has had some time to show its warts to the world, MS may have a chance to strike back at their old adversary. The interesting thing is if MS can actually pull off everything they promised. A slick presentation is one thing, but a functional, fun, and seamlessly integrated device is something else entirely.