Microsoft announced its entry into the tablet market this week, which will be available in two versions and is expected (by some) to be the first real contender to knock Apple’s iPad off its top spot.

The last device to cause a buzz like this was the Kindle Fire; however, although there was an initial rush to buy one, this has now dropped off and the iPad remains far above the competition with a 68% share of the global tablet market, with Fire making up around 35%.

There are plenty of reasons that Apple continue to dominate – the iPad is smooth, sleek, can be synced with other Apple devices such as iPod and iPhones and of course, has the advantage of half a million apps which can be downloaded from the app store, although only around 90,000of these are exclusively for the iPad. However, many iPhone apps can be used with the iPad too.

Whilst Android tablets have access to considerably less apps (it’s difficult to pin down the actual number as available information is far from transparent), Blackberry has even less and it’s very unlikely that Surface will have many as yet, although it seems that developers are chomping on the bit to make them.

This is likely to be a big deterrent to those who are considering buying Surface over the iPad, although the whole Windows 8 ‘eco-system’ is something that could work over time to enable a similar way to share work, music, email and so on, much like you can with Apple devices.

Whilst the lower-end Surface tablet is aimed at the consumer market, the more expensive version will be aimed at enterprise, or in any case, that’s where it’s likely to make the most sales. The ‘entry-level’ tablet uses an ARM-based processor and will be available in 32GB and 64GB options.

The higher-end model comes with an Intel processor and consumers will have a choice between a 64GB model or 128GB of storage. What does set Surface apart from the iPad is that it has USB, something which consumers have bemoaned the lack of since the launch of the first iPad.

This means of course, that content can be taken from the tablet and shared with other devices around the home such as computers and televisions. Of course, you can attach an iPad to a PC, but this involves being forced to install iTunes, something which isn’t a bonus for everyone.

Then there’s the security issue; whilst MS say that Windows 8 is considerably more secure than previous versions of the OS, can they really be taken at their word on this? Apple has by far the best security reputation, including over Android-based devices, although the recent Flashback trojan proved that even Mac’s aren’t infallible.

It’s very unlikely that Surface will overtake Apple in the short-term, at least – in the long term it could become a reality, but Microsoft have a lot of work to do to ensure that the device becomes popular, attracts enough devs to make apps and outsells the iPad.

However, it’s not impossible, after all, Windows has been and remains the most popular (and most attacked) OS in the world today – that’s not to say that it can kill the iPad off – that is asking the impossible, even for Bill Gates.

 

Author Bio: Kerry Butters is writing about Microsoft’s Surface Tablet: the end of the road for the iPad on behalf of Broadband Genie, the comparison site for broadband, mobile broadband and tablet PCs.

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