No other tablet offers anything remotely like Office, and by itself, its inclusion changes the nature of what Surface is and who the target audience might be. This is why I say Microsoft has approached Surface with a completely different vision of computing, and it's why it's not really possible to make a straight comparison between Surface and the iPad and Android tablets.
It's too early to say whether Surface will be a commercial success. But Surface does clearly articulate Microsoft's vision of Windows 8 and how that vision is embodied by hardware. And it serves as notice that Microsoft recognizes that in a world driven by computing ecosystems, the integration of hardware and software is key.
I think Surface has the potential to connect with users who haven't yet been tempted by what the tablet market has presented them. Clearly, in this new age of personal computing, a single approach won't suit everyone, nor should it.
Surface also serves to raise the bar for Windows OEM devices. If it accomplishes nothing else, its existence will be justified.
Michael Gartenberg is a research director at Gartner. The opinions expressed are his own. Follow him on Twitter @Gartenberg.
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