Apple iPad vs. Microsoft Surface: Tim Cook Slams Windows 8 Tablet, But What Really Makes A Device Worthwhile?

 @LisaEadicicco on October 26 2012 3:36 PM
Microsoft Surface Tablet for Windows 8
The media mogul took to Twitter so praise Microsoft's latest product, but did so from an via her iPad. REUTERS

Friday marks a very important day for Microsoft. Its brand new Windows 8 operating system has finally hit stores as its first-ever, self-branded tablet launches around the globe. While fans and critics offer up their first impressions of the Surface tablet, the CEO of Microsoft's major industry rival has also shared his thoughts.

“What we’re reading about is a fairly compromised product,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in reference to the Surface. “I suppose you could design a car that flies and floats, but I don’t think it would do all of those things very well.”

This essentially means Cook believes users will flock to the iPad to fulfill their tablet needs.

“And I think they will continue to do that,” the Apple CEO added during Apple’s earnings call on Thursday.

Microsoft made a parallel of its own between the Surface and modes of transportation, as executive Steven Sinofsky attached a pair of skateboard trucks and longboard wheels on the bottom of the new tablet about a week ago.

“Couldn’t resist taking it out for a spin … #surface,” he tweeted along with a photo of himself riding the tablet as a skateboard.

Cook’s comment from Thursday isn’t the first time he has referenced other unrelated appliances to take a jab at Microsoft’s tablet. When the Redmond, Wash., company initially unveiled its 10.6-inch slate, the Apple CEO made a similar remark.

“You can converge a toaster and a refrigerator, but those things are probably not going to be pleasing to the user,” he said in June, according to the Seattle Times.

Microsoft’s PR chief Frank Shaw countered this comment with some snark of his own via Twitter, saying:

“must be a typo. It’s not a toaster/fridge. It’s a toaster/oven. Those seem pretty popular. Just saying. #win8 #toasterovenFTW”

The Surface isn’t the only non-Apple tab that the company has recently targeted. During its iPad Mini unveiling event, Apple’s Vice President of Marketing Phil Schiller compared the iPad Mini alongside Google’s Nexus 7, tearing the competing 7-inch slates' specs and features apart. The Apple executive boasted that the iPad Mini features 35 percent more screen space and 50 percent more Web browser display than the Android rival.

“Others have made tablets smaller than the iPad, and they’ve failed,” Schiller said during Tuesday’s announcement.

These remarks raise a critical question: What do users really want from a tablet? Apple’s iPad provides visually enhanced Retina Display, which is optimal for use as an entertainment device. With incredible app support, a lighter body, and a giant app store, the iPad could beat out the Surface when it comes to consuming media on the go. Aside from the Kindle app, there’s no real support for books or magazines on the Windows-maker’s new tablet.

Microsoft, however, always has one crucial element on its side: Microsoft Office. Anyone looking for an easy, portable, work device with a touch screen would be interested in seeing what the Surface has to offer. With a keyboard cover case and touchscreen-optimized Microsoft Office 2013, the Surface could revolutionize the mobile work environment.

Let’s not forget Microsoft’s other strong point: gaming. The Surface’s USB port can support game controllers, and with the new SmartGlass app that just rolled out on Friday, the tablet could come with some strong potential for mobile gamers.

In terms of which device is better, it’s difficult to say. Both Microsoft and Apple have developed their own loyal fan bases, and perhaps the Surface will appeal to Windows fanatics who have been holding off on a tablet purchase. Conversely, there’s no denying that Apple is dominating the tablet industry with each subsequent release.

Only time will tell how Microsoft’s first tablet competes against Apple’s well-established family of slates in the mobile market. The Surface did manage to sell out on its first day of pre-orders on Oct. 18, as shipments of the $499 model were pushed back three weeks.

Do you plan on trying out Microsoft’s Surface? Or will you be in line for one of Apple’s new iPads? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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