So the new Microsoft Surface has been revealed in a last minute event on Monday (I say last minute as most of the attendees only got their invites on Thursday/Friday and even then the venue was only confirmed a few hours before it began on Monday!). I gotta say it looks pretty slick, and that flip out keyboard is really nice (cue a ton of after market knock-offs for the iPad).
The timing of the announcement is a bit funny though, why announce now when it won't be available for months yet? No release date, no apps, no pricing? I guess they want to steal a bit of Apple's and Google's thunder by squeezing in their own announcement between those company's developer conferences, but the whole thing felt like it wasn't meant to be unveiled yet and was a last minute decision (strengthened by the fact that journalists were only allowed to handle units that were powered off: "Microsoft representatives were happy to show off the device, but they didn't let me actually use the new tablet").
In my mind though it looks more like a replacement for an UltraBook than an iPad - check out the gallery here, in every shot it has a keyboard attached and is up on it's stand, there are no shots of the Surface being used as a tablet, and the aspect ratio of it lends itself to be used on the stand more than in the hand (16:9 widescreen). And nearly identical versions of the Surface running either Arm or Intel processors? That won't confuse anyone I'm sure...
I'd be happy to be proven wrong about the whole thing however, maybe it will be a great tablet. MS are certainly tenacious enough and have the pile of money needed to keep at it until they hit paydirt (something that HP was too scared to do with the TouchPad). Overall it does look a whole lot better than what we've seen lately from the other vendors and more competition in this space will be good. I just hope that it isn't like Windows Phone 7 - a good product but released incomplete and has gained next to no traction against the iPhone and Android. I wish them luck!