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You’ve got to hand it to whoever handles Microsoft’s marketing, they sure know how to drum up hype. The tech press hadn’t been this excited for an announcement since, well, the last Apple launch.
Wait, does that mean we actually expect Microsoft to be cool again?
Totally. In fact, we think its big tablet reveal shows that the Redmond-based giant is getting its groove back and (dare we say it?) becoming cool. Here’s why.
A photography and film studio in Hollywood set up to look like a fashion show? How much further could Microsoft get from the staid corporate image it’s made its own for the past few decades?
2. The show started late
Forget fashionably late. That’s old hat. No I’m talking about the fact the Redmond-based giant had the balls to keep a hungry tech press waiting just a few minutes longer. Now that’s cool.
3. The Surface comes in actual colours
This is a slight bug bear of mine. Over the past couple of years tablet makers have given us an incredibly limited colour palette to choose from: silver, black, and white. Microsoft’s remembered that nobody actually thinks that people who live in black and white worlds are cool: they’re wankers.
Okay, it’s only introduced a couple more colours with the Surface (which are more or less the same as those available on the Lumia range of smartphones) but somebody had to break free from the masses. And when you think about it, that’s pretty cool too. The Touch Cover is available in blue, orange, pink, charcoal and white.
4. It knows how to accessorise
Hands up. How many of you use your tablet exactly as it came out of the box? I’m betting a good potion of you have stands and covers that include keyboards. Microsoft’s clearly been watching the industry around tablets accessories grow rapidly and thought “sod it, we’ll make our own”.
The fact that the Surface comes with a built-in kickstand and that the 3mm thick touch cover is also a keyboard is pretty damn spectacular. And when it comes to business nothing screams cool like giving the finger to industry that thrives on your competitors’ shortcomings.
5. It’s metal
Well “VaporMg” (Magnesium) to be precise. Plastic can beautiful and moulded to our every need, but you wouldn’t expect to see Robert Downey Jr playing “Plastic Man” would you? Okay he probably wouldn’t play “Magnesium Man” either but metal’s still way cooler (and more rugged) than plastic.
6. Windows 8 RT
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. Windows Phone is silky, smooth and beautiful. It is packed with amazing innovations like People Hub and Live Tiles, and applications like Facebook and Twitter are baked into the OS.
Windows 8 RT is going to be an even better extension of that philosophy. It copies no one and is properly innovative. The cool ones don’t always run with the “in” crowd.
7. Steve Ballmer is meta
During his presentation, the Microsoft CEO issued some great quotes, a few of which would’ve been right at home in a first year philosophy class:
“We’ve helped usher in cloud computing, we’ve embraced mobility, we’re redefining communications … Windows is the heart and soul in all of it.”
“We believe any intersection between human and machine can be made better when hardware and software are working together.
“We believe in the strength of the PC ecosystem … hardware and software companies working together to deliver choice. Those partnerships are essential to the reimagination of Windows.”
“With Windows 8, we did not want to leave any seam uncovered. We wanted to give it its own companion innovation.”
“It’s something new, something different, a whole new family of computing devices from Microsoft.”
“A tablet that’s a great PC, a PC that’s a great tablet. A new kind of computing.”
In the words of Keaunu Reeves: “Whoah”.
You’ll notice that I haven’t gone into the Surface’s specs. There’s a very good reason for that. Performance has very little do with how cool something is. Apple know this better than anyone. The first iPhone didn’t have 3G at a time when the technology was pretty much ubiquitous in developed markets.
Let me use another example. Usain Bolt isn’t cool just because he’s the fastest man on the planet. He’s also a an affable kind of guy who gives off relaxed vibes in every interview I’ve ever seen him in. If he sulked every time he lost and trash talked his opponents, we probably wouldn’t like him very much.
Want to know more about Surface? Gearburn has an overview of the specs.