Microsoft Surface announced. Is Microsoft taking cues from Apple?

While reading Engadget’s live coverage of Microsoft event today, I came across a statement by Steve Ballmer that sounded very Steve Jobs-esque:

“We believe that any intersection between human and machine can be made better when every aspect of the experience, hardware and software, are considered together.”

Isn’t that what Apple has been doing since the Apple I? I mean, Apple remains in full control of their hardware and software, thus delivering a tighter integration and an overall better user experience. iOS + iPhone/iPad/iPod. OS X + Macs.

Is this statement indicative of the direction Microsoft is taking? They’ve successfully branched out into the gaming world with the Xbox, where they control the hardware and the software. It is also apparent that Microsoft is taking design cues from Apple, and its evident in the way Surface was designed from a hardware stand. Its great to see Microsoft dedicating more resources to hardware development and refinement.

Microsoft announced what appears to be a very worthy competitor in the tablet space with the Surface, but if they’re taking cues from Apple, they should’ve gone further. Let me illustrate.

-No pricing information. Will it cost $500 or $1000? The only indication is that it will cost about the same as an ultrabook. Apple’s pricing scheme is far simpler, and revealed at the announcement event. The iPad starts at $500 and the Macbook Air (the ultrabook) starts at $1000. Microsoft, pricing differentiation is huge for consumers.

-No solid availability. Around the launch of Windows 8. Very vague. Microsoft, if you want consumers to lust over your products before they’re launched, at least give them a date.

-The options aren’t clear for users. The Surface will be available in two segments, each geared towards different types of users. Surface for Windows RT tablet and a Surface for Windows 8 Pro tablet. The first features an Nvidia ARM processor and the other will be a bit heavier, offer a better screen and will run on an Intel i5 chip. Apple offers 1 iPad, with celular connectivity and in different storage capacities. But in the end, its just the iPad.

I would like to also point out that Microsoft didn’t get deep into specs. How fast a processor? How much RAM? Ballmer et al didn’t mention these and it seems like a great indication that the specs race is no longer relevant and companies can focus their marketing towards user experience, which Apple has always done.

‘Those people who can stand at the intersection of the humanities and science, the liberal arts and technology, that intersection, are the people who can change the world”. -Steve Jobs