Microsoft Is Cautiously Optimistic about the Surface Tablet

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Microsoft SurfaceMicrosoft’s CEO has indicated that his company is optimistic about the recently-announced Microsoft Surface, but isn’t going overboard about it.

Steve Ballmer said during his keynote address at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference this week that his company hopes to sell “a few million Surface PCs” in the next year.

Obviously he was being deliberately vague, possibly in order to reassure others making Windows tablets. There has been speculation that companies like HP, Lenovo, Toshiba, and Samsung aren’t happy about having to compete head-to-head with Microsoft. Ballmer could be saying that there is no plan to flood the market with Surface tablets.

The iPad Factor

On the other hand, Ballmer could be downplaying expectations for his company’s tablet so that, if sales are initially weak, Microsoft can say that’s what it expected.

Whatever Ballmer says, however, it’s certain the launch of the Surface is going to be compared by the press to the launch of the third-generation Apple iPad, which sold three million units in the first few days it was available.

Not that this will necessarily be a fair comparison. The first version of the Surface scheduled for release will be the first tablet from Microsoft running Windows RT, a completely new version of Windows. The iPad 3, on the other hand, was just the latest version of an already-established product line.

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