Windows 8 is the first Microsoft operating system specially oriented at touchscreen devices, but Surface is not actually the first Windows tablet on the market. Several manufacturers tried in the past with Windows 7, some quite strongly as in the case of HP, which in 2010 launched its Slate 500 tablet, whose failure could have cause the development of Surface, the tablet designed by Microsoft itself, according to a report released by the New York Times.
According to statements from several former executives from HP and Microsoft, the project had a great start, but because of the state of the company, the hardware division of HP began to acquire parts of low standards, which affected the final design in the Slate 500, which ended with a format too thick, a processor that was too hot and a touch screen that did not behave as expected by the Microsoft operating system causing lag in tactile interaction. This situation was unacceptable to both companies, especially since just weeks after unveiling the HP Slate 500 for the first time, Steve Jobs showed the public the first generation iPhone.
Microsoft worked at the same time with other manufacturers to get a mobile device that could compete against the Apple tablet, but never reached agreements due to lack of cooperation and disagreements in the format of the products or the price plan, which resulted in a “lost faith” in the system builders from Microsoft and its Windows division, including Steven Sinofsky, the head of the development of Windows 8 and the new hardware platform from Microsoft.
While HP showed their anger at Microsoft for not having created an operating system that was ready for touch interfaces with complaints particularly focused on “bad” on-screen keyboard in Windows 7, Microsoft ignored the requests to focus efforts on improving touch capabilities of Windows 7, mainly because it had already started development of the new Metro interface that can be seen in Surface devices. It is at this point that, according to NY Times article based on the assertions of several “ex” from HP and Microsoft, Steve Ballmer’s company began to invest considerable effort and economic data to develop their own hardware to the disillusionment with the assemblers, the failure of the Slate 500 attempt and HP also failed to control the market with HP TouchPad and WebOS.
As a challenge to themselves and to compete against the lightweight aluminum housing of iPad, Microsoft researchers placed particular stress upon the search for materials with high strength to create a particularly light weight chassis recognizable for its tablet, ultimately choosing magnesium, a material much liked by the test subjects of the Surface prototypes.
It is said that man learns from the mistakes of the past, Microsoft would have learned an important lesson with this “first attempt”, which has triggered a series of events that have resulted in the interesting Microsoft Surface. They have yet to reveal important information about this official generation of Windows 8 tablets. Could the warning been enough, or will they repeat the steps from HP?
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