With the massive success of Microsoft over the years, it’s easy to forget that they did not actually build their own computers. They’re just a software company.  Until now.

The Microsoft Surface is their first attempt and at least from the looks of the machine, it appears they’ve done a good job.

In deciding to re-create the PC industry they have taken the newest technology, the tablet computer and reconfigured it as a PC.  A mobile PC.  Not bulky like a laptop, but light and portable like a tablet.

Microsoft had clearly lost patience with its previous partners including Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Dell and others.  Microsoft felt that they were allowing Apple to take over personal computing, without much of a fight mind you, and Microsoft had decided they’d seen enough.

The result:  The Microsoft Surface

It goes on sale Friday, October 26, 2012, and the reviews from critics so far had been consistently good I would say, with a few detractors.  Many who are more irritated with mobile version of Windows 8 than with the new computer, but that’s another story.  So, what does the Surface have going for it?

The 32Gb model comes in at $499, the same price as a 16Gb iPad and has a 10.6” inch screen.  Surface has a kickstand which makes it easy to use the tablet as a laptop model.  Especially when you have the keyboard, which doubles as a cover, connected.

The case is slate colored magnesium which helps with keeping the weight down.  The material, not the color.

The screen has a 16:9 aspect ratio which matches the Windows 8 panoramic style.  It allows for more tiles to be visible; less scrolling.

The tablet also comes with a USB port and a MicroSDXC slot that allows for connectivity to other devices.  This makes it way more like a PC than a tablet.

The success of the tablet/hybrid PC will come down to its modified Windows 8 operating system, which is called Windows RT.  Will Windows 8 and Windows RT deliver?  Microsoft Surface depends on it.

I must add one quote from a Microsoft executive that was included in the excellent techland.time.com post.  When discussing the screen resolution which is much less than the retina display of the iPad, a Microsoft engineer had this to say:  “people who are 45 and above generally can’t tell a Retina screen from a lower-resolution one.”

Another head scratcher from Microsoft isn’t it?

It’s the kind of thinking that has landed Microsoft in its current position of being, maybe, the third most influential tech company.  A gaping distance behind Apple and Google.