Microsoft worries its app ecosystem won't Surface

An SEC document filed by Microsoft has revealed the rough data its anticipated tablet, the Surface, will go on sale. There are no surprises here but it is nice to know.

According to the filing, the Surface devices will start to appear in shops upon the general availability of the Windows 8 operating system, launching 26 October this year. The earliest previews of Metro suggested a tablet-friendly design but the world and its dog did raise its eyebrows when the company announced it would be manufacturing its own designs.

Although the company is yet to officially confirm when the Surface will be hitting the shops, save supply hiccups and unexpected last-minute faults, we would say an SEC filing is a pretty accurate picture of the company’s roadmap. 

The ARM-based Surface for Windows RT is set to get a look in before the Surface Pro – the traditional Wintel combination – appears, reports PCWorld. The company is sure to irritate some of its partners by working on and manufacturing its own designs, and it has recognised this. In the filing, Vole admits that its Surface products will “compete with products made by our OEM partners, which may affect their commitment to our platform”. 

However, Redmond must have felt pushed into the situation: although Microsoft is a software company through and through, it will have looked at the Apple, Google, and Amazon models and worried about being left in the lurch. Although Apple set the trend for tablets as a premium but essential, everday device (they’re not), Google and Amazon both recognised that the game isn’t in beating Apple, but winning on content.

Android and Amazon are fighting the battle in selling content. Windows Phone has not been particularly successful in building the most profitable or extensive ecosystem. Again, the filing reveals Microsoft may encounter a bump in the road with content. It reads: “In order to compete, we must successfully enlist developers to write applications for our marketplace and ensure that these applications have high quality, customer appeal and value”. Redmond is sure to be on a recruitment drive, and will have to offer intriguing incentives. Remember: it did well with the Xbox.

We can expect the Wintel Surface to be priced at a premium, while the ARM based Surface RT should take aim at cheaper models comparable on the market.