What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet

Microsoft’s huge announcement Monday that it was going into the consumer computer business is a turning point for the Redmond giant – a real gloves-off, damn-the-torpedoes moment. It’s also perhaps a grudging nod to Apple and Steve Jobs’s view that hardware and software need to develop together to get it right. Until now Microsoft has ceded hardware issues to other companies – Dell, HP, Acer, Samsung, etc. Now it will compete with them.

But the notion that “The Surface” – Microsoft’s new tablet PC unveiled Monday but not expected on the market until the end of the year – will take on Apple’s iPad is misguided.

We’re still in the early stages of the tablet era, and nobody can really claim to exactly define what a tablet is. But for me “tablet” means the computer is self-contained and mobile – you can use it standing up and even walking around. Whatever defects the iPad is perceived to have – starting with a software keyboard – its ease of use in contexts where a traditional clamshell computer can’t be used makes it the embodiment of a tablet.

Microsoft’s Surface does not seem to be cut from the same cloth. It’s more expensive model will run the heavyweight programs Adobe Photoshop and Microsoft Office, but the cover/keyboard and the kickstand – both of which are grounded tools – are chief among the attributes Microsoft touts.