Will This Tablet Change Everything? (And We Don't Mean the iPad Mini)

Surface Tablet
Surface Tablet

Microsoft (MSFT) is hoping that its Surface tablet is ready for prime time -- even as market-dominating Apple (AAPL) prepares for the big announcement of what is expected to be the iPad mini Oct. 23.

The software giant is introducing TV commercials this week to show off the head-turning tablet that's powered by Microsoft's new Windows 8 operating system. The company went for one of the largest audiences of the week, rolling out the ad during the Denver Broncos remarkable come-from-behind win against the San Diego Chargers on Monday Night Football.

The ad (watch it here) plays up the simplicity of the full-sized tablet's kickstand and magnetic keyboard, features that Microsoft hopes will set it apart from the market-leading iPad.

Will It Be Enough?

Outside of the success that Microsoft has had with the Xbox 360, consumers don't necessarily view the company as a player in consumer tech hardware.

There have been plenty of misses as the company tries to take on Apple:

  • The Zune may have had some nifty social sharing features, but the public stuck to the Apple's iPod. The Zune sputtered for a couple of years.

  • Microsoft's Kin may have put an interesting spin on smartphone screen presentations with its tiled landing page, but folks weren't willing to trade in their Apple iPhones. The Kin was killed within a month.

Does Microsoft really stand a chance in taking on Apple's iPad? It might.

Let's Have Some Fun

This week's Surface ad is whimsical. It's a playful choreographed dance number where the clicks of keyboards attaching and kickstands being snapped into and out of place provide a rhythmic groove to the uplifting score.

Surface users are dancing, twisting, and in one case even smooching. The marketing campaign is throwing a wide canvas by featuring everything from young uniformed schoolgirls to an elderly couple and from business pros to a family having a picnic in the park.

The spots don't even play into the real advantage of having a Microsoft-powered tablet hitting the market: Microsoft Office.

Surface Tablet
Surface Tablet

iPads and Android tablets have plenty of apps that can work with files cranked out by Microsoft's Word or Excel, but this will be the tablet that can natively work with the company's productivity programs.

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How big a selling point this ultimately is will be dictated by the success of Windows 8. The new operating system is turning heads, but there's a fear out there that Microsoft's new tablet-centric platform may present too steep a learning curve for corporate users and even many consumers running earlier versions of the program on their desktops and laptops.

Then again, if Microsoft wants to matter in tablets, it's not going to get there by playing it safe.

Microsoft is taking chances, and the biggest gamble of all may be if this upbeat marketing campaign will be enough to woo the public when Oct. 26 rolls around and the Surface is finally available to the public.

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Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz does not own shares in any of the stocks in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a bull call spread position in Apple and a synthetic covered call position in Microsoft.

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