Google's Reaction to Microsoft Surface: A Mixture of Surprise and Skepticism

Pulkit Chandna

Reactions to the recently unveiled Microsoft Surface tablet family just keep coming in, with everyone from PC vendors to industry watchers eager to weigh in on the Redmond-based company’s decision to sell self-branded tablets. Even though people are probably more interested in Apple’s reaction, Google beat the Cupertino company to the punch Wednesday when it fired a cautious verbal volley at the Surface.

During an interview session at the GigaOm Structure conference in San Francisco, GigaOm patriarch Om Malik asked Google's senior vice president of Chrome and Apps, Sundar Pichai, for his take on the Surface. Pichai began by saying it was a surprising announcement and “shows the pressure they feel from Apple and iPad.” However, he did compliment Microsoft for putting “serious effort” into the Surface’s form factor, an area in dire need of innovation according to him.

"They are doing everything right in terms of messaging, but to me it's a very complicated strategy to pull off," Pichai said. “Even before the Surface announcement, Windows 8 itself has been a cause of both optimism and concern among entire ecosystem. I am excited because the Windows ecosystem is in some ways ossified, and it takes time for it to change.”

“Windows 8 is a big disruptive thing, and that is both good and an opportunity for everyone else. One of the main concerns with Windows 8 is that it is primarily designed around touch and tablets, and it's not exactly fully clear how great of an user experience it is on laptops and so on with Metro mode.”

Pichai’s reaction in a lot of ways mimics the overall initial response to Windows 8 and the Surface in that it too is mixed. Perhaps no one really knows how to react to and what to really expect from Windows 8 and the Surface tablet family.

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