Image you have a Macbook Air. But this Air is special. It has a full touch screen. More than that, the keyboard section can be easily removed and replaced. There is also a hardware button built into the screen section to bring up finder, with your Apple Store iOS apps featured. This device would be running an updated version of OS X, with modest improvements to make the OS work better in the case where the touch screen is your only mouse, and features to support tablet behaviors such as rotating the screen.
You could take this device, sit on your couch, lay the keyboard section on the coffee table, and use the screen just like an iPad. In fact, because it has a full x86 processor and RAM, this would be an iPad that is awesomely fast. When you’re done, you attach the keyboard half, put it in your bag, and head to work. At work, you open it up like a laptop, and the same device is a fully functional Macbook.
This is what Microsoft aspires to with the Surface Pro. It is significant product, and deserves some attention, not because it merely copies the iPad, but because it succeeds in moving the tablet platform forward, at least to some extent. It’s an iPad. It’s a Macbook Air. It’s both. Microsoft Surface has the potential to be the only computing device (outside of a phone) that many users will want or need, and that feat will be a challenge for the iPad to duplicate.
If you owned the Macbook Air described here, would you still want to buy an iPad? If you could get a Macbook Air and an iPad for the price of just the Air, would that grab your attention? Does never having to choose between iPad and Macbook when you leave home appeal to you?
Admittedly, this “iPad” would be a little thicker and about 1/2 lb heavier, but it’s still in the realm of comfortable couch use. It wouldn’t have all-day battery life, but it does still far exceed what we’ve seen from past laptops. And you’ll have to run Windows… but this isn’t your parent’s version of Windows anymore, either.