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Microsoft's Impressive Product Still Needs Perfect Execution


NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Microsoft's (MSFT) highly anticipated press release Monday proves the Seattle company knows how to gain millions of dollars in free marketing. The Twitter feed during the press release was moving faster than Nascar crew changing tires on a hot North Carolina track. Ironically, some of the Tweets included pictures of seated bloggers at the event with Apple (AAPL) laptops.

Microsoft appears to have an exceptionally cool and innovative laptop/tablet on their hands. The real question is will the advancement into the tablet space result in greater shareholder value, or become the butt end of more Apple commercials?

Surface, the new Microsoft tablet, was introduced by CEO Steve Ballmer during an invite-only press event. Microsoft could have made the event bigger with a video feed for the world to see, but when you're short on details like price and availability, a video may do more harm than good.

Microsoft already has a Surface product made by Samsung. The Samsung product looks like a tabletop. (Read my article Should Apple Fear Microsoft's Coming Tablet Assault?)

Microsoft is currently unwilling to disclose pricing information or the timing of a Surface release date. The lack of answers to obvious questions raises red flags. Does Microsoft know the details and if so, why would you not publish it during the press release announcing the product? Or does Microsoft not even know when the product will hit the stores and at what retail prices?

The Surface includes a lot of wow factor, but to what end? Is Microsoft going to turn its back on Dell (DELL), Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), and others? Granted Microsoft isn't only a software company and has produced many winning hardware products. Microsoft's Kinect, Xbox, keyboard and mouse are just some of the great products.

The difference between selling a Kinect or mouse and Surface is this: Kinect and mice don't compete against Microsoft's best customers. Apple is an all-in-one solution. While Apple doesn't directly make hardware, the vendors are OEM producers and Apple doesn't have to cannibalize vendors when adding new products. (Read my article Will Apple's Shot at Google Hit RIM and Nokia Instead?)

Hewlett-Packard gave up on the tablet game; however, HP is still a powerhouse in laptops and netbooks. After a dismal last quarter, Dell is faced with directly competing with Microsoft, a company about 10 times larger by market cap.

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