Eight years ago this week, the Microsoft Surface line – a then-revolutionary series of tablet-laptop hybrid devices – hit the market and helped blaze the trail for a whole new kind of computing experience.
As detailed by Windows Central (opens in new tab), the original Microsoft Surface was a far cry from the kinds of devices Microsoft puts out today. The original had bezels wide enough to hold a small post-it note but crucially offered pen support, making tablet styluses actually functional.
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The new 2-in-1 laptop form factor that Microsoft introduced has since been adopted by every laptop manufacturer to varying degrees. Even Apple blurred the line between a laptop and a tablet with its iPad Pro, introduced in 2015.
Microsoft's Surface products have become a solid revenue stream for the company
Microsoft notoriously rose to prominence in the 1980s and 1990s by leveraging software licensing of their operating systems to various computer makers in the US and Asia – unlike Apple, which built both the operating system exclusively for its Macintosh line of personal computers.
Letting hardware makers install Microsoft's OS on their systems relieved the manufacturers of the need to write one themselves, allowing Microsoft to capture nearly the entire OS market for itself without ever having to build its own computers.
So it's pretty ironic that now, in 2020, the Microsoft-manufactured Surface line has become a solid source of cash for the company – though it's still far behind the company's cloud computing division in terms of revenue.
As the Surface line of products reaches maturity, we can definitely expect more incredible products from Microsoft in the years ahead.