Making rare comments on tech-related matters Gates said there's "a strong possibility" that Apple will have to change tact to ensure the iPad can match the Surface's "exciting form factor."
Gates told the Charlie Rose Show in the US that the Surface proves that there's no need to compromise between owning a tablet or a PC or both.
"You don't have to make a compromise. You can have everything you like about a tablet and everything you like about a PC all in one device. And so that should change the way people look at things."
Apple has so far brushed aside speculation that it'll produce a MacBook-iPad hybrid, with Tim Cook suggesting such a device would be akin to a 'toaster-fridge'.
Steve did it better
Gates also commented on how Steve Jobs was able to find success with the tablet where Microsoft had failed with its earlier efforts.
He said that Microsoft came on the scene "way too early," while Apple had better timing and put together a better package than his company was able to.
Gates did concede that Steve Jobs "did some things better than I did."
Does Gates have a point? Will Apple have to launch a full hybrid device like the Surface?
Or does Bill overstate the demand for an all-in-one solution? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
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A technology journalist, writer and videographer of many magazines and websites including T3, Gadget Magazine and TechRadar.com. He specializes in applications for smartphones, tablets and handheld devices, with bylines also at The Guardian, WIRED, Trusted Reviews and Wareable. Chris is also the podcast host for The Liverpool Way. As well as tech and football, Chris is a pop-punk fan and enjoys the art of wrasslin'.