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Microsoft Surface Will Have an Imperfect Launch

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Earlier this week, Microsoft (MSFT) unveiled the Surface, its own version of the tablet computer. While full specifications of the device have yet to be made public, unnamed sources have revealed to Bloomberg that the Surface will initially launch without 3G or 4G connectivity. In other words, it's Wi-Fi only for early adopters.

Apple’s (AAPL) iPad, the top selling tablet, is offered in different variations, including a Wi-Fi only model as well as versions carrying monthly plans for Verizon (VZ) and AT&T (T). Owners of Android (GOOG) tablets have similar options.

“Wi-Fi only is not a limitation for Surface,” explained Carolina Milanesi, an analyst at researcher Gartner Inc. She went on to say that most tablet customers primarily use their devices in the home, where they have Wi-Fi available. This helps them avoid extra costs associated with monthly data plans.

Ben Bajarin, an analyst at technology consulting firm Creative Strategies, feels that Microsoft’s decision to start with Wi-Fi only models may also be an effort to save costs. Still, he mentions that it could diminish the company’s efforts to promote Surface as a tablet you can use any time in any way.

“The way that Microsoft is positioning this product -- that it’s highly mobile but also has the functionality of a notebook -- that customer might be more interested in working from any location and not being bound by Wi-Fi,” said Bajarin.

Regardless, the Surface will officially make its debut later this year.

It’s been a big week for Microsoft. In addition to revealing the Surface, the Redmond also previewed the next version of its mobile platform, Windows Phone 8.

(See also: Microsoft Fails at the Worst Possible Time)
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