With the announcement of Microsoft Surface the hand is writing on the wall, or in this case tablet. What once was a market dominated by desktop computers and subsequently a shift to laptops is being driven, no stampeded towards a new form factor… the tablet. Why the big change? Economics…Let’s put a small affordable device in the hands of everyone and I mean everyone. From toddlers to senior citizens the simplification of the UI is what makes the device work. No left or right clicking, no deep file hierarchy to navigate, minimal customization and an ever tightening sphere of application development and distribution. The power user’s will continue to cry foul as they see these draconian controls start to migrate from mobile to desktop platforms.The goal is clear, just like you need a $20,000 machine to diagnose your car, operating system developer’s want us to stay out from under the hood. The app store is the 21st century software delivery method of choice, my Dad brought this to my attention a few years ago as we reveled in the glory of the original iPad. Think about it, why just sell the device once and call it good. Everyone has or knows someone who has a 10 year old Dell tower running XP. Granted it probably cost $1,000 that long ago, but Dell got the money one time, done, fini, end of sale except for the kick back from bundling Norton Antivirus. Flash forward to today. What if we came up with a device that more folks could afford, they could operate with minimal instruction and we sell them all the software for it, but wait we will sell you all your music, videos, manage your pictures and make printed books and magazines obsolete and control the store that sells it, monitor the delivery system and make sure the programs don’t screw up your system. Talk about recurring revenue! That is why the app store is now on the Mac OSX Lion platform, and it will be baked into every future version of Windows. Microsoft has been playing catch up with this new monetization strategy for awhile, Apple has beat them to the punch for all things consumer for awhile, think Zune vs iPod, Windows Phone vs.iPhone and now the latest battle ground, the tablet. With iPad and even Android (google) having such a head start and fan base Redmond is fighting an uphill battle. What makes this new Windows device appealing is the integration with existing software and a somewhat familiar UI, once you peel away the Metro interface. Microsoft has the largest desktop computing footprint on the planet, period, hands down. With that user base it really is their game to loose. Is it possible that as data migrates to the cloud and the information itself can be accessed, manipulated and shared from any operating system that how we get to the data will be less important? The kids that are playing with the iPads today are going to be less inclined to do cartwheels when being forced to use less friendly and less intuitive GUIs and operating systems. Touch and voice are going to replace the keyboard and mouse sooner than you think in the retail consumer realm. How we learn to embrace this change and figure out how we can leverage this up and coming paradigm shift to enhance our life is something we all need to consider. One thing for certain, we are going to see more and more amazing advances that have the potential to simplify acces to media and data, while lowering the bar in terms of technical know how and knowledge required to appeal to the broadest user base which is…Everyone.