It’s been almost one year exactly since Microsoft first announced its Surface tablet with much fanfare (on June 18, 2012).
In hindsight, we now know that the device hasn’t rocked the world with killer sales, or filled consumers and businesses with an unquenchable desire for Windows 8.
But think back before the announcement was made. Microsoft was going to risk its relationships with its most important partners, PC vendors, over this. What kind of device would be so spectacular that it was worth such a gamble?
It turns out the winning design for Surface was a combo PC/tablet with an attachable cover/keyboard.
And it all began with a “crappy” prototype, according to the Surface’s lead designer, Ralf Groene.
“When we first came across the idea of Surface, we made it from cardboard and duct tape. Prototyping is such a powerful tool, and the faster and the crappier the thing looks, the better,” he told industrial design blog Core 77.
Groene cut his teeth at infamous design studio IDEO, Steve Jobs’ favourite design contractor. He’s clearly proud of the one-and-only design project he runs for Microsoft, the Surface.
When asked what he hopes to be doing with his life in 10 years, he answered: “My dream is, I would still do what I’m doing right now, and we will have built Surface into its next generations. I think that would be very cool.”
Time will tell if his inspiration will turn out to be a big hit. Sales of the Surface have been disappointing so far, with just 900,000 shipped according to IDC, but Windows lovers are often slow to abandon the old and adopt the new. So they could warm up to Windows 8, and the Surface tablet, in the months to come and grant Groene his wish.
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