Call us irresponsible, but we think there's a chance that Apple will announce something similar to Surface soon, and possibly even beat Microsoft to market with it.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs will deliver a keynote address at the company's Worldwide Developers Conference on 11 June. He is expected to show a feature-complete version of the Mac OS X Leopard. Given Jobs' habit of rolling out surprises at such events, it's reasonable to speculate that he might unveil a third-generation interface product - a Surface competitor - that runs on Leopard and an Intel-based hardware platform to go with it.
A shock third-generation desktop UI announcement from Jobs 11 June would provide another reason for Apple's recently announced delay for Leopard. In any case, Microsoft's Surface ships in November while Leopard is expected in October. If Leopard comes with a surprise third-generation user interface option, it would beat Microsoft to market. If such a product is for consumers, we'll see Jobs on the cover of Time again.
If, on the other hand, Apple and Jobs have nothing in the third-generation space up their collective sleeve, we're looking at a whole new ball game. The perception and the reality will be that Microsoft, not Apple, is the leader and innovator in the next-generation desktop user interface department.
Mike Elgan is a technology writer and former editor of Windows Magazine. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or his blog: http://therawfeed.com.