Two ways of making a tablet computer

Its a known fact that Apple and Microsoft approached the tablet market differently. Though Microsoft was first with its Windows tablets, they were basically full desktop Windows OS running on huge rectangular panels of glass, which had to be used with a stylus and these 'tablets' never took off. Then came Apple, that famously thought of an iPad first, much before the iPhone, but due to market forces and technology limitations was forced to release the iPhone first. This turned out to be a surprising success story for Apple. We have heard multiple times (though not record) that even Apple was surprised by the amount of success and popularity of the iPhone. So technically Apple reached the tablet (iPad) through the iPhone and iOS, that had the basis of Mac OS X, but was significantly different. 

Now this was the turning point in the revolution of tablet computers, though there were a lot of critics when the iPad was released, calling the iPad as a bigger iPhone and nothing else. The consumers however proved that they needed exactly that, a bigger iPhone in their tablets, by making it a category defining success story. The advantage of the iPad evolving from the iPhone was that it was designed from ground up and did not require Apple to make any compromises in terms of user experience. In the sense that the touch targets worked well for mobile Apps and Apps designed for the iPad and hence the iPad did not face the problems that the older Windows PCs faced, while running the desktop Windows OS on them (like small targets to touch or rather poke with a stylus). However it was not that Apple did not make sacrifices with the iPad. It was still not a full fledged computer, it even today cannot do things like multi-tasking the way a laptop or a desktop OS can do and it still cannot run full fledged powerful software on it. However Apple chose to make the right compromises and targeted the iPad the right way it should have been, i.e., more productive than a smartphone and less productive than a computer. 

Now coming to Microsoft, as this article on TechPinions points out (and is well know by now), was pretty late to embrace the mobile revolution (yes if Apple with its mobile devices can out-sell Microsoft's entire device sales, then the mobile revolution is already here). They missed out on the smartphone (Windows mobile is a distant third to Android and iOS) market, but wanted to get in on the tablet category pretty desperately. But their tablet approach was to cram a toaster and a refrigerator! This article has a good point on why Microsoft might have chosen to go this route and apparently it was not with the user experience in mind and more driven by money! Now money can never be a pathway to success, can it?  

Microsoft certainly had the power to decide which way it wanted to pull tablets, whether towards the smartphone model or towards the PC model. And it clearly decided that its future depended on applying the PC model, rather than the smartphone model, to tablets. A PC model applied to tablets would allow it to continue charging high licensing fees for Windows, make Office applications easily available on the devices, and make them compatible with existing Windows applications from third parties. But it’s important to note that this was a decision driven entirely by what was perceived to be best for Microsoft, but by what would be best for the actual users of the products
— TechPinions

Read through the entire article to find some interesting tidbits, but what caught my attention the possible courses of action for Microsoft to take to redeem themselves (see below). Yes you read it right, that is exactly what Apple does, that is exactly what Google tried to do with its Nexus devices through Motorola, that is exactly what Samsung wants to do with its Tizen OS! Basically the formula that Apple invented, i.e., of making its own hardware, software and services and integrating them seamlessly is the only formula that has proven to be successful in the post-PC market. And Microsoft has to embrace (or rip-off) this to be even remotely successful. Now, it won't be the first time that Microsoft tried to 'emulate' Apple, so it should not be that hard!

Merge Windows Phone and Windows RT, mirroring the existing iOS and Android structures, and rename Windows RT as Windows Tablet... Make both flavors of the merged mobile OS free for users and OEMs, eliminating licensing fees... Do much more to promote consumer services, notably Microsoft’s own Music, Video and Gaming stores and offerings, across its consumer devices (smartphones, tablets and Xbox)... Continue with Windows 8 as a separate operating system, making Metro an optional overlay UI for touch-screens, but allowing users to choose the old-fashioned desktop UI as their primary or only UI if they so choose.
— TechPinions