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 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?
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!