Microsoft was able to maintain a tight lid on the new tablet introduction. Typically, new product launches in the tech industry are riddled with leaks big enough to make the Titanic appear seaworthy. This is evidenced by recent product introductions such as iPhone 5, Wii U and Samsung’s Galaxy 3. That’s why everyone was actually surprised when Microsoft revealed details of the Surface Tablet. We’ve only recently learned of the gargantuan effort that Microsoft successfully pulled off to keep the new device under tight wraps. The security surrounding Surface was put in place for more than just a publicity ploy to generate excitement over the launch. Microsoft was keenly aware that any tip of the hand over the period of the product’s three-year-long development stage would be financially calamitous for Microsoft.
After all, Microsoft was stepping outside of its comfort zone as it morphed from a software developer into a hardware manufacturer. That meant that Microsoft was fundamentally transforming its strategic partnership with its business customers. Instead of treating its hardware manufacturers as stakeholders, Microsoft was now going into competition with the likes of Samsung, HP, Gateway and many other industry Icons who have dominated this space in the hardware sector. Suddenly, Microsoft was the new kid on the block and became fair game for its Iconic rivals.
Microsoft went to extraordinary lengths to maintain strict secrecy. All product activity was conducted in a sealed building dubbed “The Vault”. In naming the team tasked to create the Surface, the staff took a lead from the Seinfeld Show and named the project “WDS”. The common question was what did “WDS” mean? The answer is it was an acronym that meant absolutely nothing. They even conducted a contest to come up with a name that had no relevance to the product and could not be traced back to the product development at all.