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Microsoft is diving deep into the tablet market with the Surface.

The rivalry between Apple and Samsung is showing no signs of waning as these two powerhouses do battle for consumers’ cash and for patent wars success in the courts.

After Apple lost an appeal in the UK high courts against a judgement that Korean rival Samsung’s Galaxy Tab tablets don’t infringe iPad patents, Apple has now been forced to publish an acknowledgement. But as Techcrunch points out, it falls way short of an apology. In fact, it makes it all too obvious that Apple disagrees with the court ruling.

“You can’t call it an apology – quite the opposite,” says Techcrunch. “Apple makes it clear it does not agree with the court’s decision by pointing out that it has had court wins against Samsung for the same design patent in Germany, and noting its huge win against the Korean gadget maker in the US this summer.”

So, while the bad feelings between the pair continue to run deep, both are fighting for consumer pounds and dollars. And, despite Apple’s undeniable popularity, it would appear to be Samsung who is winning when it comes to who has the deepest pockets.

Samsung is reporting record profits in its latest figures, for the three months running up to September, with strong sales of its flagship Galaxy smartphones cited as the reason for its astronomical success. Samsung’s profits are up a staggering 91 per cent compared to the previous year but it hasn’t been enough to impress investors, with shares falling 2 per cent as analysts fear Samsung could have reached its peak.

Over in Apple HQ, CEO Tim Cook has blamed the rumour mill for slower than expected iPad sales. Apple’s fourth quarter earnings were $8.22bn. Not bad you might think, but market experts had been predicting profits of $8.3bn. iPad sales, standing at 14 million, an increase of 26 per cent year on year, were lower than expected, which Cook said, along with seasonal variations, was because “it’s clear that customers delay purchases of tablets due to new product rumors, and these intensified in August and September.”

But that excuse fell flat on technology forums, with one user saying: “Oops Apple have lost the magic and have no more juice left.”

Meanwhile, this is being seen as a defining time in the future of Microsoft. While the Washington firm has always been firmly associated with the PC market, times are ever-changing and chief executive Steve Ballmer is desperate to move with them, pushing Microsoft into the modern world of smartphones and tablets.

So, he’s thrown everything at the Windows 8 launch, with the focus being firmly on Microsoft’s new showpiece, the Surface tablet.

Analyst Frank Gillet said: “Windows 8 is a make-or-break product launch for Microsoft. After a slow start in 2013, Windows 8 will take hold in 2014, keeping Microsoft relevant and the master of the PC market, but simply a contender in tablets, and a distant third in smartphones.”

Reviews of the Surface, a kind of labtop/tablet hybrid have so far been mixed after the tech media got their hands on the devices. Gizmodo gives it a Gizrank of 2.5 out of 5, advising consumers not to buy it.

“Should you buy it? No,” says Gizmodo. “The Surface, with an obligatory Touch Cover, is $600. That’s a lot of money. Especially given that it’s no laptop replacement, no matter how it looks or what Microsoft says. It’s a tablet-plus, priced right alongside the iPad and, in most ways, inferior.”

Oh dear, that doesn’t make happy reading for Ballmer. But other reviews have been much more complimentary. The Verge gives it a respectable 7 out of 10. But reviewer Joshua Topolsky adds: “I wanted to love the Surface when I first saw it, before I even got my hands on the review unit. It made Windows 8 make sense in a way other products had not, and I could see a world where this kind of device was the only one I carried with me. Once I did get the review unit, I wanted to love it even more. And truth be told, there is a lot here to love. Plenty – but not enough for me right now.”

Ballmer will be desperately hoping that the Surface is enough for consumers to fall in love with enough to spend their pounds with Microsoft and not rivals Apple or Samsung.

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