Microsoft tablet Surfaces
History has been a lot unkinder to Bill Gates than it has to Steve Jobs. Gates created a computer company with software that runs on 90% of the world's computers but the company has been branded a slow monolith.
Every time Microsoft launches something, it is invariably compared to Apple and comes off looking worse.
Last week was a big one for the Redmond, Seattle, company, which still dominates the desktop computing world. The largest software-maker knows the world is shifting away from personal computers towards smartphones and tablets; and with it the healthy profits it makes selling Windows to its partners who sell the actual hardware: HP, Dell, Lenovo, Acer, Sony, Samsung and others.
Smartphones already outsell PCs and, by 2013, it is predicted that most people will access the internet with mobile devices.
In Africa, as in most other emerging markets where much of this growth is expected to come from, such is already the case.
Cellphones, despite their small screens and slower connections, have already leapfrogged the much more expensive PC as the primary connection to the web.
Last week Microsoft announced two significant developments in its bid to assert itself in the mobile space that is dominated by Apple's iOS and Google's Android operating systems: its updated Windows Phone8 software and its much-speculated-about foray into making its own tablet, called Surface.
Those most aggrieved by the Surface news are not Apple or the legions of Android tablet makers but Microsoft's own hardware partners, who were told about it only days before.
Redmond had little choice if it wanted to compete in a tablet market that is taking over from laptops in much the same way that laptops supplanted desktop PCs.
Tablets are really mini-laptops without the keyboard, making them great for consuming media, surfing and messaging - but not for typing, which is not ideal on the touchscreen. This is where the keyboard cover included on the Surface appears to be a strategic advantage.
Microsoft has an uncanny knack of bouncing back after being written off. Part of the reason for this is that it invests heavily in research and makes broad bets across so many industries.
When any trend takes off - be it search, cloud-based storage, mobile operating systems or touchscreen interfaces - it has enough of a background to build up a head of steam quickly and devise the products it needs to remain competitive.
I visited Microsoft's headquarters last year and was shown the extensive research facilities at which the company investigates scenarios for new technologies. Some of the projects are very impressive, as are the people employed there.
A key factor for Microsoft is that it is beloved by the big corporations that use it - which is still a significant proportion of its business. It might be unsexy, but it's lucrative and this is the one problem the mobile space must solve.
Apple and Samsung not only sold half of the smartphones in the first quarter of the year but raked in 90% of the profit.
In years gone by, Apple, with its healthy profit margins on its iPhone and iPad, laughed all the way to the bank.
It is vital that Surface, for which no price was announced, can compete against the iPad on cost.
With the shift to mobile devices, Microsoft needs to shift its focus and its revenue centres. Crucial to Surface's success are the apps and the eco-system that go with them.
Microsoft bet big with its last major hardware project, the Xbox, in the competitive gaming segment, in which it wasn't a significant player. It will be hoping that it is able to repeat that successful disruption of the status quo.