In Pictures: Microsoft's 13 biggest wins and fails of 2012

It's been a busy year for Microsoft, including its challenges to Apple and Google on mobility

Win: Surface RT shows that Microsoft can build compelling mobile hardware

Microsoft's first stab at designing, engineering, and manufacturing its own mobile gear may be off to a slow start, but the Surface RT is a fine piece of high-end hardware. The tablet offers a compelling alternative in a market that is dominated by Apple's iPads and muddied by a cattle call of "me too" Android devices.

The Surface’s industrial design is top-notch, and its integrated kickstand and Type Cover accessory turn a fairly traditional tablet design into a serviceable PC workstation. The tablet's display can't touch the new iPad for visual splendor, and its operating system is full of fail (see next slide). However, the Surface RT's build quality and overall differentness speak volumes about Microsoft's strengths as a fledgling tablet manufacturer.

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