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“Microsoft is not, and never will be, a hardware company.”

That’s one of the quotes from a slide deck put together by Charlie Kindel, the former Windows Phone general manager turned entrepreneur who spoke last night about the “Future of Mobile” during an event at ThinkSpace in Redmond.

Kindel was referring in part to Microsoft Surface, the company’s upcoming tablet computer. He pointed out that Microsoft’s sales of the device will be a small fraction of its overall business and of the PC industry as a whole.

So why is the company making the tablet?

Charlie Kindel

“It is a North Star for the rest of the PC industry,” he said. “That is why Microsoft is building Surface. They are not building Surface to be a business. They are building it for the same reason they built the Microsoft Store. Think of it as a marketing expense. It shows the rest of the industry what is possible and how to do it right.”

That view was reinforced this morning, sorta, as Sony unveiled a new Xperia Tablet S with a keyboard similar to Microsoft Surface — but running Android, not Windows 8.

Kindel said he is bullish on the Surface as a device, enough to advise his wife to hold off on buying an iPad until she has a chance to experience what Microsoft has developed.

Kindel’s talk covered a wide range of topics, including his view that “apps are dead” — destined to be replaced over time by “experiences powered by services.” For more see the slides and archived video on his blog.

Post updated to reflect a revision in Kindel’s slide deck.

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