Tools & Technologies

Thoughts on Microsoft Surface

Microsoft last week took the wraps off an upcoming tablet – Microsoft Surface – running Windows 8. It will ship in two editions.

Here’s my thoughts a week after the event:

1. Having equivalence in the apps across desktop/laptop and tablet is a great selling point. An app that runs on one will run on the others. In the Apple world, the apps are different from Mac OS X and iOS, and there’s a lag in getting iOS versions (if they come at all). Some of my OS X apps still do not have iOS equivalents, and that’s a pain.

2. Reliability will be key to the experience. The pre-release version that was initially shown on stage gave up at one point and Steve had to pull another one off the desk. Users won’t put up with the equivalent of blue screens on tablets—Apple has set the bar too high now with the reliability of its devices. There was also an instance in the event video where Steve struggled to dock the video to the side of another app. If it’s hard for him to do, it’s too hard. Microsoft has (some) time to sort these things out; we’ll see how they go. The toleration for second-rate products in this space is not there.

3. The external keyboard integrated into the flip cover is a nice idea – well done Microsoft. However, I’ve always seen my iPads (1, 2, and 3) as content production devices, not just entertainment consumption devices. I initially used the Apple Wireless Keyboard with my iPad 1, but have recently been using the new (and wonderful) Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover with my iPad 3. So … it’s pretty easy for me to say “I can do that on my iPad – no big deal Microsoft.” Whether the integrated keyboard creates a real in-market differentiation remains to be seen.

4. For the record, I dislike the name. I liked the Surface name for the tables; I would have preferred to see Microsoft create a new brand for its tablets instead of commandeering an existing one.

I enjoyed using Microsoft’s earlier Windows-based tablets. Back in the day I owned and used a Toshiba Tecra M4 and the Lenovo ThinkPad version too. They were good machines, and being able to kick back with a stylus for editing onscreen was an awesome experience. These didn’t get widespread adoption … it’s game on for Microsoft for its second go. Now we await shipping dates, weights, and pricing.

Categories: Tools & Technologies

4 replies »

  1. My wife has the Logitech keyboard. I wouldn’t put it in the same category as the keyboard Microsoft showed off. The addition of a stylus and digitizer surface is also important for content production. Plus full Office running.

  2. Thanks Joe – appreciate the insight. I’ve seen the video shots of the Microsoft one, and actually for my money, I’d put the Logitech ahead in terms of functionality. But … I’ll delay my final comments on this until I’ve actually tried it out.
    Re Office for content production – maybe. But as people get into the Mac/Apple world, I think they’ll see less need for having Office. It’s too much for what many people need. There are simpler and better alternatives available now.