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  • Microsofts Surface Tablet: The Good, The Bad and The Apple



    Microsoft officially announced their Surface tablets yesterday. The tablets are available in two models, the cheaper ARM-based, Surface RT and the Intel i5-based Surface Pro. In true Microsoft fashion as of late they got a lot right, a lot wrong, and a lot of things Apple.


    The Good

    1. Design

    This thing looks good. The device is thin with no abrasive lines, or ugly accent colors. It’s simple, looks functional, and has a built-in kickstand. Which, if implemented on the iPad/iPhone, would eliminate a whole category of accessories.

    2. Ports, ports, ports and storage

    HMDI, Display port, USB 2.0, USB 3.0, these things have all the connectivity you could want in a tablet. Of course that depends on what version you buy (the RT only has USB 2.0). Also, storage varies from 32GB with the smallest Surface RT to 128GB in the largest Surface Pro.

    3. The magnetic cover is awesome

    The magnetic cover Microsoft debuted with the Microsoft Surface makes Apple’s Smart Cover look really, really stupid. It features a super-thin keyboard and multitouch trackpad. Apple’s Smart Cover is just a cover.

    4. Fully functional Windows 8 applications on your tablet

    It will potentially run all of your Windows 8 applications with ultrabook like performance depending on what version of The Surface you get. Adobe Creative Suite on your tablet? Check. Office Suite? Check.

    5. A tablet to genuinely challenge the iPad:

    Android tablets are Android tablets. Outside of the Transformer Prime not much is really exciting, and certainly nothing is in a position to directly challenge the iPad. Microsoft’s entry has the potential to be a legitimate challenger if for no other reason than Microsoft owns over 90% of the personal computing OS market share worldwide. Moving this to a functional tablet interface with Windows 8 and its Metro UI means less headaches for IT professionals.

    The Bad

    1. The name

    It’s called Surface Windows 8 Pro. This is bad. Even if Microsoft didn’t already have a line of multitouch tables called Surface this would be bad. It doesn’t scream tablet, it’s ambiguous, and nearly as bad as Apple’s MacBook Pro With Retina Display (guh).

    2. Two different models

    Microsoft pulled a Microsoft. Windows comes packaged in infinity flavors, and while they boiled it down to two models for their tablets the Surface RT and Surface Pro the models feature incompatible operating systems. The Surface RT is an ARM-based system with a lower resolution screen and runs a Metro version of Windows 8. The Surface Pro is an Intel i5 based tablet running the full version of Windows 8. Both versions feature different ports as well (Mircro HD vs Mini Display Port, USB 2.0 vs 3.0) and have different displays (full 1080p for the Surface Pro, not so much for the RT). However, their physical builds are nearly identical.

    3. No word on price, release, and the app predicament

    Microsoft’s presentation featured lots of buzzwords and grand ideas and a great piece of hardware, but no information on availability or price except that The Surface will be priced competitively. This is huge. The Surface RT will presumably be in the $500-$600 range based on its ARM architecture, but the specs of the Surface Pro rivals many $1,000 ultrabooks. Also, with an estimated release date later this fall, and even later for the Pro version, Microsoft gives Google and others a chance to undercut and beat them to market.

    4. They wouldn’t let anyone use the awesome multitouch keyboard cover hybrid

    This accessory looks awesome, but Microsoft wouldn’t let a soul on hand for the announcement actually touch the damn thing. Reports claim that Microsoft reps claimed they could type faster than 60wpm the first time they used the device. Yea, that’s fantastic, not let me touch it.

    5. Buyer confusion, developer frustration

    Microsoft’s release timeframe places The Surface RT coming out months before The Surface Pro. This wouldn’t be a huge deal except that both tablets share a surname and run incompatible operating systems. Seriously? Imagine if Apple announced the Retina Display iPad ran a different OS than the iPad 2. Yea this is that kind of stupid. The average consumer won’t know the difference, and will likely be peeved they can’t run the Windows programs they thought they could with the RT version compared to the Pro version. All of this is made worse by the fact both Surface models look nearly identical sans the thicker housing of the Pro model due to beefier internals.

    The incompatible models mean developers have two tablets with incompatible operating systems they have to develop for. Does a developer make a Windows 8 application and optimize it for tablet use, or do they build a stand alone Metro tablet app or do they do both? Apple's iOS applications can run across multiple devices without problems. Microsoft's won't be able to run on products that share the same name.

    They pulled an Apple. Almost.

    Microsoft managed to keep two fantastic pieces of hardware out of the public eye up until its announcement. This is decidedly an Apple technique, but they missed a few integral steps.

    1. Announce, and make immediately available.

    The argument can be made that Microsoft wants to build hype surrounding Windows 8, and this will help in the months before its release. This is a problem. Microsoft let the rabbit out of the hat, but now the magician wont be paid till months after the show. Competitors know their hand, and can bring products to market with similar features before the likely fall release of Windows 8 and either tablet. Microsoft should have launched both tablets alongside Windows 8.

    2. Excitement

    Steve Ballmer looked like zombie launching a product. Microsoft announced arguably the most capable tablet other than the iPad, with a truly forward thinking accessory, and the people most excited about it were those watching, not those who built it. Steve Jobs and those who inherited his empire genuinely adore the products they produce, and that excitement is infectious to the Apple masses, and media.

    3. Battery Life

    Ok, this shouldn’t be a big deal in this new age of functional computing, but things like battery life are essential pieces of information buyers need to know. The ARM based Surface RT will likely get 8-10 hours of life, but the Intel i5 based Surface Pro could get substantially less battery life with comparable tablets on the market now registering 3-5 hour of battery life.

    Conclusion

    The Surface line of tablets look to be the first genuine threat to Apple’s throne at the top of tablet world. However, Microsoft has directly positioned itself not only against Android tablets, but have positioned them against hardware makers who will license and run their operating system. Microsoft has proven it can design and release great products, but they’ve also proven they can botch product launches, and prove ineffective at marketing their computing devices to the masses.

    The lack of information regarding exact specs, release date, and the fact no one was able to use their awesome keyboard cover signals to me they haven’t finalized the hardware yet. Microsoft should have held off announcing their new tablets until Windows 8 launched, and they should have released a single tablet instead of two almost identical devices that run incompatible operating systems.

    I hope Microsoft's Surface tablets are successful, Apple needs the competition and consumers need the choice. But, the separation of Microsofts tablets into two incompitable products could create problems especially for developers. Who would want to develop tablet Metro apps if they only work on a device with a more capable older brother?
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Microsofts Surface Tablet: The Good, The Bad and The Apple started by Phillip Swanson View original post
    Comments 67 Comments
    1. The6uest's Avatar
      The6uest -
      Quote Originally Posted by Alluziion View Post
      Also, the coloured keyboards are hideous! They would distract my eyes from the screen
      The black and silver/gray keyboards are ok. I'd get black to match the tablet.
    1. iDeadman's Avatar
      iDeadman -
      I'm very impressed by the keyboard/smart cover integration. The tablet is attractive and has a traditional tablet look. However, Windows... It's good to see real competition for Apple. Will I be interested in the windows tablet? Not even if you gave it to me for free. All this means to me is Apple will now play their big cards against the competition and would release better iPads for me to purchase.
    1. taotechad's Avatar
      taotechad -
      Just not interested!! I began using apple products because they work. I personally can't stand any version of Windows. Why would I expect anything better from this OS. I'm sure out of the box it's great however, like most other windows OS, it's just a downhill slide after that. Just my experience with Windows!!
    1. jomo25's Avatar
      jomo25 -
      So, how long before we see a very similar bluetooth capable cover for the iPad? It wouldn't shock me if we saw one before the Surface itself is even available.
    1. CrAcKzZZ's Avatar
      CrAcKzZZ -
      Quote Originally Posted by MCN View Post
      I like a lot more than the smart cover...IT HAS USB! So you could most likely connect an external hard drive or external dvd drive..better yet...a multi usb port and use both at the same time...Plus you can use actual software!! PLUS! I'm sure we won't have to wait for a jailbreak
      I agree with that 110%. I think Apples going to have a rea hard time competing with the Surface Windows 8. Really **** name tho.
    1. crouching's Avatar
      crouching -
      Quote Originally Posted by thazsar View Post
      FYI, there's a Free App Store app that lets u run Virtual Windows on ur iPad.

      I found out the name (I forgot what it was called):

      OnLive

      I actually have tried that, but being subscription based and also the fact that it is streaming takes away some of the usability for me. It will be tough, I will have to see the Surface first and compare. I'm not jumping ship just yet.
    1. krayzeeman's Avatar
      krayzeeman -
      So, will it be compatible with all the major virusses?
    1. thazsar's Avatar
      thazsar -
      Quote Originally Posted by krayzeeman View Post
      So, will it be compatible with all the major virusses?
      Hahahahaha!!! Nice! 😂😂😂
    1. AKCHRIS's Avatar
      AKCHRIS -
      As i've stated before. It's going to ba a Battle between Apple & Samsung..Microsoft is inmaterial.
    1. Perceptum's Avatar
      Perceptum -
      Quote Originally Posted by Alluziion View Post
      And put many small companies out of business in the process?
      Sounds OK by me. If a company goes out of business because Apple adds a kickstand, then the company was poorly managed and narrow sighted.
    1. 321ryr's Avatar
      321ryr -
      cant wait till they make that type of cover for ipad!
    1. the87th's Avatar
      the87th -
      I'm very excited. I've held off on buying an ipad because i feel like a device of that size should run real applications and real software, plus the lack of productivity software has always turned me off.

      "surface" looks like a day 1 buy to me, very cool. I especially like how it has real USB ports, so i can transfer files via memory stick and connect a mouse to play computer games. Very exciting, hopefully this forces apple to innovate and make their products less restrictive.
    1. Spyruf's Avatar
      Spyruf -
      the bad is really bad

      and it was easier for them to pull and apple and keep their tab out of the rumors cuz nobody really cared bout windows ever heard of a windows fanbo, no. but there is an apple fanboy
    1. Hondamaker's Avatar
      Hondamaker -
      You're assuming this thing will run smoothly, much like the iPad. With all those ports and a full-blown OS, it better have some killer specs in order to give the user a smooth, seamless experience. Just my two cents.
    1. NakedFaerie's Avatar
      NakedFaerie -
      DAMN IT!
      If this was a week earlier I wouldn't have just brought the iPad 3.
    1. lkailburn's Avatar
      lkailburn -
      Quote Originally Posted by Hondamaker View Post
      You're assuming this thing will run smoothly, much like the iPad. With all those ports and a full-blown OS, it better have some killer specs in order to give the user a smooth, seamless experience. Just my two cents.
      Pro is supposed to have 3rd gen i5

      -Luke
    1. unison999's Avatar
      unison999 -
      Compact + keyboard so don't mess up the screen + USB + Full OS!
      If the price is decent and if Apple is going to file an injunction against MS for having square tablet design I'd buy this thing
    1. subywrex's Avatar
      subywrex -
      Quote Originally Posted by the87th View Post
      I'm very excited. I've held off on buying an ipad because i feel like a device of that size should run real applications and real software, plus the lack of productivity software has always turned me off.

      "surface" looks like a day 1 buy to me, very cool. I especially like how it has real USB ports, so i can transfer files via memory stick and connect a mouse to play computer games. Very exciting, hopefully this forces apple to innovate and make their products less restrictive.
      WAIT?!?!??! you mean to tell me that my iPad has been running fake applications this entire time?? WTF I'm taking it back to apple as we speak!!!!

      lmao.. a tablet is meant to be a tablet. your so called "real" applications are not built for a touch screen. Yes you can then plug in a mouse i suppose and play video games but i can play video games with my iPad just fine..lol I have a feeling this tablet is going to run like every other small based windows machine, slow laggy and like crap!.

      Apple is restrictive in the sense that there products are stream lined. Yes does the iPad need some better features? of course i agree 100 percent.. But as of right now i can hook my bluetooth keyboard case (yes i know this comes with a keyboard but this set up looks like its meant for a desk and not your lap on the couch) and do actual real work using the fake application (as you say lol) that are available to us on the AppStore.

      I have no doubt at all this is going to be a great hit. but gonna take more than a windows platform to beat out apple in this game..
    1. fishbone's Avatar
      fishbone -
      Show me a product that I can actually buy and test for myself, that is functional, work as advertised and, most important, doesn't die dry of battery for no less than 5 hours and I will consider it real competition.

      For now there's a lot of buss for a product that nobody knows when it will come to the market and that FROZE in the middle of a public presentation for the media while trying to run Internet explorer!!!

      Anybody who consider it another "iPad killer" should at least watch the video of M$ pathetic presentation before jump into conclusions.
    1. andygev35's Avatar
      andygev35 -
      Quote Originally Posted by fishbone View Post
      and that FROZE in the middle of a public presentation for the media while trying to run Internet explorer!!!
      Does this really come as a surprise to anyone?? Internet Explorer is widely regarded as junk no matter what version...