You might have overlooked because of Apple’s aggressive, headline-dominating surge of product announcements this week, but Microsoft released its first ever computer this week as well. The Microsoft Surface is a tablet with a keyboard touch cover meant to be something between a laptop and a tablet. Priced at $599 (for the touch cover model), it’s being allocated as a competitor to the iPad.
The hardware has had positive criticisms, but the software seems to be where Surface falls down.
Reviewers have commended the Surface’s choice of ports (USB, for starters) that will have iPad owners jealous. Nonetheless, battery life isn’t as long as the iPad.
The Surface’s cameras also aren’t up to those on other tablets. Typing appears quite natural on the Touch Cover, yet it’ll be slower than on a dedicated keyboard.
However it’s the Windows RT operating system that’s had the most criticism. It won’t support the vast majority of the 4 million Windows programs. Reviewers also criticized the absence of games and apps.
Surface runs on a chip made by Nvidia, which should help make the device cheaper than rivals, and extend the battery life. The Intel-based version of Surface that runs the full Windows 8 will launch in January.
While some reviews are mixed, this is a dangerous sign, most like the hardware. Some like the keyboard; pretty much everyone is disappointed with the software. Here are some highlights:
David Pogue, New York Times: In time, maybe the Windows RT apps will come. Maybe the snags will get fixed. Maybe people will solve the superimposed puzzle of Windows RT and Windows 8. Until then, the Surface is a brilliantly conceived machine whose hardware will take your breath away — but whose software will take away your patience.
Tim Stevens, Engadget: It’s in the other half of the equation, that of the content consumption and entertainment, where the Surface is currently lacking. It needs a bigger pile of apps and games to make up for that and, while we’re sure they’re coming, we don’t know when. If those apps arrive soon, then early adopters will feel vindicated. If, however, the Windows RT market is slow to mature, not truly getting hot for another six months or so, holding off will prove to have been the smarter option.
Walter Mossberg, Wall Street Journal: Microsoft’s Surface is a tablet with some pluses: the major Office apps and nice, optional keyboards. If you can live with its tiny number of third-party apps, and somewhat disappointing battery life, it may give you the productivity some miss in other tablets.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer can’t afford to be incorrect about Windows 8, however, he perceives Windows 8 as the facilitator for a new era at Microsoft. He wants the operating system to confirm the company plays an essential role on all the imperative screens in people’s lives – PCs, smartphones, tablets and televisions.
Apple’s dramatic rise has been especially painful for Microsoft. When Steve Jobs returned to run Apple in 1997, the company was so bad off that it needed a $150 million infusion from Microsoft to stay afloat. Now Apple has a market value of $570 billion – more than double Microsoft’s $235 billion.
Surface is being launched alongside Windows 8, Microsoft’s outstanding operating system update, described as the biggest change in Windows history, replacing the familiar desktop with Metro’s tiles. Disappointing quarterly results last week showed Microsoft is being hit hard by the move from PCs to mobile and tablets.
- Zenya ” Blog Archive ” The Microsoft Surface: Neither Tablet Nor Laptop (zenya.com)
- Microsoft Surface gets the thumbs down (guardian.co.uk)
- Surface RT Reviews: 7 Critics Are Split On Microsoft’s Tablet (huffingtonpost.com)
- Microsoft Surface RT: early reviews a mixed bag (electronista.com)
- Windows 8: a new dawn for Microsoft? (telegraph.co.uk)