Gizmodo’s Sam Biddle says that Microsoft’s Surface tablet PC was the single biggest genuine tech surprise of the year so far – a tablet that tantalizingly made the iPad look stale with a snap-on keyboard made all laptops look immediately old fashioned, and promising to be promised the future of computers.
However he says that now it’s here, it’s been just as long a time since a gadget has been so disappointing. Biddle observes that tablets are still fundamentally luxury devices, a delightful toy for reading email on the couch or watching Netflix on an airplane, but nobody needs a tablet, while everyone needs a computer, and Microsoft’s pearly promise for Surface was to pioneer a new kind of gadget combining the grace and leisure of a tablet with the ability to actually make stuff that a computer brings.
He notes that a Surface Pro version is coming that’ll have full, powerful laptop guts, and run the same software any PC can, but the RT variant Microsoft is rolling out first is undercooked – undone by too many little annoyances, cracks, and flaws, and that after the initial delight of an evolved tablet wears off, you’ll groan – because Surface brings the appearance of unity, but is really just the worst of both worlds – a cocktail of compromises that fracture the whole endeavor. Biddle says it’s no laptop replacement, no matter how it looks or what Microsoft says, but rather a tablet-plus, priced right alongside the iPad and in most ways inferior.
A Tale Of Two Tablets
BGR’s Zach Epstein also reviews Microsoft’s Surface tablet, a device he says ushers in a new era at Microsoft that could ultimately make or break one of the most important technology companies in history.
Epstein notes that the Surface tablet is the culmination of three years of development, and Microsoft sees it as the perfect stage for its new Windows platform, which he says is a chimera of sorts, merging the tile-based user interface from Windows Phone and the standard user interface from Windows 7 into a single platform. Windows RT is a brand new platform with a tile-based user interface, but it can’t run x86 code like older versions of Windows can. Instead, it can only run applications built specifically for this new platform and distributed through Microsoft’s Windows Store.
Windows 8, on the other hand, is Windows RT combined with classic Windows. It can do everything Windows RT can do, but also has a separate Desktop that looks exactly like Windows 7 minus the Start button and Start menu though you can get them back if you want and it can run x86 code.
Epstein says Microsoft has sought to reinvent the PC with the Surface, but Windows 8 has split personality disorder, the Windows RT-powered Surface being a tale of two tablets. On one hand, it is an engineering feat with a design that is novel and functional. It really is the perfect combination of a tablet and a notebook thanks to the Touch Cover and the Type Cover, and I felt right at home with the Surface the moment I turned it on. On the other hand, the software experience does not feel like home. Its new, and for many it will be scary.