I'm a tablet guy by anyone's definition. I'm also a mobile tech guy. When a new gadget or technology rolls around I get all excited and grab it to give it a go.
I did just that when the Surface RT tablet from Microsoft became available months after the surprise announcement last year. I tracked the shipment with anticipation after placing my order. When it arrived I excitedly opened the box and fired it up.
Sadly, that was the pinnacle of my excitement. After too many hours trying to make the Surface fit into my daily work routine, I have placed it on a shelf while I use other devices to go about my business.
It's not that the Surface isn't a fine device, it is certainly a nice bit of kit. It's not that it lacks innovation, the slate form with the keyboard cover pushes the envelope.
No, it's not for a lack of effort on Microsoft's part that the Surface doesn't work for me. It's because I require the gear I use to do everything I need and without fuss. The Surface fails me in this regard despite a big effort on my part to make it work.
My inability to leverage the Surface may just be me. I know quite a few owners who absolutely love their Surface and I am happy for them. Perhaps my needs in a mobile computer are so unique that I am the exception rather than the rule.
Whatever the reason, I am tired of constantly trying to get stuff done with my Surface, only to put it away after a few hours in sheer frustration. I can pick up any other gadget in my possession, and that's quite a few, and easily get things done with little effort.
Why does the Surface frustrate me every time I use it? The lack of good apps plays a big role. I have bought too many apps in the hope that one of them will be the one that turns things around, but to no avail. Even the apps that I end up using regularly aren't as good as the apps I use on every other mobile platform. They lack features, waste screen space, and most importantly they insist on grabbing my attention when all I want to do is get things done.
That even applies to the Internet Explorer browser in the Metro interface. There's something about it that has it taking my focus away from whatever I'm doing. It's a touch on the screen that doesn't register as it should or one that causes the accursed charms bar to fly out unintended.
It's the URL address bar at the bottom of the screen instead of at the top where every other browser/platform puts it. It's the way IE keeps open tabs hidden from view and makes me cause them to display to get where I need to be. It's the way that bar stays open at the top until I specifically make it get out of my way.
Many will say these are little things and I agree with that assessment. But they all add up to constantly grab my focus when I need to be doing stuff. Maybe I'm overly sensitive about this but that's the way it is.
I insist that any mobile device I use for work stay out of my way while I'm doing it. I don't want to be thinking about how to get something to happen, I want to just reach out and make it so. I don't want to stop and think if a control is on the left, the top, the right, or at the bottom of the screen. I want it to be totally intuitive so I am always thinking about my writing.
I am sure some will think I'm too sensitive or that I haven't given the Surface with Windows 8 enough time. That may be but I've given it far more time and effort than I've given any other platform and device I've used. It's left me in a continual state of frustration every time I've used the Surface to work and I just can't take it anymore.
It's not you Microsoft, it's me. I know you've given your best effort to make this relationship work but it's in vain. I wish the best for you in the future. You'll get along fine without me.