The "do not touch" Microsoft Surface touch tablets

The "do not touch" Microsoft Surface touch tablets

Summary: The Microsoft Surface tablets look impressive, but only the touch experience counts.

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The recent Microsoft Surface event where the folks from Redmond unveiled the first PC hardware to be produced directly by the firm impressed a lot of people. I count myself in that group, and I quickly realized I am the perfect target for the new Windows RT tablet.

Some of the reaction to the press event has been pretty negative given that Microsoft would not let attendees actually touch the tablets. Oh sure, some got to physically touch the demo units, but no one was allowed to actually use the things. Not the fancy keyboard covers either, which makes all impressions given of them useless.

It's understandable that Microsoft is being careful with the impressions these early version tablets give the public. The approach is standard for not-yet-released hardware for some companies. The problem with that approach is it doesn't speak very highly of what Microsoft feels about this new ground-breaking hardware.

The iPad proved to me that you have to use one to fully appreciate the fluid touch experience. Sexy hardware design aside, there have been too many touch tablets that have failed the user experience test in my book. The Microsoft Surface looks nice, but until folks get up close and personal that isn't an indicator of how good they will be as tablets.

I can't help but draw parallels between the refusal of Microsoft to let any press actually use the Surface at the big event to the HP TouchPad soiree held last year in San Francisco. I attended that event and like Microsoft more recently, HP would not let anybody hold a TouchPad and use it.

We now know that HP was trying to keep folks from discovering how unready for prime time the webOS system was at that time. The subsequent cold launch of the TouchPad led HP to cancel the entire webOS product line in just 45 days. HP knew something that attendees of the press event earlier that year didn't, that the product wasn't ready for the real world.

Let's hope that's not the case with Windows 8/RT and the Surface Tablets. They look so nice and have tremendous potential, but until I can use one that doesn't mean much. After all, the only person at the Microsoft Surface event who tried to use one had it crash during the demo.

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Topics: Microsoft, Hardware, Laptops, Mobility, Tablets

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69 comments
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  • What's the word on WiFi only?

    That would be suckage. I am all about Windows 8 for mobile, and will probably get a tablet of some sort at some point in time after everything is released at the end of the year, but I'm still pissed that MS is going to ruin the desktop with Windows 8
    mike2k
    • Hmm...

      I'm not sure about it. I think if I lived in the US I'd get one of those "mobile hotspots". Don't get me wrong, I think there is plenty wrong with these things, but WiFi only; I think I could live with.
      jeremychappell
      • This just in...

        They are cancelling the 2013 North American Auto Show. Word is, the attendees have been upset that they were not permitted to actually *drive* the cars.
        crimsonxt@...
    • "suckage"

      Is US carriers continuing to drain the pockets of consumers everywhere.

      If you need a hookup outside of a hotspot, you can tether.
      The one and only, Cylon Centurion
      • So if you're...

        Not near a hotspot, then "it sucks to be you" is Microsoft's official answer? I think the buying public may not like that answer. Pay more for less, because it's a Microsoft product?
        Jumpin Jack Flash
        • I don't think we have enough info yet

          If these tablets run USB carrier cards, it shouldn't be too big of a problem if it's not built in. x86 tabs almost certainly will but I have no idea about the RT ones. The nice thing about the carrier cards is that you can put them on whatever carrier you'd like, and switch whenever you want (contract permitting of course). However the downside is that you need to plug it in, and take up a USB port. I think we need to wait and see how MSFT handles this before we can really judge what we're getting.
          dsa791
        • Ever heard of tethering?

          I realize your deep down hatred for all things Microsoft, so I'm probably wasting my time here. 3G ipads don't sell well... they only benefit the carrier and is completely unnecessary considering anyone walking around with a tablet will certainly have a smartphone with them also. Why don't you just keep away from the MS articles... they are obviously ruining your day... day in and day out. Just pathetic.
          kstap
          • Excuse you.

            I noticed that you two don't share an opinion. However, he was polite, whilst you make attacks.

            Perhaps it is you who should stop posting, if you can't be civil.

            Just an observation. Feel free to attack me, you'll just be proving my point.
            Bozzer
        • Wrong!

          That is Apples' philosophy, In terms of product function. The Ipad is useless out side of entertainment. I challenge you to actually create something "significant" soley with the Ipad. Impossible... Even the RT version of the surface will have Office 13 included. Windows 8 Tablets will be used by actual professionals--not buffoons.
          e_b_stallings
    • Not you or James

      .. get it because IpaD is the only thing you know.

      In Windows OS, USB is capable of running every type of peripherals. That includes 3G/4G dongles.

      You don't need to buy a new account just for the tablet. You buy a single account and plug that damn dongle into your Tablet/Laptop/PC.
      wmac1
      • Paradigm shifts.

        It's like explaing sunlight to a group of mushrooms, that have been stuffed away into a dark, damp, corner; they forget there is an outside world.
        TechNickle
      • Err

        Some of these things are running Windows RT on ARM, what's the driver written in? Just because something has USB don't think you USB doodah is going to work. It might need a driver.

        If the product is still being made then perhaps the manufacturer will create one, though I'm fuzzy on how you install it (doesn't it need to come out of Microsoft's Software Market?)

        Putting a USB port on the side of something isn't a panacea.

        Plus, you really want a USB stick hanging out of your tablet? I think those nifty WiFi ones are the way to go.
        jeremychappell
        • Drivers?

          What, you think that each hardware mfg has to make special drivers for this platform?

          Sheesh, USB compatible devices would *naturally* connect so long as they conform to the same standards the MS publishes. Now like that or not, at least with MS there are hardware compatibility standards (actually Windows and Mac).

          And talk about things sticking out of the side?

          I watch iPad users every day set there little tablet on their little tablet holder, or prop it up with the case that folds out, then they get their little head phones, they they get their little AC adapters (often times), and the spend a few minutes getting all their little cables orgainzed, and then they start using it only after they have wiggled their butt in their chair and gotten all the accessories connected.

          And you talk about people connecting a USB device...amazing.
          Raid60
      • Err (cont. from Jeremy's post)

        If you want to talk about Windows RT, [i]as opposed to Windows 8[/i], then I must raise iOS in comparison with Mac OS X.

        All current MacBooks running OS X, including the MacBook Air, have USB ports. (Actually several USB 3 ports, running up to 5 Gbs as well as dual 10Gbs Thunderbolt ports.)

        So all current Macs (and most older ones) can run peripherals for which there are drivers, including USB "3G/4G dongles," printers, scanners, hard drives, etc.

        wmac1 "doesnt get it.. In Mac OS X, USB is capable of running every type of peripherals. That includes 3G/4G dongles."
        StandardPerson
  • Misleading article

    You are forgetting the whole point of Surface is not to sell (initially at least) millions of units, but to raise the bar for OEMs and allow MS to have the sort of hardware that people can aspire to, in the same way as Apple products. Apart from ASUS there is actually not that much innovation in the PC tablet space. Having said that, there are already a range of other tablets which run Windows 8 quite happily and MS are quite happy for people to try out themselves, so clearly the software is not the problem. HP and WebOS is a different situation, as they don't have 1.3 billion potential upgrade customers...nor half a dozen or more OEMs to actually sell people machines with the software installed. Certainly, the desktop UI has reached the end of its evolution, and although Metro still has its flaws, it seems likely to take over the desktop for many usage scenarios in the future. By the way, the crash that Sinofsky experienced has been reported by others, so I suspect it has already been fixed. The core kernel and OS itself is ready to go - it is just the apps that need polishing.
    daveharruk
    • " not to sell ... but to raise the bar for OEMs"

      Unfortunately, that won't work if customers stay away from these products in droves.
      ldo17
      • But only an idiot....

        would not consider these products, and actually think people would stay away in droves. Open your little apple mind.
        kstap
    • Go Seahawks

      [ul][i]The core kernel and OS itself is ready to go[/i][/ul]I take it you have access to the internal bug lists and product management checklists.
      Robert Hahn
      • Yes

        Except I call them the preview releases -- which have been running rock solid for months.
        x I'm tc
    • Already making cheap excuses for the failure??

      When apologists come out to defend the failure of a product before it is even release .....
      wackoae