Five ways Microsoft's Surface is better than iPad: Gallery

Five ways Microsoft's Surface is better than iPad: Gallery

Summary: This article spotlights features in both Surface models that are better, more innovative, and potentially more game changing than their counterparts on the iPad.


Way 2: Named sets of applications in the launcher

The iPad lets you group sets of applications into folders, but the icons in those folders are impossible to discern to the naked (or at least, over 40) eye. The iPad also lets you stick a pile of apps on a page, but it doesn't give you the opportunity to name the page.

The Start screen allows you to group applications, and assign those groups labels, which appear above the groups. The icons remain full sized, but you can get a nice overview by simply zooming out. It's a very clean interface for a challenging problem, and it gets you active tiles, named groups, and a bird's eye view, all in one clean interface.

Topics: Tablets, Apple, Microsoft Surface


David Gewirtz, Distinguished Lecturer at CBS Interactive, is an author, U.S. policy advisor, and computer scientist. He is featured in the History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets and is a member of the National Press Club.

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  • Finally, still crap.

    The ipad is a tablet and very good in beeing a tablet.
    The surface is a very bad tablet (too heavy, to slow) but also a very weak PC.
    Plus, all the features (and much more) pointed out in this article are solved by virtually any Android tablet as well (wich doesn't necessarily makes Android tablets superior to the ipad, though).
    Bottom line: The ipad remains an excellent tablet, but Android can offer far more features.
    Let's see what Sailfish and Ubuntu will eventually bring in to the race!
    • Office much in Android?

      Didn't think so ...
      • For 75% Yes

        For 75% of my MSO activities, I actually execute in Android and the remainder on my notebook/desktop.

        Matter of fact, David you should redo one for Android vs. Surface RT and Pro. I am finding that my normal MS work is gravitating more and more into my Android environment.
        • Short list

          This list could have been a lot longer. The Surface is efficient and more flexible than iPads. No other tablets offer all of what the Surface can do. I really liked my iPad (2) but since I got my Surface Rt, I truly understand the point of it. I wasn’t sure at first I must admit but since then, it got better, Apps are getting better also and publishers are better understanding the visual language of the Modern design AKA Metro. I’m using my Rt as a tablet most of the time but when I go on a holyday or on the road, it really shines as portable computer. I can connect to my other PC’s and Servers using remote desktop. I can work on Office documents, synced by SkyDrive, watch movies that I have stored on Micro Sd cards and so much more.

          You have to own one to understand what the Surface is about. After that, the others are just plain tablets.
          • Ballmer

            nother brilliant plan from Ballmer. Except it will fail.

            It's a tax. A Windows tax.

            Microsoft CEO Ballmer has priced the Surface so that he can extract a PC-era price from the customer.

            What a great idea. Pity it will fail.

            Back in the PC era, these sort of plans would work. Now, in the Post PC era, people will just flock to Android instead. Look what's happened: Surface RT has already failed. Surface Pro (the "Pro" means it gets half the battery life) will go the same way, joining Windows Mobile, Windows Phone 7 Kin and Zune in the great Microsoft platform graveyard.
            Henrique Dourado
          • Erm...

            Isn't the Surface RT exactly the same price as an iPad?
          • monopoly

            How can you trust Microsoft?

            When they leverage their monopoly at every chance to crush competition and innovation. Were you asleep for the 5 years that MS would not upgrade IE6? That was 5 years without any innovation in web browsing technology during the peak of their browser monopoly. How can you trust a company with that kind of record?

            They corner you into their walled garden, break the interoperability of their OS to eliminate your choice, and then they triple dip into your wallet. Every dollar you give them further empowers them to seal off the market from competition and innovation while they raise prices. Now MS wants to charge everyone monthly subscription fees just to use a computer.

            This is what you are enabling by patronizing them.

            The tech industry will only be healthy when there is balanced competition.
            Henrique Dourado
          • What are the alternatives?

            "break the interoperability of their OS" - and who in the IT market doesn't do that? At some point, the hardware *requires* that you break with "tradition". I think even linux at this point has fragmented into various camps of "works with this" and "works with that". Apple did it the first time when they went to PowerPC from Motorola (remember?!), then to Intel chips, then when they went to IOS and now the latest "retina" and mini-iPads again. The software is about as interoperable between Macs and IOS as it was between Commodore Amigas and PC's in the 80's. Didn't you notice that?

            ...And you're already paying "monthly subscription fees", in case you didn't notice that either. Network access is free or do you pay $45/month to get a 5 Mb/s connection? And that's just the stuff that comes directly out of your pocket. Let's not get into the "free" services like email, antivirus (if you're using the free kind), and web search. We're all paying with those intangible costs like our freedom and privacy every time we log into a network.

            If you don't like it, turn it off. Go home and turn on your Atari 2600. The games from back then are just as good today. Wanna play on Xbox? Prepare to pay recurring access fees.

            If you want to actually do work, connect to other systems/servers, etc - then welcome to the new paradigm. Where you pay to play.

            You're honestly griping like a spoiled child that just woke up a few minutes ago. Where have you been? This has been going on for more than a decade now....?!

            Honestly, you're advocating for the nonsense idea that you pay once, then all the software will work with all the bug fixes and upgrades to infinity. How much do programmers cost again? O yeah, I guess a little more than zero, huh? How can a company make a living that way? Just ask those nice folks from Lotus and Wordperfect. What ever happened to them? O yeah... they forgot to charge people for their software, so they went out of business. Way to go there. Great pricing model.

            Just look at Netscape and Real for crying out loud. More examples of companies that couldn't make money selling nothing. You want support? You want updates? You want bug fixes? Guess what, it's going to cost money.

            Another thing - look at the truth for a second. Even when other companies are giving their crapware away for free, they still can't compete with MS in their office suites and programming environments. If that doesn't tell you something about the level of product support and feature set, then nothing will.

            All the iPad sales in the world aren't going to equal MS office sales. Heck, Office 2000 probably outsold iPads by a factor of 10!? In the end, it's not about the hardware or the social status of the stuff you hold in your hand. It's about getting work done and sharing your work with others. You want to interact - pay up!! Or write your own code or use free junk instead. Good luck with that file compatibility thing, btw. Lotus 123 files, anyone?
          • Re: Office 2000 probably outsold iPads by a factor of 10

            Since 2010 when the iPad was released, there are well over 100 million iPads sold.

            How many MS Office licenses were sold in the past three years?

            As for file compatibility -- I do have plenty of business documents, written with previous versions of MS Office, that no current version of MS Office can open, ever!
            Funny enough, OpenOffice opens these documents just fine.

            Weird, isn't it? And OpenOffice is absolutely free to use for both personal and commercial purposes (licensed this way). Sun spent great amount of effort to ensure there is such software for everyone to use. So ... there is apparently some error in your money greedy model of software development.
          • reports...

            ...that Microsoft sold 100 million licences of Office 2010 in its first year. Recent conservative estimates say that there are about 500 million Office licences in circulation right now.
          • Very conservative

            I can think of a single customer that has over 100 Million Office licences.
            The Heretic
          • and...

            You're using MacBook air and iPad. Not Ubuntu and android tablet.
          • At least make your negative comment believable

            I have been using Office since the beginning. Not one document has ever failed to open in the newest version of Office. I admit to a mixed architecture household with daughters that prefer Apple and boys that prefer MS. The daughters tend towards artistic endeavor and photo editing. They use the MS platforms for upper level schoolwork as it is less painful and far less costly than trying to do so with their MacBooks. The guys are programming like their dad, even developing for an Android or Apple is best done in Windows which still offers total control of the kernel.
            The Heretic
          • Yeah you are right

            Google should be trusted a lot more. It's business model is based on spying on whatever you do on their application and product, profile you and then sell information about you so he can the make zillions placing ads in your face.
          • Is that why its doing so well?

            The Haters are all the same. You've all been Ballmer-ized. Yes, the Surface has some better features than the iPad. Yes, the iPad could use a few improvements. But what the Micro$oft faithful never understand is that try as it might, the Surface just ISN'T an iPad. We saw this same thing play out with the iPhone. It's never had the most features and its always had some flaws. But it's an iPhone. No, I don't mean it's just a brand that idiots buy because of the shiny logo. The point is that iPhones and iPads have always somehow been more than the sum of their parts. It's the design, the tech, the features, the quality, the brand, and more...right down to the design of the box. That's one reason Apple is selling 10-20 times the iPads as Microsoft is selling the "superior" Surfaces.

            Really, it's not that this article is all that inaccurate. It's that what the author doesn't understand is that it *doesn't matter.* It never has.
        • That's funny...

          because in our enterprise environment, Android is not allowed. iOS, Windows, RIM, but no Android. So, to many such as myself, Android is not an option (thank god).
      • wonder why ?

        I don't pull house trailers behind my motorcycle either ...
      • Yes

        Yes I do. I read a lot on my Transformer Prime. Don't do document creation there (don't have the keyboard dock). Polaris Office works just fine. I really don't want to use the touchscreen keyboard to create any documents and it would be the same if I used an iPad, my Transformer Prime or a Surface. I imagine anyone who does document creation would want a physical keyboard also.
    • How is iPad a good tablet?

      Heck, you can add some severely lacking features in iPad:

      * Using Multiple Accounts.
      * Real File Management
      * Flash in browser. Say want you want to say about flash but it is still necessary in some websites

      USB is really a big advantage especially when you have an Xbox controller. Let's face it playing games in touch can be tiring and difficult sometimes.

      Surface does not compromise.
      • iPad is a good tablet because

        it DOESN'T do those things you listed. It's OK. Breaking a paradigm is hard, and a lot of people struggle with it.