Reboxing: Why I'm returning my Microsoft Surface

Reboxing: Why I'm returning my Microsoft Surface

Summary: The Surface is a strong first effort at stealing marketshare from the three "A's" and with a little time, apps and polish it could pose a formidable threat. But until then, mine's going back.

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(Disclaimer: I've been using Apple hardware for almost 30 years and have covered the company, including here at The Apple Core, for 17 years, so I have a definite inclination for its products. This blog post is written from the perspective of an Apple user and is one man's opinion.)

Over the weekend I was at an impasse: the 30-day return window on my Microsoft Surface was closing and a I had to make a decision -- and I decided to to return it.

I pre-ordered a Surface with Windows RT at launch because I was super-excited to use Microsoft's answer to the iPad. The hype on Surface was incredible and I had every intention of keeping it. For me it looked like an ideal second machine to my MacBook Pro and a way to get some exposure to Windows and Windows apps.

While it's a credible device with a lot of potential, it felt a little premature and not ready for the big leagues. Here are some of the reasons why I returned my Surface instead of toughing it out and waiting for things to get better.

Microsoft Surface in portrait orientation - Jason O'Grady

1. It's slow. The best example of the Surface's slowness is when switching from portrait to landscape mode. It's painfully slow, sometimes taking a couple of seconds. Orientation switching on the iPad is instantaneous and smooth, rotate the device and the screen follows. That's the benchmark that Microsoft has to meet. (Some users have complained about keyboard latency in Word [video], but I didn't notice it and my colleague Ed Bott notes that it was addressed in a software update.)

Tweetro screenshot for Microsoft Surface - Jason O'Grady

2. Lack of apps. One of the first apps that I installed on the Surface was Tweetro, the Twitter client for Windows 8. The problem is that two days later, Tweetro got shut down after it hit Twitter's 100,000 token limit. Sure, that was a Twitter issue, but the bigger problem is the limited pool of apps for Windows 8 right now. 

Microsoft Surface Wi-Fi only - Jason O'Grady

3. Wi-Fi only. The Surface lacks mobile broadband, so there's no 3G or 4G. This limits Internet access to Wi-Fi hotspots, which can be difficult for anyone planning to travel with Surface as a primary/only computer.

Microsoft Surface is a little rough around the edges - Jason O'Grady

4. It's rough around the edges. Literally. Microsoft built a kickstand into the Surface that works remarkably well, but the compromise comes in the form of its hard edges. While the iPad's curves make it easy to hold, the Surface industrial design is more like the iPhone with sharp, square edges. As a result it's uncomfortable to hold in your hands and it feels unnecessarily boxy while reading on the couch or in bed. 

All's not lost, however. 

Windows 8 stands out the most to me, it very customizable and user-friendly. While die-hard Windows users may not like the Metro UI, it's simple, clean and a total departure from everything before it. It's also the first mainstream mobile OS that's not a complete ripoff of iOS, which is a nice change of pace. Maybe Apple will finally learn that there are benefits to having live, interactive widgets on the homescreen.

The Type Cover was a surprise for me and worked better than expected. It was easy to adapt to coming from the flat, thin-profile keyboard on my MacBook Pro and Apple wireless keyboards, and the trackpad worked well too. It's not easy to type on while on your lap, but that not what it's designed for, either. 

The Surface is a strong first effort at stealing marketshare from the three "A's" (Apple, Android and Amazon) and with a little time, apps and polish it could pose a formidable threat. But until a few of the intial issues are addressed, mine's going back. 

What's your take on the Microsoft Surface?

 

Topics: Apple, iPad, Microsoft, Tablets

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  • Thanx

    for disclaimer..... :D
    Vish2801
    • It's not an iPad... It's the evolution of Computers

      It really puts a flag on credibility when you have to put a disclaimer pledging allegiance to the brand opposite of the product you're discussing.

      Anyway, the line that stood out most was this:

      "I pre-ordered a Surface with Windows RT at launch because I was super-excited to use Microsoft's answer to the iPad"

      Clearly Ogrady is completely unaware of what the product he bought actually is or that Apple is NOT the center of the universe. The Surface isn't a competitor to the iPad, it's Microsoft forcing the evolution of the computer because their "partners" have gotten so lazy that the only interesting PC's out there are the ones trying to emulate the Air.

      While the Surface may not have had the retail impact that MS hoped for, I think it made a huge impression on the industry. There is clearly some middle ground between laptop and tablet and I think we're going to see their design influence the future of both sides. And as a Mac user, I can't wait to see the Air and OSXI evolve to be a complete Keyboard/Mouse/Touchscreen/Voice experience. (And when that happens then maybe Ogrady will realize that not every touch device is trying to be an iPad)
      Urkel
      • Re: Microsoft forced the evolution of computers

        Please. If those who control Microsoft really think this way, pity for that company!
        The evolution of computers is not in the hands of any single company, much less Microsoft.
        Computers have evolved before Microsoft, during Microsoft and will continue to evolve after Microsoft is long forgotten history.

        The MacBook Air is not something to emulate. It's just a personal computer. Apple has always been in the business of making personal computers. The reason nobody is successful so far in cloning the MacBook Air is that they forget the most important aspect: attention to detail.

        Indeed, the Surface made huge impression on the industry: an impression that Microsoft are incapable.
        In my opinion, Microsoft has yet to learn to reduce the hype and increase the delivery. Then, they might impress the industry positively. But I have no hope for this.
        danbi
        • Evolution

          "The evolution of computers is not in the hands of any single company, much less Microsoft."

          There are many who think the evolution of phones, music devices etc is in the hands of Apple. Pretty sure our author is one of those.

          IAC, it's entirely possible for one company to force the evolution in a different direction. All they have to do is come up with a good, new idea. Sort of like Apple did with the iPhone.
          big red one
          • Evolution

            big red one wrote:

            "There are many who think the evolution of phones, music devices etc is in the hands of Apple. Pretty sure our author is one of those."

            The fact remains that Apple is largely responsible for the direction PCs have taken. Windows was nothing more nor less than a rip off of the Mac OS which came out in 1984. The first real Windows OS was 3.0 and was released in May of 1990. In almost every respect it was a copy (rip off) of the Macintosh OS. Apple introduced the first popular MP3 player, and every player that has come after copied elements of the Ipod. Likewise the smart phone, and now the Ipad. I think it is probably pretty accurate to view Apple as the primary industry innovator. With the death of Steve Jobs, we can expect this to change.......... We have already seen the precursor of this with the maps debacle with the new Iphone. The perfectionism of Steve Jobs and is creative drive made Apple a personality driven company and drove it to success. We are going to gradually witness the collapse of Apple from leadership to mediocrity.
            DISCLAIMER.... I am NOT a Macintosh user...... I was in the early days when I abandoned that abortion called MSDOS for an OS that could actually do real work easily and efficiently. I abandoned Windows when Linux became a good end user environment. I always have at least one Windows installation... only because I am forced to. I hate the instability and performance degradation that are inherent in EVERY version of Windows. I own an Ipad and it is a wonderful tool for many applications. I hate being enslaved to Itunes and the App Store. I have no intention of upgrading my gen1 Ipad into another Ipad. I had high hopes for WebOs, and look forward to a truly open source OS for tablets eventually. For now the Ipad is the best environment out there as flawed as it is!
            **owly**
          • Not this again...

            "The fact remains that Apple is largely responsible for the direction PCs have taken. Windows was nothing more nor less than a rip off of the Mac OS which came out in 1984"

            OMG not this crap again. Fine I'll play along: "MAC OS was nothing more nor less than a rip off of the STAR operating system which came out in 1981"

            Seriouslly, put that "windows ripped off apple" crap to rest. Its just a fallacy.
            Kamran Rastegar
          • HaHa funny

            I guess you weren't around when Windows 95 was released and the biggest hype surrounding it was "now using Windows is just like using a Mac." Before 95 Windows was a shell over DOS (a very very ugly and disfunctional shell btw) and Apple had a GUI far before that. OF COURSE Windows emulated the Mac, which was the ONLY graphical user interface out there at the time. They tried very hard to make the user experience like that of using a Mac. Don't say they didn't. "OMG not this crap again."
            dolph0291
          • Come to think of it Kamran

            Just 17 years ago Windows users could only use the command prompt - the same as the "Run" menu. Networking was impossible without expensive equipment and an engineers degree. Just 17 years ago when Windows 95 came out. 17 years ago we had Macs and printers and routers in my office, all of them networked together without configuration using a telephone line and Apple Talk. Microsoft was making good money selling their new program, Excel, which was a Mac only program because you can't work on a spreadsheet in a DOS window. MSFT had to make a GUI to move Office over to their own platform. They had to make Windows work like a Mac.
            dolph0291
          • A bit of a fine line there.

            17 years ago while running Window 95 I had 2 PC's linked and playing Doom, I was NOT a PC tech at the time, just a hobbyist.
            martin_js
          • Remember Lotus 1 2 3 ?

            >>you can't work on a spreadsheet in a DOS window

            No? Do you not remember Lotus 123?
            puterhermit
          • If you really believe that the Mac OS...

            was a rip off of the Star OS, you obviously know little about either.

            I'll ask you the same question I ask any time someone brings up this myth: How did you access menus in the Star OS?
            msalzberg
          • Right back at you.

            If you believe that Windows was a ripoff of OS X, you're a dumbass.
            jhammackHTH
          • If you really believe that the Mac OS...

            was a rip off of the Star OS, you obviously know little about either.

            I'll ask you the same question I ask any time someone brings up this myth: How did you access menus in the Star OS?

            If you answer correctly, you'll see that their UIs were not the same.
            msalzberg
          • Kamran Rastegar get educated!

            Apple paid Xerox 1 million dollars in shares of Apple stock to use the STAR UI !!!

            Learn your computing history before spewing non-truths!!! Quit hating on Apple Kamran!
            TimeForAChangeToBetter
        • The reason nobody is successful so far in cloning the MacBook Air

          the most important aspect: attention to lawsuits. Oh, and the fact that Apple made it so OS X can't legally run on anything other then an Apple.

          Other then that. Ultrabooks and the like seem very nice, and look to have had attention to detail, so I'm not sure what you're trying to say

          "Indeed, the Surface made huge impression on the industry: an impression that Microsoft are incapable"

          Seems that far more disagree with you (so what's new). Look beyond the fear, the fear ofnot owning an Apple product due to peer pressure - it's OK.

          So, sorry - the industry as a whole seem impressed with the Surface, no matter what you may post about it.
          William Farrel
          • Well Todd/Matt/Will

            Microsoft made it so the xbox 360 OS can only run on the xbox360, and the zoon OS only ran on the zoon. There is a difference between making a device, and making a part for a device. Apple makes devices, while Microsoft makes parts.
            Troll Hunter J
          • Aargh!

            Then and Than! Yes I know I'm being a grammar ogre!

            'Then' is used to position events in time! ie. This happened THEN that happened...

            'Than' is used to show difference between things! ie. This is better THAN that...

            Lazy use of language may indicate lazy thought processes!
            I am Gorby
        • Are you serious with this BS?

          "The reason nobody is successful so far in cloning the MacBook Air is that they forget the most important aspect: attention to detail."

          It's already been cloned you idiot, quite successfully. Hell, the new Samsung Series 9 ultrabook spanks the Macbook Air. You can either educate yourself or continue being ignorant

          http://www.trustedreviews.com/opinions/macbook-air-vs-samsung-series-9

          "Indeed, the Surface made huge impression on the industry: an impression that Microsoft are incapable."

          Spoken like the Apple fanboy tool who has never even seen a Surface. Don't even bother lying about this. We know you haven't. You can go back to your Steve Jobs photo collection now. You're an idiot.
          jhammackHTH
      • I will agree that Microsoft is forcing the evolution of computers

        (But they haven't completed the job.)

        Twelve years ago, Microsoft introduced touch to its desktop OS, to the rousing acclaim of crickets chirping. Over the ensuing decade, little was done to support the capability outside of certain Point-of-Sale applications and custom-designed enterprise software for pressure-sensitive tablets/convertibles. In fact, it was so well received that when Apple introduced the iPad, nearly everyone here declared it an abysmal failure because "it has already been done and nobody wanted it." My question to this is, why did Apple succeed when Microsoft failed?

        Here's why: Microsoft introduced the technology with the hopes that developers and OEMs would embrace it and take off running into the future. What really happened was that the developers simply didn't see a need to re-write their software to accommodate touch when the mouse and keyboard was 'good enough' and 'comfortable.' They had no incentive to push into new interfaces for existing applications. Apple, on the other hand, chose to start by making it nearly impossible to use the "standard" mouse-and-keyboard interface though they did acknowledge the need for a keyboard itself by offering their own keyboard dock and accepting Bluetooth keyboards. The mouse? Worthless. Slow, inaccurate and simply useless on a mobility device. Microsoft themselves recognized this by not even allowing a mouse to connect to most of their WinMob devices. What Apple did do, however, was make the interface itself different enough that it invited touching, rather than inhibited it; they made the icons and touch points big enough for a finger without the need to rely on a stylus--though aftermarket styluses came along soon enough.

        Microsoft learned its lesson from Apple with Windows 8 and Surface; the interface needs to be intuitive and obvious--made to touch and drag rather than hunt and peck. Many of you even on these boards expressed loudly your dislike of the Modern Windows interface and yet nearly every manufacturer is now building PCs, both desktop and portables, designed to embrace that touch-ability even to the point in some cases of eliminating the mousing touchpad entirely (and don't even get me started on Lenovo's toy joystick in the middle of the keyboard). Still, only Microsoft so far is going so far as to build a true touch-centric Windows device with the Surface, though Win8 is a proven OS on many other tablets that have already been out for a year or more (Win8 didn't come on those tablets, either--they were designed for Win7).

        Here's my point and the reason most of you should be cheering Windows 8 and Surface: Microsoft has managed to beat Apple to making desktop touch a functional reality despite all the hints Apple itself has made that it is headed in that direction with OS X. While I will admit I have no idea how well OS X will handle touch on a desktop, we have Windows in our hands right now that is fully touch capable. This time, Microsoft is driving the evolution, not Apple.
        DWFields
        • How OS X handles touch on a desktop

          Since Lion, OS X is handling touch for the desktop, including MacBooks perfectly. However since you are on a flat firm surface (either the desk or the notebook's base) you don't have to touch the screen, you touch a trackpad. Almost the same gestures are available to you and you can be extremely productive.

          It is not sufficient to be capable of touch. As you illustrated in the past Microsoft experiments with touch. You have to make it intuitive and comfortable to use.
          danbi