I predict that the scenario I'm about to present here will happen over and over and over again. This is not going to be pretty.
Let's follow a typical consumer, Kevin, as he goes to buy a Microsoft Surface RT.
Last week, Sean Hollister of The Verge called a bunch of Microsoft Stores and spoke to representatives. The dialog I'm going to use for the store reps comes from real representatives who gave Sean these (very wrong) answers. Special kudos go out to Sean for doing this research.
DAY 1: NOON - LUNCH IN COMPANY CAFETERIA
Kevin is sitting down to lunch with Barbara and Mike, his co-workers. Mike says, "Hey, Kevin, did you hear about this new Windows tablet that's out?"
Kevin: Yeah, it might be what I've been looking for.
Barbara: What about an iPad? I like my iPad.
Kevin: Well, the iPad's nice, but I want to be able to do some work, too. I've been thinking about an Ultrabook, but I'd really like something a little smaller and cheaper.
Mike: There's a new Microsoft tablet that runs the new Windows version and has a flippy keyboard. Looks cool. You should check it out. It's even got Office.
Kevin: Yeah, maybe I will.
DAY 1: 2PM - AT HIS DESK, DURING A LULL IN WORK
Kevin surfs the Web, visits the Microsoft Web site, and looks at the Surface RT tablet. The Microsoft site talks about serious fun and play.
Kevin sees the device runs the Home and Student version of Office, which has Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. That's good enough for him. He'd like Outlook, too, but since he can get a free copy from his Exchange provider, he figures it's not much of an issue.
Kevin's a diligent sort. He's been using Windows every day since the early XP days, and wants a little reassurance before he goes out and spends $600 or so. So he picks up the phone and calls his local Micosoft Store.
After waiting on hold for a few minutes, he is connected with a salesperson. Kevin asks, "What's the difference between Windows 8 and Windows RT, or are they the same thing?" The rep replies, "They're pretty much the same thing. There's no real huge difference except the RT is more touch friendly."
That's what Kevin wanted to hear. Sweet. He thanks the woman on the phone, hangs up, and can't wait until work is over.
DAY 1: 7PM - AT THE MICROSOFT STORE
The Surface has been out for a few weeks now, and the initial sales rush is over. The Microsoft Store has the Surface in stock -- and it's gorgeous! Kevin is incredibly excited by how it feels in his hand.
Kevin likes the tile interface (how he thinks of the Metro UI), and how it looks. Touch and wipe actions are fast and fluid. The salesperson (not the same person Kevin talked to earlier on the phone) shows him how to lauch Office. Word feels like Word, PowerPoint is PowerPoint, and Excel is really Excel.
And all this on a tablet! It's even got the Windows desktop. As a long-time Windows user, Kevin is completely tickled by the idea of a full Windows Explorer desktop interface on a tablet. This is what he's always wanted.
There are also plenty of ports. He can't wait until he gets home, hooks up some of his USB devices, and moves some data and programs over to the new machine.
He's got one more question before he plunks down $699 for the 64GB version and another $110 for the Surface Touch keyboard. Yes, he's spending $809 plus tax, but he's spent that before on a crappy laptop. This is a tablet -- with Windows!
Next up, a questions and mistaken claims about Windows RT...