When is a Tablet not a Tablet? When It’s a Surface

by Ben Bajarin   |   November 2nd, 2012

Let me start this column out with some context on Windows 8. My mind has changed to a degree about Windows 8 and in particular touch based notebooks and UltraBooks. Several of the Windows 8 PCs I have been using are pure notebook form factors with solid touch-screens. I was never as negative on the addition of touch screens on notebooks as others in the industry, primarily because for over a year now, I have been using my iPad heavily in many work contexts with a keyboard accessory. So the idea of having a keyboard in front of me and touching a screen rather than using a mouse is an everyday way of life. I genuinely believe that many will welcome and enjoy the addition of touch in Windows 8 on many notebook form factors.

I’ll also add this point, Windows 8 may be one of the better Windows releases, if not the best I have seen in some time. I’ll write more on that later and I realize I may be in the minority with that statement.

But now I want to turn my attention to Surface, and more than just Surface, Windows 8 on devices that look and feel more like a tablet.

Just Because You Touch a Screen Doesn’t Make it a Tablet

Simply because a piece of hardware has the ability to touch it, does not make it a tablet. The traditional metaphor of a PC is the desktop / notebook mode. In this mode the screen sits on a desk, or a lap, and is used at arms length. Tablets on the other hand blow that paradigm wide open because they are built to be used while being held—mostly one handed— and operated solely by touch. Tablets are designed, and their experience is designed, to be more intimate and more personal. This does not mean the addition of a keyboard to a tablet is not useful, only that it is not required for most common tasks.

Steve Ballmer made a specific statement about Surface that I want to point out. He said:

Windows 8 is the greatest example of the PC meets the tablet – Steve Ballmer

This quote is a prime example of the way Microsoft thinks about Windows and computing. It highlights that they are still using the old school PC metaphor of computing being done on a desk or lap, at arms length, while stationary. And the Windows 8 platform, as well as the Surface, and many other tablet centric Windows 8 PCs fully conform to this metaphor.

Just look at how Surface was designed and where its value is being positioned. With a kickstand (to prop it up), and a keyboard, AND in landscape mode. All the same features of a notebook. In reality the Surface is a unique new form factor, but it is still largely dependent on the traditional PC computing paradigm. It is designed to converge these two experiences rather than innovate on their differences.

It is important to add here that I am a mature tablet user. I have been using the iPad since the beginning and have it fully melded into all areas of my life in key ways. I also heavily used many tablet PC devices well before Surface. Many writing about Surface rightly point out that it should not be compared to the iPad. I agree, for many of the reasons I point out above, and more to the point that I am not convinced Windows 8 is actually a tablet OS—yet. But to the extend comparing is necessary, it is because the iPad is the gold standard of a tablet experience on the market today.

Ballmer said that Windows 8 is the PC meets a tablet. My response to him is that the iPad is the re-invention of the PC.

That Tablets Advantage is Portrait Mode

I firmly say, and stand on my conviction that the iPad has not only re-invented the PC but changed the computing paradigm for a few reasons — Portrait mode and touch computing (accomplishing complex computing tasks that once required a mouse and keyboard via touch).

I wrote a long analysis on computing in Portrait mode, where I highlight the many advantages of this mode of computing for things like writing, reading, browsing the web, etc. I use portrait mode primarily on my iPad. Only some things like games and a few other apps use landscape exclusively. The iPad, and nearly all of the 275,000 tablet apps and growing not only support both portrait and landscape but they are built uniquely to take advantage of both modes.

Conversely, Windows 8 and Surface, appear to be built primarily for one mode—landscape. Given that Windows 8 is built for a 16:9 format this is not surprising. The software was architected for landscape. Although, the screen can be used in portrait mode, doing so presents a far less enjoyable experience than in landscape. For some this may not be a problem but for me it was a fundamentally counter experience to what I consider a pure tablet experience. Many popular apps, including MSFTs own app store, are built only for landscape mode. A mode that while leaning back in bed, or a couch, etc., is just not comfortable to hold for long periods of time.

I’ve been adamant that browsing the web in portrait mode if far better than in landscape. As is reading books, magazines, etc,. Take a look at the side by side screen shot of the NY Times on Surface and on iPad. Both in portrait mode.

Click for larger image

What happens when you orient Surface to portrait mode, due to the 16:9 aspect ratio, is that everything gets smaller. Where when you flip the iPad, and even Android tablets, the text size stays the same in some cases, or shrinks slightly in others. What you get in portrait mode is more text on a screen, that even when smaller is not crunched or impossible to read. You are able to see more of the web page on the Surface because of 16:9, only the text was much harder to read. Of course you could zoom in or tap in, but that required some time to get the web page consumable. Not a deal breaker, but also not ideal.

Oddly enough two experiences I had were not horrible in portrait mode and you will be baffled by one of them. The first was the Kindle app, which just as I described about the iPad never changed the text size when flipping from portrait to landscape. Which being able to view significantly more text on the screen than the iPad in portrait was a welcome addition. The other experience was with the desktop version of Internet explorer on the Surface. I pointed out a few weeks ago the odd solution of having two different versions of Internet Explorer. In that article I complained that the desktop version of Internet Explorer was not as touch friendly as its Windows 8 app brother. However, it turns out that desktop Internet Explorer is more portrait mode friendly than its Windows 8 app brother. When using Internet Explorer on the desktop, the web operates more like the iPad. When you flip the screen between portrait and landscape the text stays the same size and you simply see more on the screen. Go figure.

Landscape obviously has its advantages in many scenarios like movies, some games, etc. But, in a broad set of tablet use cases portrait is equally and sometimes more important. A true tablet in my opinion provides an excellent experience in both landscape and portrait modes.

All of that to say that there may some hope for Windows 8 from a pure tablet standpoint. Some apps gave me hope while others caused me to shake my head. Portrait mode in Windows 8 will require some specific software approaches from companies and developers who understand portrait and landscape mode and the key tablet use cases for both. It is simply not there yet holistically.

Conclusions

There are more things I like about Surface, and Windows 8, as PCs but not as tablets. I believe that those consumers in the market for a tablet, are not in the market for a PC. Therefore for the tablet market, I am not convinced Surface, or either flavor of Windows 8 is a solution. We will see if this changes or not.

I know many happy Surface customers and many of them have never really used an iPad and are fully in Microsoft’s ecosystem. This may be the recipe of success for Windows 8 PCs.

For Apple, it means they still have no true tablet competition, particularly with the iPad.

Don’t consider this column a review of Surface. That is coming, as their are many things I like about it as a touch based PC, gestures in particular. The main point I am trying to get across is that we need to think about PCs and tablets differently.

When it comes to the tablet discussion, we will need to dive deeper into the 7” form factor role. A form factor Microsoft is avoiding. If Microsoft wants to be serious about tablets, they will need to think long and hard about how to approach the 7” form factor.

I’m sure there is a market for these type of converged devices, but the question is how big? I can see people buying the best pure breed tablet and a very low cost notebook as an equally compelling solution. A solution which actually may be the best of both worlds not a compromise of both worlds.

There is still more to be said in this discussion. Things like how does the iPad stack up to the Surface as a PC? Especially if one does not care about Office. Some may say you can’t compare the Surface to the iPad in terms of a tablet and I may not totally agree but I see their point. However, some may also say you can’t compare the iPad to the Surface in terms of a PC. For that I say we will see.

Ben Bajarin

Ben Bajarin is a Principal Analyst at Creative Strategies, Inc - An industry analysis, market intelligence and research firm located in Silicon Valley. His primary focus is consumer technology and market trend research. He is a husband, father, gadget enthusiast, trend spotter, early adopter and hobby farmer. Full Bio
  • Glaurung-Quena

    Unless Apple has totally changed how things work from the iPad 2 to the iPad 3, you are incorrect about what happens when you rotate an iPad in Safari. The text shrinks dramatically from landscape to portrait, because the browser scales the page to the same virtual width either way. With my aging eyes, I the web almost unusable in portrait on my iPad. Fortunately it’s quite comfortable for me to hold the tablet in landscape (although I am looking forward to a thinner and lighter 5th gen device).

    • benbajarin

      Just tried it yesterday to verify on my iPad third gen. Page just re-orientes, nothing happens to the text size. Perhaps its a setting. Either way I see what you mean from a eyes standpoint. I take for granted that I have good eyesight, and am young.

      But my dad, who is 62, remarked at the hard to read text in many cases with surface in portrait mode.

      16:9 makes the text size in portrait mode very hard to make out, and many apps are not built for portrait mode in Windows 8, so even when re-orienting, there are huge blank spots above and below the content.

      • steve_wildstrom

        For browser pages, at least, I think the behavior is determined the HTML (and the style sheet), not the device. Some pages will shrink the page (Tech.pinions, for example), some will reflow (e.g., Google.) But it’s very hard to reflow a page that has a lot of elements, so most shrink to the new dimensions.

        I think the real difference here is in aspect ratios. On the iPad, with its 4:3 aspect ratio, portrait is 75% the width of landscape, so the change is not too dramatic. On the Surface, the 16:9 aspect ratio means portrait is just a little over half the width (56%) of landscape, so you really notice the change in size. The Nexus 7 and 10, by the way, have a 16:10 ratio (62.5%) that puts them about halfway between the iPad and Surface.

        • Glaurung-Quena

          You’re correct that google doesn’t shrink their text on rotation – I never noticed that before. But almost all the blogs/forums I read do shrink on rotation, so I just have become used to using it in landscape mode. Also, of course, I use Perfect Browser instead of Safari for most things, because it allows me to set a default text zoom level.

          • rattyuk

            Safari worked better when web masters didn’t try and fix it.

    • http://twitter.com/snookasnoo Idon’t Know

      I don’t see that at all on my iPad 4 or any of the three other iPads I have owned. perhaps you have an odd specific app that does this. My 53 year old eyes would certainly notice if this were an issue. I use portrait almost exclusively.

  • Richard

    Someone asked me what I thought of this review. I replied with the following:

    I think that the guy is iPad biased which comes from his comment
    of “I have been using the iPad since the beginning and have it fully
    melded into all areas of my life in key ways”

    To his statement that “the iPad is the reinvention of the PC” I
    would counter with a cough, a giggle and possibly breaking wind a touch as I
    withhold my incredulation. Mostly because the iPad doesn’t in any way replace a
    PC or a laptop. I tried really hard to get it to do so when they first came
    out, but it is a pretty rubbish business tool. The Surface with Windows 8 is
    totally different beast. It is absolutely a tablet and is totally usable
    without the touch or type keyboards if you want to, however when you want to do
    something a bit more than tweet, look at pictures or watch a movie then content
    creation really is possible.

    In short I think his review is bollocks, and he certainly isn’t
    a mature tablet user. I am a more mature tablet user than him as I integrate
    both iPad and Surface into my life in the ways that they fit best….

    • benbajarin

      I am not sure you read my entire column. Toward the end I made the point to absolutely not consider this a review. That is coming, but keep in mind I am an analyst not a journalist so I think about these things differently in light of my market research.

      Second, I can and do replace my notebook with my iPad, using the Logitech keyboard case. My wife who has very simple needs with technology, check email, browse web, etc. Has not touched her notebook in some time.

      I have no problem with you disagreeing with me, however, keep in mind that the best solution is the one that works for you. Our research is returning significant amount of data of the mass market, the average consumer, using their iPad almost exclusively and reserving their notebook for just a few dedicated tasks. Click the link in my article on touch computing and you can dive deeper into my thoughts on why the iPad is the re-invention of the PC.

      My overall point is again, this was not a review that is coming. This was an analysis on two companies different philosophies to computing. And what works best for you is great, but doesn’t mean its the solution for everyone.

      • Richard

        Perhaps you should have started your “not a review” with the line that what is best for me doesn’t apply to everyone? It certainly didn’t come across as a piece of analysis as it clearly originated from a biased opinion which you are welcome to, but don’t claim that it is anything other than that or you are misleading anyone that follows you.

        • benbajarin

          My apologies for that. Usually its good to read an entire column before commenting as you would have seen that key line in my conclusions. Also reading my bio and doing some research on my role as an industry analyst would help also.

          Also you are free to assume bias but you would be holistically wrong. I fully admit I am in Apple’s ecosystem as that is the solution that I have worked out that works best for me, but I analyze for the sake of the industry key elements of every platform in my industry analysis and make points necessary for key decision makers in this industry.

          As I stated in my conclusion, which is also now a fundamental part of the industry analysis we send out to our clients, is that we need to think about tablets and PCs differently. That is the point.

          Also, our site is tech.pinions and our following knows the opinion nature of which we write, yet we try to celebrate innovation regardless of where it comes from. But as we continually try to make clear, opinions are beautiful things because it allows for disagreement. Which we are again perfectly happy with on our forum we just ask it is done respectfully.

          If you read many of our great columns here we hope you find helpful and respectful dialogue and often debates.

          • Richard

            Hi Ben, Some very reasoned responses to my, admittedly provocative comments. I did read to the end of your article, but when I first posted I was at the end of what had been a long day. I did tone my posts down somewhat from their first drafts to ensure they were at worst borderline with the policy of the site. I probably shouldn’t have posted, but this wouldn’t be the Internet we all know and love/hate if we all thought everything through 100% before typing. I wholly believe that the surface is an amazing bit of kit for business use. For me it is the first time that I feel I will be able to leave my pen/paper and laptop at home. When I used an iPad at work for a few months I always had to have my laptop with me “just in case,” so I ended up leaving it at home. Thanks for responding and I think that it reflects well on you that you did so in a reasoned manner without coming down to my level :)

            I was going to head on here a bit earlier and post an appropriate comment before anyone got a chance to flame me, but Jeff managed to get here first as I was delayed by bonfire night….I’m still not sure how I was boasting. I was simply comparing tablet using maturity in an argumentative manner extending the premise which Ben had already established. If this offended you then I apologise, but perhaps you (Jeff) should avoid forums and comments sections if this is truly the case.
            Whups there I go again. I must be in the mood for an argument :D

          • benbajarin

            Here are some follow up thoughts.

            I see your point about Surface for small business, and I think there is upside there and in other places where Windows software is important. However, I am not so sure about Windows RT in those environments due to its lack of support for legacy. I’d also be curious on your thoughts on Surfaces lack of support for AD as an issue or not.

            Perhaps Surface Pro may have a better shot more universally for those who are interested but I am again not sure.

            Also what if Office is critical to the end user? I believe for many small businesses this becoming more true.

            But even if we make the case that can be made for Surface or even RT, and we use Office as a differentiator, I don’t believe the same case can me made for its success in consumer markets.

            If consumers want a notebook, I think they will get a notebook. If they want a tablet they will get a pure tablet. That is why my perspective having used tablets for a long time from every platform, is that the Surface is a compromise of both worlds not the best of both worlds.

          • FalKirk

            “Some very reasoned responses to my, admittedly provocative comments…I probably shouldn’t have posted…” – Richard

            Richard, I just read through the entire, sub-thread between you and Ben. I appreciate the fact that, after an initial reaction, you tempered your views and ended with a very civil discussion of the topic.

            We’re not looking for a monolithic discussion, we’re looking for multiple points of view to be expressed in a civil and courteous manner. In the end, that’s what both you and Ben provided. Come back often and express your views. You and many readers have so much to offer and Tech.pinions is one of the few sites that encourage discussion rather than flame wars.

            Looking forward to your future contributions and the contributions of all those who may be reading this post.

        • http://twitter.com/snookasnoo Idon’t Know

          Yet you say because a tablet doesn’t replace a PC for you then it must not do so for anyone. Obviously it does. As to your other posts..seek maturity.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jeffrey.l.williamsii Jeffrey Lee Williams II

      Richard, have you considered the rules of posting on this site? I don’t know the author, however, I was offended by your disregard for the author’s opinion and directly attacking his character. I’m sure you have something better to contribute to this discussion than slamming another and boasting about yourself.

      • Skiman

        Grow up pal. What he said makes sense, far out, how old are you?

    • http://www.tumblr.com/blog/his-divine-shadow His Shadow

      I think that the review is iPad biased

      You wouldn’t know bias if you were a transistor. Again, if you want something unbiased, read the phone book. Otherwise, the only opinions of merit are coming from a particular point of view coupled with evidence to support any conclusions.

      A grid reference on a map is unbiased. What does a grid reference tell you about the fall colours at sunset?

      • Richard

        Did you by any chance read my follow up comment where I sort of apologised in a roundabout sort of way for being slightly more provocative than what was really called for. I think that you’ll find the phonebook is still biased, mostly towards those that have paid for larger adverts and perhaps with the surname Smith as I hear those are plentiful.

        As for a grid reference it will certainly help me find the best place to observe said sunset colours. Your comments also seem to infer that sunset colours are biased which I find confusing unless you are referring to them being biased towards a certain end of the spectrum due to the filtering caused by the earth’s atmosphere?

        This is possibly becoming the kind of discussion that needs to be removed to a more pertinent forum, perhaps one about flowers and bunnies? It has certainly gone beyond the bounds of an IT based forum.

    • Rich

      You are a more mature tablet user than the author? OMG we’ll step back and let you have the podium!

      • Richard

        That’s your comeback? Somewhat disappointing, but hey if you think I’ve won then I’ll take the prize money and dancing girls. There are dancing girls right?
        Oh, way to attack me instead of my argument. See comments rules…

    • AdamChew

      @disqus_m1BQR9IFaW:disqus

      If you reckon the RT is as usable then you are more ignorant than I thought.

      • Richard

        Nothing like a personal attack to infringe the comments section rules. Do you by any chance own a Microsoft Surface RT, or have you even used one? If not then that doesn’t make me the ignorant one…

    • http://twitter.com/snookasnoo Idon’t Know

      So it doesn’t work for you then it must not work for anyone else?

  • steve_webb

    “I know many happy Surface customers and many of them have never really used an iPad and are fully in Microsoft’s ecosystem. This may be the recipe of success for Windows 8 PCs.”

    This is true. Many PC users switched from MS-DOS to Windows without ever trying the Mac. They Believed all the negative hype about the Mac without checking for themselves . They believed that Windows was just as good, or even better. Experience with the iPod caused some people to re-evaluate their pre-conceptions about the Mac, but too many were already fully invested in Windows to switch.

    It is the “fully invested in Windows” crowd that is the target of the Surface design, and they are the ones with the highest hopes for Surface. I want to say that they have the highest expectations for Surface, but that is not true. To please that crowd Surface only needs to be as good as their current version of Windows, and that will be true for everyone who upgrades to a Windows 8 PC.

    As for me, I still say “Windows XP forever!”.

    • Jurassic

      “To me, the Surface is just a Notebook disguised as a tablet”

      Yes, it’s a laptop that you can’t use on your lap (like all other laptops).

      Price-wise, you can get a slim and light notebook with a larger screen, faster processor, more RAM, a real keyboard, a real trackpad, and much more storage, for about the same price as the Surface RT (which can’t run Windows applications), and for much less than the upcoming Windows 8 Surface.

      Microsoft is selling the sizzle, but when you get the Surface in your hands you’ll wonder where the steak is.

      • Richard

        “”To me, the Surface is just a Notebook disguised as a tablet”
        So a tablet then? Admittedly I didn’t get a steak with mine, although it probably would have spoiled in the post.
        I’ll get my coat and stop causing trouble….

      • http://twitter.com/snookasnoo Idon’t Know

        You can get a really crappy Best Buy type laptop for the price of the Surface.

    • Truth

      Most people use Mac products, just want to get back to windows asap, there is some that stick with it and deal with being less productive while using the boring kiddy gui because they want everyone to see there massive apple logo because they think they are let. Windows has always been better, I’ve noticed only fools think otherwise

  • mhikl

    I’m probably off topic Ben, but your column got me to thinking. I first want to say that I appreciate your explanation of the difference between an analyst and a journalist. Finally I understand how (and why) TechPinions differs from so many other tech sites and why articles here continue to offer further meaning over time.

    • benbajarin

      Glad it was helpful. I have considered writing an article on what is an Industry analyst, since we also differ from Financial analysts (the ones that are internal at investment firms). We focus on the market and technical stuff, they focus on the business and economic part. There is some cross over but more differences.

  • Rich

    I’m really not surprised that Ballmer uses the old school PC metaphor. Microsoft is an old school company and they’re based in the 1990s. When they try to jump into 2012 it’s not natural for them, so they throw the two eras into a blender, turn on the switch, and out comes the Surface.

    • Richard

      Reading between the lines I am assuming that you prefer Apple? Those self same people who have been flogging OSX and IOS to death for a number of years, yet still failing to provide a machine that works for your average small business. Great for design type work and reading digital newspapers respectively, but if they don’t do something then they will find that they start to lose market share. In the still growing tablet sector they have the most ground to lose and Microsoft have filled a rather neat business gap with the Surface. Just in case you wondered the SMB (small and medium) business market is absolutely massive and hasn’t been in anyway cornered by Apple and the iPad. Have you used a surface or read to the end of the article above?

      • http://twitter.com/snookasnoo Idon’t Know

        I sense a deep and rather juvenile Microsoft bias. Funny how major corporations, like the one I work for, are buying iPhones and iPad by the thousands yet have no interest in Windows 8 or the silly Surface RT.

        • http://www.facebook.com/BeyondTheLionsDen Trent Slack

          I agree, I get a lot of people wasting time on ipads and pretending to work, but recently have had people phoning about the surface, which is good, because it allows real work to be done, even on the RT. Ask your IT department what they think of apple, its a nightmare to support, when you call yourself I don’t know, I agree, you don’t

  • http://profiles.google.com/e911miri Ijaware Oluwatomiwa

    Please give me One Surface Free

  • FalKirk

    Another great column, Ben. Some of your best bits:

    “Simply because a piece of hardware has the ability to touch it, does not make it a tablet.”

    Great point. You can’t have a great tablet without touch. But touch alone does not make a device a great tablet.

    “I believe that those consumers in the market for a tablet, are not in the market for a PC.”

    A powerful statement and a damning one to Microsoft if it proves true.

    “I know many happy Surface customers and many of them have never really used an iPad and are fully in Microsoft’s ecosystem. This may be the recipe of success for Windows 8 PCs.”

    A great point that I hadn’t fully considered. A new way of looking at things that I greatly appreciate.

  • Russell Rowe

    I’ve have had a Surface RT since it came out, and I own a 3rd generation iPad too. I love my iPad and I treat it like a mobile companion. It’s easy to carry, provides a lot of useful functions, and it doesn’t require me to lug other stuff around with it to use it the way my laptop does. Functionally it does about 40% of what I use my laptop for and that’s ok. The portability and convenience make the tradeoffs worthwhile.

    The Surface is just as portable and convenient. It can serve about 70% of my laptop needs. So it’s still a tradeoff, but less. I don’t love using the touchpad for typing or using MS Office to edit documents on it, but I can and that’s the point. A 5 minute PowerPoint edit, takes 5 minutes on the Surface. I can’t do it at all on my iPad and my laptop requires much more commitment to hook up and use.

    Before the Surface the tradeoff was not making the edit at all or getting out my laptop. Here people will say that you can do these things on the iPad and I’ve tried. For me the hassle factor is too high and when it gets high enough the laptop comes out. It’s the workflow. With the Surface there’s no emailing or moving through Dropbox. I can copy and paste between applications just like I do on my laptop. There are no worries about format or conversion problems. I open directly from SharePoint or SkyDrive, edit just like I would on my laptop, save, and done. It’s published and shared.

    I love the handwriting recognition with the Surface, and being able to use a stylus for note taking and for casual edits. It works everywhere that you can type and the speed and the accuracy is great. I’ve always wanted to use my iPad for that. Now I can sit with my feet up and write instead of type … like I’m writing this comment now. This alone is enough to make me switch. Microsoft has been working on handwriting recognition for years. It’s a mature technology and seems to be their best kept secret. No one talks about how good it works and how seamlessly it’s integrated. Again people will say you can do it on the iPad and you can. It requires specific Apps and again the workflow hasn’t worked for me. I markup PowerPoint Slides, take notes, write emails, fill in web forms and so on by hand, in any application, anytime I’d rather write than type.

    I really like the Windows 8 interface and the design ethos of not displaying gadgets on the screen that you aren’t using. It makes the screen feel bigger than it is. With my iPad, I’m always aware I’m working on a mobile device screen. The Surface screen seems bigger, more desktop and less mobile device without losing portability. IE 10 uses the desktop version of websites instead of the moe limited mobile ones and more of them work better. In fact because more websites work properly, I find less need for apps since many do nothing except provide a usable mobile interface for a website.

    The only app I miss is Words with Friends.

    There’s been a lot of talk about the screen resolution and I’m not sure what the fuss is about. I have an iPad, but I don’t really compare the screens. I use them on their own terms, and the screen on the Surface is gorgeous. I’ve never thought, “I need more pixels and this would look better”. Ditto the iPad. I think it has a gorgeous screen too.

    The Surface isn’t perfect. It’s a lot more complex environment, and that environment intrudes at times. For me it has been with configuration. You have to use the desktop control panel far too much. There are still some untablet-like aspects of the user experience. Using MS Office in desktop mode is not a problem for me though. It’s exactly like the version I use on my laptop and I’m kind of happy it is.

    The performance is also sluggish at times. It’s not enough to frustrate me or make me feel held up, but that’s a matter of personal taste. It definitely does not feel as tight as the Apple IOS experience. Windows is more complex and I expect that to translate into things I notice. I also expect that software updates and more Arm-focused apps will make it better.

    The Surface Pro will essentially be a very portable laptop. That means more susceptibility to malware. Legacy Windows application size bloat (128 GB is not so big with AutoCAD or VMWare on board). Battery Life … maybe MS has a rabbit to pull out of a hat, but I’d bet 5 hours, which means topping up during the day. Also Surface Pro will have a higher resolution screen, which despite the fuss about resolution, is likely to make the inteface to many legacy Windows applications very tiny.

    So I think Surface RT has real advantages over Surface Pro. I’m not at all sure I’d rather have that one, since I’m not likely to leave my laptop at home. The Surface RT fills enough gaps in my business workflow to make it usable for things I don’t use my iPad for. So tradeoffs… for me and maybe only for me, I come out with fewer tradeoffs with the Surface.

  • http://twitter.com/snookasnoo Idon’t Know

    “Especially if one does not care about Office.”

    This is the thing Microsoft doesn’t get. Because of the cost, complexity, “upgrades” and non availability of Office on tablets and smartphones many people and companies have learned they can do without Office just fine. Yet they think if they just say the Surface has Office people will come running.

  • TheTruth

    I have owned an iPad 2 previously and really can’t see how they can be productive at all, it would be more effort than its worth to get work done with this toy

    Surface is another story, its a lot more fun to use. IPad have no security and the OS is pretty
    boring. I use my surface mainly as a tablet. I have used many apple products and supported them, they are mainly used by noobs and people that think there cool and elite, but don’t realise how much the IT department looks down on them, productivity always goes down with there use