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Why I'm returning my Microsoft Surface RT (ozar.me)
361 points by magsafe 1429 days ago | hide | past | web | 283 comments | favorite



"The diagonally-oriented camera is strange. In the one orientation it’s optimized for, it’s slightly annoying. In any other orientation, it’s almost intolerable. "

"The built-in front-facing camera for Skype is angled so that it’ll work great when the kickstand is open, but again, only for Danny DeVito, or maybe for people who want to show off their chests in Skype."

------

"The Touch Cover is one of the Surface’s biggest innovations. I thought I would hate it, but I didn’t. It’s not like typing on a completely flat surface: each “key” is raised slightly, so while there isn’t any mechanical feedback, it does feel a bit like a keyboard."

"The Type Cover (the one with real keys) just works. I’ve got big hands that often struggle on undersized keyboards, but I can type very quickly on the Type Cover."

------

"He showed me Office, which was almost unusable: it was extremely sluggish, and touch targets were tiny and difficult to hit."

"So quickly, in fact, that I can outrun Microsoft Word on the Surface. I get the feeling that the Surface RT’s CPU or Word code just can’t keep up with my typing. Here’s an example video:"

-------

"The standard gestures don’t help, requiring many in-from-the-edge swipes that not only aren’t discoverable"

"After waiting over a minute for the machine to boot and launch the mail app, I got a blank gradient screen. User interface 101: if the app needs to be set up on the first launch, offer to do that, please. Folks from Twitter suggested that I swipe out from the right side and click Accounts"

--

So, can we conclude that these observations might be real (V. 1) problems without resorting to ad-homs regarding the author?


> "So quickly, in fact, that I can outrun Microsoft Word on the Surface. I get the feeling that the Surface RT’s CPU or Word code just can’t keep up with my typing. Here’s an example video:"

I'm on the Word team in Office and I'm coming into this thread incredibly late, but FWIW the slow typing on ARM was something we couldn't fully address in time for the preview release. Word RTM (ARM and x86/x64) has much better performance.

One of the challenges we had was that for a large majority of the product cycle we didn't even know about the Surface. We were looking at ARM early on, but the hardware we had was prerelease hardware from MSFT partners that had varying levels of performance.

Even now we don't know a whole lot about the Surface. It's a little frustrating, since we (Office) hit RTM we're eagerly awaiting the point at which new Surface RTs will have Office RTM baked into them. The preview release is seriously many many months old from the RTM release, and it's painful to think that this is what customers are going to see from Office when they turn on their shiny new device.


This issue is known, intermittent and dependent on a number of factors. It has been addressed and an update is forthcoming.

This type of issue would be identical across NVIDIA based ARM PCs and large numbers of the reference platforms were available at the same time they have been available to external developers.

Developers on the Office team (and Word team) that needed to contribute to the ARM focused work had access to the tools and hardware needed, including Surface specific hardware. There was no shortage of knowledge, hardware, or communication.


Steve, when will you update the image that ships on Surface RT devices? I had to download around 600MB of Windows Updates on day one before Office was in it's final usable state. Once updated though, Office is great - I didn't realize Word had a blogging client built in that rivals Windows Live Writer!


Thanks, sir. I really appreciate this, and I'm about to frame it. I've been so frustrated after being vilified by folks for even suggesting that there's a problem. (sigh) Thanks for commenting here where the action is - that's really awesome.


Off topic comment. Just tried the surface RT at the Microsoft store today. I think its awesome. I am considering the surface PRO for purchase. However, I am concerned that I cannot use it as a "laptop" i.e. balance the surface while typing with the keyboard on my lap. This is probably 50% of my usage scenario. If there is a heavier version of typecover that can support the tablet without a kickstand when placed on the lap I would rush out to buy the Pro version.


I can type on my lap with touch cover just fine. Not quite as fast as when on a desk but I think that is true (for me) even with normal laptops. I think it just has to do with the angle that your arms/hands are in.

I was also a little skeptical but I was pleasantly surprised by how natural and easy it felt.


i know you mean well, but you really shouldn't be posting this. it does not reflect well pn MS if one of their major differentiators, Office, was not in the loop during this major new product's development.

by the way, it is even worse with Powerpoint. every few lines typed i had the screen go white to redraw the whole UI.


That depends on your perspective. I, for one, am put off by excessive "corporate image". Perhaps some people are put off by hearing that sometimes one department doesn't talk to another. For me, I'm just pleased to hear that there is an explanation of some sort. And that there is an actual human being somewhere within the company, not just an anonymous collection of robotic drones. And guess what: I already knew that sometimes one department doesn't speak to another because that happens everywhere.


Users become a lot more accepting of problems when there is a feedback loop acknowledging and explaining those problems. It certainly does not mean the problem will be fixed, but it is a starting point.

When there is no communication, then the users are left to imagine all kinds of wild theories of what went wrong and why. It is a waste of time for all involved.


Agreed, this guy is putting his job on the line. I appreciate his contribution to the discussion, but would hate to see a guy lose his job over a HN comment.


Interesting. Thanks for the insider's insight. Is Microsoft really serious about challenging the iPad juggernaut with this kind of inattention to detail?


> Is Microsoft really serious about challenging the iPad juggernaut with this kind of inattention to detail?

Not sure where you're going with this, but given the amount of effort and ambition around the Surface, I would say that Microsoft is absolutely serious.

As for Word, there was a limited number of things we could do and fix in a finite amount of time. Trade-offs need to be made.


There's a difference between being serious about a product and being serious enough to do what it takes to make the product succeed. Apple has set a high bar of tight hardware/software integration, where the software is hand-tuned to take advantage of everything limited mobile hardware has to offer. The market expects nothing less. The Apple model works because management is willing to control both sides, and the Android model works because everything is relatively open so the software devs can play directly with the hardware.

> there was a limited number of things we could do

No one is blaming you or your team. I'd blame the lowest person in the company who had the ability to install beta versions of Office on beta versions of Surface.


Sure, but if the right hand is as unaware of the left hand as you describe I don't think Apple has much to worry about. Going up against the dominant player with essentially no price delta means you have to be at least 2x as good.


No offense here, and I realise that you probably aren't in management, but if you can't fix a problem with slow typing and you're on the Word team, then the release should have been put back. Seriously.


Apparently not serious enough. Windows RT seems to runs a lot slower than Android 4.1 on the exact same hardware. I wonder how much slower it would run on the initial single core and dual core ARM chips for tablets than Android and iOS ran on, with decent performance.


Not sure where you're going with this, but given the amount of effort and ambition around the Surface, I would say that Microsoft is absolutely serious.

Effort and ambition, together with $4, will get you a double latte at Starbucks.

To beat Apple, you are going to have to take the next step: competence.

When the board fires Ballmer, that will be the signal that Microsoft is ready to get serious. Until then, it's all just talk.


Or, it could be that writing software is significantly more difficult than complaining on the Internet.


So we hear, "we got access to the hardware a bit late" and "the pre-release version is bad, it's already considerably better now and will be even better soon", and conclude that Microsoft doesn't care?


Can you shed more light on what conditions made it so that your team was caught unaware wrt the fact that Office was being targeted for Surface on ARM? Is your division not allowed to talk to the Surface/hardware division per anti-trust settlement obligations?


Surface was a secret even internally. I'm not in Office, but I assume they were simply not told that it existed.


I for one appreciate your candid response.


Hi. Brent here, the post author.

Thanks for making the point. I had hoped that by recording videos of the problems, I wouldn't get attacked as just making off the cuff observations. Readers can see the problems for themselves. Still getting attacked by the fanbois, though, and that's a little disappointing.


I don't think anything you do can reach that audience. The only thing that MIGHT alter their perception is trying it themselves and even then it takes a lot.

But outside of that niche group I think your videos very well demonstrate the issues in a fairly indefensible way. The save issue in particular is the worst as you never treat people's files/work with that much disregard.


Good point. If you post virtually anything online in front of an audience of any size, someone is going to vehemently or ignorantly disagree ("Puppies are cute;" "NO THEY'RE NOT"). I wrote about the problem here: http://jseliger.wordpress.com/2009/12/30/trolls-comments-and... but have noticed it elsewhere, too, and the larger the size of the audience, the more likely it is to have some number of vocal and ignorant members.


You're right.

However, given that your problems other than the kick stand are rather odd bugs specific to you (haven't seen anyone else have the problems you had with Mail and saving in Word) would you not consider perhaps getting the device replaced over straight up returning it?

As for Word being slow...I agree that is inexcusable. If I were you I probably would have tried getting the free update to the final version from Windows Update to see if the problem has been fixed.

I dunno. I guess I'm looking at it from a glass half full perspective because I like mine and don't experience the problems you do.


I don't think those bugs would be fixed by replacing the device.


Well neither mine nor my friend's experience the problems that he was having.


The issue is that your post is written with the idea of creating controversy (look at the title).

Everybody is entitled to their own opinions, but IMHO one day is not enough to properly judge any piece of complex technology. I am writing this on my RT and I am very surprised with your post, specially when the word preview issues are easily fixed with a simple SW update that is coming soon, as Office is already RTM. A technologist would not ditch this beauty after a couple of hours playing with it, my $0.02.


Mmind - hmm, no, I didn't write it to create controversy. All of my blog post titles start with why, what, how, etc, and I wanted to explain why I wasn't posting the original in-depth review that I'd promised my readers after I preordered the Surface RT. I actually walked away from the post without thinking twice.

When you say "the word preview issues are easily fixed with a simple SW update that is coming soon, as Office is already RTM" - how do you know they're fixed in an update that's "coming soon"?


Hi Brent,

I trust the Office team, and they have been very clear to call this a preview (it shows in the top of the document) so I expect some issues. I obviously can not know if your specific problem is already fixed in the RTM version (that released a couple weeks ago) but usually the Office team releases high quality products.

I did not experience your CPU/word problem yet, you asked for a video, and I posted it here:

http://youtu.be/104W1g94tIM

As you can see, I enabled the new task manager, that is really cool and you can see how the Tegra 3 CPU (4 cores) does not even notice the typing, even with tons of spelling mistakes to force a worst case scenario.

It is really a pity you did not have it a bit longer, I have an Ipad 1st gen, a galaxy tab 10.1 1st gen (yes, I had it even before I could install ICS, my lord) and now a 1st gen surface and man, this device is impressing me so far. When I connected my Galaxy nexus to it and it opened the windows explorer so I could use it to transfer my videos to You Tube I realized how huge is having Windows in a Tablet, it is not a PC but boy is powerful, full USB not only client, but server support.


Mmind - thanks for the update, but this doesn't replicate my scenario. Can you have multiple pages of text (at least 2) and then go back up to the first page and start adding text? That's what really nailed mine.


Hi Brent,

I tried to repro a worst case based on your info:

http://youtu.be/V01zgACyAF4

as you can see, 20 pages full of errors, spell and grammar correction enabled, writing in the first page. It clearly shows more CPU usage than the first test, but always below 40% for every core.

Please, note that I am not trying to say that you did not hit a bug or even a faulty device, just that I have not been able to repro it in my limited testing and so far the device is totally impressing me. I am even thinking to write a cool Hackers News app for it :-).

Cheers.


Jorge - thanks! Based on the sounds in the video, you're using a Touch Cover. I wonder if it's related to me using the Type Cover instead?


Yes, I used a touch cover, I do not have a type cover. It may have been multiple things, a defective surface, a bad cover,... impossible to tell, I doubt is a generalized type cover issue as I would assume people would be reporting it all over the place.

I am a really happy camper, today I tested the RDP connection to my main server and works really well, you can get real stuff done using remote desktop. I was sure I would need the Surface Pro and now I am not so sure as I can do heavy lifting with more battery life and lighter device (and I will always need a "real" computer in the home anyway). Surface Pro looks awesome for pen and I am a big fan of ink well done (need to test a capacitive pen with the RT but usually they do not meet my bar). In any case, I will surely keep my unit, I did not feel so happy with a new gadget since the ZX spectrum, my first HP48 (yes, I am that old) or the iphone. I was not sure after reading some of the early reviews but this device is a geek's playground, I will be discovering new tricks for a while, the connection to the XBOX is pretty cool too and seems to work fine for movie navigation but did not play much with it yet.


Hi Brent,

I see that you have updated your post with the update information, that was very honest of you.

Just wanted to let you know that, in fact, I had updated my Surface as soon as I got it just by searching for windows update in settings and clicking it (it was painless in my case), I even did it tethering with my Nexus. So my tests are using an updated device.

BTW, feel free to link to my videos if you think they can complete your post further.


Do you see the same issues with mail and word slowness and saving issues?


I find this situation hilarious. Most of the time you get attacked for being a Microsoft evangelist since you're a Microsoft MVP for SQL Server as well as being an MCM for SQL Server 2008. Now you're being attacked for being a Microsoft hater. That's irony.


Howdy sir! Yeah, making it through yesterday took a really thick skin. The Internet - gotta take the bad with the good.


Brent, could you comment on the performance of the browser, specifically, how it behaves when, from a fairly hefty page, clicking through to another fairly hefty page, and then clicking back to your original page. I read a lot of forums on my iPad 3, and oone thing that drives me up the wall is when clicking back, the 5 second pause for the original page to reload from the server (rather than cached memory) and jump you back down to where you were. This is one of the main annoyances that I was hoping would be better on the surface, so hopefully you can comment on it.


Unfortunately, I already returned it. Your best bet is to get one of the folks who really love their Surfaces to record videos similar to mine. I've heard a lot of anecdotal stories about "It works fine on mine" but I haven't seen anyone post similar videos demoing that it works. I'd want to see it working myself if I was you - I wouldn't take anyone's word at this point.


Recently, HN is quick to yell "fanboy" at anything critical of a direct competitor to an Apple product. But from the multiple Surface reviews posted here over the past few days, it seems like the consensus (even among those that aren't labeled "fanboys") is that the surface has considerable drawbacks while costing more than an iPad.


> But from the multiple Surface reviews posted here over the past few days

You mean all those negative reviews that get upvoted to the front-page.

Thats what happens here, the positive reviews usually get ignored, get flagged, or die quickly. Unless it's an Apple product.

"Surface RT" is not "Surface for Windows 8 Pro". Windows RT is a stripped down version of Windows designed for lower power CPUs. It's also designed to be 100% Metro based. You can't install non-metro apps on it, you can't even buy Windows RT, it has to be pre-installed on each device.

"Surface RT" is a touch-based device for holding in your hands while surfing the net and using the typical social apps.

The use-case of an attached keyboard and the fully fledged Office app suite is not what this device is primarly for.

What makes this even worse, is that the preview version of Office is not yet fully reliable, has not been ported to Metro, and opens up in Desktop-mode. There are still bugs to work out.

While the guy gave a good review, it does not represent the typical use-case for Windows RT devices any more than the iPad would represent the use-case of a Desktop PC.


I don't have a horse in the iPad vs. Surface race. I don't care for closed ecosystems or walled gardens and have little desire for either device. I'm either a neutral party, or hostile to both camps.

The use-case of an attached keyboard and the fully fledged Office app suite is not what this device is primarly for.

That may be true, but it's a poor excuse. The basic function of a word processor is to easily generate formatted text, historically primarily for printing on letter-type paper, but that's maybe a bit less important today than it once was. Minimal functionality for a word processor is being able to render that text as fast as a human user can type it.

WYSIWYG word processors had this capability well over 20 years ago on CPUs far inferior to a quad-core Cortex A9 with a thousand times[0] less RAM. For a major software company to fail at this in 2012 is inexcusable. If Tesla's new sedan had a top speed of 50 MPH, prospective buyers would say it's not ready no matter how cool its other characteristics are.

Of course, it is a preview edition of Word. Maybe the finished version will have acceptable performance. Until then, "it isn't done" is the only reasonable conclusion. Regardless of any other features, Microsoft has not provided the minimum viable product for a word processor.

[0] Note: not hyperbole. Two megabytes versus two gigabytes.


> [0] Note: not hyperbole. Two megabytes versus two gigabytes.

If anything, you were generous. You could run WYSIWYG word processors on a 512KB Amiga or Atari. Both with a single M68k CPU at <8MHz. Interestingly they were on the market at pretty much the same time as the secpnd generation ARM CPU's used in the Acorn Archimedes range, and while there were numerous discussions about which were faster, a 7MHz-8MHz M68k is at least in the same magnitude performance wise as an 8MHz ARM2 CPU..

(EDIT: Actually, there was at least one WYSIWYG word processor for the Commodore 64 too - GeoWrite)

Factoring in improvements in architecture on top of clockspeed increases we're probably talking at least a thousand times more performance per core for a Cortex A9 vs ARM2. And that's likely generous towards these old machines too...

(can you tell I'm frustrated that my phone and tablets (Android; not bashing MS for this) are more sluggish than my 1988 Amiga 500+)


Imagine my surprise when going from "Pen Pal" on the Amiga at home to Wordperfect for DOS at school. :)


"...my 1988 Amiga 500+" Vidarh, you just brought tears to my eyes!


Heh. I still miss my Amiga's (I got the A500+ first, then an real Frankensten's monster of an A2000 which had a bridgeboard + 286 accelerator + a 68020 accelerator for the main A2000 + a SCSI card with a Z80 on it - including the CPU's not in active use, plus the 6502 compatible CPU on the motherboard, that machine had 6 CPU's in it, of 4 distinct architectures....; then an Amiga 3000). The amazing thing is there's still an active Amiga community (over at amiga.org, amigaworld.net, eab.abime.net and a number of other places), and new semi-official PPC hardware as well as a number of new M68k compatible machines (mostly FPGA based)....

I spent last night hacking on FrexxEd (Amiga editor; one of the authors went on to write CURL) and ACE Basic...


[0] Note: not hyperbole. Two megabytes versus two gigabytes.

Heck, back in 1972, I was running, and writing, page layout software on machines with almost a million times less RAM than my current MBP. (16K 18-bit words vs. 16GB). And the editor had no trouble keeping up with typing, which was limited more by the 10 cps limit of the Teletype than anything else.


A little historical context:

Back in the early 1970s Xerox PARC created a WYSIWYG text editor called Bravo. It ran on the Alto which had a maximum of 128K of memory. Approximately 3/4 of that memory was consumed just to store the bitmapped screen, so Bravo would have had to run in about 32K.

As a side note, Charles Simonyi (of Microsoft Office fame) worked for PARC at the time. I might be misremembering, but I think he had some involvement in Bravo.


>It's also designed to be 100% Metro based

I thought that but you do end up on the (severely restricted) desktop more often than you think.

>Surface RT" is a touch-based device for holding in your hands while surfing the net

Is this why every single marketing and promotional material shows it sitting on a desk with the connected keyboard? Is this why Microsoft made such a huge deal of the keyboard/screen workflow? (e.g. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mSckyoAMHg#!)

>The use-case of an attached keyboard and the fully fledged Office app suite is not what this device is primarly for.

Again, tell that to Microsoft.


They are showing what it can be (in the minds of potential buyers), not what it is 90% of the time, nor what 90% of the market will use it as.

Do you really think it's going to make you dance?

It's marketing. That's how it works.

Given the specifics on Windows RT, low power ARM based CPUs, etc ... it's not a desktop replacement device, though you can certainly hook up a keyboard to it.


> They are showing what it can be (in the minds of potential buyers), not what it is

If that's true, they are showing what it isn't.

> It's marketing. That's how it works.

I believe the technical term would be "deceptive marketing"

> Given the specifics on Windows RT, low power ARM based CPUs, etc ... it's not a desktop replacement device.

At least not while it's running Windows RT. Too bad it can't run anything else. Let's wait for Windows 9 and hope current devices can be upgraded.


> I believe the technical term would be "deceptive marketing"

Deceptive about what? They are competing with the iPad more or less. No one is saying this thing is meant for serious production of content, it's meant for consumption of content.

> they are showing what it isn't

You can still place it on a table and expect good results as long as you're not 6'3"; or have a higher table then the author's. You can still hook it up to a keyboard.

You can even run Office on it, it's just that you'll need to update the "preview" version of it to fix a couple of bugs.

> Let's wait for Windows 9 and hope current devices can be upgraded

"Surface for Windows 8 Pro" and other OEM like devices are coming out. I think that will be the real test to see if consumers adapt a Windows 8 tablet device. Give it 6 months.


> Deceptive about what? They are competing with the iPad more or less. No one is saying this thing is meant for serious production of content, it's meant for consumption of content.

Wat? Wasn't this already answered?

Is this why every single marketing and promotional material shows it sitting on a desk with the connected keyboard? Is this why Microsoft made such a huge deal of the keyboard/screen workflow? (e.g. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mSckyoAMHg#! )

> You can still place it on a table and expect good results as long as you're not 6'3"; or have a higher table then the author's.

Wat? Are you seriously saying that your nature-provided human height is the problem? Let's get a little real here. Can you imagine the product meetings when they reviewed the stand: "Great! We cover 80% of the market place, but no marketing with any NBA players!"


"Surface RT" is not "Surface for Windows 8 Pro". Windows RT is a stripped down version of Windows designed for lower power CPUs. It's also designed to be 100% Metro based. You can't install non-metro apps on it, you can't even buy Windows RT, it has to be pre-installed on each device. "Surface RT" is a touch-based device for holding in your hands while surfing the net and using the typical social apps.

That you even had to clarify that, on a tech site like Hacker News, speaks to what a marketing and product-segmentation disaster Surface is. So tell me - which one do I buy to get Office? That I can run office means I can run Windows 8 applications, right? It has an x86 chip in it, right? Or is it ARM? There IS one that is x86-based, right?

I predict brisk sales, and even brisker returns.


> The use-case of an attached keyboard and the fully fledged Office app suite is not what this device is primarly for.

You might want to tell Microsoft's marketing department that because the seem to have different ideas from you.


>The use-case of an attached keyboard and the fully fledged Office app suite is not what this device is primarly for.

It may not be the One True Purpose (tm) but Microsoft is pushing it one of the biggest features. On Microsoft's store page for the Surface (http://surface.microsoftstore.com/store/msstore/Content/pbpa...), Office is even listed at the same level as the OS! The feature list, where each has an accompanying paragraph: the case (VaporMg), kickstand, touch cover, ports, Windows and Office, and the cameras.


I'm responding twice because you said so many interesting things here.

"Surface RT" is a touch-based device for holding in your hands while surfing the net and using the typical social apps. The use-case of an attached keyboard and the fully fledged Office app suite is not what this device is primarly for.

I think I'm beginning to understand why there's so much excitement over the Surface. It's because the Windows world doesn't have Ultrabooks.

Or rather, up until recently with the Xenbook and the Carbon, all of the ultrabooks in the Windows world have been really really bad. But I don't think that the market has found the Xenbook and the Carbon yet. And maybe there's a general belief in the Windows world that you don't have to pay for quality - I think all of the Microsoft faithful here are hoping that Microsoft has given them a $500 Ultrabook, which of course they haven't.


Ok so the focus on negative isn't relegated to just this community, its rather pervasive in society in general.

Look at the iOS6 maps stuff and the flaking etc... Not to discount them in general but everyone that looks at my phone always comments about its weight first. I think humans focus on their pain points over the good in general.


Maps were really the only thing that sucked about Apple's release. Believe me, I'd love to be using Microsoft's product, but the issues being shown here are very good reasons that prevent me from forking out my hard earned cash on this device.


Oh no doubt Maps sucks now, but it is getting better. Well at least whenever I report problems they get put in place in a week or so.

Just trying to point out we notice the problems more than the positives. I need to stop by ye olde apple store and get some cables, think I'll jaunt over to the ms store and have a look at the surface too. Hopefully the sales guys don't pounce.


Maps and things like basic stability. When you can crash version 6 of something just by dragging icons around the place, wtf is up with that?


I think part of the issue with tablets is that there are people who really want something like the windows 8 tablet to work. Speaking for myself, hearing people chime in "but iPad!" in discussions of new tablets I might be interested in is maddening.

It's maddening because I don't want an iPad. An iPad doesn't fit my requirements, one of which is side loading. It can't share data between apps easily either. Android has intents, which are nice, but I would absolutely love a tablet that could switch to full blown OSX, has a USB port for mouse and keyboard. A true laptop and tablet combined.

That would be a device I might be interested in. An iPad is not a device I am interested in. So you might understand why "but iPad!" comments are annoying to me.


The Windows world has had this for years with windows tablet PCs. Buy one of those.

Too big? Too bad - that's a laptop. Not enough battery life? Too bad - that's a laptop.


You could try a ModBook:

http://www.modbook.com/modbookpro

They're a bit pricy but I've gotten the chance to see the pre-housing crisis models (the company/management group was insolvent for a time) were very solid. The Wacom digitizer is really good for artists too. if they came out with an Air version I think they'd have a rather hot product..


Agreed. I suppose when Apple announced a tablet, I was hoping it would be something that was dual mode iOS OSX with usb ports and pen input. Instead, we got a big iphone, which while many people obviously love, was massively disappointing to people like me.

Thus I really like the ideas behind Surface, though Windows isn't ideal for working with unix, which I need for my job.


I too have seen one in the flesh, and I was very impressed. I've been trying really, really hard not to buy one of these, but I think it's coming sooner or later.

(I love my Cintiq, but I'd love it more on a retina MBP screen.)


11" Macbook Air?


Re side loading - I thought Windows 8 RT was locked down as much as an iPad? You can't load anything unless it comes from the Windows store, right? And you can't root the device either.


I've been wondering how hard it would be to do the hackintosh thing with a Lenovo Twist - I can imagine running the iPad simulator full-screen might be fairly interesting.


>> while costing more than an iPad

and where did you get that from?


I would guess he's thinking of the 3rd gen iPad price, which was $479 if I recall correctly (for the 16GB version; the 32GB Surface has around 20GB of usable space).


Yes. Marcos article got slammed.


of course, the qualifier 'posted here' pretty much makes it so that it's a negative review. Are you seriously claiming that the two or three reviews up modded by HN make a consensus? And Marco's article doesn't count as a review. He was playing with one for barely a few mins while trying to psychoanalyse the salesman and find things to pick on.


The problem with Windows "apps" is that they are made inefficient and un-optimized by default, because they were targeted at much more powerful processors, and as processors became even more powerful, they didn't care about increasing the performance or at least keeping it at the previous level (and not slower).

Developers never really cared about netbooks, and these devices, either with ARM processors or with Atom, are only at that level. So most Windows apps will struggle on these machines, while most apps on iOS or Android will be a lot faster on the same processors, because their low-end target was something like a 600 Mhz ARM11 CPU.


>> The problem with Windows "apps" is that they are made inefficient and un-optimized by default

Very knowledgeable opinion sir. This is indeed true. Us as windows developers are required to add a sleep statement every few lines of code so as it not make it appear responsive.


I'm sure that comment means that developers do not put much effort into optimizing their Windows apps, not that they make them resource-intensive on purpose. No need to twist his words around.


The point is that you can get away with inefficient code on desktop Windows, which is invariably caused by your favourite application framework rather than glib developers (not) inserting sleep calls everywhere.


That's not what I meant of course. What I meant is that apps on Windows tend to be a lot more "bloated"/full of features/graphics compared to the much leaner mobile apps.

Also, most devs probably build for the average performance, so say something like an old Core 2 Duo laptop, and if their app there has a 10% CPU utilization, it might have 30% CPU utilization on Atom, or more, which means on ARM chips, especially the mid-end to low-end ones, the same app will use the CPU a lot more. Apps designed for mobile are meant to use 5-10% of those ARM CPU's from day one.


Very knowledgeable opinion sir. This is indeed true. Us as windows developers are required to add a sleep statement every few lines of code so as it not make it appear responsive.

A sleep() statement?! Novice! That won't even busy-wait! I like to loop around for a few thousand times writing nonsense to dummy variables. I earned those time slices - no way am I going to just give them back to the OS scheduler.


Haha, perhaps you've implemented this technique before:

http://thedailywtf.com/Articles/The-Speedup-Loop.aspx


A high-end i7 machine with 16 GB of RAM and an SSD is not rare between Windows developers.

OTOH, I do a lot of Linux development on an Atom netbook.


"We as Windows developers..."


My understanding however from the "Windows 8 Doesn’t Want Your App. Try Again Later" post was that as part of the approval process, MSFT does automatically test the apps in a low performance environment, and if they don't meed specific benchmarks there (example in the post was startup or shutdown time of 2 second, but I can't remember exactly and am on mobile), they will reject the app and tel you to work on it.

So if that's really the case, maybe they are selective with it. Maybe they don't apply the same rigor to their own apps, which would be a shame since you'd think they have to set an example.


Maybe they don't have automated tests for interactive performance, which is hard to test in an application agostic way. Startup time is easy to measure.


The app mentioned in the post was Office, produced by Microsoft, which is the same company that makes the Surface tablet.

In my opinion, that is unacceptable. If MS couldn't optimize apps that ship with Surface, they shouldn't have released it.


> If MS couldn't optimize apps that ship with Surface, they shouldn't have released it.

They don't have time for that. Now there is only iPad with significant sales number. In 6 months Android tables will start to sell in significant numbers.

In 12 months opportunity to conquer world market with new tablet OS will disappear.


One could also go with the premise that the "conquer world market" option actually disappeared a year ago, when Apple released the product, then improved on it with almost no competition in the game.

If Microsoft thinks that it can release a product with software that's not ready for release on just price parity with the market leader, they're delusional.

Apple spent the better part of 2011 (ie, last year) proving that iOS doesn't need a daddy OS around anymore - why is a USB host feature in a tablet meaningful for users? So that I can upload my picutres? Why not I just stream them to your photostream? or push them into your google drive or dropbox?


When the PlayBook was released, people also slammed it because its Mail client was terrible (you had to have a BB phone). The internet was sure that it wasn't even worth a look as Android tablet sales would take off real soon now.

History repeats itself faster than ever.


This may be a race one can't win after sleeping throuh the first 4 laps...


> The problem with Windows "apps" is that they are made inefficient and un-optimized by default, because they were targeted at much more powerful processors...

Except the whole article was written about the Surface RT, and there are only a handful of first party desktop windows app allowed.

Every other app you ever install will be made brand new to support the new tablet ecosystem which will certainly target processors such as the one on the surface rt.


And all the independent developers have had a chance to see what makes a fast program on a Windows-based ARM device?

I think as people begin programming for Windows with an actual RT instance to test on (for example, the Surface), apps will become faster and more efficient. Personally, I haven't seen a problem with this as of yet; but, I haven't used that many apps in the store, just Netflix and MetroTwit, FreshPaint and a couple of others.

Disclosure: MSFT Employee


People might miss it (you should really mention it on top of your post!), the first quotes are from Marco Arment (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4705299), which was discussed earlier today (and flagged by many, too!) - people dismissed his critiques because he's obviously an Apple fan, but apparently at least part of his critiques were (maybe) correct.


I was afraid that mentioning Marco's name directly would lead to my post getting buried without consideration, so I left it as an exercise for the reader. Looks like my worries were unfounded.


I played around with the Surface for a few hours and I had almost the exact same experience as the author. I like the iPad but I also really wanted to like the Surface. I just can't.


LOL there is so much bias from this "review" (if we can even call it that) It is oozing out of my speakers. The Drama in the reviewers voice is so unmistakable that it is almost sickening. Did he write a "B" script for this and rehearse too? I would not be surprised.

Why would you return a device after 24 hours of owning it? Do you not expect any learning curve here? This is pretty much a Mac user attitude. Macs and IOS have very dumbed down interfaces. That works well for many people who want to check their email and surf the web without having to learn anything at all. The productivity that can be realized with a more complex (or one which requires more learning) interface can rarely be achieved following this mantra, but it is good for Grandma and aunt Hilda.

The camera angle is off only if you put it way too close to yourself or are extraordinarily tall (the first clue of obvious sabotage and misinformation). I would have preferred a variable angled kickstand too, but then all I would hear is complaints about it not being strong enough.

Your complaint about the word slowness WAS somewhat valid (has been fixed and updated now), but already knowing that this was a beta product before even buying the device - did you really not expect any problems with it? Your overly dramatic video is like pointing out that the sun is hot (beta software has bugs duh - thus the word beta). Anyway - how about updating to the final version that come out today (unless you already returned your tablet).

Your complaint about After waiting over a minute for the machine to boot and launch the mail app is clearly grasping at anything to bash over the head of Microsoft. First off - how often do you reboot a tablet? For me it's about once every two months so this is a really minor issue. Secondly, you are counting the time it takes you to slowly hunt and pack your password (REALLY?) thirdly - It is clear that either you did a factory restore of the device. (WinRT apps are very slow to open the first time. Mail opens up in about half a second for me after the first launch and configuration) or you have a lemon. BTW I just timed myself and I can boot up (yes from a powered off state), log in - and open Mail in 38 seconds on MY Surface tab.

It is funny to read the YouTube comments of your videos and read things like "I have never experienced that problem" and "Like trying to access Google Docs with a Hotmail account. People need to start using their brains or stop trying to bash unnecessarily when we know the true problem." and "Turn off smooth typing, stop using word beta, and use the tactile keyboard." and "I played with one of these at Microsoft store and it worked much better than yours, did you mess something up on it already?"

The most embarrassing part FOR YOU must have been when you made such drama over repeatedly not being able to log into SkyDrive with your non valid third-party email address (PEBKAT LOL). There are several commenter on that video saying that they never had the problem. BTW neither have I (We just use the proper Account and it works - you should try it). Do you try to log into Google docs with your Yahoo account also?

There are clearly a few quirks that Microsoft will no doubt be putting out updates for in the near future, but really all this drama is clearly manufactured. The mail and word issued have already been addressed and updates have been made available for them.

If the best that your nitpicking and dramatic expression could do is point out mostly user errors and bugs that have now been fixed. I would take this "review" as a good reason to buy this device.


Goggles - thanks for taking the time to explain your thoughts, and I can totally see how it would see like I'm a raving fanboi intent on destroying Microsoft. Most of the time when I read gadget reviews, that's how they sound, and it frustrates me too.

You asked, "Why would you return a device after 24 hours of owning it?" Because I was frustrated with it. I know this is going to sound corny, but I want my gadgets to surprise and delight me. This one didn't.

You said, "The camera angle is off only if you put it way too close to yourself or are extraordinarily tall". I'm 6'3", which I wouldn't call extraordinarily tall - for example, my business partner Jeremiah is taller than me. I put the Surface as far back as I could and still comfortably touch the keyboard and display.

You said, "Your complaint about the word slowness WAS somewhat valid (has been fixed and updated now)". Thanks, I appreciate the honesty. Unfortunately, the way to get the update is to go through a search, pick a non-default option, and refresh it. That's something we can't expect end users to do. I did the updates through the Metro Windows UI - repeatedly - and it wouldn't have even occurred to me that there were three different ways to get updates. Two I can kinda sorta get (OS and apps) but three, no.

You asked, "First off - how often do you reboot a tablet?" I travel a lot (5 flights in the next 2 weeks) so I have to do it pretty frequently.

You said, "It is clear that either you did a factory restore of the device. (WinRT apps are very slow to open the first time." No, that happened every time I tried to open Mail, but I bet this isn't happening to you because maybe mail only has to be configured once. Every time I opened it, it still wasn't configured. It probably has to go through some kind of long start to set things up, which it didn't do since it couldn't figure out where my email was.

You said, "The most embarrassing part FOR YOU must have been" - no, actually, the most embarrassing part has been having to spell things out for the fanboys. My brento@brentozar.com account is indeed a Live account. It's how I access all Microsoft services - MSDN, TechNet, Outlook.com, Messenger, etc.


thanks for the reply - Your videos were annoying. You clearly had already isolated problems you were having and played a drama of whining, moaning, fake surprise reaction, per-meditated build of growing frustration as you failed at things repeatedly, it was a bad script and clearly not a fair shake for the tablet. You were trying to convince the viewer to sympathize with you and thus not buy this tablet.

A good reviewer does not seethe drama all over - he states the good and bad points without being overly dramatic or going over long poorly written scripts. He does not write a review in the midst of being pissed off. This explains your emotional outbursts and bias/drama in the review and vids - but does not do service to your credibility.

I felt like I was watching an election video when I watched your YouTube vids. Just a one sided mud sling. I was embarrassed for you just watching them.

I understand being frustrated but 24 hours? You need to learn a little patience. When I started using IOS and OS X (for iPhone Dev) I hated it for weeks. I had all sorts of issues. After learning the ins and outs though, I generally have mostly favorable things to say about it.

I don't know about the camera thing. How tall is your desk? I am 6' but I know the average person is something like 5' 9-10". Strange that I have not had or heard much on this issue for others.

I don't understand your issue with updating Word - It is a simple update.

I don't know why you reboot your tablet on flights? I fly a lot too but why would a flight mandate that you power off your tablet? Please explain your logic here.

For the Mail Setup and SkyDrive problem I can only guess because again, I have not had nor heard of others having the problems.

I just feel like for whatever reason you had a bad experience and wrote a seething review in the heat of your frustration. I think that if you had my (or many others) experiences, your review would be much different. I don't know why your experience differed so much from mine and others - either you got a lemon, messed up the tablet somehow, or are a troll. IMO, your emotion/dramatics would suggest the latter.


Goggles, statements like "Macs and IOS have very dumbed down interfaces. That works well for many people who want to check their email and surf the web without having to learn anything at all." stop me from reading the rest of your post. I don't want to learn how to use my tools, I want to learn the things my tools help me with.


Knowing Microsoft I'd say the odds of a reboot is probably larger on the Surface. Apparently even a small app update (office) requires a reboot.


This is misinformation. If this behavior is observed it was probably because a separate update was performed at the same time which updated system files.


Okay, thank you for that information. I'll be buying one anyway - Insanely curious about the overall user experience.

Edit: Come to think about it - I hope that update was explicitly stated. Wouldn't want my hardware to perform system critical updates disguised as a simple application update.


You'll probably return that one, too, after you see the poor battery life on it. Also, you may get some tablet usability with Metro on it (not many apps to choose from, though), but after using Windows 8 on a PC, I can say Windows 8 is worse in usability than Windows 7, so you will be definitely taking a step back when you'll be using the desktop mode.

After using Windows 8 I just see no good reason for anyone to use it on an old PC instead of Windows 7. I only see drawbacks, such as the forced Metro interface, and the inconsistencies in the desktop mode UI, which seem like a patched-up job done 6 months before the release or something, to make it more "Metro".


" Windows 8 on a PC, I can say Windows 8 is worse in usability than Windows 7"

This is false. I have used both extensively and Windows 8 is better by a good margin.Actually my old POS HP laptop runs better with Windows 8 because of the driver, kernel and display improvements. No blogger can take away the fact that Windows 8 is very good however its funny to see them try.


I installed Windows 8 on one of the first netbooks to appear (eee pc 1000h). The performance difference is not perceivable. If even at that level it's not, it will be even less on higher-end hardware. Even benchmarks show a 5% improvement at most in performance.

What Windows 8 does do, though, is trick you into thinking it's running faster, or "smoother". It uses animations to make those 0.5-1-second delays a lot more bearable. But the underlying performance is virtually the same.


Nope. I've tested it (like many other people). My 2011 Macbook air boots 4 seconds faster into Windows 8 than Windows 7.


Wow. A full 4 seconds? How exactly is that perceivable to anyone without having a timer nearby? Besides, for the faster booting they used another trick, replacing the "true Shutdown" with Hibernate, which makes waking from Hibernate faster than waking from a true shutdown.


First, no, 4 seconds is very noticeable, as my boot time in Win7 is 18 seconds. That's 22%, about 1/4 faster.

Second, what the hell is a "trick?" It achieves basically the same result, but faster. That's called performance optimization.

I once doubled a hot area of compiler performance by doing aggressive inlining and removing some tuple allocation for closure conversion. It couldn't be performed in every possible situation, obviously, but the 99% case had a 100% performance improvement. But I shouldn't have bothered because that was all a "trick", right?

A brief look at your comment history says you only comment on political stories, so I don't know if you're a developer or one who has worked in performance optimization, but let me give you a little advice -- it's all tricks. It's all shuffling around your I/O patterns to avoid cache misses and reducing allocation to lower memory pressure and all that other crap. If you increase performance by caching the kernel on disk, which has the same impact for 99% of people as doing a cold boot, that's a performance optimization, not a "trick."


Your sarcasm aside, 4 seconds can be very perceivable when you can already do a full cold boot in Win 7 in just 15-20 seconds with a good SSD.


Kernel states are saved or something, leading to faster bootup times. It's sort of like the hibernate option we've had for so long, but just on a smaller scale. Is it a good idea? Could be and probably is. But I'm paranoid that a clean restart is better, so it bothers me.


Fresh installations of each? Because my boot tends to slow down over time, and by considerably more than 4 seconds.


RTM for months.


My boot on my HP EliteBook (HD, no SSD) got much slower under Windows 8 RTM (~1 minute), but this was the IT version of Win8, which I guess has lots of crud so my boot is not going to be as fast as consumer (had the same problem with Win7).


Right, this is the RTM Win 8 Pro, not IT enterprise


What possible connection do you anticipate might exist between bootup time and performance during use?


They're probably booting into the desktop even though a few things are still getting initialized.


My numbers are boot to lock.


I hear usability is objective and not subjective.

I can't use metro, on my 24" desktop when the damn dash or whatever takes over everything it is so jarring and dumb when all i want to do is type a few letters and run something.

I removed my RC copy Windows 8 and will never update to it. Windows 7 does everything well enough that it would take a radical usability / performance bump (probably directX 12 not being backwards compatible.. in about 8 - 10 years, given the longevity of dx9). If someone else likes to use it though, I really don't care, it is their choice to use whatever OS they are most comfortable with. It is why I default-boot to Arch.

I do have to say the new task manager is great and I wish they backported it.


Can this be even objective? To me XP with cygwin/far commander is where I get most productivity, but lots of people would hate that. I don't use much the explorer, unless for rather arcane things that I can't do from the command line (cmd.exe from far manager calling cygwin stuff, yes I rarely use the cygwin's bash too, but use it all the time on osx/linux).


That's what everyone said about windows 7 and XP and NT ... People always are afraid of change until they get used to it. Metro is really just a replacement start button, if you give it some time so it's familiar you'll be fine. Everyone hated the start button back when too.


I don't have an opinion either way, but this stands out to me:

> That's what everyone said about windows 7

Did people say that about Windows 7? I remember Vista was awful and nobody liked it and people were (naturally) apprehensive about Windows 7 prior to release but from what I recall -- granted my memory could be poor -- Windows 7 was well received at release and I don't know of anyone off hand that had problems with it but I can name quite a few that complained about Vista. Although I guess it could be argued that Windows 7 wasn't anything new, it was just Vista but how Vista should have been...


>That's what everyone said about windows 7 and XP and NT

Nobody said that about Windows 7.


Time spent getting used to change is usually time that could have been better spent doing something else. That's particularly true when the end result is that you're back where you were (but it's now 1 week/month/year later).

There's change-as-in-progress, and change-as-in-another-meaningless-revolution-of-the-tech-hamsterwheel. I have no doubt at all that the internals of Windows 8 represent progress. The replacement of the start menu with Metro, on the other hand, smells so far very much like the hamsterwheel.


> Everyone hated the start button back when too

I don't know about that. I remember playing with Windows 95 the day it came out, and I thought that the start button was awesome. Of course, this is compared to Windows 3.1(.1).


I've been using Win8 for a couple months now and I like it much better. I like that the Charm screen can show me an overview of all the things running on my computer just by pressing Win. I like that it's way faster than Win7 in booting up and launching programs. I like that windows now has a mode for "programs that are simple, predictable, with a good-looking UI."


Been using 8 for a couple months now, and I see no difference between the desktop mode between 7 and 8 other than 8 being a little more visually appealing.


Surface with Windows RT is supposed to be a stripped down version of Windows, that runs 99% in Metro-mode, not Desktop-mode.

Right now there are two exceptions to this: Office (preview version - buggy) and a Desktop-mode version of IE. Everything else is 100% Metro. And I don't think you can even install anything yourself on it except via it's App Store. Hence it's Desktop-mode is not really there for the benefit of the consumer. And the Office offering will need to be further ported and refined for RT before everything is worked out. I'm not even sure why they put Office on it.

It's a device made mostly for browsing the internet and running some apps while holding it in your hands. Which is what the bigger market is for.

While this was a good and honest review, I think his use-case is off on this one and he will be better suited waiting for Surface with Windows 8 Pro.

I would also be curious to know what his height is, so I'd know what "for short people" means... The pics I've been able to find of the author, he's at least 6'2", maybe even 6'5".

If you are as toll as the author, you could probably either move the device away a bit, zoom out the image, or perhaps put something underneath it's stand to angle it properly.


Brent the author here. I'm 6'3".

I can move the Surface RT away from me to the point where I'm fully in the camera, but then I can't reach the keyboard. That doesn't quite work.


Do you think it's possible to mod the plastic peace that is the back-stand by shortning it? Is it removable or replacable itself? Could be a good kickstarter idea... "Surface RT stand for tall people."


It's made out of a very solid-feeling metal (VaporMG), and it feels like it'd be quite difficult to shorten. I do really like the idea of replacing it with a shorter piece though.


According to the initial surface presentation, the piece isn't plastic but metal.


>Desktop-mode version of IE.

I don't get the point of a desktop-mode version of IE in Windows RT. Under Windows 8 proper, desktop IE gives you flash and other plugins (i.e. traditional browser experience). Under WinRT, desktop IE has the same restrictions as Metro IE.


I'm excited about the prospect of a Windows 8 tablet. I'm willing to spend as much as it costs to get one. Unfortunately, nobody wants my money.

Yesterday was the big retail launch. I was on a mission to check out what my local stores had and, if they had anything that could do the job for me, buy it. I've always wanted a tablet, but only if it could be as useful as a laptop when paired with a keyboard. The new Windows 8 tablets are supposed to be just that.

Best Buy had one (1) Windows 8 tablet. It was a Asus Vivo Tab running Windows RT... supposedly. I don't want an RT tab, and this store didn't even have a working floor model of the one tablet they were selling. The one they had was stuck on a "failed to automatically repair Windows" screen. It was also glued to the display stand so I couldn't pick it up and get a feel for the hardware.

OfficeMax had zero (0) Windows 8 tablets. Heck, they had no Windows 8 touch screen laptops either. Or price tags. Or product specs. Or anything I could play with, really. There was one employee there setting up a display model of some laptop while complaining to another about how they were supposed to have tags for the computers but had none. Their electronics section was a joke.

Staples had one (1) Windows 8 tablet. It was a Samsung ATIV running Windows 8. Success! I actually spent some time playing with this one. Again, I couldn't really get a feel for the hardware, or specifically the weight, given it's got a pound of security alarms and tethers bolted onto the back chaining it to the display area. Beyond that, the specs just weren't up to snuff -- with 2GB RAM and 64GB storage, I'd just barely be able to run enough software to occasionally use it as a portable development machine. With nothing installed on it, there was only 14GB of free space -- the OS and preinstalled apps were using 50GB of the 64GB out of the box.

So all those trips were a waste of time. There's no Microsoft Store anywhere within 4 hours of me, so those 3 were the full range of retail options here.

I'm basically looking for a Surface Pro (Intel Core processor, 4GB RAM, 128GB storage). It's amazing that despite knowing Microsoft would be building this, nobody else built something comparable, and stores aren't carrying even the few tablets/hybrids they did build.


(Disclosure: Microsoft employee writing this on a Surface with Touch Cover)

Check out the Samsung Series 7 slate. 128GB SSD, 4GB RAM, core i5. 11.6 inches and a little less than 2 lbs. Unfortunately I don't know where you could find one in person to play with. I've been using it with Win8 for a bit and quite liked it -- with the dock and a keyboard you can run Visual Studio just fine.

This link suggests Samsung just rev'd it to add a higher res screen, keeping the 4 GB RAM and 128 SSD. http://www.bestsalenewreviews.com/Samsung-Series-7-XE700T1C-...

It is too bad that they haven't figured out distribution for your area. It does sound like what you want.


Looking at the Series 7 right now at Amazon [1], the Surface Pro version of this with a similar spec would be nice for the Type Cover, and note that this has similar tech specs as my 2011 Macbook Air, indeed a very promising replacement for Air+iPad, I'll keep watching but will skip this iteration simply for having purchased the iPad 3 recently. (.NET Developer here)

[1]: http://www.amazon.com/Samsung-Series-XE700T1A-A02US-11-6-Inc...


I got bashed a few days ago for saying that it'd be a few months before real Win8 tablets would be out - that we'd only have the surface RT for the forseeable. I was told that was wrong, and that from Friday there'd be multiple vendors offering multiple options on Intel chips offering the full support for Win8 (not the limited WinRT current stuff).

Come Friday - I went to a couple shops looking around, and saw what you did. I almost picked up Win8 Upgrade disk, but there were two boxes, different colors and SKUs, for the same price (there were others as well), and I'm *almost 100% certain that these were 32bit and 64bit upgrade options, but nothing on the box indicated that. Nothing at all indicated the difference between the skus (should have taken a picture).

And now trying to upgrade online, I'm getting payment processor failures - I can not seem to buy Win8 without brokenness or confusion.

http://gyazo.com/71da564b10515155cd2b1136d0ab6464

This isn't just me - I submitted to HN a while ago - this has been going on since yesterday.


There are other tablets out there. The Dell Latitude 10 is an Intel Atom but does run Windows 8 Pro. I want one of them.


The Latitude 10 has an Atom processor, 2GB RAM and a 64GB HD. Given there'll only be ~10-14GB free space on that drive out of the box, that's not enough to even install Office, Photoshop, Visual Studio, etc. let alone run them.

It's almost a scam to sell such an unusable hardware configuration. Someone's going to sync their music and buy two movies and find out their new "64GB" tablet is already out of space. That size should really be relegated to Windows RT only.


How did you get to windows 8 taking up 50-55GB of space out of the box?


I checked how much free space there was on the display model at the store.


As an owner of one, I would point out that they do accept full sized SD Card. So you get a fast 64 GB SD card, and you find that it is actually fairly usable.

That said, the 2GB limitation means you are still going to be doing more Office than Photoshop...


I've been using a Dell mini 9 netbook for 3 years that has only a 16GB SSD.

I've got a full install of OS X 10.5, developer tools Photoshop, Aperture, other random apps and I run it with ~4GB free.

You'd be amazed how far even 16GB will go when you try.


16GB will go very far with your minimal Linux OS. 16GB is below the minimum system requirements for simply installing Windows 8.


Sounds like you want a touchscreen laptop.

If you want to be running Visual Studio etc then you'll need a touch screen laptop. Dell Latitude XT3 would be good here.


I have a laptop. I want a tablet. Something I can watch a movie on in bed, but also dock to a keyboard to work. Tablets with 4GB RAM and 128GB drives have been available for years. Nobody bothered to release one for Windows 8's launch, and Surface Pro which also fits the bill isn't coming until after Christmas.


Is it possible just to order it online?


I don't see any better selection on their websites, honestly. Best Buy had one additional 64GB tablet online that wasn't in the store.


I've had mine since 10AM yesterday; and I'm actually fairly pleased, at least for effectively being a new platform. Thoughts, in no particular order:

- Love the build. Very solid overall.

- 16:9 means it's one long tablet. Oddly, it's actually fairly usable in portrait; can't say the same for my old 16:10 Transformer (maybe just better balanced?)

- The touch cover is, like most say, surprisingly usable. Desperately needs a way to no-op Caps Lock though.

- Screen res lower than iPad, but still usable. Difference not near as noticeable as between iPad 2/3, but too many factors in play to make an objective call there.

- Metro takes getting used to, but I like it (even with KB/trackpad).

- It's the first time I've seen proper desktop Gmail and Google Docs usable in a tablet browser.

- Performance is generally decent. Not blazing, but decent.

- Windows RT appears to still contain far more of Windows than we've been led to believe. Even `csc` is installed, but missing a few dlls.

- No SSH client for Metro yet. That's one of the risks you take on a new platform (esp. a non-Unix one), but still aggravates me.

- Snapping is very, very handy; nice solution to bring proper multitasking to a tablet UI.

- When touch-scrolling over on desktop apps (what few remain), the entire window "bounces" at the head/tail of the content. Odd decision.

- No central notification bin (like Android's shade or iOS's Notification Center). Have to rely on scanning Live Tiles if you miss anything.

- The back camera seems to exist only to make the iPad 2's back camera feel better about itself. Has to be the blockiest camera I've ever seen.

- Handwriting recognition is pretty solid. Wacom junkies will be very pleased when so-equipped tablets ship. (Capacitive styli still suck)

- None of the Twitter apps have really thrilled me. Given the circumstances, I'm not that surprised.

- OS-level share support is a smart move; similar to Android's impl but more thorough (sharing pops up a share pane from your selected app in the sidebar, instead of bouncing you out of your current app entirely).

- Printing is mildly unintuitive; you have to open the "Devices" charm and pick your printer. No one is going to guess that's how to print.

- On the bright side, our network printer/scanner was detected and installed immediately, with zero user intervention. Very, very far cry from the WinXP days.

- There's no way to see your precise battery life outside of the desktop (in the classic sys-tray).

- Presumably due to the use of pressure sensors vs. capacitive, the Touch Cover isn't quite as accurate without a solid surface underneath.

- If you're not using the keyboard (watching movies, etc.), flip the cover backwards with the kickstand out and it's nearly as stable as a laptop.

- The intro tells you about the basic edge swipes (right for charms, left for app switcher, top/bottom for menu); not mentioned is swiping straight from top-center to bottom kills the current app.

- Screenshot is Win+VolDown.

- Wordament can be played while snapped. This is dangerous.

- IE lets you swipe on the outer edge of the page for back/forward, which would be smart if this didn't occasionally clash with the app switcher.

Questions?

(PS: I typed this entire post on the Touch Cover.)


Regarding the Twitter clients, I tried Tweetro on my Windows 8. Haven't gotten to use it too much, but it seems kinda cool. Especially the link preview. I'm wondering if you tried it, what's your opinion on it?

As an aside this brings me to one of my problems with Windows 8. When I was in Desktop mode and I first discovered the Side Bar (forgot what it's called) and saw the Share Button, I knew from before that you can use that to update twitter and facebook for example, so i got really excited thinking I had this quick easy way to update twitter and facebook without having to open up the browser. Turns out I was incredibly wrong. When you do click Share, it says "Nothing can be shared form the desktop". Then what is the point of keeping that button in the bar when in the Desktop context? Initially I even thought it was because I had to have a Twitter app open in Metro, but that had no effect.


Tweetro is one of the better ones, but it has an aggravating habit of failing to tweet for no apparent reason, on a fairly regular basis.

Not related to the share charm, but you can snap Tweetro from the app switcher to the side like so[0]

[0] https://www.dropbox.com/s/9x8pothn1h3qf1i/Screenshot%20%288%...


I'll admit I haven't used it as much, but I was quite impressed by the looks of it. Yes the snap solves the problem, however you can still only share to that snapped app. Maybe we'll see a change in the behaviour of the Share charm in a future update.

Another problem I've had with the Mail app (though this is Windows 8, so not sure if it's in RT as well) is that you can't just use the Mail/Calendar apps like how you'd use them on an iOS device, where you can just add your gmail as an accunt and then you have your calendars and email. I'd love to be proven wrong, and for there to exist a way to do this though, without having to create another Microsoft account. And I saw another, as I've used my recently revived hotmail to log into the Store and all.


Nice review. I've spent the last 6 weeks working on a Windows 8 app. I've been using a dell box and samsung tablet with visual studio and a wired mouse/wireless keyboard so I can speak first hand about what it's like to use the 'desktop' part of Windows 8 for serious work.

Disclaimer: I've been a web developer for 4 years and have used a Mac during that whole time. Before that the only experience I had with windows was a typing class in high school and casually using it at people's houses. I don't have a bunch of Windows experience. This was the first native windows app that I've ever created. Also I've been using a full blown copy of WIndows 8 which is different than WinRT. Any of the mentions of 'desktop' software below won't run on a WinRT device.

Truthfully I'm not entirely sold on the idea of having a full blown computer in a tablet. Sure if was convenient for me to travel with the tablet and then when I got to a desk just plug in a mouse and attach a wireless keyboard but something still seemed incorrect.

More than once I was showing a workmate some code and absentmindedly touched the screen which highlighted the code and rearranged the order or cut it to the clipboard. Granted I'll develop the muscle memory to deal with that issue over time but I thought it worth noting that my initial reaction to having a 'full' computer on a tablet was negative.

Though I agree with you 100% that there is more "Windows" in here than we've been led to believe. In fact I found that only when launching apps did I interact with the metro start screen. Other than that I could just alt+tab right past it. All of the apps that I was using (sans the app that I was actually developing) were 'desktop' apps: Internet Explorer 10, File Explorer, Visual Studio 2012, cigwin and Tortoise SVN.

FWIW I like the traditional desktop version of IE10 much better than the new metro version of IE10. Which version of IE10 do you prefer? Have you done any app development?

The app that we created was built on the HTML5/CSS3/Javascript stack.Just like a webapp you build the UI in HTML/CSS and wire it together with javascript. There's a suite of UI elements in the WinJS.UI namespace that you can quickly build the UI with. You can also access the hardware and the Windows Runtime from javascript APIs.

The development experience was a real eye opener. The high level take away is that all the talk over the past 5 years about HTML5 eventually being used to create applications that could rival their native counterparts is finally coming to fruition.

You can build a Windows 8 app in either the native or the web stack and they will have nearly 100% feature parity. I've been considering making the switch from being a web developer to being a native app developer recently because I've been feeling limited by the browser. I've just wanted to get deeper access to the hardware and the OS and windows 8 fulfils that need.

Unfortunately they completely mangle the DOM and inject insane amounts of useless markup and attribute/values which make the semantic web geek inside of you die a little each time the app compiles and runs.

A small example--in my code I had a button that was a child of a div. It was literally two lines of HTML. After the app 'built' I couldn't get an event listener that was listening for an event on the child button to fire.

I used the DOM inspector to check out what was happening and not only had the compiler injected about 20 lines of html around each of my elements complete with dozens of data-foo attributes—it didn't even maintain the parent/child relationship from my markup! You can imagine how disconcerting it is to doubt that the core relationships of your markup aren't going to be maintained.

If you have time check out the app I helped created-Trulia for Windows 8: http://apps.microsoft.com/webpdp/en-US/app/trulia-real-estat...


I actually prefer the Metro IE; simply because I'm using this more from the tablet angle than a desktop. My primary machine is a 13" MBA; I've got Win8 running in a VM there and I essentially see it as Win7 with a faster Start Search. I'm in the process of developing a small hobby app right now; but in C#/XAML (out of familiarity more than anything else). I've done WP7 development once and it was frankly amazing to work with, definitely compared to the Android stack. So far, my experience with WinRT is pretty close.

PS: app is pretty sharp!


Thank you!

:-]

If you have a Trulia account and use any of our other apps (www.trulia.com, m.trulia.com, or any of our iOS/Android phone/tablet apps http://www.trulia.com/mobile/) and save a search or a property that data will get synced to the Windows 8 app and will show up on the main page (what we call 'the hub').

You can create an account from within the Windows 8 app from the charms bar.

Also to change your location go to the map view by tapping on a map tile from the hub.

Once on the map view swipe from the bottom to reveal the app bars. In the bottom app bar you'll see a tap target for search filter.

Once you filter your search and are on a new location swipe again from the bottom and tap 'Near Foo' from the app bar at the top.

This will take you back to the hub populated with your new location and nearby cities.

Search filtering from the hub is coming soon but we didn't have time to get it in the first release.

Thanks again!


I will say HTML apps don't give themselves on Win8 near as easily as on other platforms (with the exception of Cut the Rope). It's pretty obvious when you've been dumped into a webview on iOS or Android; HTML apps in Win8 do feel different from their XAML counterparts, but it's subtle enough where I can't put it into words (and average users will likely never notice at all).


More than once I was showing a workmate some code and absentmindedly touched the screen which highlighted the code and rearranged the order or cut it to the clipboard.

Why would you touch the screen when pointing? Non-touchscreen monitors generally shouldn't have your fingers all over them, so at least for me I've developed the habit of never touching the monitor when pointing.


I'm curious about the Surface, I'd appreciate if you can report your experience on some use cases:

* Can you comfortably hold it with one hand (e.g. for reading a book)? * Can you comfortably hold it with one hand and type onscreen with the other? * Can you comfortably type onscreen while holding it with both hands? * Can you use the Touch Cover and/or Type Cover with the device on your lap (as if you were sitting in an airport, doctor's office, etc.) as you would do with a laptop?


If you've used an iPad 3; it feels close to that weight but it's a wider aspect ratio. Can hold it in one hand but not for long; just fine for two-hand use. You can use the cover just fine in your lap, but will probably have better luck with the Type Cover in that scenario.


Thank you. After watching the original conference at which Surface was announced, I realized it was a game changer for the Microsoft ecosystem and it seemed like a great piece of hardware. The potential to replace 2 devices with one seemed very attractive to me.

But after seeing some reviews, it seems this hybrid doesn't function very well as a tablet and neither as a laptop. I'll still have to see someone using it on the lap to understand how the screen is able to stand. Granted it's an edge case but when I'm at airports I tend to do that.

Anyway, you reply just made me more curious to try one.


Are the speakers really that bad as the reviews say?

I've read that the covers can be on the back of the tablet, while holding it like a magazine. Are the input keys disabled if you do that?


No better or worse than most other tablets, I've found.

Yes, keys are disabled when the cover's folded back. I haven't done any scientific testing on a threshold, but the on-screen keyboard will pop in/out as you flip the cover in and out of position. It also engages the rotate lock when the keyboard is out, for obvious reasons.


A modern keyboard re-imagining should ditch the caps lock entirely. When's the last time you found it useful?


what are you referencing with the "snapping" comment?


You can drag an app out of the app switcher and run it on the edge of the screen alongside your current app.


The experience he had trying to save the Word doc looks exactly like me every time I have to set up "Windows Live" inside a PC game.

Has anyone else tried the SRT? This post alone is enough to scare me away.


I haven't tried the Surface RT specifically, but assuming it's the same or similar to the Windows 8 / Office 13 preview, the flow he clicked on looks like he was trying to save something to his Microsoft acct / skydrive (which is actually much better integrated into the File menu than it used to be), but I can imagine it is way overwhelming compared to the old-school save dialog...


Ahh, so they made Word behave like it does on OS X. Standardization.


A funny response (truly), but Office on OS X (which I use extensively) never lags like that for me, even on older Mac hardware (Core Duo from 2006 or so).


True. But, anecdotally, I never leave Office programs running, because they seem to chew thru my battery. I like Entourage better than Mail.app, but use Mail.app because it sips battery.


Sadly it totally does for me. And while this is different problem, Word on OS X still seems to think Copy-Paste is a computationally complex problem on par with decoding the human genome.


To me, the user experience issues are the biggest failures of all:

    - A mail app that opens to a completely blank screen with no cues on how
      to continue.
    - An infinite login dialog that doesn't allow you to cancel and back out.
Wanting software that offers a pleasant and intuitive user experience doesn't mean that you want software that's dumbed down for grandma, and I'm sad that people are portraying it that way.

I've read my share of man pages and hand written my Xorg.confs many times in previous lives, I'm no stranger to complex and arcane software setup procedures.

But in 2012, in the world of smartphones and tablets, this is stuff that should just work. The answer to "the mail app is completely blank on launch" shouldn't be "sorry, you failed to read the manual". Ever.

And while I greatly respect Microsoft's attempt at entering this market, someone on their team, at some point, had to look at these issues[1] and say, "okay, this software is ready to ship anyway". That does not bode well.

[1] The alternative, I suppose, is that no one noticed. Which is even worse.


An old post from an ex-Microsoftie, which might explain some of this Windows RT mess:

http://windowsphonesecrets.com/2011/03/24/first-windows-phon...


I posted about this before:

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4660871

and I still think it is true... IMO Microsoft made a mistake by leading out with the RT. Leading with the Pro and then offering the RT as a feature-reduced lower cost version would have cut down on the confusion as to what RT really is and lessened the initial impression that the Windows 8 experience is kind of underwhelming.


they want to fill the microsoft store.. so they wanted to get the rt version first.. and frankly no one will pay attention if any of the OEMs release an RT tablet/laptop.. simply, they wanted a successful RT tablet.. they decided to do it themselves..


This is off topic but, compare this review to the one written by Marco Arment and you will know the difference between constructive criticism and fanboy-ism.


Marco Arment was more showcasing the differences between the Apple store and the Microsoft store. At the Apple store I can be left alone by simply walking up to a display and playing with a device. Maybe a sales person will come up to me and ask me if they can help me, let them know that I am just checking things out and they leave.

At the Microsoft store you can't get a single moment of privacy with a device to play with it. The sales person will continue to talk, they will take over from whatever you are trying to do/play with, they want to discuss specs, they want to showcase very specific pieces of technology, they never leave you alone, even if you end up straight up asking.

Granted, Marco's post was slanted in that he is an developer for the Apple eco-system, but that doesn't mean that his post didn't contain the truth. I myself have experienced exactly that at the Microsoft stores. They try to hard to copy the Apple stores, but fall hard.


I was just at a Microsoft store this morning and I did not find the above experience to be true at all. In fact when I stopped by the Apple store the staff was much more intrusive.


Brent the author here. Thanks, I really appreciate that comment - especially in light of all the flack I've gotten for the review. I'd read Marco's post, and I was disappointed in that too. He has valid points, but it's tough to hear them through the rage.


the majority of Marco's post was about the experience of the Microsoft Store


The advice to "wait for the one due in a few months that needs a fan" makes me wonder if this author's sweet spot for tablets is anywhere near mine. I hate fans. (And does such advice mean the author is literally a fan-boy? A fan-fan-boy?)


Brent the author here. When I say wait for the one with a fan, I'm just giving guidance to people who really want the Windows experience. I hate fans too.


Sure, I understand you weren't touting the fan itself as a benefit and I appreciated your overall writeup. I just had to share my double-take at seeing the ideas "will have a fan" and "worth waiting for" so close together.


He seems to be using the Surface RT in desktop mode in that video. I thought this was not supposed to be possible, is that untrue?


Windows 8 and Windows RT are the same OS. Both have the desktop, with all the standard desktop features. Taskbar, system tray, Explorer, control panels, etc. The only difference between the two is that Windows RT can only install apps from the Windows Store, which are all Metro apps.


There's a full desktop on Surface RT. I was rather surprised that it was a nearly full feature desktop. You can run full batch scripts, copy files, etc... You can't install applications on it though.


It currently exists for Office, because it isn't fully ported to Metro yet.


To be fair, it's not as if the Office team had a heads up that a table would be sold with marketing specifically explaining that it runs Office, whilst simultaneously being sold on the new Modern UI. Oh, wait, my mistake.


The Office team is notorious for getting their way inside MS, from what I understand. Which could very well include "we won't be touching WinRT with a 40 foot pole".

More practically speaking, "portable" is a word that I highly doubt describes the Office codebase. If there's a team working on a Metro version, I do not envy them at all.


The videos clearly show him using the Windows 8 UI to launch Office, open a document, then later to launch Mail.


The lag in Word is more likely caused by an option that makes Office use accelerated graphics. I don't know why this option even exists - I've yet to see someone liking how typing in Office applications works with it being on...


Shouldn't accelerated graphics result in screen redraws that are... faster?


Usually accelerated graphics are pretty bad at adding new stuff, due to the overhead of moving things from cpu to gpu. Instead they are crazy fast at drawing the same stuff over and over again with slight modifications by simply rotating and moving the already loaded objects.


That's the biggest puzzle this option presents.


> I think the kickstand angle was designed for airplane use by short people, because the screen hardly goes back at all.

Huh, in the Anandtech review they thought the kickstand worked well everywhere except airplanes.


He mentions that this again is only for short people, aka he would have liked for it to tilt back further (see comments about the camera angle)


But usually taller people will have longer hands as well. That would increase the distance of the keyboard from the user's body and so the angle should still work.


He addressed that issue here: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4706767

He is tall, 6'3", but moving the surface away form him enough results in it being too far away to type.


Also I think people complained about this because on airplanes you probably won't have the room to do this :-\


I think it's great to see MS trying something new and exploring interfaces that aren't just a rip-off or evolution of Apple designs.


Quote: "The problem with Windows "apps" is that they are made inefficient and un-optimized by default"

As a WIN32 developer for the last ten years I would have to agree that a good bit of software today for Windows lacks performance. Why ? IMO a lot has to do with mindset of not only developers, but also those who produce the programming languages developers use. I would venture to say that most programmers would admit that the computer they develop on is likely a more advanced computer than most mass market PC's. They like i5 or i7 CPU's, 8,16 or more gigs of memory, SSD's, etc. The mass market PC though, to be affordable comes far less equipped. This is why when I write software, my development PC is closer to a more mass market PC. I need to feel the problems with performance the moment I compile and run. Now if you write apps which run fast on a slow PC, imagine how they will run on the higher end devices.


I am extremely happy with the surface RT and more specifically IE10. Finally a desktop class browser on a tablet.


Is safari on the iPad not desktop class?


I'm a little confused by this, yes. If anything, mobile Safari and Chrome for Android are more desktop-like than IE10 on WinRT; they have tab bars, and so forth.


When the iPad 1 shipped, I wished that more people had a desktop browser of it's calibre!


Hi everyone. The author brings up great points and its really important for MSFT to address the kickstand's adjustability or even adjust the camera angle automatically. Regarding the other points of the author, i think he should install the updates after which Office RT becomes a productivity beast. Also, there is one aspect of the surface and windows 8 in general nobody has touched in this whole thread which is smartGlass. Coupled with Xbox, this device becomes a wonderful companion to the vastly improved xbox-kinect bundle and so far, i really don't have any complaints about it except the fact that i can't code on it although someone mentioned csc works on it sans some dlls.


What genius decided RT was a good name? Honestly.


I love my surface, and I have no slowdown in Word and OneNote after installing the 600MB or so update. I have a touch keyboard.

What I'm disappointed about is that the bottom edge of the glass is not completely flat. This shows poor build quality, and I expected at least Apple quality from this device. I also tried a second one, and it also has non flat glass on the bottom edge. All the demo units had this problem too. Try reflecting a straight line on that part of the screen and you will know what I mean. It does bug me a bit because I expect a high standard for a $600 ARM tablet.


We did a review of the surface tablet here - http://goodereader.com/blog/tablet-slates/review-of-the-micr...

also vs the ipad 3 here - http://goodereader.com/blog/good-e-reader-videos/microsoft-s...

the pro might be a better investment, but most of the apps crash/buggy, not really worth being an early adopter with this product.


From the comments:

> I admit, I fully expected a tablet version of my laptop. I wanted it to do everything my laptop could do, but with the added bonus of the touch screen, so I can play my games that make my phone freeze up while I’m sitting at my kids dance or karate classes.

If you're technically savvy enough to understand and follow focus of GUI elements, and don't mind a stylus, then there are a number of existing tablets that will fit this bill. In fact, they've been around since ~2000.


Yes, laptop tablets have a touch screen, but they are really just not the same thing. Have you used one much? Unless they've made huge progress in the last few years, a laptop tablet is like a laptop, upon whose screen you can WRITE with a stylus. They are not touch devices like we think of today.


Have you used an early 2000's stylus tablet like a tc1100? I'm talking about those, not touch screen laptops.

http://i.i.com.com/cnwk.1d/i/tr/gallery/hptr1105/Image00021_...

> a laptop tablet is like a laptop, upon whose screen you can WRITE with a stylus. They are not touch devices like we think of today.

Please re-read. I am saying exactly this. The only way they are alike is they are somewhat in the same class of portability. The tc1100 is a beast at 3 pounds, but you can actually watch YouTube and browse the web in bed with one. I know, because I've done it. Doesn't work for the general public because ordinary people can't keep track of GUI item focus.


I was excited when I heard Microsoft was making a tablet and entering this market. Apple doesn't face any strong competition in this market, and because they are so far ahead of their nearest rival (Samsung?) they don't really need to innovate for a cycle or two, and their designs could stagnate.

But the Surface will not be true competition to Apple. This product fails in too many ways, and I predict that the iPad will remain dominant for at least a few years to come.


I was thinking of making this my next PC purchase, but after watching a video in this blog post I see i would be forced to use the touchscreen as there is not a built in trackpad on that cover/keyboard thing.

Overall the design looked cool, as I am interested in tablet with an attached keyboard with a trackpad. Though I want a tablet/PC type of device that allows me to use it as a tablet or a PC laptop. I guess the Surface is not what I imagined.


Except it does have a trackpad. It's right there below the spacebar. It's tiny, but it's there and it works.


It has a trackpad and also supports USB mice, even a range of weird USB wireless mouse dongles.


Bugginess and software weirdness aside, the thing that struck me as most awkward is the keyboard/touch interface paradigm. It required him floating his entire arm to reach out and touch specific dialogues. This seems like a huge sacrifice of touch precision and a strain on your arm. I predict that most people get a Bluetooth mouse for it and use it in either laptop mode or tablet mode - not a combination of both.


I've heard that complaint (gorilla arm) as a big detractor for touch-based user interfaces, but it didn't bother me much when I was using it. The biggest change was that I had to adapt - I'm so used to using the touchpad, but the touchpad on the Surface RT keyboards is just too small. It's easier to point and touch the screen, and it wasn't too uncomfortable. I'm already used to using tablets, though, so I might not be the best person to answer that.

My bigger concern was the very tiny touch points on the dialogs, especially in Office. I repeatedly touched the wrong spots, wrong options, opened the wrong folders in Explorer, etc.


On a Latitude 10 running Win 8 I find that a travel 3-port USB hub and travel sized mouse and keyboard is rather efficient. Of course I found that for a lot of things on my Android tablet a mouse made a world of difference as well. The reality is that as we start pushing these things to be our main screen rather than an accessory screen, the interface size being 10 inches or less makes working with detail items difficult. Whether it's Win 8 or Android, if you have to select from a multi-item list a mouse is still easier to use than touch.


Biggest issue so far for me with Surface's WinRT - no alternative browsers, so no Adblock. I can't believe this is what the desktop web really looks like.


Welcome to the life of an early adopter. It is a bit buggier than we'd like, but you know we'll receive updates before the year is up that will address a lot of the problems. I do wish that it could've been shipped with higher performance, but Windows on ARM was a big endeavor. Achieving the amount of polish that we see on Intel's chips is going to take a bit of time.


I bought one of those Microsoft touch mice. I was getting ready to install the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, and after watching the video, it looked like a great option...and simultaneously, my Logitech Mouse had a dying mosfet switch so I was in the market for a new mouse anyway. [Really, I wasn't just rationalizing buying sexy technology].

It wasn't the first time I've bough I Microsoft mouse. I bought one back about a decade or so ago when another Logitech mouse died. It suffered the same fate as the Microsoft touch mouse. It was returned to the store and exchanged for another Logitech - for exactly the same reason.

Neither was acceptable for my workflow. Unsurprisingly, I spend a meaningful amount of time using CAD/BIM software. The touch mouse zoomed in when I adjusted my grip ("drawing" with a mouse largely involves holding it). There was no way to program the gestures. Likewise, the earlier Microsoft mouse had lots of buttons, but no way to program the middle button as a middle button - as an early "many button" mouse, the middle button had some dedicated function and I had about a decade of muscle memory and projects to push out the door.

The author is experiencing the same thing. The new device isn't tailored to his workflow. It probably isn't reasonable to expect it to be. It's competitors aren't; most people don't have a similar workflow; and it's still version one of the software (Word for RT).

This doesn't excuse the devices performance. But it also puts the author's experience in perspective. Right now, he's somewhat of an edge use case.


Brent the author here. I'd be really curious to hear which portions of my experience are edge cases - typing in Word, using the camera, and checking my email don't seem out of the mainstream to me on a tablet whose main market purports to be workers.


The reality of the current market is that slates are media consumption devices, not laptop replacements - in so far as one uses their laptop for productivity.

A person who types frequently enough, fast enough, and in sufficient quantity to experience a bottle neck with Windows RT's version of Word as a critical purchase feature, is an edge case...or rather not part of the targeted market segment at this time. This is little different from Apple's segmentation between iPad and Macbook Air.

Microsoft appears to recognize this. Hence, the "pro" version in the pipeline, and which you are considering as better suited to your workflow.

Windows Surface RT is targeted as an alternative to an iPad. Configuration issues are a one time pain. New software may not work any better than iTunes. The solution to gorilla arms may not be ideal for everyone. The question is, are they good enough to make it a general success?


> The reality of the current market is that slates are media consumption devices

This isn't true, especially for tablets with 10" screen-size. The "media creation" apps are there, in Apple's App Store, and on Google Play, and people buy them and use them. My tablet has totally replaced the roll of journals, planners, and notebooks. I do all my UI sketches on my iPad, wite my school assignments, take my notes, keep my journal, etc. And millions of other people do the same on these devices; or at least they want to: Creation apps sell.

> A person who types frequently enough, fast enough, and in sufficient quantity to experience a bottle neck with Windows RT's version of Word as a critical purchase feature, is an edge case...or rather not part of the targeted market segment at this time.

No, Microsoft is marketing the Surface as an iPad alternative that can Do Buisness Things: It's got a USB port, and it runs Real Office.


I completely disagree.

MS bundled and highly touted the existence of the keyboard on the Surface as proof that its a "no compromise" tablet. Typing (a very very basic activity) in Word (perhaps the most established piece of software ever) should JUST WORK, no matter what.

Even if you're right about that Surface/Win RT's target is the iPad, have you ever seen an iPad lag on typing from an external keyboard? I haven't.


He encountered problems typing at a reasonable speed, saving a Word document, videoconferencing, and opening the mail client. They sound like issues that can be corrected with a software update, but I don't think they're specific to his workflow.


Compare these activities to the way in which the Surface's competition handles them...e.g typing, creating documents, video conferencing, and configuring email on an iPad.

The author's expectations were that the Surface would be as productive as a Windows laptop. Nobody expects an iPad to be as productive as a MacBook.


Brent the author here. No, I did not expect the Surface to be as productive as a Windows laptop, but I did expect that Word would be able to keep up with me while I type - just as any other modern device is. I'm not asking to do 3D renderings, just to type a document.

For what it's worth, I also wrote about why I was preordering it here: http://ozar.me/2012/10/why-i-preordered-a-microsoft-surface-...


Brent, Ben here. Your original blog post is explicit that the critical issue is PowerPoint compatibility. This doesn't come up among your reasons for dissatisfaction. I'm not skewering you, only pointing out that the rationales you articulated are different from your unarticulated expectations...though your articulated expectations were rather low.

The referenced post, however, implies an expectation to replace both an Air and an iPad with the Surface. Your post today implies that this is still the case, i.e. you intend to purchase a Surface Pro when they become available.

I'm not saying the performance of the Surface is excusable. But mainly because Word ships on it and a full function keyboard is an available option. This implies that the Surface is suitable for full speed touch typing while running a Word document (i.e. processing complex XML and accurately rendering arbitrary fonts and graphic elements with full compatibility with the desktop version). Consider the steps Apple took to avoid creating this situation with iWork when initially released - incompatible file structures meant no requirement to support touch typing without discarding document structure.


Hmmm - no, I don't own an Air. I would only be replacing my gen 1 iPad. As such, my expectations were pretty low, but I can't out-type my iPad in any document editor.


> Compare these activities to the way in which the Surface's competition handles them...e.g typing, creating documents, video conferencing, and configuring email on an iPad.

I just tried making a Word document on an iPad. Astonishingly, it did _not_ lag in that hilarious manner. I haven't done it in a while, but I seem to remember that configuring email was also easy an intuitive. Certainly, tablets will tend to be less capable than desktops, but not to this extent.


You're creating an inaccurate view of the author's desires that is not supported by anything he wrote or showed us.

He wanted Word to not be laggy—completely reasonable and basic, nothing that would require laptop-level productivity.

He wanted programs to give an indication that they are doing something, when they are doing something—completely reasonable and obvious.

He wanted programs to not take minutes to launch or set-up—completely reasonable, etc.

____

I think your suggestion that Surface/Win RT's performance be compared to that of an iPad is spot on. iPad creates documents, video conferences and sets up email quickly and without problem in all of my experiences and in all of the reviews on the web that I have read.


That's just not accurate. It's not unreasonable to expect your tablet to keep up with your typing, or opening the Mail app to not take a full minute.


Still waiting on decent linux-capable tablets...


Already here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ItkWCmkxBv0

However, I would wait at least for Cortex A15 chips to arrive, especially if you're going to want to use Unity, which isn't exactly a race horse on PC's either. I'm sure Canonical will port Ubuntu to the upcoming Nexus 10, too.


Surely by now somebody's managed to get Linux on a Surface RT? It sounds from the review like the hardware is pretty good, just the software that's lacking.


People are using the surface primarily without a mouse, the way a tablet is supposed to be used. Yet there's still so many tiny touch targets all over the place when classic Windows stuff pops up. I cringe when I see video reviews of people trying to laser-tap these and miss a few times until they get it.


And this is one of the reasons I despise modal dialogs of all kinds: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=W...

When they go bad, they're catastrophically bad.


I played with Microsoft Surface and my problem with it is that IT IS A LAPTOP. The interface is pretty much made for laptop (you need to have keyboard), and size is a little too big for tablet. It is not something I might be using while watching TV.

It is weird combo of laptop and tablet.


tl;dr - microsoft word on a brand new cpu architecture, ui style and input system is a bit laggy.


Also, you can get locked in the save dialog and can't recover your document in Word. This seems more serious than the lag.


In the email video he could be seen typing his password. Even though you cannot see the actual keys the reflection gives some idea about what is being pressed. Do you think you could guess his password from that?


Brent the author here. I use Google's app-specific passwords and I've already disabled my Surface RT passwords when I boxed it back up this morning. I salute you though!


qwerty keyboards were designed to slow down the typists thus preventing typewriter jamming. Perhaps MS should redesign it again to make it even slower, so the Surface would be able to keep up?


QWERTY wasn't designed to slow down typists it was designed to speed up typist by preventing jams.

http://home.earthlink.net/~dcrehr/whyqwert.html


> qwerty keyboards were designed to slow down the typists

What were "the typists" typing on before qwerty?


Brent, thanks for this. It is odd because Windows 8 Pro is really smooth. Lets hope someone at Microsoft gets a hold of this and they release an update sooner-then-later.


I don't think his post and reason are highly analytic. Rather its result of working so hard to find out even smallest issue with Microsoft's new product No product are perfect in that regard. Remember first iPhone ? first Android ? first iPad ?

Camera viewpoint doesn't cover your face when you put tablet on kickstand mode? put it little away. what's wrong. Other leading tablets in market doesn't even have one. Its been stated design wonder along with cover with keyboard. Should appreciate instead.

All issues noted in this article are exaggeration except the live sign-in bug while saving office doc.


Brent the author here. "Even the smallest issue" - errr, if the big selling point of the tablet is the keyboard, and Word can't keep up with me typing, that's not a small issue for me. I can understand how it would be a small issue for most folks, because most folks don't use tablets for Office. I wanted this tablet because it was specifically marketed as the work-friendly tablet.

If I move the tablet far enough away that I'm in the picture, then I can't touch the keyboard. That's a problem.


"Can you honestly tell us you watched the videos?" - Yes I did. But my main point is, the post, isn't kinda review. Kickstand issue and mail app issues , isn't that big to be dither about. Approach to response should be more sort of balanced rather than fault-finding and whining.

" it was specifically marketed as the work-friendly tablet." - But that doesn't mean that we should expect powerhouse performance and after all its RT. Wait for pro if you want that performance. At least it is doing something better than other competition? No one can deny that its better in terms of "work-ready" than iPad or Android tab. Instead of whining about small issues why can't be appreciate what they are trying to build ?

"They are not competing against first generation offering. This is not some child thats needs love and support. This is a commercial product from a for-profit company at a high price." - Its something like complaining why new hybrid car in market not running x miles at xx speed , when a company brings new hybrid car in market at the time every car maker are busy making gas cars.

There are lots of thing promising about Surface. USB port, Smart Glass, Solid hardware, Office etc. Following is the post I would call more natural balanced response. http://mattblogsit.com/2012/10/27/is-the-microsoft-surface-f...

There are flaws out there. But which product in world don't have them. Are they something, which you can claim that, you are returning your product for ?


Can you honestly tell us you watched the videos? I struggle to believe you did. Nobody who did could claim this:

> Rather its result of working so hard to find out even smallest issue with Microsoft's new product

Those were not "small issues." Very far from it. In fact all of the software issues he showed us were a big damn deal. The kick-stand one could claim is a minor whine.

Seems like you literally watched just the first video and then came and commented.


They are not competing against first generation offering. This is not some child thats needs love and support. This is a commercial product from a for-profit company at a high price.

As for your phrasing of his complaints as "the smallest issues" He is going through the two most obvious and common usecases. Typing a document and saving that document, and checking his email. The device is locked down, its one of the few uses they aim for and you are allowed to do.


So...this is a good opportunity to write a word processing app for the Windows 8 store. Score! It's well known what people like with those...


I hope someone works around the UEFI secure boot soon, I would be very interested in having this as a Linux tablet.


I hope he's changed his password. In one of the vids it's fairly easy to workout what he was typing to login.


It's as if the author really hurried to return the device so that he can write the blog article. Insane.


Brent the author here. I'm heading out on a two week road trip to speak at a few conferences. I hurried to get the device usable before I fly out to Vegas on Sunday for DevConnections, and I started putting it through its paces right away. I wanted to feel confident that I'd be able to rely on it as a backup presentation device and leave my iPad at home. After the 2-week road trip, I'm home for a few days, then out of the country for vacation. I wouldn't be able to return the Surface easily over the next month, so that's why I made the decision to bail.

Plus, I gotta be honest - I don't think there's going to be a resale value for these, so I didn't want to take a $200-$300 bath by selling it on eBay in a couple of months.


A lot of reasons but none of those are related to the device itself. I think it's fairly obvious that you could have waited a while and the software (!) problems you experienced would be fixed with an update. I think you just originally wanted to write a negative blog post about "returning the device". Weird.


So in other words, the Surface wasn't ready...


Update of Office for final version was available at the day of launch. Why you did not install it?


This is the risk you take by being an early adopter.


... of hardware and software that is not ready for prime time.

How disappointed were buyers of the iPhone or iPad 1 ?

Not, I think.


I for one was very disappointed in iPad 1. Your point?


What specifically about the iPad was disappointed you?

Was it a) because it was not quite ready for prime time, and subsequent updates fixed it, or was it b) because it simply didn't (and still doesn't) have features you wanted?

When the answer is a), that shows a product was rushed and not ready i.e. the Surface RT from the sounds of this review.


I don't think the choices you offer me are mutually exclusive. A product can also feel rushed because it lacks important features. The first iPad seemed very polished: I could scroll the screen and it was super smooth. It's just that I wanted to do much more than scroll the screen super smoothly. I still have an iPad but I use a Chromebook much more. Makes so much more sense even though it has a very plastic and may seem "rushed" to some, it works for me.


> A product can also feel rushed because it lacks important features.

I agree, when those features are (were) available and cost effective at the time of release, AND they are in fact added at a later date, which somewhat proves they probably should have been added in the first place.

i.e. Complaining the first iPad was "rushed" because it didn't include 4G/LTE is nonsense.

By that measure, I honestly can't think of an Apple product in the last 5 years that was "rushed", where-as it seems the Surface RT was/is.


I want a video of people using these as laptops. That's my biggest fear about springing for something like these.

Even RT could be tolerable with the right apps as a remote machine with that keyboard, similar to what people do with Android+Transformer. I can program on it, work on remote machines.

That having been said, assuming it's somewhat usable on a lap, I'll wait for the Pro too, I have several things that need x86.


> I want a video of people using these as laptops.

Isn't it exactly what he's doing in the videos?

edit: the second videos (saving a document in word) also makes many tap target seem laughably small compared to... the guy's fingers to start with. Am I dreaming?


Brent the author here. Yes, the Office tap targets are indeed laughably small. I recorded a few versions of these videos trying to get the taps right. I didn't want to upload those because it would look like I'm purposely trying to tap in the wrong places, and then I'd get flamed for that - when in reality, the targets are just too small.


I've been using Windows RT and the Office preview for months, and I still have to try to hit the click targets very carefully. I usually end up using my pinky, which is still not 100%


Sorry, I literally mean as a LAPtop device. I want to see him use this in his lap.

I have bad habits that leave my fingers a bit nubbier than they should be, but trying to use Office on the RT tablet at Best Buy was barely short of impossible. I'd HAVE to use the keyboard to use it for any amount of time.


Don't use a laptop in your lap, unless you hate your back/wrists/neck.


I've been using one on my lap for 15 years to no ill effect...


I haven't used (or even seen in real life) the Surface, but I would expect using the stand would be a challenge. It just feels to risky to put that tine edge close to your knees; the screen would drop on the floor too easily. That means you will have to move the edge of the screen at least, say, 15 cm from your knees. Also, having that 'one, steep, angle' for the stand would mean that looking at the screen would be a problem.

So, I would guess using the stand is out. That leaves placing the screen flat on your upper legs with the keyboard in front of it. In that setup, I am still worried about the keyboard detaching from the screen, and the screen dropping on the floor. The keyboard would have to be attached fairly firmly to the screen for that setup to feel secure. It also would place the screen in an awkward location for reading: too far away, and at an inconvenient angle. So, for that setup, I expect you will want something that wraps both the underside of the keyboard and the back of the screen, and props up the screen by, say, 10 cm. I guess something like that will pop up on Kickstarter soon.


Why not, ya know, use a laptop? There's a reason different form factors exist.


I think you mistook my question as criticism. To me this is the most interesting new possible form factor, but I revel in the ability to get my MBA out and set it on my knee and use it if I have to. I know I can use the Surface without the keyboard which is an interesting proposition but I want to know just how useful the keyboard is in all types of situations.


Are all the HN upvoters are retarded? This is not Surface RT. RT does not have a classic Windows Desktop environment. It only has metro.

This is a Surface Pro, which has not been released yet. Slowness is totally understandable because that guy installed an OS X on an iPad, which is the same thing as using Win8 full desktop environment on Surface RT hardware.


You are wrong. windows RT includes the desktop environment but you can't install any new apps to it - all you have is Office and Explorer.

http://www.anandtech.com/show/6392/the-windows-rt-review/8

http://www.theverge.com/2012/10/23/3537710/windows-8-review


I have it in front of me and confirm that the RT does have a desktop environment with office, and if you hit window+r some other programs, like cmd, and powershell.


I imagine Microsoft could have a very lenient policy with its employees speaking on behalf of the company's interests, but its very dangerous territory if you don't approach it with respect and sensitivity. Personally I think it's simply best to not speak publicly on behalf of the company you work for unless its your job to do so.


>Are all the HN upvoters are retarded? This is not Surface RT. RT does not have a classic Windows Desktop environment. It only has metro.

Either they are all 'retarded' and you are the one in the right, or vice-versa. Which do you think is more likely?




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