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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.




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