Microsoft Surface Review

Today I finally managed to get my hands on Microsoft’s newest device, the Microsoft Surface. My wife and I were wandering around our local Best Buy with no intention of buying anything, and there they were, sitting on display next to the Samsung tablets. Given the environment, there were obviously problems, but I won’t hold those against the Surface (despite the fact that the other tablets were all working fine). Here are my impressions of Microsoft’s device.

The Device Itself

Holding the device, I didn’t notice much difference in weight compared to other tablets it’s size. This isn’t a scientific measurement, I just held it. I’m sure there’s a difference, but it wasn’t really noticeable in the few minutes I played around with it. The texture of the device was nice. The design? Not so much. Microsoft decided to go the in the opposite direction from every other tablet maker on the market, and make the device kind of, well, sharp. There are unrounded edges on the device which are apparent as soon as you pick up the device. Personally, I didn’t like it as much as the rounded corners of pretty much every other tablet. I didn’t experience any physical discomfort in holding the Surface, but I only held it for 10 minutes or so. The screen was nice, and the resolution was good.

The OS

2012-12-27 14.31.34Wow, this is opening up a can of worms, but the OS is pretty much everything I expected it to be. Horrible. I’ve only had the chance to try it on a phone before, and I thought it was functional but ugly. On a tablet, it’s even less functional, but still ugly. I opened up several different applications, but the one that jarred me the most was the Office 13 Preview. Opening that app kicked me into Desktop mode immediately. To me, it was akin to reading something and having it ripped out of your hand mid-sentence and having to change your point of view to something different. I didn’t like it at all. One of the other things I noticed when I was trying it out was the picture at left. This is a minor thing, but it popped out at me. When I tried out the login, I realized that I didn’t have the password to get back in. I thought that maybe they left it blank for demonstration purposes, so I tried that. I was wrong in my guess, but when it came back to let me know that, the text didn’t even line up correctly in the box.

Dead Horse

I’m not going to keep going. I didn’t get a lot of time with the device, but in the time I did have with it, I wasn’t impressed. Not everything about the Surface was bad, and if there were no other tablets on the market anywhere (say in some alternate reality where iOS and Android didn’t exist), I’d consider it mostly functional. What I did see was that there was absolutely nothing about this device that would ever make me consider it over more well established players in the market. I mean seriously, I’d even choose an iPad over this thing and that’s saying something.

8 Comments

  1. I haven’t tried the Surface yet but I have tried a few other tablets running Windows RT and I found it to be okay. I agree about the weird feeling of being kicked into the Desktop when you run Office. Personally, I think Microsoft should of just made Office a series of Modern apps instead of making users switch into the Destkop just for that. I also think Microsoft should of made Windows RT COMPLETELY mobile and ditch the Desktop. Why? Because the Desktop side of Windows RT serves no real purpose except for just opening Office. I know for me, It’d take a long time to get used to realizing that the Desktop is only there for one real purpose. The Windows store now has over 35,000 apps, that’s not a bad start. I do love the gestures in Windows 8. Being able to close apps just be swiping it down. Being able to run different apps all at once on the same screen and being able to share content to different apps. I’m not an RT fan. I know some people would love it, like my parents who just like to browse the web and play games. For me, I’m waiting until Microsoft releases the Surface Pro which will give me the Mobile experience, and the full Desktop experience just like it was meant. I love the idea of being on the go anywhere and being able to have that choice of using a mobile app or a desktop app, or both.

    • mike

      I would have liked to try out some of the other Windows 8 tablets, but unfortunately, there was only one working Surface. There were three Surfaces there, and at least as many other Windows tablets, but only the one was working. I’m not holding that against Microsoft or the tablets because we are talking about Best Buy demo units after all, so it’s probably not their fault. I will note that, for the record, all the iPads and Android tablets were working.

  2. undave

    I couldn’t agree more with this review. Microsoft is showing signs of a painful and unprofessional demise with Windows 8, WIndows Phone, and Surface combined. It’s absolutely horrible. I decided to go with an Android tablet. IPad is nice, but it’s too restrictive. It is aesthetically pleasing at least, unlike Surface.

    • mike

      I couldn’t agree more. It’s like Steve Ballmer lost a bet or something. Or maybe Windows 8 is the bet. I don’t know, but it seems like Microsoft took every design decision it could and went counter to convention. I will give them credit for one thing. Not even Apple can claim that Microsoft copied them, and that’s saying something.

  3. Hmm, I will have to wonder over to Best Buy and try one, as well. I was a bit interested in the Surface Touch Cover, to see if this really allowed the device to be more like a laptop. My one problem with the iPad, or the Android tablets, is the lack of a way to precisely control various movements within certain apps or games (I won’t even try Baldur’s Gate on the iPad because of the touch control issues).

    Microsoft “rushed” this out (ie. did a poor job) iwth Windows 8 and it shows, at least that’s the general consensus.

    • One of the demo units I tried had the keyboard on it but it wasn’t working (even though the Best Buy guy said that it was). I’m guessing the fact that it wasn’t working was more of a Best Buy thing rather than a Surface thing. That being said, the typing on it that I did (even though it didn’t work) I wasn’t a fan of.

      Let me state that this has nothing to do really with the Surface, I’d hate it if it was an Android tablet too. I just don’t like that kind of keyboard. The feeling of the keyboard wasn’t something that I’d feel comfortable typing on.

      Of course, that’s just my personal preference. You may like it.

      • Yeah, the keyboard actually didn’t help much. True, the Surface can act, more or less, as a Windows laptop, bu the processing power isn’t there and the interface has hiccups. Aside from that, even the responsiveness of the keyboard was seriously lacking. A different keyboard/mouse might help, but it’s the clunky nature of Windows 8 that still gets in the way.

        • Yea, Surface can act like a laptop, but so can any number of other tablets that do it better. Honestly, and external bluetooth keyboard would have been a better choice for me. I understand that half the draw of this keyboard is that it doubles as a case and that makes it portable, but for me that’s not really a draw either.

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