Breaktime Blog: MS Surface Launch

Last week I was feeling more than a little cynical about the tightly compressed hype cycle that Microsoft generated around yesterday’s big announcement – and I had become more than a little disinterested as rumors circulated about how new tablets might be making an appearance.

But having watched the launch event over lunch and taken a look at specifications I have to admit that I’m now hooked and can’t wait to see how this plays out.

I’m not so interested in the RT model, which is much of a muchness compared to other proposed W8 tablets. What has me interested is the Pro model, which has squeezed an Ivy Bridge PC into the tablet form factor and, through the (very clever) Touch Cover, gives you a fully-fledged PC. I had been oggling Ultrabooks as a replacement to my much-loved but now struggling Dell Duo, but I can see me using a Surface Pro on the move (I do a lot of work on the train, for example), then plugging it into an external KVM when I get to the office…

I don’t get the timing of the announcement. As much as I don’t like the term “iPad killer” (which this is unlikely to be, however good it is), Apple have got the whole hype-cycle, rumour-mill, big-release thing down pretty well and to my mind Microsoft should have taken a few lessons from them and done a big launch to coincide with Windows 8.

Which actually brings one last thought to mind. I’m still unsure of Windows 8, from both home-use and work-suitability perspectives. I can’t see how it will be a neat user experience if you ever have to leave the Metro interface or ever have to interact with it with anything other than a finger. It will suit tablets and possibly even touch-screen laptops, but I’ve used Windows 8 on a desktop computer with a touchscreen and while it was quite funky for a little while I was left with two main observations:

  1. To do anything “productive”, I had to escape Metro and do stuff on the desktop – but Metro kept wanting to come back;
  2. My arm got really, really tired after five minutes.

On the first point we wait to see what the release version looks like (MS do say it is Enterprise Ready). But on the second point, unless Microsoft’s Hardware team also launched the MS Arm Rest yesterday, is likely to be a real deal-breaker for me.


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