Scratching the Surface

I just received my pre-ordered Microsoft Surface RT the other day, and aside from the fact that it was 2 weeks late and those at the Microsoft Store were clueless about exactly what happened or apparently how shipping or tracking even works, my first impression was profound disappointment.

Why him? Why not me?

I like Windows 8, I’ve been running it on my PC and my wife’s laptop for a few months now.  I have a windows phone 7 which I also like.  I find the unified Metro experience across devices and the integration between them appealing.  I was hoping that the Surface would basically be an iPad that ran Windows 8 instead of iOS.  I wanted the form factor of the iPad2 with the familiarity and convenience of windows (things like having separate accounts for my kids, Zune, printing, etc.). 

He’s good, you’re not.

However, the Surface is not an iPad.  Most strikingly due to its odd dimensions.  Its taller and narrower than an iPad2 by a lot. Its also heavier and thicker.  When I tried to use it like my iPad its odd shape makes it clunky.  Its not really meant to be held portrait (feels like a giant phone), and holding it landscape isn’t very natural either (like holding a mini wide-screen TV).  Not only that, but Surface has its own unique power adapter (I was hoping for micro usb to like the WP7, kindle fire, droid and virtually every other device).  Now I have yet another set of cables to wrangle.  My Windows 8 iPad dreams were dashed immediately. 

I’m better than him!

But then later I pulled it back out and kicked out the kickstand and hooked up the keyboard to see if there was anything salvageable about this thing before I sent it back.  Slowly it began to dawn on me that Surface isn’t meant to be an iPad its meant to be a laptop/netbook.  With the kickstand up, and the keyboard out I was able to type fairly effectively on my lap on the couch.   It even gives decent mouse control.  Once I started using it like an inverted laptop instead of an iPad it began to grow on me.

you’re worse! Much much worse.

I think I can actually do work on this thing, and that’s probably the point. That plays to Microsoft’s strengths, productivity apps and BYOD.  It remains to be seen whether this bridges the gap for people between work and leisure device.  I’m not convinced but at least intrigued.

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