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Microsoft launches ‘Surface’ – would you buy a Windows tablet?

After years of sitting back and watching Apple and Google have all the fun, Microsoft has finally stepped into the fray with its own-branded tablet, known as Surface. But would you put it on your shopping list?

Designed to run the forthcoming Windows 8 platform, Surface will go head-to-head with the iPad, Android tablets, and various third-party tablets also running Windows 8.

The question is… if you’re looking to buy a tablet, would you make it a Windows tablet?

Personally, I’m not yet persuaded. But that’s not to say I’m not persuadable…

Microsoft scratches the Surface with Windows tablet

First things first, Surface probably hasn’t been designed with me in mind anyway. It’s a premium product, which will run Windows 8 Pro, intended for business users. The only price yet mentioned is ‘comparable to ultrabook laptops’; so that means somewhere in the region of £900. No thanks.

Myself, I don’t even like the name ‘Surface’. It smacks of tired in-house brainstorming sessions at Microsoft HQ, with some bright spark saying, ‘Hey, you know how you run your finger over the surface of the screen?’

I don’t even like the initial look of the Surface. It seems just that little bit too sensible, and too hard-edged compared to the sleek shape of the iPad or Samsung Galaxy Tab. The ‘kickstand’ to let it stand upright makes it look, a bit unfortunately, like a digital photoframe.

But, I’ll admit, for business users, it will probably prove to be a powerful device, running the kind of high-powered ARM-chipsets that will make the average tech guru salivate and the average casual tablet user shrug nonchalantly.

Windows 8 tablets – reasons to be cheerful

My appetite for a Windows-powered tablet has always been lacking. I tend to associate Windows with the working day, slow start-ups, constant update notifications, crashes, and (shudder) Internet Explorer. And when I think of tablets, I think of speedy start-ups, instant web-browsing, and the quickfire fun of Angry Birds.

But perhaps I’m not giving Microsoft its fair dues. The iPad has changed consumer expectations, and when Windows 8 is released this autumn, it may prove to be an utterly different animal to any of its predecessors. And the open nature of the Windows platform means that there will be plenty of reasons to consider a Windows tablet.

Here’s a quick one – the humble USB port. You won’t find one of those on an iPad, but on a Windows tablet, it could let you plug in an external hard drive to watch your digital movie collection, or leaf through your digital photos. It could mean plugging in a USB stick and viewing an Excel spreadsheet in an instant. Who knows, should you so wish, you could even plug in a USB mouse.

And the open-ended software options? Yes please. You could make a Windows tablet a hybrid device running software from all of the tech giants. On the same tablet you could potentially run Microsoft Office, Google Chrome, Apple iTunes and Adobe Photoshop.

I’m on the fence, I’ll admit it. But I can’t wait to see how well Windows 8 tablets are received when they launch this autumn. And even if I don’t rush out and buy one myself, I’ll happily have a go on someone else’s.

Would you buy a Windows tablet PC?

Yes - I like the look of Windows tablets (34%, 185 Votes)

I'm not interested in buying a tablet PC (33%, 179 Votes)

No - I'd prefer another type of tablet (iPad, Android, etc.) (33%, 178 Votes)

Total Voters: 545

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Comments
Member

I am happy with my iPad2, but will certainly be interested to see what Microsoft has to offer.

Irrespective of how good it is, I don’t think I could bring myself to buy anything branded Microsoft or Windows because I associate these names with some of the worst products I have encountered in my life. I acknowledge that Skoda and Fiat have achieved a lot since their cars a bit of a joke, but I’m still not interested. I know that some do respect Microsoft and Windows but I really believe that a rebranding exercise is needed.

Microsoft might do well to capitalise on the current corporate dominance of Windows and produce a tablet focused on business rather than entertainment. RIM, manufacturers of the BlackBerry, shot themselves in the foot by producing a tablet called the PlayBook. That does not convey the right image for corporate use.

So yes, I would like to have a play with a ‘Surface’. I mean the tablet, not the large table-top computer christened with this name a few years ago. For a small commission, I will offer to find Microsoft some decent product names.

Member

Probably not for me, but I can see the advantage of a tablet with the full version Windows 8 (as opposed to Windows RT) for some if it means that you can run desktop apps on the go. For corporate IT systems it may make it easier to manage devices and software (which can sway whether kit is purchased).

It may even work out cheaper for some people if you can use your tablet as a desktop – all depends on how useful the USB port is. The amount Apple charge for their adaptors is a bit much.

Overall then it has a chance. My first tablet was a Windows CE one years ago and syncing with Windows XP did have its advantages, so MS does have some experience here. I think the keyboard, stylus and keyboard make it different enough from others on the market (at present).

I agree with you on the name – Windows Surface makes me think of Windolene, not Microsoft.

Member

Windolene Surface cleaner. Now there is an opportunity for bringing an old fashioned product into the 21st century. 🙂

So Microsoft copied Apple’s magnetic iPad cover. Now Apple will need to copy Microsoft and incorporate a keyboard. That should appeal to iPad users who want a keyboard but not another bit of kit to carry around.

Member
FINSBURYPARKER says:
19 June 2012

Desktop for me!…Tablets are too easily damaged, nobody wants to repair them, easily stolen/left behind in Taxis, Buses, Trains, Pubs etc, like Camerons Daughter!

Member
Dale says:
19 June 2012

Definitely not for me, after years of fighting to get things to work together without numerous re-loading of software and the training of people in the finer arts of Microsoft issues, I went to Apple Mac and have a system that just works well together and has done for years, in fact I have different aged machines all connected together and they just work.

I know people don’t like the sandboxing of software, but for me I get why they do it and it brings a better experience along with a more polished product.

The new Surface looks like it will be popular with certain people but will the infrastructure be there, will the Virus issues be even worse and is it going to use Flash and all its problems. Furthermore, its fine having a USB port, but at what cost to your battery life, surely the whole idea is to keep your cables to a minimum.

Member
FINSBURYPARKER says:
19 June 2012

I can see the great attraction for the young, but, as long as I can perform various functions on-line, emails, sending photos to the gang, look up any information I might need, fiscal transactions etc, I ‘ll stick with my desktop until I am forced to move on by total obsolescence!

Member

I shall definitely be buying a Windows Tablet as soon as I can 🙂
I already have a Windows Phone and it’s great, it just works and it has an interface which makes total sense to me. A Windows Tablet will compliment my Phone, my PC and my Xbox just nicely.

I’m not keen on Android devices, because they’re too open source and lack any real standard. Some of them you can install google marketplace on, some you can’t, some support flash, some don’t and the list goes on.

Apple software in general I find very difficult to use, but I’ve been a Windows man since the year dot, so whenever I look at an Apple product, the interface just makes no sense to me. My kids have iphones and I struggle to help them with things like itunes, which in my opinion is the most awful piece of software ever written.

I appreciate that a lot of people like Apple and Android devices. As always, it’s each to their own.
What’s really needed is compatibility between them all as far as applications are concerned. It shouldn’t matter what platform you choose, they should all be able to communicate, run the same apps and be able to share data easily.

Member

Yes, I think that competition only helps drive standards so Microsoft’s entry should change things.

Interesting you say that compatibility is important, what has really put me off Microsoft was the Xbox 360 and their pettiness over compatibly – controllers don’t connect through a standard USB connector (unlike the PS3), you had to buy theirs; the wireless USB dongle had to be their Xbox 360, not an open one; wireless controllers needed a special (pricey) wireless adaptor to use on the PC; transferring the hard drive meant buying a special cable you could only use once with the drive then bin.

I know all manufacturers have used their own standards (notably the Apple connector), but it was the wide range of Microsoft-only items on the Xbox that came across as mean-spirited. I really hope they don’t repeat this strategy with the tablet.