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