Surface

I’ve been trying to figure out what to say about this thing and it’s hard to know where to start.

It looks great. The promise of a tablet that’s really a full desktop computer that can run desktop apps as well as touch apps sounds pretty good, and the hardware looks slick. Nicely designed.

I love the kickstand – the Smart Cover tries to do that job on the iPad but it’s too wobbly to be useful.

Using a tablet is more about the software experience than the hardware, though, and I’m a bit concerned about what this means for apps.

One of the best things the iPad has done is give developers a target, and set clear expectations. iPad apps are touch-focused. Surface still has Windows at its core, and I’m concerned that we’re going to be seeing Windows where we don’t want to see it.

For example, and I’m basing this on no information at all, but here’s what I’m expecting. I run some touch based drawing app and I’m drawing away and it’s great. But when I go to print the drawing, the printer settings dialog comes up and it’s HP supplied UI is terrible.

With the iPad, Apple controls the whole experience. This means I don’t get to set a bunch of options that the HP UI offers, but it also means the printing experience is seamless, and most common options are covered by a consistent UI that’s the same for every printer. Which will users prefer?

Surface is going to give IT departments, currently being pressed to come up with tablet solutions, an out. “We don’t need to rewrite our in-house apps for the iPad; we’ll support Surface and they’ll run as-is”.

I’m also not convinced that Microsoft is really up for the race. They’ve got a good contender out of the gate, but this is a product that’s going to need updates every 12 or 18 months. Microsoft doesn’t get to drag their feet here.

They’ve done some great design here, though, and I hope someone is working on a Surface style Smart Cover for the iPad. Set those photocopiers in reverse.