Gadgets,  Microsoft

Microsoft Surface

With the introduction of Microsoft’s own Tablet “Microsoft Surface”, the Windows8 story finally becomes exciting. Here is the review of it by ZDNet here, so I won’t go into the nitty-gritty. For me as a Microsoft Partner who has made a huge investment in Windows 8 & personally as a loyal user of Windows for decades, for the first time in months – I feel good about that investment again & I am super excited.

What I really liked in the Keynote was the amazing amount of detail they have gone into the hardware design – right from getting the click sound of a high-end car with the kickstand (or) slim vents for heat (or) tactile movement of the type cover. It was the first time in a Microsoft event I heard the word “Emotional” connect with users, Microsoft was always about being functional, never emotional. The Surface is how the future of devices will be if Steve Jobs is still alive – he has flowered into millions of younger Jobs not only in the farmlands of Apple but all across the IT industry.

Earlier Hardware

My first experience with Windows8 was at the Build conference last year on the Samsung tablet they gave to everyone. Using it for a few moments, it strikes you how new and fresh the Software (Windows 8) was and at the same time you feel how poor the hardware it was running on was – why does it have a fan, why does it feel so odd to hold, why does it get heated up so much and so on. It was meant to be a developer device but that’s no excuse to recast a laptop as a Tablet. The accessories were even more poorly designed – a stand that weighed more than a brick, a power supply with a PC power cable which was a throwback to laptop stone-ages.

Windows 8

Though I was not sure about Metro UI & deprecating two decades of experience with familiar Windows UI, it was clear that Microsoft was taking a big risk with Windows8, Metro UI & Windows RT. And I appreciate Microsoft for sticking with that decision (not bringing back the Start button & so on) through the Consumer Preview & Release Preview of Windows8. To succeed with Windows8 the writing was on the wall as they needed to have Kickass hardware that can challenge the iPad. Microsoft just couldn’t give the software and depend on its OEM partners to deliver a great experience and boy they were so poor – even after 4 years of Apple’s MacBook Air. the PC world hasn’t even matched in fully cloning it.

With Surface, Microsoft has solved two pieces of the user experience puzzle but they still have one last piece & it is the biggest. And it is to get developers to build great Apps for Metro UI. If any company can do this and challenge the 600,000 iOS apps it can be Microsoft – and they have 30 years of Developer Evangelism experience to support them on this.

In summary, Microsoft has a winner in their hand. It’s clear the game for Android Tablets is over even before it has started. And after 3 years, the iPad has a worthy competitor next to it & Apple better has something up their sleeves shortly.

About reusing the name

The first time I saw what was earlier called Microsoft Surface was way back in 2008, it was a revolutionary device for Table-tops and it was awesome. To me, it makes a lot of sense and even natural for Microsoft to want to extend the concept and make it widely available (affordable) in a Tablet form and call it Surface. The Table-tops computers from Microsoft are now called PixelSense.


  • Benny

    Thanks for this nice introduction to Microsoft Surface. The following observation really caught my attention – “It was the first time in a Microsoft event I heard the word “Emotional” connect with users, Microsoft was always about being functional, never emotional”. If they really meant it, it is a quantum leap, really!

  • Sanjay Vyas

    Nice blog Venkat. Would love to hear your reason why with release of surface the game is over for Android tablet? If nothing else, the price point of Rs. 7000 might fulfill needs of millions of people who dont need the entire Window core at their service but just want something for surfing, emailing, chatting, watching movies etc.

    • venkatarangan

      You have come in from a different angle. This is what I see in play when it comes to low-end Android phones. 1) A replay of what happened in Netbooks after the first year of success w/ Linux, MS came with Windows XP and garnered 95% of the market. 2) Unlike Mobile Phones Tablets are not must-have devices, Tablets are aspirational products – in that category people don’t want to be feeling they have bought a second-class product; though they pay what they can afford they want to feel they bought the same product with less features, lower speed of what the premium segment bought; Windows8(WindowsRT) on low-end tablets (will certainly not come from Microsoft but I suppose will come from Chinese makers) will make them feel so. 3) As an iPad user I feel Android is pathetic on Tablets.