I wrote an opinion piece on how Surface for Windows 8 Pro wasn’t going to do too well a few days ago. I received a lot of feedback for this opinion in the form of comments, some of which were just angry, while many others were furious outbursts. A few, however, were well-constructed and objective. This piece is a compilation of my response to those well-intentioned comments and to further the discussion on Windows 8 and the Surface tablets in a more meaningful and constructive manner. The comments posted by our readers and marked in bold and my replies without it.
Vineet Chawla wrote
“Seriously guys, grow up.
1. The surface has 1080p resolution. And the touch cover is specially built for occasions when you need to operate legacy apps, that's why it includes a touchpad too.
2. Your article citing failing touch notebooks is completely misplaced as even Microsoft realised this and are changing it in Winodws 8. And who says you cant touch standard size icons?
3. People who need high-quality image editing suites and 3D modeling software will buy a desktop or a high-end laptop. Surface was never intended for them.
4. Do you know that there is a laptop with 11 inch screen that runs really well (MacBook Air 11)? Surface would be competing with that.”
1. True, the trackpad makes things simpler to use the tablet. When it comes to the touchscreen though, a resolution of 1920x1080 on a 10-inch screen means really fine text and even smaller icons. While I’m as eager to use the Surface tablets as you are, I’m trying to imagine clicking on tiny menus, then on some options and on some 15x15 pixel checkboxes, which are going to be way smaller than my fingertip. I don’t think it’ll be that easy. You’ll have to be really precise even while using the trackpad.
2. Microsoft has geared the OS for touchscreen devices. But the fact remains is that there are no touch-capable notebooks in the market today. They’re a thing of the past, and they were never successful. Show me one successful touchscreen notebook and I’ll change my opinion.
3. Everyone’s going gaga over how you can use Windows applications on this and how great it’ll be. If the Surface with Windows 8 Pro is all about basic productivity and browsing, then the Windows RT tablet is the better and cheaper option. It’s got large tiles and UI elements, and is sorted out for this kind of thing. I hope you get where I’m coming from.
4. The MacBook Air screen runs at a resolution of 1366x768, which is less denser and is much easier to read. Besides, it has a full-fledged physical keyboard; you can easily use it on the go. However, I'll agree that the Surface is going to be a cheaper alternative if you’re going to be using it on a desk.
Rohit Ramkrishna wrote
“The Windows 8 Pro is like a portable Cintiq. Are you aware of the price of a Cintiq and their success in the design industry? I have been following tech2 about a year, and now I'm thinking it's not worthy.”
True, it would be a great portable Cintiq alternative if the Surface had a better touchscreen and a stylus. The Cintiq has 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity and tilt detection supported. The Surface doesn’t have any of that. If it did, it would be be a true artists’ tablet. The Surface with Windows 8 Pro has its place in different areas of work but the point I’m trying to make is how the Surface with Windows 8 Pro tablet needs to do much more to be a runaway success. It isn’t very powerful, it isn’t very light, nor is it cheap.
Kunal Kurtadkar wrote
“I think the OS is a huge benefit here; we can use old Windows software. On my laptop with Windows 8, 95% of the old software worked. But the price would be a problem. We can buy a netbook instead of surface at 1/3 of the price. If old software worked on ARM processor surface, it would be great. If it priced about 25k in the future, it will be hugely successful.”
Well put! Pricing is what will make or break the product. Can’t agree with you more.
Stewart Lill wrote-
“Lol, and now Apple fanboy tech writers are complaining about Microsoft's vision for the tablet; to make it equally powerful to an ultrabook is too much of a "Gimmick" and the wrong direction. Why? Why should tablets be restricted, dumbed down, and completely dependent on App stores? Why is a tablet doomed for failure if you make it capable of getting work done, and dare I say it, being useful (NOT consumption 99% and production 1%). *GASP*. If the technology is there why don't you want it? Wasn't the iPhone a "gimmick?" Hell, wasn't the ultrabook considered a gimmick? Those have obviously proven not to be gimmicks. If you want to call something a Gimmick, it's the Asus Taichi, but not the Microsoft Surface. I wish I could pull the screen of my Acer ultrabook off this keyboard and pass it around when I show photos or to play touchscreen games, and then reconnect it when I wanted to get back to WORK. THANK GOD a company that doesn't cater to sheep and idiots is trying to make the tablet useful and not just shiny and REALLY REALLY HD (Retina Display). If Apple announced the iPad would run Lion, Cougar, Jaguar or whatever the name of the OS Macs use, and you could dock it to a keyboard, plug in a mouse, edit your stupid iPad-made videos on a full version of Final Cut Pro and then undock it to play a game of Angry Birds, every Apple fanboy would wet their pants. In fact, say the Surface does in fact fail for whatever possible reason, the day Apple makes the iPad capable of being a ultrabook, fanboys will unite in saying "INNOVATIVE", "FIRST OF IT'S KIND", "ORIGINAL", and "STEVE JOBS INVENTED THIS FROM HEAVEN". Hopefully, the Surface does become successful, does not kill the iPad because that's impossible, but spurs change in the tablet industry and adopt Microsoft's vision. If we let Apple continue to be stubborn and do things their way and ONLY their way, by 2020 when the iPad 20 comes out, you will just be getting the capability to password protect an app folder (seriously? how is this not possible yet unless it's jailbroken?). Hopefully, the Surface is released with limited bugs that won't overshadow and ruin this concept of useful tablet computing.”
Microsoft Surface Tablet dressed in Black
Your comment is massive and it’s also massively impressive! I’m with you on making tablets more powerful and getting productivity out of it. But no, I can’t sit in front of a tiny screen with tiny icons with a tiny keyboard for long, not at work and not at home. I haven’t seen people do that either. People could’ve done that with netbooks with 10-inch screens and physical keyboards, but they don’t because it’s too painful! I also want tablets to be powerful, but I can’t help thinking that an x86 Ivy Bridge tablet is going to get hot and it is going to drain battery quickly. Ivy Bridge isn’t that optimized just yet. Personally, Medfield would’ve been a better bet and it might have brought down the cost as well, besides getting rid of those vents needed for cooling a tablet! All said, I haven’t used this tablet and if Microsoft pulls this off, people will have that “OH!” moment, and I’ll be right there with them.
Kashani Syed Arfa Zafer wrote
“Please don't mind, but can your iPad 2 run 3D modelling software?
I think no tablet can do that. But in the future, software companies will make a Windows 8 software to survive in the market (as they always have..). And there the tablets with Windows 8 OS come to the advantage.
There are huge benefits of the Windows OS that will make you throw away your iPad 2 (or 3, if it comes this year).”
There are apps for the iPad for 3D modeling if you absolutely need to, but I wouldn’t recommend using it for designing models and environments; just for viewing them. No doubt, Windows 8 will have many more in comparison, but let’s be honest. A desktop with a large screen and mouse or trackball is better suited for that kind of task than any tablet, notebook or netbook. Why is the Surface being thought of as a content-creation device like a desktop running image-editing and 3D-modeling software? Current generation tablets aren’t designed to do that in terms of performance, but notebooks and desktops are.
Paresh Kerkar wrote -
“Tech2 is losing its way of doing articles - have you used the Surface? You know it from Googling information and writing a piece on it. What you have not seen is the bigger picture - The surface tablet is not what Microsoft is showcasing - but it's Windows 8 that's been showcased - the capability of an OS which can run on all PC's. The Surface was made by Microsoft to show its OEMs that what is possible when they can make the Windows tablet.”
I don’t think that this was a showcase of the OS. Windows 8 was showcased a long time ago. This announcement was Microsoft’s foray into the tablet space. In fact, it’s got quite a few OEMs and partner-vendors upset. If a vendor has decided to make a Windows RT or Windows 8 tablet and pay Microsoft money for the OS, they are going to be mighty annoyed if Microsoft decided to jump in and gatecrash their plans. And, that’s exactly what has happened.
In conclusion, the Surface sure does have some interesting aspects to it. It's going to be a cheap alternative to ultra-slim notebooks and I'm hoping Microsoft can really change the role of tablets in our lives and the way they work. I'm excited and am eager to check it out. But for now, all we can do is wait and see how the final product shapes up.