Last month I provided some quick thoughts on the Microsoft Surface vs. Apple iPad. Recently I had the opportunity to play a little more with a Surface - in a much Apple-copied (however pretty cool) Microsoft retail store. (As a side note --> Hey Apple, you'll sue Samsung for copying products... so why not Microsoft for copying your stores? Anyway... )
Moving on, in my time with the Surface, here's what I picked up. First off, I noticed that the Surface suffers from the same issues as the desktop Windows 8, IMO. Shocker, I know. With no onscreen clues to tell you what to do, the Surface is frustrating. If I have no experience with Win8 and I am coming from a simple interface like the iPad, (and heck, even Android), I have to assume the Surface follows suit, right?
Like the desktop of Windows 8 there are no on-screen clues to guide you in the OS. Therefore... how am I supposed to know to pull up the contextual menu (something neither Android or iOS has mind you), to change settings of the Surface? How am I to know to swipe from the right hand side of the screen? How?
Am I an idiot user? Or an average consumer - aka not a geek? So, how? I didn't have to do that with my iPad?
Oh yeah, I knew to do this because I'm coming from desktop Windows 8, something not being as adopted (or upgraded) to as much as Microsoft hoped. Welp... there goes that plan. Ballmer, again, you're a genius!
In all fairness though, the owner/user would obviously learn these mysteries and tout how amazing of an experience it is. But we have lived under the iOS and Android rule for five years now (including the similar functionality starting in 2007 with the original iPhone), and it's just the standard/norm.
Does it work? Yeah.
Is it frustrating? Yup.
Only Microsoft can make 'multi-touch' feel like, well... Microsoft.
As for the hardware... yawn. Seriously. It's a nicely built device, I will say that at least. However, there's nothing "sleek" or cool about it, like the iPad and some Android tablets. The "awesome, cool, clever, keyboard 'smart cover'", is hardly anything to write home about. It's being touted as a 'keyboard', but yet doesn't function nearly as well as one. This = fail. Oh yeah, and that "awesome, cool, clever, keyboard 'smart cover'" that is shown synonymously in ALL ads for the Surface... is 100 bucks extra. Wait? What? I'm an average consumer that believes everything he/she sees? Where's my damn "awesome, cool, clever..." keyboard? Even if I extend my 500 dollar Surface (iPad wannabe) to 600 dollars, it still didn't seem worth it. At least for me (maybe I did it wrong) - when I folded the keyboard cover back (or tried to, as it was tethered to the table), I was hitting keys. Again, fail.
And that's only on its surface (no pun intended). "Underneath the hood", no one is talking about (or rarely talking about) how much storage is left (for the standard 32GB Surface tablet). What is this?! Yes, close to 50% of its space is gone to the OS! Not even the full Win8 OS. WHAT?! <sigh>
"But, hey customer! You can get twice the storage for the same price as a 16GB iPad!"
No, you can't.
When it comes down to it, what isn't being talked about (or has just been forgotten) is how much Apple really changed the game. Not so much with its hardware, but its software. Playing with Windows in the way that a lot of people say it was really designed for, on a touch tablet, really made me think about "stale, old iOS" - and how much I really do like it. Say what you want about the aging iOS but if a two year-old, or an 80 year-old person can effortlessly use an iPad out of the box - that's saying something. But, to the contrary, if my five year-old can only click the über ugly, constantly notifying changing, seizure inducing Chinese cartoon-like, flashing, interface formerly known as 'Metro' and never officially renamed, tiles... and nothing else... <sigh> I lost my train of thought. You get my point.
In the end, I do have hope for the Surface in a couple of years. I believe Microsoft will right its wronged ship with the Surface 3 (or whatever it will be called, probably "Surface 2014!" or something stupid like that). I do agree with a harmonious 'OS' ecosystem, between one's phone, tablet, and desktop. Like I've said for a year now... Apple and Microsoft are doing the same thing but from two completely different sides. It's just that one works better 'right now' - and that's OS X & iOS.