Unless you've been hiding under a rock for the past few months you would know that Microsoft has officially launched Windows 8 on Oct 26th along with Microsoft Surface. Microsoft decided to enter into the tablet market with a hardware offering of its own rather than rely solely on their hardware partners. While the jury seems to be out on if it was a good move by Microsoft ... I was one of the lucky few who received their pre-ordered tablet on time!
I've spent the weekend using the tablet on and off and I must say I think they did an excellent job. Yes its true that the App Store is currently lacking in the number of apps available but most of the apps that ARE there are useful!
What I like about the Surface
1) Touch/Type Cover and Kickstand!
This has to be one of the best ideas for a tablet that has come out since the form factor started to gain popularity with the iPad. I realize that tablets with keyboards have been around for a long time now but this method of providing a keyboard seems to resonate well. Rather than having a dockable keyboard like the Asus Transformer, the Surface has two different keyboard/cover styles available. The Touch Cover provides you with a keyboard with no tactile keys, just a touch membrane that is laid out like a keyboard. There is also the Type Cover for those who want tactile keys. Combine that with a kickstand and you almost have a complete laptop replacement! BTW, both covers come with a trackpad!
2) Windows RT
MS took a huge risk with the new design of Windows 8, and by extension Windows RT. While its true you cannot install your own apps on Windows RT, I don't see that as a major issue in the tablet space, especially considering that there are options available to work around that limitation (remote desktop, XenDesktop, RemoteApp, etc). When the Surface Pro launches in a few months, that will bring the full Windows 8 experience to the tablet form factor. There are many other reasons why Windows RT is a good thing, but i'll save that for another post
3) Ports Ports Ports!!!!
It looks like Microsoft was paying attention to user feedback with this one! Surface comes with a full sized USB 2 port, a Micro-HDMI, and a microSD slot that can support up to 64GB. The OS seems to recognize memory sticks and other standard peripherals in the USB port without issue. I only had a small number of devices to test with but all performed well with almost no input required from me
4) Comes bundled with Office 2013 !!!!!!
This alone is worth its weight in gold. While I realize its the Home and Student edition, this does say a lot about the direction that MS wants to go with tablets. Its not just a toy. I'm sorry to say this (sorry RIM) but I personally think that the Surface is the first true business tablet on the market!
There is more that I like that I won't post here. I don't usually do articles on my blog, generally trying to keep it to technical posts, but I had to make an exception in this case. It should be obvious to anyone reading this that article writing isn't really my forte.