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Author Topic: Microsoft's New Surface Tablet Hybrid  (Read 6431 times)
mouser
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« on: June 19, 2012, 08:31:25 AM »

Microsoft announced yesterday that they were going to go up against apple with a new table/thinlaptop hybrid, codenamed "Surface".


Links for more info:

Looks pretty cool.  Apple has a long history of locking down their machines and making it hard for users to use them flexibly.  Let's hope Microsoft can do something different.
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allen
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« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2012, 09:05:59 AM »

I think it looks amazing. . . with everything I need on external hard drives and the cloud, I could easily see myself ditching my laptop and tablet for this type of platform indefinitely. The price is going to be the kicker.
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« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2012, 09:27:35 AM »

It does have the potential to be a great thing, if Microsoft avoids doing the kind of nasty things that Apple does -- like making it so hard to get files/applications on and off the device and let's us have control of our own device.
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Renegade
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« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2012, 09:57:27 AM »

It does have the potential to be a great thing, if Microsoft avoids doing the kind of nasty things that Apple does -- like making it so hard to get files/applications on and off the device and let's us have control of our own device.

Not sure if I see that happening... But anyways...

It does look very nice. The full-sized Surface is very cool, so I'm wondering if they'll have that same "real" multi-touch on it. Just curious really.
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« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2012, 10:02:23 AM »

It looks really nice but if the pricing is $500+ it will take much more than that. For the general public and market share.
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« Reply #5 on: June 19, 2012, 10:06:51 AM »

It looks really nice but if the pricing is $500+ it will take much more than that. For the general public and market share.

It does have a keyboard, which adds $100 (around) to the perceived value...
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40hz
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« Reply #6 on: June 19, 2012, 11:38:49 AM »

If you're more the visual/"just show me" type here's a couple of videos:

The first is some techno-porn shots. Apparently Microsoft learned a few things (not all of them good) from Apple over the years. Because this ad oozes consumer sex appeal, and virtually screams: WANT IT!

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dpzu3HM2CIo" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dpzu3HM2CIo</a>

The next is the official keynote intro to Surface. Once you get past Steve (Monkeyboy) Ballmer doing his usual self-congratulatory rah-rah valedictory speech it gets more interesting. Around the 20:40 mark Mike Angiulo takes the stage and gets into the i-core Pro, which is the version I would think most of us geek types would be more interested in. Some of the remarks regarding basic design decisions (and compromises) are very interesting. And his comments on the underlying direction and future plans Microsoft has for this new platform are well worth paying close attention to. (And try not to gag too much around the 29:45 mark when the philosophical spiel starts rolling.  Roll Eyes)

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y7NDz_R2Rxk" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y7NDz_R2Rxk</a>

If this turns out to be reliable and affordable - everything works as advertised - and it can be delivered to the consumer in quantity on a timely basis - I think Microsoft may have a real winner here. Especially as a computing device for general use by the general public.

If so, Microsoft will likely redefine the whole "personal" game once again. And with all that implies, both for better, and worse.
 huh
« Last Edit: June 19, 2012, 12:03:15 PM by 40hz » Logged

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Renegade
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« Reply #7 on: June 19, 2012, 11:42:53 AM »

Sigh... yes... want it...

Despite my new-found loathing of the company Microsoft, I do like a lot of what they do... Sad
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40hz
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« Reply #8 on: June 19, 2012, 11:58:14 AM »

Sigh... yes... want it...

Despite my new-found loathing of the company Microsoft, I do like a lot of what they do... Sad

I use my GF as a bellwhether for consumer computing. She's smart, technically literate, can code, gets involved in information design at her job, and is one of the most logical and intelligent buyers of technology I ever met. She doesn't shy away from any necessary learning curves. But she also doesn't suffer fools gladly. Or the products they design. And the amount of research she does prior to putting her plastic down for a bit of tech (most recently a digital camera, a distortion box for her guitar, and an ebook reader) is a wonder to behold. She's usually ahead of the adoption curve for what either becomes the mainstream choice or the "smart-money sleeper" product. Her track record is close to 100% for that.

That said, she's not completely indifferent to techno-bling. Her feeling is, if all other factors are mostly equal, go for the prettier one. (How she can think like that and still end up with me is anybody's guess. But I'm not complaining. mrgreen)

I'm gonna turn her loose on this one. If she thinks it's a go, I'm almost certain it's gonna be a winner.
 Cool
« Last Edit: June 19, 2012, 01:59:40 PM by 40hz » Logged

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« Reply #9 on: June 19, 2012, 12:50:28 PM »

Just sat through the full 47 minute video. Looks like a winner to me. Makes the iPad look like the obese iPod it has always been. I really, really can't wait to swap my iPad for a "Surface" now I've seen that it's a PC crammed into a tablet.
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Ath
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« Reply #10 on: June 19, 2012, 01:23:38 PM »

Wonder how the keyboard feels, when typing some forum reply or other message tellme
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« Reply #11 on: June 19, 2012, 01:55:37 PM »

I was expecting some sort of silly / stupid me-too copycat thing, instead the Surface thing really surprised me.
The x86 version and the touch cover seems very interesting.
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« Reply #12 on: June 19, 2012, 03:00:10 PM »

The x86 tablet looks interesting as an alternative to ultrabooks and the like, but it won't actually be available until early 2013, by which time there should be some serious competition around.  The RT (ARM-based) version doesn't seem to offer any advantages over existing tablets, and many drawbacks.

One thing to be wary about is that it would appear that the aspect of the Apple iOS environment that Microsoft is most interested in emulating is the closed apps marketplace.  Footnote #1 at the bottom of Microsoft's own Surface page, indicates in tiny type that it "Works exclusively with apps from the Windows Store."
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zridling
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« Reply #13 on: June 19, 2012, 03:09:09 PM »

ASUS has made "business tablets" for a couple of years, which is nothing more than a ultrabook without a keyboard but with several USB ports. But more hardware like this is always welcome since it will spur competition. Chris  has more on

What Microsoft Didn’t Tell Us About the New Surface Tablets
Ryan Pierson
http://www.lockergnome.co...lets/#uuRAUl5kOLAPyGCo.30
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« Reply #14 on: June 19, 2012, 03:33:00 PM »

The RT version does also make little sense to me, now, because the first Android smartphones with x86 CPUs already surfaced, and proved to be decent from a performance / battery life point of view. So what's the point of Windows on a different architecture, at this point?
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« Reply #15 on: June 20, 2012, 01:05:40 AM »


[ source ]

Assuming the specs above are reliable... widescreen form factor (not ideal for a portable device, IMO), much lower resolution, much lower battery life (or only slightly lower in the much thicker/heavier model). The biggest thing going for it -> it (hopefully) comes sans Apple douchery.

I am not excite. Sad
(Off to console myself with my Zune...)

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« Reply #16 on: June 20, 2012, 01:34:59 AM »

Just sat through the full 47 minute video. Looks like a winner to me. Makes the iPad look like the obese iPod it has always been. I really, really can't wait to swap my iPad for a "Surface" now I've seen that it's a PC crammed into a tablet.

That I like. I want the full power of a desktop in a tablet that I can take around. Imagine just taking EVERYTHING around and plugging in a real keyboard and a real monitor and a real mouse. Bang. Done. With a real OS? Yeah... sexy stuff~! smiley

Wonder how the keyboard feels, when typing some forum reply or other message tellme

The keyboard for my Samsung Galaxy Tab is about the same size, and it's manageable, barely... They're almost the same size as those Apple iMac keyboards... So if you like those, you'd like it. If you hate the iMac keyboard, well, then the keyboard there will also suck, but considering it's for a tablet, there is some kind of excuse.

Keep in mind that I use a full 106-key keyboard and like it. And I'm horribly predisposed to hating/loathing small form factor inputs. You know those tiny mice? Hate 'em. Won't use 'em. Would rather take a hammer to them. Amazes me that adults can actually use them when they seem like they'd be comfortable to use for a 7-year old.

I am an input factor bigot. Sad
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« Reply #17 on: June 20, 2012, 06:52:45 AM »

I like the idea of this thing - I look forward to finding 5 spare minutes between now and eternity to watch the video.

I have only two concerns:

1. The Windows Metro interface - I loath it. Just that simple
2. Apple-like douche-baggery

I can alway mod that crap Metro interface away, so this is a minor concern

However, if MS plays the same sort of nonsense games with an App Store, like Apple does, then there is no reason to buy this thing.

In fact, when I first heard the announcement I thought to myself that MS was finally going to give us a tablet we could use in the ways that Apple won't let us.  I've even read a couple of blog posts by Apple fanbois that sort of run along the same line.

If MS *does* institute an App Store only approach, then they can go kiss Apple's fat red hairy butt because they're just offering another Apple competitor rather than any sort of innovation.

Give me something that's NOT that damned iPad.
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40hz
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« Reply #18 on: June 20, 2012, 07:46:04 AM »

That I like. I want the full power of a desktop in a tablet that I can take around. Imagine just taking EVERYTHING around and plugging in a real keyboard and a real monitor and a real mouse. Bang. Done. With a real OS? Yeah... sexy stuff~! smiley

If you're going to plug a monitor, mouse, and keyboard into it anyway you can already get that. Just buy one of those micro-footprint PCs. There's about six companies making them.

Dare I say it? They even run Linux! Grin
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40hz
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« Reply #19 on: June 20, 2012, 07:54:29 AM »

If MS *does* institute an App Store only approach, then they can go kiss Apple's fat red hairy butt because they're just offering another Apple competitor rather than any sort of innovation.

Give me something that's NOT that damned iPad.

Agree 100% That would be the deal breaker for me too. But probably not for John Q. Public if the success of the iOS platform is anything to go by.

If successful, I really do believe Surface will one day be seen as the turning point for large-scale public migration away from 'open' PC platforms. We'll have stuck our tongue on the flagpole with this one.
 Sad
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« Reply #20 on: June 20, 2012, 07:56:37 AM »

The hardware looks decent enough, the weakest part IMO is the battery. The Pro version with i5 processor and just 42WH battery is not going to last very long. 1-2 hours under load? How many times may the battery be recharged? Microsoft also did not mention GPS, accelerometer or Bluetooth... They also did not reveal whether the Pro version has active or passive cooling. If there is a fan, then count me out as a buyer - that is going to be the first thing to fail.

The non-Pro version with ARM processor and Windows RT is a nice piece of hardware too, but why should anyone develop an app for it? Android and iOS are already ruling the non-Windows market segment and Windows RT is not Windows. Currently, it looks like Microsoft wants to control the WinRT apps like Apple does. That makes the non-Pro version unattractive despite the nice hardware.

I mean, sure, if someone has developed a simple app that took a week to make, then it is no big deal to make an WinRT version in addition to iOS and Android ones. But if we are talking about larger apps that took a year or more of work, then I would think twice before porting them to a platform, where the owner can decide to ban that app.
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40hz
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« Reply #21 on: June 20, 2012, 08:04:56 AM »

But if we are talking about larger apps that took a year or more of work, then I would think twice before porting them to a platform, where the owner can decide to ban that app.

But what happens when it's the only game in town? Which closed ecosystem will you pick? The choice will be Apple or Microsoft. Or maybe Linux?  (At least as long as there's still hardware available to run it?)

A program is useless without a box to run it on. Apple and Microsoft have basically decided that since their OSs provide "the box," developers should expect to pay a tariff for the privilege of having their app run on it. It's a use tax plain and simple.

This is a classic 'gatekeeper' strategy. You collect from the users and the developers with each deployment. No more only getting developer revenue when they buy your software tools.

Smart move. But Microsoft always was smart when it came to identifying revenue opportunities.



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vlastimil
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« Reply #22 on: June 20, 2012, 08:31:01 AM »

That would be a very bad situation for independent software developers. If there were only closed gardens, my guess is that small players would only invest into very small projects - there will be more news readers, FaceBook poke sending apps, farting apps, notes taking apps, kamasutra advice apps, angry birds clones, farmville clones, etc. The realm of more serious applications like 3D Studio, Firefox, Photoshop, Office, or IDEs would be in the hands of the few large players, most likely the owners of the respective gardens.

Fortunately we are not in that situation yet. Microsoft has been very good at eliminating competition that ruled a market segment in the past, but I doubt they will succeed this time. Just as they were unable to take search from Google by copying it, they may not be able to take tablets from Apple by copying their approach.

They have revealed 2 strong weapons - Surface hardware and the WinRT API (HTML+Javasript, XAML and Direct X for GUI  thumbs up, access rights management, partial compatibility with Win32). The closed Windows Store is a big minus though.
« Last Edit: June 20, 2012, 08:36:05 AM by vlastimil » Logged
40hz
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« Reply #23 on: June 20, 2012, 09:52:50 AM »

Quote
Fortunately we are not in that situation yet. Microsoft has been very good at eliminating competition that ruled a market segment in the past, but I doubt they will succeed this time. Just as they were unable to take search from Google by copying it, they may not be able to take tablets from Apple by copying their approach.

Don't underestimate Microsoft in a bare-knuckle showdown.

Copying may not work. But copyright and patents could serve quite well.

If Microsoft decided to go against a big player it would be one thing. But hitting a small developer from all six directions with multiple patent infringement suits would effectively kill 99% of them before it even went to trial. Especially since its so hard to get investors or attract venture capital if there's even a hint somebody big has implied they may go after you. And that remains true even if the suit is obviously bogus. Small businesses need to turn cash quickly and regularly. They can't afford getting tied up in protracted legal battles. Something the trolls know all too well.

Then too, I'd expect Microsoft will steal a page from Apple and make developers waive all their rights and recourse when it comes to putting their apps in the company store. Apple reserves the right to kill your app if they (or a more favored developer) decides to create a similar product or incorporate your app's features into one of their own  And iOS developers must agree to that condition (and others equally capricious and arbitrary) if they want to be in the app store. Expect no different from Microsoft when their store opens.  

Make no mistake - Surface is a viable long-term threat to independent anything when it comes to personal computing. Right now it's a friendly and attractive little tiger cub. It will only be a matter of time before it shows us some fang.

« Last Edit: June 20, 2012, 10:10:49 AM by 40hz » Logged

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« Reply #24 on: June 20, 2012, 11:14:55 AM »

much lower resolution

This is because of retina display, and no one but Apple has that tech, so no other tablets out currently have that advantage.  Does it look better?  Yes.  But how much better?  You can only tell the difference if you look at a Retina Display and then at a normal one.  Since they use the extra pixels for details rather than real estate, you still have the same effective resolution, just with a crisper image.
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