The tech circles were abuzz this evening about the latest offering from Microsoft, the Surface, their new tablet computer that will run the Windows 8 OS in two various forms (Windows 8 Pro and Windows RT, a special version for the ARM processor). Right off the bat this new device is intriguing for one very important reason – it finally let’s you run the same productivity software from your tablet that you can from your desktop or laptop!
Tablet computers are nothing new, in fact Microsoft had tablet versions of XP around over a decade ago, but like many things it was way ahead of its time. Then along came Apple and Android which pretty much were your two choices. There is no doubt both of them garnered a lot of followers and fans, but for many folks, especially those who use a tablet for productivity instead of just Facebook and web browsing, they were always lacking.
Looking for that familiarity and ease of use you got with Microsoft Office? Sorry, keep looking.
Wanted something you could easily switch back and forth from your regular PC? Not happening with an iPad.
Looking for an application to help you keep in touch with your favorite web service or cloud based offering? There’s an app for that – and it will cost you. Plus did we forget to mention that some of the features you love about the traditional application won’t be available?
I tried an Apple iPad about 6 month ago but I just couldn’t get into it. I found it slow, and the fact it was not compatible with a lot of what I did in the office really bothered me. I won’t even go into detail about how many times I managed to crash the entire thing just running a factory image with the web browser! Then there was the keyboard – or lack thereof. Sure, you could get an external one, but they were bulky at best and really sort of defeated the purpose for me.
I guess what I was looking for was the Microsoft Windows experience for a mobile device. Well Microsoft must have been listening, because if the Surface is half of what they are touting it to be it going to give both the iOs and Android based tablets a run for their money. It’s the business user meets the tablet – with enough cool features built in to attract home and entertainment users as well!
Right off the bat I love the fact it runs on an Intel based processor with the Windows 8 OS for one of the versions. This means all my favorite apps I can load onto it without having to try and find something that “is close enough” in a specialized app form. It also means that many programmers, already familiar with Intel based chips, are going to be able to get their applications to market in record time. I am willing to bet money that Visual Studio will have native development support for the Surface!
I’m also impressed with how they have designed the cover. It’s not just a simple cover – no, it’s a full featured keyboard that is there when you need it, out of the way when you don’t. It really does make this more than just an “entertainment device” in my mind, it turns it into a full fledged productivity device. From the office, to the park, to the tech conference – I can really see this thing going where I go and providing the functionality of what I need, where I need it.
Of course it’s going to be a few months before we see the first production units. Microsoft has made no announcement as of yet as to availability, or pricing. So folks like me will just have to keep waiting. However, knowing that there is an alternative out there that fits my mobile, business oriented lifestyle has be excited to try and buy this device. Productivity for the win!