My initial verdict is that it’s a nice looking device. In the box at least. Out of the box, it’s covered in fingerprints within seconds, and the cover/keyboard looks like it’s made of the same material as the inside of my car boot. But, this is the first time Microsoft has branched out from software and made their own branded computer and, looks-wise, it does seem like they’ve done pretty well. The Surface is sleek and shiny and the integrated keyboard/cover is surprisingly pleasing to use (although it makes a sound a bit like popping corn when you type. Cute... for about a minute).
The Surface runs the new MS operating system, Windows 8/RT, and of course can run all MS Office software including business favourites, Word and PowerPoint. This makes it a lot more useful for creation of content, not just consumption, and will mean it’s likely to be a big hit in the enterprise sector. No doubt the Surface will be hugely attractive to large corporations whose systems are tied in to Microsoft software but who want to take advantage of the flexibility and efficiency that tablets can offer.
Half an hour playing around with it has left me a bit confused though. It’s quite good as a laptop – I can write emails, edit presentations, download files etc easily. But when I click off the cover and hold it like a tablet, it feels all wrong. It seems too long and thin, and heavy. I struggle with the navigation as well but would get used to it I’m sure – am just too familiar with iPhone/iPad.
Microsoft is ploughing money into the launch of Windows 8 – over a billion pounds, reportedly. Hopefully that’ll help grow the Microsoft ecosystem. Apps-wise, for now users will have to make do with the 3,000 Windows apps – a fraction of the quarter of a million available for iPad.
Naji, our Innovation Manager, is going to do a thorough review of the Surface next week. For now, I’m not sold on it – it’s an interesting laptop that tries to be a tablet - but we'll see what he thinks after a full road test!