A Different Perspective

A week ago, I sat in an auditorium and listened to Steve Sinofsky talk about the tablet market. He talked about how the iPad was a great device, and a logical extension of the iPhone. Give iOS a bigger screen and all of the sudden you could do some things better on this new device. He talked about Android tablets, and Google’s learning process there, going from a phone OS on a tablet to eventually building Holo and creating a tablet-specific experience. He had nothing but good things to say about both competitors. I couldn’t tell just how sincere he was being, I don’t know Mr. Sinofsky all that well, but his thoughts were genuine, his analysis spot-on. Both Apple and Google tablets were good, in their own ways. What Steve said next didn’t really resonate with me until I had spent a few days with Surface. He called Surface and Windows RT Microsoft’s “perspective” on tablets. I don’t know if he even specifically called it a tablet, what stuck out was his emphasis on perspective.

I then listened to Panos Panay, GM of Microsoft’s Surface division, talk about wanting to control the messaging around Surface. He talked about how Microsoft’s June 18th event was scheduled because Surface was about to hit a point in its production where he could no longer guarantee there wouldn’t be substantial leaks about what the product actually was. He talked about the strict usage and testing guidelines everyone at Microsoft was forced to adhere to, again to avoid major leaks. He didn’t want Surface to be judged immediately and cast aside on someone else’s terms, because of some leak. Panos Panay wanted Microsoft to be the ones to bring Surface to market. Sure some rumors leaked about it before the June 18th event. A couple of weeks earlier, while I was in Taiwan, I even heard the local OEMs complaining about it (a lot of the “surprised” public outrage by Taiwanese OEMs was mostly politics). But for the most part, we didn’t know what Surface looked like and we had no concept of its design goals. Touch and Type Cover were both well guarded secrets.

I started off by recounting both of these stories for a reason. After using Microsoft’s Surface for the past week I can say that I honestly get it. This isn’t an iPad competitor, nor is it an Android tablet competitor. It truly is something different. A unique perspective, not necessarily the right one, but a different one that will definitely resonate well with some (not all) users. After the past week I also understand Panos Panay’s desire for secrecy. From a distance, without using one, Surface is easy to judge. It’s a Windows tablet that doesn’t run most Windows applications, that doesn’t have most of the same new mobile apps that iOS and Android have, and it’s not priced aggressively enough to make those facts disappear. After living with Surface however, I understand the appeal. It’s worth a discussion, perhaps even consideration as it does some things better than any tablet on the market, and it does others worse. Like all tablets (or smartphones even), there is no perfect platform, there are simply combinations of features and tradeoffs that resonate better with some users more than others. There are different perspectives.

Surface is Microsoft’s perspective. With the exception of some technical display discussion, Microsoft hardly mentioned the iPad in our Surface briefing. And when it did, it did so in a positive light. Microsoft isn’t delusional, the iPad is clearly a very well executed tablet. At the same time it believes there’s room for something else.

Surface: Simply Put
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  • Mumrik - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    Anand - you often keep an eye on the comments section for your reviews. Please get rid of this nonsense. Reply
  • scorpian007 - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    Um, I'm an indian and I am not a fan of Apple products at all. I've owned 2 iPhones, an iPod, and a Macbook Air and the only product I was wowed by was the original iPhone. So don't go around generalizing and being a racist idiot. Reply
  • krutou - Saturday, October 27, 2012 - link

    So you've owned a total of 4 Apple products and you're not a fan. Its not like there aren't any viable alternatives out there. Reply
  • PrajithNair - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    Yourfather239,

    This is yourmother230 (yes, I had 8 before pushing you out)

    Not sure if you think these comments help you feel better cos your Indian father walked out on you cos you were an albino. You need to vent elsewhere son. This is a tech site - not KKK central.
    Reply
  • Sam_d - Saturday, October 27, 2012 - link

    No possible sentence could be constructed that could possibly express how downright stupid this comment is. your comment fails every single stage of my mental common sense process so thoroughly that I can’t even fathom the type of twisted logic it would take to come up with it. Congratulations, sir. I have never been more serious than when I say that your comment was so mindblowingly moronic that the mere act of reading it has negatively affected my intelligence as a side-effect. It’s like, in trying to comprehend the crazy thought process that would’ve been required to come up with that coment, new paths were forged through my brain in an attempt to mimic your own – horrible paths that lead to logical fallacies and intellectual dead-ends. My head is actually physically in pain. I’m going to go take some aspirin and try to forget I ever saw this. Reply
  • B3an - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    WTF? Anand clearly likes the Surface and theres nothing bias here or forced. Examples:

    "As a device, Surface is incredibly well executed"

    "The chassis is well built and the integrated kickstand is seriously one of the most useful features to ever meet a tablet. "

    "Surface is the most flexible tablet I've ever used"

    "The Windows RT experience, in many senses, is clearly ahead of what many competitors offer in the tablet space today. Multitasking, task switching and the ability to have multiple applications active on the screen at once are all big advantages that Microsoft enjoys. For productivity workloads, Surface is without equal in the tablet space."

    "I’d say in terms of smoothness of UI, Windows RT on Surface is much more like the iPad (or Windows Phone 7.5) than most Android tablets. Jelly Bean does complicate things as it really fixes a lot of the UI performance issues that hampered Android. Even then I’d say Surface’s UI responsiveness is among the best."
    Reply
  • Krysto - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    The difference between biased and objective, is that a biased person would try to make it sound as if Surface works basically as fast as Jelly Bean, as Anand did here, even though it's clear he thinks Jelly Bean works a lot better on Tegra 3 if you read between the lines.

    An objective person would've admitted JB works better not just with animations, but during using it and opening apps as well.
    Reply
  • This Guy - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    Reading the review he noted that Surface loading times where far slower but he also noted that multitasking was far better. He backed up his analysis with data.

    How is this not objective?
    Reply
  • The0ne - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    Yes, but read the conclusion again. Reply
  • yourfather239 - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    So does any other indian pos, Indians love to kiss Apple's butt because it makes them look better than millions of others in their country who live in slums. Reply

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