Microsoft’s new tablet, called “Surface”, went on sale a few weeks ago with some fanfare. The reviews around the tech world were mixed at best. Reading these reviews was making me angry. No journalist owed Microsoft a positive review, but the reviewers totally missed the boat on what the Surface is. Every review compared it to the iPad. I am not going to do a review of the Surface, as I will let others make their own opinions. However, I ask that you look at it in this light. The iPad is a device made for media consumption, social, gaming, and other personal activities that can be used if need be for some work product. The Surface is a device that is made for work product that can be used for media consumption, social, gaming, and other personal activities. The entire basis for each product is inverse to the other. Therefore just doing a review where you compare the two products is intellectually dishonest.
Now Microsoft has to take some blame here as well. They have done an awful job explaining the device, and have done an even worse job describing what will run on it. Everyone by now has seen the new Windows 8 ads showing the next version of Windows. I think it is safe to say that most people know what Windows is as this point. However the Surface runs Windows RT. What in the world is Windows RT? It really is a version of Windows that only runs apps designed for the platform. However, a lot of people see the word Windows and assume that it will run all of their Windows apps. This problem could have been solved very easily. They should never have named the operating system Windows RT. In fact they should not have put the name Windows in it at all. They should have called it Surface OS. Most people would understand that you can only run Surface OS apps on your Surface. Unlike the iPad which only has Apple making them, Microsoft allows any hardware company to make a Windows RT device. These devices should have been called “powered by Surface OS”. This also allows Microsoft another marketing point. They can advertise to their Windows 8 buyers that their machines run Windows and Surface applications.
At this point I would just tell you to go to your local Microsoft Store or Best Buy to check out these devices. The Surface is only sold at Microsoft stores, however there are other RT devices being sold elsewhere. Best Buy has an ACER tablet running Windows RT that is very nice. The ease with which these devices connect to a keyboard is great, and they will run your native Office applications such as Word and PowerPoint. Right now there is no Outlook for Windows RT, but you can setup your mail account to use the built in mail, address book, and calendar apps. I am just happy there is a new player on the block that looks like it will have staying power. I see Microsoft being able to position itself with its new phones and tablets as the new Blackberry. Devices you can use for fun, but they are made for work.