Surface Notes

I tried to watch the entire introduction, but it was just so boring. The audience seemed pretty bored too.

I like the keyboard cover, but you can get something similar for the iPad if you want (and I suspect the iPad will be cheaper with it added on). I love the fact that, in theory, you could run Windows apps on the Intel version so that, in effect, you’d have a PC and a tablet at the same time. Also, the way the pen is implemented (with proximity causing multitouch to be disabled automatically) seems like a great feature.

We don’t have any hardware we can let you touch, but check out this ray traced logo

There was a 30s animation of some crap morphing into the word “Surface”. It looked like it was made of metal. It was like a 1980s ray tracing demo. When was the last time Apple showed a spinning logo animation at a product launch? Hmm. Never.

But right now what we have is vaporware.

None of the presenters looked comfortable holding or using the device, and the fact that there were no demo units with keyboards available for anyone, no release date, and no pricing information suggest to me that Microsoft rushed the announcement. All this emphasis on hardware seemed hopeless (and boring). I find the Jonathan Ive bits at Apple product launches tedious, and this was far, far worse. Frankly, insofar as I care I’d rather wait for iFixit or Anandtech to tell me the straight dope.

Bigger than any other non-phone platform

Several aspects of the launch seemed almost pathetic.

Trying to claim Microsoft was and always has been a hardware company (and the war with East Asia is going great, thanks) he cited the mouse (which apparently was necessary to ensure Windows “one oh” was a success. Um, Windows 1.0 was a success?), keyboards, xbox, surface (the big one), webcams, and kinect. (What, no “zune”? And as I understand it, the mice, keyboards, and webcams are simply third party products with Microsoft packaging.) Frankly, I think it would have been better to say, “we used to be a software company, we’ve dabbled with hardware, but now we’re serious.”

Indeed, even the way Ballmer talked about software seemed pathetic. Windows is a hugely important and successful product, you don’t need to fudge any figures — but he cited the huge market for entertainment on Windows by including embedded systems like ATMs in his figures. He claimed Windows is the most versatile software ever, but this is really just a branding exercise.

If Surface is able to attract serious third party support then it could definitely be a contender. But that’s a big “if” — to do so it needs to (a) ship, (b) be priced reasonably, (c) be as good as promised (actually we don’t even have many promises, so perhaps I should say “be as good as we imagine or assume”), and (d) actually sell in significant numbers.