back to article Surface: Because Microsoft does so well making hardware?

If you want a job done right, do it yourself: that’s the consensus on the Windows 8 Surface tablets. Or, put another way: “OEMs, please pay attention. This is how you build a PC.” It’s easy to draw this conclusion given the world’s largest maker of software has bothered spending money – something it has been cutting back on in …


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  1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    MSFT should just buy Vizio

    It's perfectly possible to be an American company building everything in Asia and still have excellent design - without being Apple. You just have to talk to your suppliers slightly more than just requesting a quote and complaining when something is late

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: MSFT should just buy Vizio

      "It's perfectly possible to be an American company building everything in Asia and still have excellent design - without being Apple .."

      OK I'll bite. Name one other US company that has done this.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: MSFT should just buy Vizio

        That would be the Vizio of his title, friend. They sell mainly through big-box retailers like Best Buy and Walmart, and just introduced a lovely new line of computers.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          On what planet

          On what planet does Microsoft think a blue computer will work? Hi Apple.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: MSFT should just buy Vizio

          Ah sorry, My Bad(tm). I was focussing on the use of the word 'excellent' .. I wasn't considering average and/or derivative.

      2. dmarkh

        Re: MSFT should just buy Vizio

        Companies that use foxconn: (United States)

        Apple Inc. (United States)

        Barnes & Noble (United States)

        Cisco (United States)

        Dell (United States)

        EVGA Corporation (United States)

        Hewlett-Packard (United States)

        Intel (United States)

        IBM (United States)

        Microsoft (United States)

        Motorola (United States)

        Netgear (United States)

        Vizio (United States)

  2. Anonymous Coward

    "OEMs, please pay attention. This is how you build a PC.”

    Just like the showed ATI how to design a GPU?

    "The Xbox 360 recall a year ago happened because "Microsoft wanted to avoid an ASIC vendor," said Lewis. Microsoft designed the graphic chip on its own, cut a traditional ASIC vendor out of the process and went straight to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd., he explained.

    But in the end, by going cheap--hoping to save tens of millions of dollars in ASIC design costs, Microsoft ended up paying more than $1 billion for its Xbox 360 recall."

    1. Spearchucker Jones

      Re: "OEMs, please pay attention. This is how you build a PC.”

      Sorry Barry, I just down-voted you. I try and grab my hand holding the mouse with my free hand, screaming, but the mouse-holding hand is stronger. And wins. Every time.

      For what it's worth, the parallel you draw with the Xbox has no bearing on Surface. I'm not going further than that because making a counter point to any of your points is even more pointless than an IQ test for George W. Bush.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "OEMs, please pay attention. This is how you build a PC.”

        Horizontal keyboard - Check.

        Viewscreen at a comfortable angle - Check.

        So what they've invented is a notebook computer with the computer bits behind the screen instead of under the keyboard.

        I'm so impressed.

        1. h4rm0ny

          Re: "OEMs, please pay attention. This is how you build a PC.”

          "Horizontal keyboard - Check."

          3mm thick and doubles as a cover for the tablet portion and automatically disables itself when folded back. Also completely detaches leaving the device a sofa-surfing suitable tablet if desired. Check.

          "Viewscreen at a comfortable angle - Check."

          Full HD touch interface that also accepts a stylus at 600DPI.

          "So what they've invented is a notebook computer with the computer bits behind the screen instead of under the keyboard."

          No, it's a tablet that is also good for production as well as consumption, has proper user accounts, decent connectivity options (USB, display port / hdml, SD card)... Basically, tablets are really good for somethings. For others a laptop is better. The x86 version is basically an ultrabook that turns into a stylus friendly tablet and back.

          "I'm so impressed."

          Me too. :)

          1. asdf

            Re: "OEMs, please pay attention. This is how you build a PC.”

            >accepts a stylus at 600DPI.

            Yep having a stylus worked out so well for their initial generation of tablet PC. As for production even on a fully proper netbook its very awkward.

            >The x86 version is basically an ultrabook

            Those have sold well (sarcasm) so I am sure having a smaller screen will help. They only reason I am looking forward to thing is to see how long until somebody roots the Win ARM tablet and puts Android on it. With Microsoft possibly subsidizing some of the cost it might be worth buying then.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: "OEMs, please pay attention. This is how you build a PC.”

              @asdf - There are quite a few people starting to use styluses on iPads, it turns out that with a sufficiently high resolution digitizer, they're really rather good.

              1. asdf

                Re: "OEMs, please pay attention. This is how you build a PC.”

                >with a sufficiently high resolution digitizer, they're really rather good.

                Better than an etchasketch eh? Yeah the first generation flopped because it required a stylus. Exactly the kind of thing that is a major pain in the ass to have laying around if you have a toddler. Its ok though as the toddler will make the stylus disappear in no time.

                1. h4rm0ny

                  Re: "OEMs, please pay attention. This is how you build a PC.”

                  "Yeah the first generation flopped because it required a stylus"

                  The Surface does not "require" a stylus. At all. The ARM version doesn't even include one. It's an extra for the x86 version and it will be very useful to many of us. The first generation (i.e. older Windows tablets-hybrids before the iPad came along) weren't as popular because the technology back then made them weigh about 2.5kg, were 3cm thick and the screen was about as sensitive as Barry Shitpeas. If you think that is less a significant issue than optionally being able to use a stylus (it was optional on the Toshiba ones I used, at least), then you have a very strange aversion to optional styluses.

                  1. Alan Newbury

                    Re: "OEMs, please pay attention. This is how you build a PC.”

                    Stylus - the difference between drawing and finger-painting

                2. Nigel 11

                  Re: "OEMs, please pay attention. This is how you build a PC.”

                  The mark 1 stylus flop was a specialized piece of hardware, expensive, easy to lose and hard to replace. These days it can be any generic not very pointy object.

                  On my (not very smart) mobile I usually enter texts using a biro with the cap on, because my fingers are a bit on the blunt side. The phone packs a stylus, but it's less ergonomic than a biro. Useful if there's no biro to hand, though.

                  1. M Gale

                    Re: "OEMs, please pay attention. This is how you build a PC.”

                    Just FYI, capacitive screens are a bit more picky than "any not too pointy object".

                    Needs to be conductive, and in a lot of cases, needs to occupy a fair blob of screen surface - iWotsits included. That's why capacitive pens tend to have either a soft brush or conductive rubber tip.

                    Resistive, Nintendo DS-style screens, well yes, you can use anything that points.

        2. Steve W 1

          Re: "OEMs, please pay attention. This is how you build a PC.”

          You mean, they invented a top heavy notebook computer with an innovative hinge that doesn't hold the screen up without a kickstand.

          Kickstand - Check.

          Training wheels - Real Soon.

    2. Homer 1

      Re: "OEMs, please pay attention. This is how you build a PC.”

      Yes, Vole's hardware reputation is not exactly stellar.

      Apparently their keyboards used to be OK, for those who like that "ergonomic" junk instead of proper keyboards, but a lot of corner-cutting in recent years has resulted in cheap crap where the lettering wears-off easily. Their mice were (are?) fugly and unwieldy - give me a simple three (real) button "Pilot Mouse" design every time. As for the Xbox 360: exploding PSUs, the Red Ring of Death, scratched discs, faulty ASICs... need I go on?

      Not that Microsoft actually "built" any of it, mind you, but their logo on anything should be a fairly clear warning sign for to prospective customer.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The devil is in the detail. Nobody knows the price and availability?

    Microsoft only makes a profit on the software usually and so they need to make a nice fat profit. OEMs have to build that figure into the cost of the device and as a result sometimes they have to cheapen the look of the device to cut costs and still make a profit.

    By making the device themselves Microsoft can make half of the profit on the software and half on the hardware or a varying divide between the two. In turn this means more of the money you pay goes into the product.

    The OEM model doesn't always bring you quality, it just brings competition as well as choice, but it can be a race to the bottom in terms of quality.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Google model

      "The OEM model doesn't always bring you quality, it just brings competition as well as choice, but it can be a race to the bottom in terms of quality."

      This is what I think could be going on. The Galaxy Nexus is a flagship device costing top-of-the-market prices. It leaves room for cheap-as-chips phones while acting as an Android flagship. I suspect this could be similar.

      As for 'Microsoft's experience in hardware'-I suspect the more everything is made by Foxconn the less of a problem hardware engineering is. Everyone uses the same component suppliers now.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      It appears that they're going to be out in the Autumn, I suspect for the release of Win8.

      As for pricing, I doubt that they'll release it until the release date, in order that they're not undercut by competitors.

  4. Ian 62

    Xbox Loss?

    Really? 10years on and its still making a loss?

    I have my doubts on that one. The 'hardware' division may well be, but thats never the point of a console, its licencing the rights to make games is where the real revenue is.

    MS may make a loss per 'Surface' but the licencing of Windows, Office products, and whatever other killer apps they can come up with is where the money will be.

    iPads havent (as far as I've seen) taken the Enterprise by as much storm as might be expected given the number of users that have bought one.

    But if MS can pull of an Enterprise ready tablet, that works with all the domain secruity, runs the enterprise apps, then they can sell individually at a loss but make that back on the 'Surface Edition' versions of Office/Powerpoint/VB/etc.

    1. K

      Re: Xbox Loss?

      Absolutely with you on the XBox, if they've made a loss, that purely down to bad management..

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Xbox Loss?

        The Entertainment and Devices Division (of which the XBox is a part) is a regular loss maker for Microsoft. Always has been. Microsoft do not make money from hardware, certainly not consoles and associated gaming software - they bleed it so they can stay vaguely relevant.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Xbox Loss?

        It's a $11bn hole caused by RROD and high development costs.

        It's very easy to get wrapped up in Microsoft's monthly profit claims, and forget they hid all these costs early in the consoles life. The fact is, they won't make a net dime this generation. They might make some quarterly profits, but the net result will always be a massive loss.

        It's how American companies work, they somehow work around Sarbox by "reserving" cash. Not sure how they manage to work around it, but they do.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      strangely enough, my firm has just seemed to totally buy into iPads now. there was a lot of resistance within IT of bringing my own one to work and getting to use the wifi. But now that the upper management have decided they like them, I think they're replaced Blackberry's as the main perk of being that high on the management rungs. There's a cupboard behind me full of iPads and the desktop deployment guys are constantly taking half a dozen out at a time and then going and loading them with software before shipping them upstairs to the powers that be. The wheels of enterprise move slowly, but they do move.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: iPads

        Obviously you have never been senior if you think a Blackberry is a perk. Oh look, work emails and calls on my day off? Thanks...

        Terrible idea

    3. the J to the C

      Re: Xbox Loss?

      nope it's in the black now, please pay catch up

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Xbox Loss?

        Nope - a single quarter of profit does not erase all the previous quarters of losses, although much of that profit has originated from the Android Tax and there is no certainty it will continue to be paid. When the new Xbox is announced Microsoft will be bleeding significant amounts of claret once again for another multitude of quarters, and they'll likely have to increase payments to Nokia to keep them afloat too.

        Microsoft only make money from their Windows and Office software - stuff like hardware, ie. XBox, phones and also their online services are absolute loss leaders to ensure Microsoft keep all their fingers in all of the pies, and don't get wiped off the face of the planet by Aplpe and Google.

    4. Don Mitchell

      Re: Xbox Loss?

      XBox and XBox Live has been pretty successful. And it has dashed SONY's hopes of replacing the PC with their Playstation as the home hub device.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Xbox Loss?

        XBox and XBox Live has been pretty successful.

        Successful yes, but not profitable. The online services division loses even more money each quarter than the hardware (Entertainment & Devices Division).

        And it has dashed SONY's hopes of replacing the PC with their Playstation as the home hub device.

        Really? I think a lot of people use their PS3 for precisely the kind of thing they would otherwise be using a PC for in the living room, so in that regard it's been a storming success. The PS3 is every bit as adept as a PC at playing the part of a home hub device (with less hassle and for a lot less cash), and certainly better than an XBox which sucks at pretty much everything bar playing games.

        1. Ammaross Danan

          Re: Xbox Loss?

          The Touchpad firesale made it VERY successful (sold millions of units overnight), however, how profitable do you think was? Exactly.

    5. plrndl

      Re: Xbox Loss?

      M$'s Xbox DIVISION lost $229 million in it's last trading quarter. That includes software and licences as well as hardware.

      Regarding "the enterprise", I deal extensively with senior business and legal people in The City and the iPad is pretty much universal. It's never going to replace the desktop PC for the sort of people who enter significant amounts of data with a keyboard, but it is already replacing most things that are traditionally printed.

      Price is not a major issue for these people, but quality of exerience is, which is why they have moved from Blackberry to iPhone. Apple already owns this market with the iPad, and based on long and horrible experience of MS "operating systems", of which Win 8 is probably the worst since Windows 286, I can't see the Surface getting any more market share than its phone version. This is why the opportunities are at the budget end of the market, which I expect Android to fill, as it did with smart phones.

      1. the J to the C

        Re: Xbox Loss?

        Intresting viewpoint, warped and woefully wrong, but still intresting to read, whereas my experence is that the iPad is seen as a toy and rather uselss at performing anything of real merit, the cruix of your post is that they are using the iPad in a replacement for printing. that's ok but it sure would be better to have a device that can be used to do real world work on the not what the iPad is. having the same OS on a tablet and a PC has some real benfits for bussiness.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I'm sorry but the article lost me at "to take on the iPad."

    It's easy to draw the conclusion that any first party OS maker that creates a first party tablet is taking on the iPad but in most cases - and definitely in this case - it is incorrect. If you said the same about the PlayBook for the same reasons you would widely criticized. The same goes here. If anything, with Surface, Microsoft is trying to tackle the portion of the tablet market in which the most iPad/OS discontents lie: big business.

    1. David Webb

      Re: iPad?

      I think MS are going after everything with the surface. Gamers (with Pro) get a Core i5 and *should* be able to play PC games like Diablo with a keyboard/mouse as well as more casual games, true, it won't be able to compete with high end PC's but if it'll play the latest games with reasonable quality it'll be on to a winner. Business users who use PC's will go for this and also may go for Windows 8 on their desktops as well as Windows Phone, build everything around the Surface and let everything work around the Surface.

      People who want a tablet will have a choice, go for a tablet which is limited in what it can do (iPad/Android/Win8RT) or go for a tablet which runs a full OS and can do anything (Pro).

      The big question is how they get it out there, the XBox was easy, pay lots of money to get developers over to the XBox with exclusives and timed exclusives, bring out killer games like Halo, with the Pro line the killer apps are for business, Office, Photoshop, not cut down versions either (how much would a professional designer pay for the Pro with Photoshop and Stylus for drawing stuff for instance?).

      Business, as I said, will love this machine. You're at work, working on a presentation on your PC made with MS Office, you have to take the presentation to the other side of town, you flip the docs onto the Surface and continue to work on the train/bus, get where you want to be, plug it in via HDMI and display the presentation. Or you can make your presentation, email it across town and know that the person on the other side can open it on their desktop using Windows.

      But MS won't sit on it, they will have tight integration with XBox Live and maybe bring out some exclusive "Made For Surface" games designed with the screen size in mind.

      I think Surface is going to be a major win for MS, I also think that MS will share the design with other companies letting them use the magnetic keyboard thing even if it's competition with themselves, MS wants to dominate on the OS space without much thought to the hardware side, as long as they are selling things with Windows 8 on it, they won't care who is selling it, and by bringing out what is undoubtedly a fantastic design, they have set the bar way above anything currently on offer.

      1. GreenOgre

        Re: iPad?@David Webb

        Get yer head out the sand! We're well aware of the traditional view. The same view that HP, RIM, et al had when they created their wildly successful tablets.

        The world has moved on. The point of a tablet is that it DOES NOT have what you call a "full OS". (Let's face it, they don't come much "fuller" than MS Windows, how can you pack so little into so much code?) It's "lite", it's simple, you don't have to fiddle for days to make it useful. Come to think of it, it's kinda like a book. Open it, read it, put it down and it's just the same when you pick it up the next day.

        Same old wintel business model that had served so well, churning along for so many years. Bloated software requiring faster hardware enabling more bloated software requiring faster hardware, ad nauseam.

        Post Y2K, the model faltered. Microsoft maintained their profits by sucking margin out of the channel that had made them rich. Everyone in denial until Vista burst the bubble in spectacular fashion.

        Business won't care about Microsoft Windows 8. Microsoft knows they will stay on Microsoft Windows XP and Microsoft Windows 7 so, in desperation, they are taking the risk and ignoring business in this latest application of pig lipstick.

        Remember Novell? They got out-flanked by Microsoft and retaliated by trying to copy them. Bought WordPerfect to compete with Microsoft Office. Where are they now?

        Microsoft have been out-flanked by Apple. They too are retaliating by copying their successor. Guess where Microsoft's gonna be in a few years.

        PS. Microsoft are making much more sense on the server side as they try to emulate UNIX. A scripting tool that kinda works and GUI-less servers.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: iPad?

      I agree: This is clearly a fully featured "grown up" OS on a tablet form factor device, which is actually more akin to an ultrabook than it is to an iPad. The main thing that's kept me from tablets is the lack of a fully featured OS, beit a proper Linux, MacOS or Windows.

    3. Chris 3

      Re: iPad?

      Really? Looks pretty iPad killer-y to me:

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: iPad?

        Why? Because they've used some Bauhaus-style, minimalist styling on their website?

        I suppose they're trying to take on Ikea too? Don't be so crass.

  6. Nate Amsden

    how have they screwed up?

    How have PC makers screwed up? MS hasn't even had a real "tablet" OS for them to screw up on. HP meanwhile still seems to sell their Slate tablet with Windows 7.

    I think it's the opposite, MS screwed up by announcing it's going to compete with it's largest customers for the same end users before those customers have even announced product.

    Perhaps it is because the customers have showed little more than luke warm (don't know if this is the case or not) interest in the MS tablets? After seeing how past MS (and Android/WebOS etc) tablets have performed compared to iPad(from a profits perspective at least), and how well the Windows phone platform is doing (and windows mobile before it)?

    I could see the Zune move MS made years ago, when the folks licensing windows media to make media players showed they could not compete against Apple, MS thought they'd take a stab at it, by breaking compatibility with the older software and music stores and going it alone - and we know how well that worked out.

    But here there's no history with tablets and a *tablet* MS OS, so there's nothing to have screwed up on.

    I don't think the first gen windows 8 tablets will do well - but if they can finally stabilize the software to make the OS *and* apps forwards compatible with future products they may be able to start establishing a base if they don't give up, build it up over time. I could easily see MS throwing another $10B at this over the next few years establishing a market for their stuff. The key I think is to not break compatibility with every new product that comes out. They did this well enough on the PC side of things.

    The other mistake they did was by announcing it so early without having something available to ship shortly. With no apparent announced ship date and no announced price(though expectations put it in the ultrabook price range?), the excitement will have faded by the time it does launch.

    I think MS would of been better off making this tablet a technology preview like they did that two-pane e-reader (?) a while back. Gauge interest, if there is interest then say "hey due to high demand we decided to make this a product!" and/or OEM the design to the partner ecosystem for free (they need market share after all).

    I think when it launches it will be viewed much like the HP Touchpad was - over promise and under deliver, and the price will seal it's fate. Unlike the HP Touchpad though I don't expect MS to give up after one iteration regardless of it's market uptake.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: how have they screwed up?

      >two-pane e-reader

      They called it the Courier. Curiously, Sony have tried the same folding two-pane design on an Android tablet. It seems a sensible design for everything except video, and MS were pitching it as a pocket diary and scrapbook, a way of collecting doodles and ideas whilst on the hoof.

      I mention Sony, because they have tried making UMPCs (ultra-mobile PCs) with Windows XP for years. No one here has mentioned XP for Tablet Edition, because the hardware was too heavy to hold comfortably.

      1. DrXym Silver badge

        Re: how have they screwed up?

        The courier was actually a neat idea. I'm talking about the format, if not the actual software.

        Sony's folding Android tablet P was a neat idea on paper but in practice, not so much. Android apps have to decide if they'll use one screen or the other or both with all the hacks that go with it. Games would look terrible split over two screens to they're confined to one and so on. Much of the time one screen just ends up wasting battery showing a virtual keyboard or whatever.

        It might work pretty well if someone figures how to put a flexible OLED screen into the claim shell so when you open it you get a single contiguous area, just one which folds into half the space. Sony, Samsung et al have demoed flexible OLED screens so it must be close to feasible.

    2. David Webb

      Re: how have they screwed up?

      They did announce a ship date, it ships when Windows 8 is released with the Pro version being released 3 months later, be pretty stupid of them to release it *not* when Windows 8 isn't out yet. As it is it gives the OEM's some food for thought "shit, that looks frikken amazing, we better bring our A game" and shows what you can do with Windows 8 and a bloody good design. MS are showing a way that isn't Apple, they are not copying Apple, and in doing so they are saying to the OEMs "Don't copy Apple, do something good instead".

    3. Richard Plinston

      Re: how have they screwed up?

      > Unlike the HP Touchpad though I don't expect MS to give up after one iteration

      It is more than likely that HP 'gave up' because Microsoft, after having just announced they were doing WOA, told HP that making non-Windows tablets was being disloyal and that discounts were being re-evaluated.

      Just like netbooks really where MS brought XP back alive just to kill off Linux ones.

    4. streaky

      Re: how have they screwed up?

      "MS hasn't even had a real "tablet" OS for them to screw up on"

      Sure they have, Microsoft have been at tablets since before Apple even knew they existed. If you mean a cut-down OS that isn't really very useful, then yes Microsoft is pretty new to the game.

  7. KAMiKZ

    One thing for sure

    They don't have to worry about people NOT helping them write drivers... Come on, Hit ME, I want you to do it I want you to do it, I want the most thumbsdown!!

    1. Andrew James

      Re: One thing for sure

      If what you said made any sense I would gladly oblige.

  8. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    Who is going to sell it?

    PC's are low margin products. To stay in business, retailers have to sell high margin software with the PC (Last time I looked at buying a Linux machine from HP, they shoved options for Windows specific Antivirus and Microsoft Office in my face). If these touch tablets can only get software from an online app store, why would retailers stock them?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Who is going to sell it?

      Should I decide to get one, it'll be the x86 version and I will get it from John Lewis. If for some reason John Lewis don't supply them, I'll go to PC world to try it one out and make a decision to buy it from either them or Scan.

      1. Richard Plinston

        Re: Who is going to sell it?

        > I will get it from John Lewis

        No you won't.

        > I'll go to PC world to try it one out

        > buy it from either them or Scan.

        No you won't.

        They will be available in Microsoft shops or online from Microsoft. There will be no margin for anyone else to take a cut.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Who is going to sell it?

          You have no idea if this will be true so why say it?

          1. Richard Plinston

            Re: Who is going to sell it?

            > You have no idea if this will be true so why say it?


            """Microsoft says Surface will be sold in __its__ retail stores and via __Microsoft’s__ online stores."""

            (emphasis mine)

            1. Ian Yates

              Re: Who is going to sell it?

              Brilliant paraphrasing. Let me help:

              "__Initially__, Microsoft says Surface will be sold in its retail stores and via Microsoft’s online stores." (emphasis mine)

              Since they don't even have any UK stores, this would have been the most obvious gun-to-foot statement, had it been true.

              1. DrXym Silver badge

                Re: Who is going to sell it?

                PC World / John Lewis sell android tablets and iPad tablets which have built-in stores. I really don't buy the argument that they'll not stock Windows tablets if they follow suit. It may be they slap a large margin on the devices to ensure they make money but they'll sell them. If Microsoft have any sense they'll also allow stores to sell voucher codes for online products too and split some of the money with them.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    MS have a few problems here..

    Number one, I suspect: Windows 8 on the desktop. There's a lot of criticism, a lot of negativity, and a lot of speculation that it'll be Vista 2: Bigger, badder, and floppier. Selling a tablet with an OS people don't like is a hard sell. It's a harder sell when the part people don't like is the number one feature. It may be fantastic on the tablet, but if people had a bad experience on the PC they might avoid it.

    Number 2: Windows RT. It might be fantastic again, but it won't run standard windows apps. Mr. Joe Average is going to want web, email, and 1 or 2 old apps he likes and has used for years. OK, so it's not a PC, it's a tablet and you shouldn't expect it to run them, but the Pro version will run those apps. People are going to get very confused. Confused people get angry, and take things back to shops. Being told "If you just pay an extra £400, you can have this hot, thick slab with the Intel sticker..." won't help.

    No popcorn icon, but I'll settle in with a beer to watch it all unfold :)

    1. spodula

      Re: MS have a few problems here..

      To be fair to microsoft (It happens occasionally), Most of the reviews i've seen of Metro say that it will make an extremely good tablet OS. Its just sucks on the desktop.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: MS have a few problems here..

        Yeah, which will make it pretty ironic if failure on the desktop ends up pissing on an otherwise good tablet platform!

      2. plrndl

        Re: MS have a few problems here..

        Are these Metro reviewers the same people who laughed at the iPad, and thought that Windows Phone 7 was the best thing since sliced bread?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: MS have a few problems here..

          Can you explain why it's a problem that someone would like WP7 and not an iPad? They're different devices, different form factors and have radically different OSes.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: MS have a few problems here..

      I was prepared to think Win8 sucks on the desktop, until I got bored and installed Release Preview on my 2008-era netbook. It grew on me very quickly, and I'm now excited for some new hardware that can take better advantage of its new features. I read that people miss the Start Menu, but it's still there--it just fills the screen, instead of popping out from an ugly, branded icon. As far as I'm concerned, the desktop experience is unchanged. I'm not interested in "apps," so i don't care if they integrate with my mission-critical software or not. The practical additions, especially things like File History, learned from Apple, are very welcome.

    3. Nigel 11

      Re: MS have a few problems here..

      I've been very critical on Win 8 on the desktop, but on a tablet it may actually work. All MS have to do is realize that the tablet and the desktop are different environments and offer an appropriate UI for each. If Win 8 included an XP-like UI and you could flip to the other one if you really wanted to use Metro on the desktop, I'd stop complaining. (XP UI = Win 7 minus Aero if they want, but not completely flattened, and retaining support for multiple windows, start menu, multiple screens, etc).

      1. h4rm0ny

        Re: MS have a few problems here..

        "If Win 8 included an XP-like UI and you could flip to the other one if you really wanted to use Metro on the desktop, I'd stop complaining"

        I'm a bit confused by this, because you can flip between Metro and the desktop. You just tap the Windows key or click on the bottom left. It toggles between the two extremely quickly. The desktop in Win8 is not substantially different to the Desktop in Win7. The only real difference is you have a Start page, instead of a Start menu and that's very easy to get your head around. So I'm not really sure what you're saying you want as you seem to have it/

  10. K
    Black Helicopters

    We must f*ck up this this Window release, its in the business plan..

    Looking at the M$ track record, they seem to royally f*ck up every other Windows release..

    Windows 98 - Brilliant

    Windows Millenium - Big f*ck up

    Windows XP - Brilliant

    Windows Vista - Big fuck up

    Windows 7 - Brilliant

    Windows 8 - Big fuck up...

    How is this possible? To be this stupid must involve some kind of conspiracy theory, perhaps they do it, it drops people expectations, then the next release they can roll out a great product and go "taa daa".

    1. spodula

      Re: We must f*ck up this this Window release, its in the business plan..

      Yeah, well consistancy is important in IT...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: We must f*ck up this this Window release, its in the business plan..

      Not this crappy old meme again...

      For a start, Win3.11/WFW was rather good.

      Windows 95 (the next OS from Win3.11) was rather good

      You missed out Windows NT 3.1/3.5(ok, ish), NT4 (rather good) and Win2000 (very good) in order that you could jump to XP (very good) on the NT line of OSes.

      1. M Gale

        NT4, rather good?

        Wasn't that the one where Microsoft first embedded half a web server in the kernel? About the same time that their web server had a showstopper bug, that meant that if you were running IIS (which asides Exchange was the only use for NT4 at the time), anybody on the planet could invoke root-level commands on your box by typing in a carefully-crafted URL string?

        The one that wasn't fixed until service pack 6?

        I still remember a friend showing off the new BackOffice server he'd set up at his workplace. I had to tell him to firewall that bloody web server, and he wouldn't believe why until I went home, got a printout of the server's directory structure and handed it to him. I could have just have easily converted "format c: /y" into unicode twice. Or perhaps something clever with ftp.exe.

        No, NT4 was unmitigated shit. Polished shit, but still shit.

    3. Anonymous Coward

      Re: We must f*ck up this this Window release, its in the business plan..

      this one again....

      3.11 was quite good,

      95 was terrible, OSR2 was slight less terrible, an ok for the time

      98 was partially crap, im talking USB people! 98se not too bad at all

      ME, poor (although Misunderstood and ok after a few SPs!)

      XP TERRIBLE, it was a steaming pile of dog turd until SP2

      vista (poor on old hardware until a couple of service packs)

      7 pretty good out of the box, given that it is built on Vista that's not surprising.

      Now that ignores the NT line of OSs (to a point) which really bugger up your idea, because NT4 and 2000 were very good too

      So there you have it, lets let this stupid tick tock crap good theory go to bed now shall we.

      fact is after a couple of service packs "usually" any MS OS has been actually pretty good.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: We must f*ck up this this Window release, its in the business plan..

      Times have changed. Now it works like this:

      OS X Leopard: Brilliant

      OS X Snow Leopard: Brilliant

      OS X Lion: Big F*ck Up

      OS X Mountain Lion: Big F*ck Up

      I'm switching back. I won't be alone.

    5. Jess

      Re: We must f*ck up this this Window release, its in the business plan..

      Windows 98 and XP were not brilliant on release they were awful. It was only after several service packs (or whatever they called it on 98) that they became first usable, and then reasonable.

      Their predecessor 95 and 2000 both worked far better.

  11. TRT Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    How long will it be...

    before it's christened "The headache tablet?"

    Paris, because she never has a headache.

  12. Code Monkey

    It has to not suck on the desktop

    MS do make decent hardware (even in my most penguinphile days I was never without an MS mouse) and a proof-of-concept for how they think a Windows 8 PC should be is a good idea.

    However, this is no damned use for millions of developers and business users. It's imperative that Windows 8 doesn't suck on the desktop and I've seen no sign of this.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It has to not suck on the desktop

      @Code Monkey. What one individual thinks means little but my experience using Win8 RP is the desktop minor step forward from Win7 and the addition of support for Metro style apps of little value at the moment, but could be useful in future, esp with the fact they will be available ver multiple devices.

      It would be a drastic mistake by Microsoft if in the future apps like Office were limited to being full/split screen on desktop machines but highly unlikely to happen. My best guess is by Win9 we'll have a revamped desktop and some Metro-desktop interoperability

      So, what is it about your experience with Win8 desktop which makes you feel it sucks?

  13. Colin Millar

    Chalk and cheese

    Openness of architecture comes from the OS - not the form.

    The form itself (tablet) is what doesn't lend itself to customization - tablets are pretty much an evolutionary dead end with no discernable development since the first iPad.

    Surface is a marketing ploy of some kind to be sure - anyone suggesting that MS are taking on apple in their own backyard is delusional - there is nothing about any of this which suggests a shift of that nature. All of this is to support Win8 because the picture hasn't changed for MS.

    The real issue is what will you do today with the OS - and that will be the question for MS for the foreseeable future.

  14. Captain Save-a-ho

    Introducing Windows 8!

    From the people that brought you EDLIN!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Introducing Windows 8!

      Really? In the 1980s text editors weren't as good as they are today?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      I'm not sure if you're being sarcastic here, but for it's time, edlin was truly ground-breaking. It provided a much richer user experience with tight integration to the OS allowing for a quantum leap in productivity compared to the Unix based ed and vi, that Linux STILL NEEDS !!! Wake me up when there's a so-called "free" operating system for tablet computers that comes close to surface.

      For that matter microsoft has also released operating systems for portable telephones, and that's no mean feet (faet ?) !

      1. tom dial Silver badge

        Re: Hmmm

        edlin was a POS poor imitation of ed. Vi is an enormously capable text editor for a wide range of purposes, far better for many purposes than anything Microsoft ever produced, like notepad, wordpad, or Word. It, or a similar editor is available on every Unix/Linux system and can be used where necessary (by one who has the knowledge), to fix configuration files, although I haven't had to do that in the last several years on Debian, Ubuntu, HP-UX or Solaris, as they have curses or gui tools that are up to most tasks.

        Did most of this come from a Microsoft Announcement? The Windows UI 8 is inferior in usability (for this user) to: MacOS, OS/X, Linux with Gnome 2, Windows 7 and its predecessors back to Windows 2000, and even (although marginally) Linux with Gnome 3 or Ubuntu with Unity.

    3. plrndl

      Re: Introducing Windows 8!

      EDLIN was from IBM.

      1. Richard Plinston

        Re: EDLIN was from IBM.

        > EDLIN was from IBM.

        Completely wrong.

        """Edlin was created by Tim Paterson in two weeks in 1980, and was expected to have a six-month shelf life."""

  15. Pat 11

    Touch v Desktop

    They've correctly identified the problem of their main threat (Apple, not Google) - OS fragmentation between their two hardware platforms. Unfortunately they have tried to address it by bolting the touch OS into the desktop. Only MS could fuck up so badly. They have always been truly dreadful at HCI, but they will probably sort it out next cycle, after getting the solution crowd-sourced by releasing a pile of crap.

    1. pixl97

      Re: Touch v Desktop

      Not only fragmentation between desktop vs tablet, but tablet vs tablet. If you look at MS's history of mobile OS's they have changed so damn much. Windows CE and the phone 5/6/7 OS's are so much different. Even the differences between XP, Vista, 7, and now 8 are pretty big. One of the things that many people I talk to love about iOS is that even when a new version comes out, it's pretty much the same. No retraining to use an iphone 4 over an iphone 3, ipad is pretty much just a larger version. Settings are pretty much in the same place, apps are the same. And it doesn't appear that Apple is going to introduce any major changes in the looks and operations of the iOS in the near future. Microsoft is their own FUD generator when it comes to mobile... 'is the platform going to be supported long term?', 'will MS introduce major UI changes in the next version?', 'Will this platform go the way of the Zune in a year?'.

      I will say the idea of merging both together will reduce the total amount of training to learn the new OS. It is a big gamble, and not one I'm liking on the desktop, but long term it could pay of for them.

    2. Richard Plinston

      Re: Touch v Desktop

      > by bolting the touch OS into the desktop

      That isn't to fix fragmentation. The strategy is to make Metro "the most familiar UI on the planet" (said by MS spokesman). By forcing it down your throats you will eventually love it and demand this UI on your phone and on your tablet.

      This will fail because they forgot that releasing Windows 8 does not make all XP and 7 users automatically run Metro. An emergency, critical, unavoidable SP pack will fix that.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: Touch v Desktop

        "An emergency, critical, unavoidable SP pack will fix that."

        Even Microsoft wouldn't be that stupid.

        Their bread and butter revenue comes from corporate IT, and doing that would quite simply result in corporate IT shutting down all Windows Update and rapidly searching for an alternative operating system that didn't force that kind of change on them.

        Can you imagine the CEO of MegaCorp turning on his computer one day and finding Metro instead of his expected desktop photo of his children?

        - However, they probably wouldn't actually take up the alternative because the threat alone would force Microsoft to publicly fire whoever they could blame for forcing the update. Thus nobody below Ballmer would sign it off, and even he might get forced out by shareholders if it was proven.

        You cannot change out the UI that radically in any corporate environment. The ribbon was a minor change compared to pushing Metro.

  16. cloudgazer

    Perhaps they'll really imitate Apple and go to Foxconn

    Newsflash: They use Foxconn already, have for a while now.

  17. banjomike

    Very nice looking tablet ...

    but it does not compensate me for the threat of having to use Windows 8 on my desktop.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Two words...

    Ubuntu - Unity.

    'nuff said.

  19. ukgnome

    Doesn't anyone remember Bill Gates's tablet?

    Awesome piece of kit, just a shame it was too ahead of its time. Hopefully M$ do, and this bit of kit will be OK.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No compromise?

    Quote: "Microsoft [...] putting into practice some of its ideas, without compromise."

    This is exactly the problem. Design doesn't mean throwing every conceivable 'good' thing into one product. Questions such as, "what is the product intended to do" or "who is going to use it" lead to specific performance criteria, by which you can decide what is "good" or "bad" or where a compromise is required (when two essential goals conflict). It is *impossible* to design one thing to do everything. If you try, very few people will like it because the refusal to compromise ultimately leads to impaired performance.

    This device looks like everything plus the kitchen sink thrown in, and yet I can't see how it could come close to competing with devices designed to do a specific task.

    1. Diogenes

      Re: No compromise?

      I can't see how it could come close to competing with devices designed to do a specific task.


      As a teacher I want I want I want...

      tablet form to replace textbooks, internet access for research, stylus for taking notes in oneNote , selecting answers in moodle quizs, and even dashing off a quick sketch to show a design idea in IT subjects(or marking homework :-) ), + the keyboard to use if you need to actually type something.

      Sadly the price will be to high for this purpose. ...

  21. RussellMcIver

    Xbox loss?

    As Microsoft don't publish figures specifically for the Xbox product, instead just giving information on the whole Entertainment and Devices Division, I'm wondering where this ~$200m loss figure comes from?

    1. plrndl

      Re: Xbox loss? (scroll down to the end)

      1. RussellMcIver

        Re: Xbox loss?

        Again, that only lists figures for the entire Entertainment and Devices division so cannot be used to indicate whether or not the Xbox itself is still a loss maker.

        Anyone got actual figures for just the Xbox?

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Unfortunately win8 will do well because all the magazines and tech papers will, on the day, say wow it's great, you've gotta buy this! or they won't get lots of advertising from MS and all the pc maker/box shifters.

    Most people who buy computer stuff don't know how to tell if some thing's good or bad, they're just consumers consuming stuff.

    What Apple did was get all the media types to use pads on all the media so the consumers could see them being used by the "cool" people, while saying they're great. It's marketing, that's what Apple do best and that's what MS will do to push win8.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      That's the same thing they said about Vista.

      1. M. Poolman

        Re: @AC

        What is your point here ? (and who is "they" ?)

        Every new release of windows generates pretty much the same stream of pro and anti arguments. If you just modify them to match the current release name/number, they're almost indistinguishable. What really matters is users reactions 6 months or so down the line.

        I don't use windows myself, but I know plenty who do. Wasn't Vista the most hated version of windows ever ?

    2. Nigel 11


      The Microsoft Shills were all busy raving about how wonderful Vista was before you could buy it. May have helped con a few neophiles out of a few bucks, but couldn't save it.

      In retrospect MS were very smart pretending that Windows 7 wasn't Vista SP1. They dumped a name that was irreversibly associated with crap, and got to charge the neophiles for another "new" OS. That's a trick they missed with XP, which we tend to forget was as borked as Vista until SP1 (and maybe SP2)

      However, all of these pale into insignificance compare to trying to convince the world that the desktop is a tablet. That's a one way trip to corporate oblivion, if they don't pull back from the brink before they can Windows 7.

  23. Monty Burns

    "surface" has been out for months ffs....

    You guys all live in a cave??? :)

    Seriously, Google Samsung series 7 slate, buy one (like I have) and sling on Windows 8 preview.... job done.

    P.s. works great at work, especially with OneNote and the stylus for note taking in meetings, then behaves like a normal laptop i.e. excel, word etc... and then I sit here in a hotel bar browsing the web as a tablet (I travel A LOT for work). For me, this is the ideal platform.

    1. Saucerhead Tharpe

      Re: "surface" has been out for months ffs....

      Get a series 7 slate?

      OK, I'll do thet.

      Dum de dum de dum, £1,300

      No. Maybe I won't

      1. Monty Burns

        Re: "surface" has been out for months ffs....

        Your Shopping skills are the fail! I paid £900 and don't forget, mine is a Limited production/inflated price run. If you can wait for shipping from the states, you can get the 128gb sad for slightly less.... I can't due to travel commitments.

        1. Monty Burns

          Re: "surface" has been out for months ffs....

          Ok predictive text got me! ;). SAD is of course SSD

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "surface" has been out for months ffs....

        It doesn't even cost £1300 in John Lewis for the fully featured version.

        It's expensive, but still... Personally I'm going to wait for the MS one, I'll see how they stack up and the cost of the series seven when MS release.

  24. Anonymous Coward

    One thing to keep in mind...

    Generally speaking the first bit of stuff released by Microsoft usually isn't that great. Eventually it will get better, sure, but this is what has been going on. Windows Phone 7 was rather poor feature wise, the 7.5 update fared a lot better and now rumor already has it that 8 is bound to be announced. Quite soonish after the 7.5 release I might add.

    With WP7 this wasn't a very big issue (IMO that is) because the hardware requirements had been laid out and didn't differ that heavily. As such a WP7 device easily ran WP7.5 as well.

    But with this bit of hardware I think it could very well be different. IMO it looks quite appealing and I'm also curious about the thin keyboard. But its those 'pesky' details which I think could make or break the experience. For example; how long will it run ?

  25. Gene Cash Silver badge

    So there's no availability and no price. No one is allowed to use one. says "Images are design renderings and not photographs"

    It smells of "very rushed" and "very desperate" and "mostly vaporware" and "something's fishy"

    1. GrantB

      "no availability and no price"

      But they had the press announcement (arranged at short notice apparently) about a week before Google announce the Nexus tablet.

      By the time they get to market Apple, Google and Samsung etc will have plenty of time to have cheaper better alternatives.

  26. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Dear Mr Corporate

    Please don't rush out and buy iPads for everyone - we will have a cool toy soon

    Love MSFT

  27. Anonymous Coward

    "Microsoft’s throwing everything into convincing users to abandon the existing desktop UI experience and app development model for touch,"

    The thing is, it doesn't have to be either/or. There is a role for both.

    Some people want to do work and some want to consume media. A good number of people actually like Metro on a tablet for consumption. But it is dire for desktop use where real development work is done.

    If Microsoft want to move out of that arena, well then I get it. But why would they want to force users into some kind of bizarre choice?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I still don't understand this point, im using it professionally and if anything my productivity has increased.

      Ive yet to see how it is dire.

      I will fully admit that it takes some getting used to and the learning curve is pretty steep but once your up it.....

      No probs at all.

      Each to their own I guess but I for one have reaped the benefits and will get one of these IF the pricing and detail in the specs is right for the job in hand. Win 8 on a desktop is already sold, just waiting for retail.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        From my point of view, as a programmer, I'm frequently using multiple windows at the same time.

        It's one of the reasons why I have two monitors. It just wastes so much time having to switch contexts between different full-screen views all the time.

        I suppose it depends on the nature of your work really.

        1. h4rm0ny

          I am also a programmer and I have two monitors at present (both 24" 1920x1200). Windows 8 actually has *better* multi-monitory support than Win 7. There's an interesting article on their design blog which is actually surprisingly interesting: Link. Seriously, if you have an open mind on this subject still, then give it a read.

          I consider myself a power user. I counted up how many programs I commonly use - all the VM software, IDE stuff, the works. And it actually only came to 20 applications. Sure I use more, but nothing frequent enough to say "two clicks to launch this once a month is enough reason to throw out a design approach over". On my laptop, tweny is coincidentally the default number of applications on the Metro page. But fully three columns of those are double-width, easily changed. I can easily boost the Metro start page up to 32 applications and that's on my smaller laptop screen. I think on my desktop monitor it's more like forty by default. For my desktop purposes, Metro is essentially a full-page Start menu and given that I can toggle between the two extremely quickly, I'm actually fine with it. Normally I just tap the Windows key and type the first, sometimes second, letter of the program I want and hit return. Like I said - power user. But even when I want to select it from the screen it's actually faster than a Start menu. Not fast enough that it's worth having Metro just for that, but fast enough and easy enough that it's not a drag at all. Also, Win8 brings in a lot of new stuff for developers when it comes to APIs for layout, different screen resolutions handling, native vector graphics (which KDE has had for a long long time). So it's more than worth it to me. Anyway, not saying you should like it, but just saying that I'm a programmer too and on multi-desktop it actually works really well. For me, anyway.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          and all your programs are already metro Apps?

          all the programs I use are functional in exactly the same way as in Windows 7, this is what I don't get,

          multiple windows, task bar enabled, alt tabbing are all there, functional and absolutely no difference to Windows 7, with the exception of how you launch them all,

          I think in the interest of sanity its worth remembering or considering I should say, an App is a full or 1/3 / 2/3 smallish program, a baby program if you like. In the work you do I seriously doubt you will get metro versions UNLESS that is able to bring all your functionality under one roof, ie a full screen app with its own way of multi tasking built in.

          More likely is that you will keep your programs in desktop and let them function exactly as they always have.

          having 2 or monitors just makes it even easier to use. So again, I just don't understand the argument

          if you can describe a real world situation where Win 8 stops your multi tasking (compared to Win 7) id appreciate it because ive yet to run in to the problem so would like to plan around it before I do...?

          1. qwarty

            Same here, I'm a developer, multi-monitor, and have no problem with Win 8 desktop at all.

            I'm also developing a Metro app part-time and during development usually running that in a window using the simulator.

            Nobody has ever suggested (as far as I know) that Visual Studio ought to transition to Metro.

            In short, be wary of basing your opinions on what you read in a newspaper article or some online blog.

      2. Wibble


        > the learning curve is pretty steep

        That's why

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @Dazzza

          learning to walk an talk is pretty hard too but its worth it once your there.

          But That's not an argument of why Desktop is "Dire" and why apparently "every" dislikes it.

          which is a flawed statement to start with given that there are at least 3 people here that disagree with the OP

  28. JaitcH

    Having spent hours looking at StartUp Repair ...

    Balmer can stuff his Win 8. Almost after every patch bundle we get to look at StartUp Repair strutting it's stiuff and rolling back the OS to the last restore point pre-upgrades.

    StartUp Repair even makes the XP's Blue Screen look good.

    1. Cpt Blue Bear

      Re: Having spent hours looking at StartUp Repair ...

      I'll grant that Startup Repair is bloody awful but if you are having these issues after even a few patch releases then you have bigger issues to deal with. That's just not normal. I think we've seen one system crashing update incident that we don't know for sure wasn't cause by an existing problem (I'm pretty sure it was caused by an existing root kit).

  29. Dibbles

    You forget...

    ...that MS's big announcement a couple of years ago was a Windows tablet - the HP Slate. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, HP got cold feet and it went away.

    In that context, given that Gates has been banging on about the future of PCs being tablets for about the last 10 years, I guess it's not a surprise that MS has gone it alone on this. Question is, will it fly?

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I want one

    Looks lovely....and I'm typing this on my iPad. This is for the kids, the surface is for me. Can't wait.

  31. Anonymous Coward

    This is how you build a PC?

    'If you want a job done right, do it yourself: that’s the consensus on the Windows 8 Surface tablets. Or, put another way: “OEMs, please pay attention. This is how you build a PC.”`

    Yea, try and make it look as much like an iPAD as is possible. If Google started selling their own hardware then they would of course be quilty of cutting into the OEM channel, thank god we have MS to keep the playing field level ...

    1. Kristian Walsh

      Re: This is how you build a PC?

      In fairness, this has to be the least iPad-like design of any tablets released to date. The kickstand and the use of the cover as a keyboard are very clever design ideas, and show improvements of the iPad's weakpoints. (Another, less obvious, improvement is the completely flat back, which means the unit can lie flat on a table without rocking).

      I'm quite interested in the idea of the Intel-based Pro model... and surely I can't be the only person who hasn't considered dual-booting this one with some other OS?

      The accessory colour options and materials, on the other hand, could have come straight out of new-best-friend Nokia's sample book...

      1. M Gale

        "this has to be the least iPad-like design of any tablets released to date."

        Transformer Prime.

        You know, the one with a keyboard that doesn't come straight from a 1980's "futuristic" style guide. The one with USB, SD, Micro SD and mini HDMI as standard?

        Sure it has rounded corners and a huge, eye-searingly-bright Super IPS screen, but just how many different variations of "big touchable screen" can you get?

      2. mark l 2 Silver badge

        Re: This is how you build a PC?

        It maybe nice to consider installing another OS on the surface but since no doubt it will have UEFI Secure Boot enabled (which i expect cannot be disabled) to make it run Windows 8 only.

        1. h4rm0ny

          Re: This is how you build a PC?

          You should be able to disable Secure Boot on the x86 version and install whatever you want. On the ARM version, I'm moderately sure that putting a different OS on it will be very difficult and it may never become anything other than a PITA to do so.

    2. Iain 4

      Re: This is how you build a PC?

      "If" Google started selling their own hardware? The company bought Motorola, and right from the start favoured individual OEMs with close collaboration over the Nexus phones.

      I can certainly understand Acer and Asus being rather upset that they didn't know about this prior to Monday's announcement, because it's blown a pretty big hole in their Win8 Ultrabook plans. But if they hadn't been so rubbish in the first place this wouldn't be necessary.

  32. Han


    Wait until you want to use the keyboard in a very tight space or on your lap. The support from back of the tablet needed to make it stand is silly!

  33. mrcreosote

    one word....


  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Windows 8 - does the consumer really care about it?

    I work in IT, I understand the value proposition of Windows but in terms of the average consumer do they really give a sh1t about Windows 8?

    Microsoft had a stranglehold on the consumer with desktops and laptops being supplied as standard with Windows (often with no choice), but times have changed and it's becoming more and more apparent that people were not buying Windows because it was made by that lovely Microsoft company, they were buying it because they had no choice.

    Now they do have choice, and nobody I know is buying Windows unless they really have to. I really don't see Microsoft having much success with Windows 8 tablets when literally everyone I know (outside of IT) that wants a tablet is buying the iPad.

    Microsoft have an uphill struggle to overturn the 20 years of pain they've been causing consumers with their shit Windows products, who as soon as they had an out when and bought something other than Microsoft.

  35. Confuciousmobil


    How many people use their iPad in landscape mode most of the time?

    A tablet is usually used in portrait mode which, being widescreen, the Surface will not be good at (all the pictures are landscape - that is for a good reason) . For that reason, I do not believe the Surface is going to be used the same way as the iPad.

    Which means it's a laptop/ultrabook replacement and I'm just not sure how big that market is. I might be wrong and there could be massive pent up demand for a device like this (I was wrong about the iPad when it first came out, couldn't see the point, but am on my second one now and love it). It just seems to be attacking a small, niche market.

    It's a long road from announcement to success and to release in the USA only at launch seems to show a distinct lack of faith by MS - I wonder if it will ever make it to these shores...

    I hope I am wrong as I would like to see it succeed. We'll see when it's released.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Landscape?

      I particularly like reading e-books in portrait mode and the iPad aspect ratio feels ideal. 16:9 doesn't feel right for leisure reading. Not sure how much is habit, how much science about that subjective observation. Just maybe a side by side 2 page display for e.g. Kindle books would prove ok.

      Photography-wise, there does seem to a trend to landscape composition in the kind of photographs that might traditionally have been printed in portrait.

      I kind of agree about your opinion on portrait mode, one I shared. But starting to feel landscape may be the way if software is made to purpose - still feel 16:9 rather than 16:10 is a bad call.

  36. Watashi


    Nokia produce some of the best hardware for mobile devices, so perhaps some kind of partnership deal between the two would be a good idea.

    1. David Black
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Nokia

      When MS completes the Nokia takeover, I'm pretty sure you'll see these tablets wearing a "Microsoft by Nokia" brand. The design and colours are straight out the Nokia design book. Also Nokia does have superb supply chain and production capabilities that would be ideal if you were a software maker looking to get into hardware.

      Not that I personally like the joint branded products (such as the awful Sony Ericsson) but Nokia has fantastic brand reputation and still comes many notches ahead of Apple in almost every country. However that brand is depreciating fast (cheers Mr Eflop) and in the US was never particularly strong, hence retaining the coupling with the Microsoft brand.

      Paris cause all branding is just pointless fluffy shit :)

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Who wants to bet its a toaster?

    Intel i5 inside a sealed case, sure to meltdown.

    1. h4rm0ny

      Re: Who wants to bet its a toaster?

      I'll bet that it is not. I've watched the presentation. It actually doesn't have a single vent, it has an all round "vent" that is basically a small groove that runs around the entire device. So no matter where you hold it, you can never block its cooling. It's very nice.

      1. Richard Plinston

        Re: Who wants to bet its a toaster?

        > it has an all round "vent"

        We won't expect to see a 'ruggedized' version of it that is water and drop proof, then.

        1. h4rm0ny

          Re: Who wants to bet its a toaster?

          "We won't expect to see a 'ruggedized' version of it that is water and drop proof, then."

          It shouldn't make any difference to drop-proofing. But I concede it is at a competitive disadvantage to all those water-proof laptops people regard as standard. Oh wait - it has a fold out sealed keyboard. It's actually more coffee-proof than a regular laptop.

          Seriously what drives you to try so hard to make something so promising sound so bad? What is your motivation here because it certainly isn't fair and honest appraisal.

  38. DrXym Silver badge

    I don't see anything special about it

    The Surface is just a bog standard tablet with a proprietary connector which can be used to plug a cover cum keyboard into it. That's a clever idea but the rest of the tablet is nothing special. Without the cover it's not significantly different to any other.

    I also consider it unlikely these keyboard covers will come with the device. They'll be accessories and they'll likely cost as much as a Apple smart cover if not more. I'm betting they'll be at least £50 on top of the cost of the tablet, possibly £70.

  39. jason 7

    Yes MS needs to start making the hardware too!

    As a PC support guy, most of the time the issue isnt with the hardware or the OS its the crap that Dell/HP/Acer/Asus/McAfee etc. etc. has installed on it.

    The crapware is a crime against humanity. I have yet to come across a customer that has ever used the HP/Acer/Asus Oberon Media games crap but its all on there. Constantly bugging users with requests for this and that.

    It's not MS that's screwing up Windows its the twats selling the machines with Windows on it.

    It's like buying a new Audi and the dealer has installed (for your convenience) a go faster stripe, fake dump valve and underside neons to it that you didn't ask for.

    I would love to be able to buy a MS specced and approved laptop with just the OS and maybe a couple of fully tested and approved apps on it.

    Maybe this will drop the hint to the manufacturers to get their house in order.

  40. Niijel

    A bad time for MicroSoft

    If I was a shareholder in M$ I would be selling about now...

    1, They are ignoring the lucrative business of taking money off existing customers.

    2, They are missing out delivering more feature bloat into existing products.

    3, They are ignoring enterprise and home customer needs (all customers).

    4, They are throwing more money at existing loss making failures (phones/tablets).

    5, They are pissing off all the PC constructors (except apple).

    6, They are trying to compete with others - they don't know how, so why try?

    7, Betting the farm on something that is already old - (why dont they try to match the products that Apple have in R&D now, not last years?)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A bad time for MicroSoft

      Microsoft market cap is already based on fairly pessimistic assumptions. Contrast Apple which is based on optimistic projections.

      Either or both could prove right or wrong. Its known as gambling. Or investing if you are using other peoples money and raking off your cut as values go up or down.

      If you care enough to want to entertain us with your opinions why not man out and put your money where your mouth is.

    2. Bugs R Us

      Re: A bad time for MicroSoft


      Then you'd be losing out on generous dividend payments.

      3 years. 3 years. That's how long Surface has been in development. Microsoft just showed the world that it's not just Apple that knows how to do R&D with utter secrecy. Who know what MS has in its pipeline. Remember, MS plans products 2 version ahead. Windows 9 will already be in development and Windows 10 will already be being roadmapped. Ditto for Office. Do you really think Surface 2 isn't already on the design board?

      The whole point of Mondays announcement was to guage public reaction which by and large has been positive. It's a signal to MS to go into production with the Surface. Do you really think Microsoft doesn't have the technology or manpower to monitor the interwebs and see what everyone is thinking about the Surface? Of course it does. This isn't the old MIcrosoft. This is the next generation of MIcrosoft with the old guard (Balmer and co) having learned to let R&D have more control.

      This isn't a "me too" product. Surface IS unique. Nothing else is a tablet, come PC, and runs Windows. Apple has a loyal following, but you can't ignore that Microsoft also has a loyal base of followers, a MUCH bigger base, and they are just as passionate and cult like as Apple. All Microsoft has to do is keep the loyal fans happy so they don't switch to Apple. For people like myself, the very existence of Surface is enough to preserve my brand loyalty. I don't care if it's 1mm thicker than an iPad.

      1. Richard Plinston

        Re: A bad time for MicroSoft

        > you can't ignore that Microsoft also has a loyal base of followers, a MUCH bigger base, and they are just as passionate and cult like

        That's why Android has only a 60% share of the smartphone market. Without the huge cult like follower base of Microsoft they could have as much as 61%.

      2. M Gale

        Re: A bad time for MicroSoft

        "Nothing else is a tablet, come PC, and runs Windows."

        Now I know you seem, for some reason, to be addicted to Microsoft, but please don't try telling anybody that the Surface is in the slightest way unique. Most of the above seem to have better keyboards than that ZX81-style membrane thing, too.

        Of course it could be a runaway success. But then, the only people I've found who are that passionate about Microsoft are either Linux fans that passionately hate it, or people who are in some way associated with MSFT either by employment or other contract.

        So which are you?

  41. Niijel

    its a laptop!

    They have invented the laptop!

    Does this signal that even MS know that tablets are a niche product?

    Don't forget it takes MS 6 versions to get a product usable...

  42. ForthIsNotDead
    Thumb Up

    My advice...

    ...short Microsoft.

  43. Lallabalalla


  44. Joerg

    Simple question: why would anyone buy a Microsoft Surface same price of iPad?

    If not even higher...

    Why would anyone be willing to spend the same or even more on a Microsoft Surface tablet with the awful MetroUI that sucks on WindowsPhone already and people rejected it? On the tablet it's only going to get worse.

    But no, Microsoft with such a failure on WindowsPhone decided to oblige everyone including desktop and server editions users to use the awful MetroUI.

    Microsoft Surface might sell if it was in the $150 - $250 price range. But it's going to be $500 - $1000 .. why would anyone waste money on such a big fail of a product?

    And why would any developer waste precious time and resources developing for Microsoft MetroUI ?

    It has been a failure with WindowsPhone already. There is no real money for developers there.

    Yeah, sure, WindowsPhone users buy more apps than Android ones for sure (those using Android want everything for free and don't care about apps quality at all) but it's still a tiny amount of money.

    The real money is on Apple iOS. It's just where people willing to buy apps are and so where developers can and will keep developing for aiming at either growing from freelancers to small software houses and startups or just keep going as freelancers earning as much as they can.

    1. Bugs R Us

      Re: Simple question: why would anyone buy a Microsoft Surface same price of iPad?


      I have had £1,000 set aside for some time now or the tablet that best meets my needs. I have been waiting to see what Google's Nexus tablet looks like. The Galaxy Note 10.1 *was* my dream tablet until Monday's event.

      However, I have now made up my mind and will spend this money in the fall on a Surface. In fact, I'm going to buy both models, the Pro for work, and the RT for home and social use. I'd buy both even if they are £1,000 each, but we know they won't be because they will have to be competitively priced.

      You see, I define overpriced as pay for something that doesn't meet my needs. When a thing meets my needs, it's virtually priceless to me.

      The Surface has what I've always longed for in a tablet device:

      o Digital ink which anyone who attends meetings a lot will find really useful,

      o 16:9 ratio - personally I don't like 4:3, I find them unnatural because I'm used to widescreen views

      o Windows - I want Windows for work - cannot stress this enough. I want access to biggest software library for a desktop OS - EVER

      o The lack of Metro apps doesn't bother me because Metro is still relatively new. Even so, there are 100,000 metro apps already and I've yet to find myself looking for an app that can't do what I need. I'm not into games so I don't care about birds and pigs with anger management issues.

      You repeatedly claim WindowsPhone as a fail. It's not a fail. It's growing market share. "Fail" doesn't mean "not Apple".

      Why wold developers go to Windows 8? Because developing for Windows is easy and cheap. No licenses to pay and no expensive dev tools, just download the free Express tools and get going.

      What's wrong with Metro UI on server editions? You can still use mouse and keyboar. Once you're logged in, you're back in familiar desktop space. If you pick your server OS based on the start screen design you've got bigger problems.

      The real money is not on Apple. Investors hedge. Content is king. We'll have to wait and see. Apple may have 600,000 apps, but how many are the really useful ones? Android nwo has about 400,000 and WIndows Phone 100,000. I would say that 50,000 (+/- 10,000) apps would cover just about everyone's needs if you strip out all the non useful, non-productive, fart type apps. Bragging about app stores metrics is nothing more than marketing tactics. Consumers are smarter these days.

      I work for a big privately held software company. We have a flexible desktop approach, users can run Windows or Linux, use MS Office or Open Office. For company mobiles, users can use their own device or take whatever the carrier provides. Most use their own device the majority are Android. We even have several users of the Galaxy Note, who I'm sure would love a Surface Pro to replace their laptops.

      1. Joerg

        Re: Simple question: why would anyone buy a Microsoft Surface same price of iPad?

        You really must be a Microsoft employee. Or a Microsoft partner employee.

        You claiming that system administrators, developers, engineers, professionals should be willing to waste their precious time with the unproductive MetroUI mess it's just beyond pathetic.

        Thanks to your MetroUI nonsense it takes at least three times as much to do the same things on Windows8 than on Windows7. Why would anyone have to bother with it?

        The whole MetroUI with its childish tiles it's absolute nonsense. Designed by people full of drugs that should be fired along with the managers that approved such a flawed nonsense of bad design.

        I really want to see the millions common people and professionals worldwide willing to spend $1,000 or more to buy crappy Microsoft Surface with MetroUI products. Surely Microsoft is not going to sell anything at $200 because as you claimed above "MetroUI is loved" .. yeah.. so loved that it accounts for less than 3% on best estimates stats with WindowsPhone.

        WIndowsPhone is a big failure thanks to MetroUI ! What increasing market share are you talking about?

        By this time it should have halved Android market share at least, instead it didn't do squat to either Google and surely not to Apple.


        Because the majority of people worldwide rejected the whole MetroUI design nonsense.

        Microsoft managers and CEO being so arrogant forcing the use of MetroUI it's just plain crazy. The demand is not there and it surely won't increase by forcing people to use it.

        Microsoft managers are going to see that reality is not what they dreamt of

  45. Mark Allread


    Metro is pretty well loved by anyone that spends time with it. iOS is so dated in comparison.

    The Surface will sell like hot cakes and be a massive success.

    1. Joerg

      Re: Joerg

      Do you work for Microsoft like the few others above that replied that MetroUI would be good for development use?


      If MetroUI was so loved by people then WindowsPhone market share wouldn't be at a low 1.5% - 3%

      It's just plain logic.

      1. Bugs R Us

        Re: Joerg

        The Metro UI is not just about tiles you kow. There is more to it. Of course, developers will use the traditional desktop to run their IDEs, but Metro is most defnitely something you can develop for, easily and quickly using Visutal Studio.

        1. Joerg

          Re: Joerg

          MetroUI is a big fail. It's a mess.

          Only Microsoft employees can defend such a crappy nonsense of bad design.

          It's the worst thing ever seen in IT industry to date. The most retarded one ever.

    2. hplasm

      Re: Re: Joerg

      To be fair, it seems that MS have managed to replicate Apple's most elusive product when it comes to the Surface- The Jobsian Reality Distortion Field.

  46. Bugs R Us

    Availability and outlets

    Availability: Surface RT, same time as Windows 8 which is 99% looking likely to be October/November

    Outlets: MS stores in the US. Everywhere else MS will sell it online and ship from local distribution hubs. It's 2012, why would MS even bother with PC World and John Lewis. If people want to try it, they can buy and send it back if they don't like it. Happens everyday with eBay and Amazon.

    1. Richard Plinston

      Re: Availability and outlets

      > same time as Windows 8 which is 99% looking likely to be October/November

      When Windows 95 looked like it may get very late and miss the holiday buying spree, Gates was alleged to say "Windows 95 will be released before Christmas, but we may have to delay December by a couple of months".

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