back to article LIVE CHAT: You, El Reg, experts chat about Win 8.1 and Surface 2

By the end of next Tuesday – 22 October – Microsoft will have played all of its Christmas cards. Two new Surface slabs will have officially launched and Windows 8.1 will be working its way through shops, PC makers and download servers. Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 will bring new chips and graphics processors to make things …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Surface Pro 2

    The Surface Pro 2 costs £1,439.00 including VAT for the 8Gb/512Gb model (keyboard not included).

    Although if you need to know that you probably can't afford it.

    Base model not inexpensive for 10" but believable, its the huge margins Microsoft are charging on the touch cover, extra SSD and 4Gb to 8Gb upgrade that kill the product.

    1. DAN*tastik

      Re: Surface Pro 2

      Put another hyphen across the £ symbol, to make it the pre-euro Italian liras I grew up with, and we have a deal.

    2. qwarty

      Re: Surface Pro 2

      Inexplicably, the Surface Pro 2 comes with 1.2 MP front and rear cameras so this £1.5K tablet is probably the most useless tablet over £100 for anyone interested in imaging applications (one area where x86 compatibility is a real boon over ARM right now).

      Inexplicable since the Surface 2 has 5MP rear facing camera, 3.5MP front facing starting at £359.

      1. Spearchucker Jones

        Re: Surface Pro 2


        You probably want to stop buying tablets from dodgy Nigerians. Surface Pro 2 has two 720p HD cameras, front and rear-facing. Surface RT has a 3.5 megapixel front-facing camera, and a 5.0 megapixel rear-facing camera.

        1. qwarty

          Re: Surface Pro 2

          @Spearchucker Jones

          No. Surface RT actually has very low resolution cameras like the new Surface Pro 2.

          I already pointed out the new Surface 2 has 3.5/5 MP, making it much better than the 'Pro' model for imaging applications but not so useful when software is written for x86. Makes no sense to me but if I've missed something, feel free to explain the inexplicable.

          For comparison, the Nexus 7 (2013) has 1.2/5MP and last years iPad 4 (2012) has 1.3/5 MP.

        2. Richard Plinston

          Re: Surface Pro 2

          >> Inexplicably, the Surface Pro 2 comes with 1.2 MP front and rear cameras

          > You probably want to stop buying tablets from dodgy Nigerians. Surface Pro 2 has two 720p HD cameras, front and rear-facing.

          That's what he said. 720p _IS_ 1.2MP.

          1. keith_w

            Re: Surface Pro 2

            I just looked at the specs at Best Buy Canada, and they say that the front camera is 3.5MPixels and the rear is 5MPixels:

            Rear Camera Still Resolution 5 MP

            Rear Camera Video Resolution 1024 x 720

            Rear Camera Autofocus Yes

            Rear Camera Flash No

            Front Camera Still Resolution 3.5 MP

            Front Camera Video Resolution 1024 x 720

            Front Camera Autofocus Yes

            Front Camera Flash No

            1. qwarty

              Re: Surface Pro 2

              I was going by Anandtech, usually a reliable source "Surface Pro 2 also retains the same front and rear facing cameras as its predecessor, both 1.2MP units and it doesn’t get the new 3.5/5MP sensors from Surface 2". Anyone know which is correct?

            2. wdmot

              Re: Surface Pro 2

              According to the official surface site (spec links accessible through, qwarty is right and Best Buy Canada is wrong. The Surface 2 has the better cameras. Doesn't make sense to me. Maybe they figure if you can afford the Pro 2, you really don't want a 5MP camera and will have your own 48MP DLSR.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Surface 2 v iPad 5

    Tomorrow we'll learn what the iPad 5 has to offer, so will be interesting to hear how the Surface 2 stacks up against its fruity competitor.

    Best guess must be Apple repeating last years iPad 4 October launch outgunning Surface RT on benchmarks and features. At around the same price the eternal optimists in Microsoft marketing have decided is a good move for a device that needs an expensive keyboard peripheral to shine. If so, Cupertino must be thinking fish in a barrel.

    1. Hellcat

      Re: Surface 2 v iPad 5

      I wonder if it will include a full featured version of Safari so I won't need to download individual apps to use websites that run fine from my PC?

      Thought as much.

      1. big_D Silver badge

        Re: Surface 2 v iPad 5

        Exactly. My Windows tablet works nicely as a tablet, but I also have all my desktop applications installed on the device and can use it as such in an emergency on the move or as a desktop replacement when I'm at my desk and can use it with an external monitor, keyboard and mouse... I don't see Apple offering this flexibility in the iPad any time soon.

        A hybrid iPad/MacBook that is a full MacBook when docked, but becomes a crippled version with just iPad functionality when the screen is unplugged from the dock, has been rumoured. They are catching up, but no cigar for Apple yet.

  3. Jerky Jerk face

    Microsoft have really stuffed up with this 8/8.1 and surface debacle.

    One and a half grand for a late, slow tablet thats behind devices that were out a year ago.... Bring nothing new to the table(t), and expect cues around the corner.

    Take a page from apples book M$, make next years tech this year, not last years tech this year. Wheres that roll eyes emote thingy :P

  4. Wheaty73
    Thumb Up

    I bought a SRT (just) before the new ones were announced

    Its great, for what I want it for - my use case is not your use case, and an iPad was useless for me at actual document creation. Battery life is "all day", and the Office 2013 apps are top notch. Plus it weighs about half a ton less (feels like it!) than my MBP so that can stay home. Aside from Office, Onenote is converting me slowly from Evernote, and the Xbox-Music app beats Spotify to death with a hammer it is pretty good. As for store apps, some are good, most are meh, but I have IE not a crippled version of my main desktop browser (Safari)

    Do I feel buyer regret? A slight twinge since the S2 was announced with 200GB of Skydrive and the glowing keyboards. That was a little annoying but as a long time Apple fan, you get used to the fact that you don't wait for the new shiny otherwise you will never buy anything.

    Aside from Outlook, I haven't really noticed much difference with 8.1.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I bought a SRT (just) before the new ones were announced

      Wanting a 10" tablet with a very minimum requirement of having to show a full screen web browser - I decided the RT was worth looking at, with worst case being use as intended for. I /could/ have got a nexus 10 but I didn't like the shape, wasn't interested in another android and an ipad 2 - about the same price, well their use at work definitely was a factor in not choosing the same.

      It's good to get out of the box sometimes.

      And even if I despise Ms office, I don't get to decide - its practically forced use in the UK at least - so office on the RT is definitely novel, because it's a tablet that has it, and as a package is cheap, if not without limitations.

      And I did find a very solid tablet (actually for the price, the RT build is outstanding) that even prior to 8.1 also is definitely not as bad as its rep on the software side might lead to believe. Even if my own preference for desktop intents and purposes looks like windows 2000, viewing TIFKAM through that lens is obviously not going to (on a touch laptop, even) impress but despite omissions I do find the interface clean. Yes, there are a few rules to learn - ones I also had to using android or iOS devices (or unity for that matter), which don't have to justify differences to windows desktop to a hostile audience.

      If they hadn't made the design choice to foist the tile world onto people, it'd have had less deserved criticism. But as a device, the tablet allows me to do /work/ of certain kinds as well - my use does require office and not just Google docs - and I always disliked that label of tablets as consumption devices (as well as frankly growing discomfort with Google). I do resent that RT desktop (i.e. win32) is locked out but, that's objectively just equivalent to ipad or android.

      Do I have buyers remorse? No, just remorse over the BBC iplayer site - that broke last week on RT. I like the RT tablet, a lot, but also considering the store's incompleteness, not so much I don't find much irony in MS being on the wrong side of compatibility walls.

  5. yossarianuk

    Its still a copy of Ubuntu Unity - i.e unusable crap.

  6. BigAndos

    I'd love a Surface Pro 2, if only it cost a sensible amount of money. It is just for personal use so being able to play Windows games was the main thing tempting me down that route. However, due to the absurd prices I bought a 32GB Nexus 7 for £240.

    Many Android games are pretty ropey, but there are some excellent quality ones like Real Racing 3 so it isn't too bad for gaming. As a general e-reader, web surfing device and media player I think you'd struggle to beat it for the price. I hook it up to my iPhone's personal hotspot via Bluetooth so I don't miss having a 3G iPad with separate data plan.

    Come on MS, running full blown windows apps IS a strong selling point for many but not enough to make me shell out three times as much cash for the cheapest Surface Pro 2!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The cheapest usable Surface Pro 2 is £799 (128 GB, the 64GB model is next to useless for most applications with only about 27GB available to you - similar to Nexus 7 free space but you need more room for Windows apps). Add in a type cover 2 at £110. Its basically a £900+ device nearer 4x Nexus 7 and over 2xiPad, not really a viable proposition for many use cases (though great if you fit into their niche).

  7. Chris Long


    "...and the Classic desktop that Microsoft murdered a year ago in Windows 8."

    How on earth did this massive untruth make it into the article? I'm writing this in Firefox on a Win8 desktop. Requiring a single click to get from the Start screen to the normal desktop hardly qualifies as 'murder'. Has anyone at El Reg actually used Win8?

    For the record, I'm also in the 'would buy a Surface Pro if I could justify the cost' camp.

    1. Chris Reynolds

      Re: Tosh

      Agreed. The revulsion that otherwise rational people have expressed over the need to click an icon to get to the desktop is gobsmacking. The lack of a start button is another: it was still there just not visible until you moved your mouse to the bottom left, and a tap on the Windows key (assuming you're not using a pre 1995 keyboard) had the same effect. The big difference is the layout of the start menu.

      I prefer Windows 8 on my desktop. I have all my Win 7 apps plus the new TIFKAM ones. Running Skype and IE side by side full-screen is good when you want to search while you talk. The 8.1 update has made this even better. Still nice at the moment due to the lack of apps (which is a big issue).

      On our Surface RT the interface really shines. Outlook in 8.1 was a disappointment: I hoped they'd make it a proper full-screen app so I'm still using the default mail apps. Skydrive integration is behind Google's Drive integration on Android.

      Iike the iPad for its apps and standard form factor but find the keyboard to be quite dire compared to the Surface's touch cover and the new standard Android soft keyboard.

      That's my opinion...

  8. Ant Evans

    Non-customer breaks silence

    Was going to write a witty and informed tract on why I can't make Win 8 tablets add up, but just like other potential punters, I find I can't be bothered. MSFT has people to do this for them.

  9. Matt_payne666

    You just can't compare a surface pro to an iPad, its a MacBook air with a touch screen....

    But as far as the RT goes, I just got one cheap and am hugely impressed with it, as are most people that have seen it, a London commuter friend of mine likes the screen aspect for films, he likes that he can just drag and play all his (non mkv) titles from his nas and play them...

    At work the ability to just open a word document from a USB drive (without murdering the formatting) edit and print to a domain printer made several management types instantly question why they have just deployed ipads....

  10. William Donelson

    30 Years of Windows (more or less)

  11. Lusty

    "Microsoft says; up to 512Gb storage"

    Oh I strongly doubt Microsoft said that. They probably said 512 GB otherwise they'd have said 64GB if they actually meant 512Gb. This is happening more and more on the Reg and makes me think that the tech knowledge and experience is disappearing from the writers :/

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge


      This is happening more and more on the Reg and makes me think that the tech knowledge and experience is disappearing from the writers :/

      Yep. They have all been infected by the METRO virus.

      Ok coat. Thankfully it does not have a copy of Powershell for dummies in the pocket.

    2. Sandtitz Silver badge


      Creative Labs misled a lot of people (including me!-) ~20 years ago with AWE32 being a "4MBit" card.

      The card was still a good one nonetheless.

  12. Lemuelpn

    I Love Windows 8.1 and it worth to give my money out.

    1. Nathan Askew

      Ha! Hilarious. How can anyone love Win8.1

  13. A Butler

    Another RT user on 8.1 see the improvements

    I have the Surface RT with the type cover and for my work its perfect.

    Windows 8.1 RT has some nice new features like the ability to add your MP3's and movies (AVI, mpeg files etc) to your music and video library really easily from SD card now, unlike before.

    The new mail program is a revelation compared to the old, so much so I have barely looked at Outlook on the RT. Also the idea of all the apps below the main start screen is neat. Split screen multi tasking also works really well.

    Have seen a few issues with IE11 though nothing worth the headlines, and the speed of the browser, flash support plus the ability to flick forward and back pages is so handy.

    I also have to say the offline skydrive file access really works well.

    My biggest gripe with Microsoft's surface is that these should have all been their on version 8. Personally I would not pay for the Surface Pro premium if all you want is a tablet that will also replace most of your laptop needs. If you are on a budget and get the old stock Surface RT devices at a good price its a no brainer; Carrefour in France were selling it for €339.

    All the old advantages are still their; full size USB port, direct VGA output for presentations on powerpoint, full MS office.

    Ignore those that knock the device without giving it a chance and all those with a Microsoft grudge.

  14. Bucky O' Hare

    Roll on the sales figures

    Is it wrong of me to be a little bit excited at seeing the eventual sales figures for the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2?

    We all know the figures are going to be very poor indeed, and I just can't wait to come on here and read all the comments :)

    It's like MS are just not bothered anymore.

  15. Resolute

    Bought a Surface RT tablet after the price drop, and have to say, I am impressed with it. Not "OMG it kicks Apple's behind" impressed but "it does what I want it to do" impressed. Thought the price was fair - C$500 for the 64GB version with keyboard attachment included - and I wanted a tablet both for my own research projects (hello Office!) and to familiarize myself with 8/8.1 since I am on the cusp of having to help support it. Once my company gets to BYOD, I'll be able to use Remote Desktop to do support work off it. About the only complaint is the idiotic region lock, which assumes I am in the US even though I bought it in Canada, and for which it seems I will have to place a call to MS support to fix because I can't change it myself.

    However, Microsoft is not going to make a big breakthrough against Apple and Android with this. The Pro is ridiculously priced and RT will never have the app environment the other two have. Nothing in the Surface 2 line is earth shattering either. But at least MS can claim they are taking some steps forward, which puts them far ahead of BlackBerry. It will be interesting to see if the other manufacturers can make headway with their own Win8 tablets.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Impressed because "it does what I want it to do" surely that's not enough to be impressed. Enough to avoid returning it maybe. Are you also one of those who applaud RyanAir pilots when they successfully manage to avoid crashing their plane?

  16. loneranger

    half and half

    I actually wanted to buy a surface machine. The only thing that prevented me was the lack of credit. I ended up buying a HP notebook at Amazon using their credit card. Any of the current crop of laptops, PCs, surfaces and what nots are not the problem. The machines are fast, the memory is amazingly large, the startup is quick etc. Nothing is wrong on the machine side of things. Surface machines in particular are striking, and were really what I wanted to buy.

    The other side of the coin is not so nice: all of these windows machines are being sold with Windows 8/8.1; arguably the worst piece of garbage disguised as an OS in the history of computing.

    The secure start up feature was poorly thought through: you can't access the BIOS unless the OS is working; but the OS is rarely working well or at all when you need to access the BIOS to fix stuff!!! I understand the need for security, and allowing anyone to boot up a PC with a CD/disk is certainly a security risk. But they should have come up with some other method for people who aren't concerned about that kind of security. A secure boot is great for a company environment, but lousy for an individual. They used a hammer to kill a fly here, and it stinks badly.

    The menu system under the start button wasn't broke; in fact, it worked exactly like a good sorting routine: breaking the selection down into main groups of easily recognizable folders, so you could easily and rapidly launch any application with little effort. But Win 8 forces you to scan a huge group of icons to find the app you want to launch, which is a complete waste of time!!! You can put shortcuts to the apps you want to use most on the taskbar, which is the only good part of this story.

    Going back to the secure boot: trying to find the option to allow you to boot from a CD-ROM is ridiculously complex and unnecessary.

    In short, I think MS had a huge problem with Windows 7: it was such a success that they had to "make up stuff" in order to be able to say to customers that it was "something different" than Win7, and supposedly better. MS's problem is that they are so dependent on revenues from a few products like Office and Windows that they have to keep coming out with "new products" every few years to keep the money coming in the door; but these products are mature and need very little improvement. I'll bet 90% of the "new features" of both of these products are just rearrangements of old features of previous products, but made to appear like they are really knew.

    They need to stick with Windows 7-like products for the next 20-40 years for the large computing market (PCs, laptops/notebooks), and create specialized editions aimed at tablets and smaller devices instead of trying to make one size fit all; it just doesn't work.

    Windows 8 and 8.1 are a very bad dream, both for loyal customers like me who are now going back to Win 7 after incredible frustration with Win8, and for Microsoft, because they are going to lose money badly on any product that tries to force this awful thing down customer's throats. I'm rooting for MS to get their act together and do better next time. I still have no plans to move to another OS, YET.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have a Surface Pro - proper laptop, with type cover and mouse it's a proper micro workstation...and makes a good media consumption device. Plays the odd game like Xcom/SimCity OK which is good for work trips.

    Have a 32GB Nexus 7 2 which is a web/kindle/video consumption device which'll slip in a coat pocket.

    Each have their benefits.Not tempted to upgrade the Surface Pro 2 though as I don't really need the extra stamina or memory for the development work I do.

  18. TRT Silver badge

    I'd like to know why...

    in Windows 8, if there's no start menu, is there a contextual menu item to pin an .exe to the start menu?

  19. plrndl

    Can anyone explain how the new naming convention for MS tablets is less confusing than the old one?

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