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Surface to Air
June 18, 2012 7:51 PM   Subscribe

Borrowing a name from another product, Microsoft today announced it's first ever hardware products running a mainstream version of Windows, and the first designed for Windows 8: The Microsoft Surface, in ARM and Intel flaovours. Hands on. Video highlighting the stand and covers.
posted by Artw (404 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
I love how the product website at the bottom says 'twit'. They really know their target audience.
posted by Catblack at 7:57 PM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is my flying car.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:57 PM on June 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm hoping this is finally an iPad competitor that doesn't fade in a quarter. Not that I want one, but because I think Apple does best when there's competition.

I really like the idea of a combination keyboard/cover. That's a clever idea.
posted by Mad_Carew at 7:58 PM on June 18, 2012 [8 favorites]


Because we need new and innovative ways to give people carpal tunnel syndrome; touchscreens did half the job, but here we have the next generation of painful hands.
posted by Yowser at 8:00 PM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


So a release date, but no sign of price. I'd prefer to see what the Intel version costs. Sub 1000 or bust for me.
posted by zabuni at 8:00 PM on June 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Two questions.

What problem does this solve?

What does this do better than anything else?

Pick one.
posted by Devonian at 8:01 PM on June 18, 2012 [14 favorites]


Microsoft, always blowing their load early.

This announcement needs to be accompanied by "available for pre-order on July 15th for $499". It needs to be real and imminent. All the momentum will be spent by the time it is available, and peak interest will have passed, and one of their few marketing coups will have been in vain.

It does look interesting, though.
posted by Bovine Love at 8:01 PM on June 18, 2012 [40 favorites]


i don't know i think microsoft's been pretty good with the dubstep lately
posted by The White Hat at 8:02 PM on June 18, 2012 [13 favorites]


"It looks like Microsoft's new Surface tablet is not the first Surface to surface at the company."

That was unnecessary.
posted by Auguris at 8:04 PM on June 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


The word "Zune" keeps nagging me.
posted by marvin at 8:07 PM on June 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


What problem does this solve?

The differentiaton between desktop/laptop computing and tablet computing.
posted by Artw at 8:08 PM on June 18, 2012 [12 favorites]


I'm less than convinced that turning a tablet into an ultrabook is going to get developers making enough tablet-optimized software for it to be worthwhile. And, to be honest, I'm a bit disappointed that Microsoft's vision of the future is "it looks like a tablet, but works like the computers we've known and loved for the last two decades." But here's hoping that I'm wrong! There seems to be a lot of clever work involved in making this, even if I'm not yet sold on the goals.
posted by Schismatic at 8:09 PM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


If it's iPad priced, I'll try one instead of an iPad.
posted by maxwelton at 8:09 PM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would love to try the cover/keyboard thing, it looks like the one interesting idea. I imagine it falls between a real and onscreen keyboards in terms of usability. I find it telling that people haven't been able to demo the keyboards themselves. Does it handle simultaneous key-presses? Can to use the keyboard while the tablet is sitting on your lap?
posted by AndrewStephens at 8:10 PM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


OMG, my dream is finally realized: An iPad with an Atari 400 keyboard!

Seriously though, does look interesting and agreeing with Mad_Carew, some serious competition for the iPad can only be a benefit for consumers.
posted by gwint at 8:12 PM on June 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


hey, it's 9.3mm thick, I'm impressed. I didn't know they could laminate horseshit that thin.
posted by boo_radley at 8:13 PM on June 18, 2012 [30 favorites]


What problem does this solve?

It's a justification for the design choices made in Windows 8.

OR

It's something the Microsoft fanboys can point to when arguing with Apple and/or Android fanboys.

Snark aside, the keyboard-cover idea does look really interesting.
posted by sbutler at 8:18 PM on June 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


A general purpose computer with an iPad form factor is exciting enough for me. Can't wait to play flash games, run emulators, RDP to my desktop. I love the iPad form factor but I hate that it is so limited in what applications it will run. I hate that I have to find workarounds to moving my own files to it. I hate that I can never, will never be able to run a compiler or debugger on it, not even a REPL.

I've already been considering supporting WP8 so I will probably give Metro development for the ARM version a shot. But guess what, for the X86 version I don't have to, everything I've ever written will already run on it.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:18 PM on June 18, 2012 [17 favorites]


"it looks like a tablet, but works like the computers we've known and loved for the last two decades."

Well, that's my vision of the future at least. I write software for iPads every day, but there's not enough that I can accomplish with it that I'd buy one for myself. At the right price point I'd surely consider this, though, if the keyboard is even ok.
posted by Kwine at 8:18 PM on June 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


I like that it has a built-in Micro-SD slot and a USB port, something Apple still hasn't figured out that people really really want in a tablet. I just hope they've made some real improvements to the Metro UI, because damn is it awful.
posted by xedrik at 8:19 PM on June 18, 2012 [9 favorites]


The University at which I work is currently in the middle of a test program deploying Windows 7 tablets to faculty. We need a Windows tablet to take our image and function in an enterprise Active Directory environment, but what's available is still kind of awkward and overpriced.

This? This looks like exactly what we're after. Particularly if there's wireless HDMI in there.
posted by kafziel at 8:20 PM on June 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


I quite like that we get a sneak peak and couldn't care less that they're not available now or the price is unknown. Much better than knowing nothing at all.

Having a desktop, a netbook, a tablet, and a smartphone the thing that I personally (I really can't emphasize that enough, it's a personal thing) find the least useful and practical is the tablet for most things involving productivity. I really despise mobile versions of web sites on tablets (fine on phones), the keyboards, even when you have a real one, which I have, are not as functional as keyboards on desktops and laptops.

That said, I love the speed of the tablet for looking at things. For reading email (I have a smaller ereader for epub books), browsing non mobile versions of sites, reading comics, etc. For writing, creating mind maps, taking notes, building web sites, editing video, images, sound, etc., it's the desktop first, laptop second, tablet in a bind for taking notes.

Again, this is my personal preference and has to do with the way I work. What desktops, netbooks, tablets, phones, I use are irrelevant, as is the OS's they run since as far as I'm concerned a desktop running Linux, Windows, or OS X is the same class. Same with the other devices, and what you ultimately choose comes down to what works best for you. Simple.

The Surface seems to be attempting to be a more sophisticated version of the hybrid, but with an OS that can do either, apparently. It remains to be seen how good it is at both or either and whom it will suit. There was a time I was optimistic that a tablet could replace my use of a netbook/laptop. That didn't turn out to be true. This product may change it, but we'll have to see.
posted by juiceCake at 8:23 PM on June 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Ballmer so should have come out in blue jeans, sneakers, and a black mock turtleneck shirt.
posted by mazola at 8:25 PM on June 18, 2012 [18 favorites]


SmartGlass Integration with the 360 is just going the be gravy since they were planning on supporting the iPad anyway.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:25 PM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


This... doesn't look hilariously ill-conceived. If they can manage an operational OS for it, I'll be sold. Or at least not contemptuous.
posted by cmoj at 8:26 PM on June 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Two questions.

What problem does this solve?
- Portable computer with decent ms office integration

What does this do better than anything else?
- Portable computer with decent ms office integration

Pick one.

posted by mattoxic at 8:26 PM on June 18, 2012 [30 favorites]


So: 4 possible interfaces (touchscreen, stylus, touchpad, keyboard), 2 OSes, 2 form factors. Classic. I predict incredibly well tuned software, clean interfaces, and huge success!
posted by freebird at 8:27 PM on June 18, 2012 [21 favorites]


I also assume this is to try and steal the thunder from Google I/O at the end of the month, where cheap stock Android tablets are supposed to be announced.

Still, if the price is right on the Intel version, and the google tablet is too expensive, it might be an interesting path. Especially for the corporate crowd. Neither Google nor Apple really cater to them. Granted, given their long support needs and general thriftiness, neither would I.

I still don't see the reason for the ARM version. Can't run regular windows apps, can't join domains. It's a crippled version of windows, with the feature set of an ipad, without the enormous app ecosystem that Apple brings.
posted by zabuni at 8:28 PM on June 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Microsoft being the scrappy underdog feels weird.
posted by empath at 8:29 PM on June 18, 2012 [35 favorites]


I quite like that we get a sneak peak and couldn't care less that they're not available now or the price is unknown. Much better than knowing nothing at all.

Wow. You are a marketers dream.

Looking back at all the awesome stuff that many companies have promised, without being available, without a price, that never really went anywhere...

Well, you should care.
posted by justgary at 8:30 PM on June 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Anyone notice that they didn't talk about battery life? You want to know why? It blows. Based on what I've seen, I will guess that the higher-end model tops out at 6 hours, probably closer to 5 hours when gaming or making media. That's around half that of an iPad.

This ain't a tablet, it's a Microsoft Ultrabook with yet more models - and they didn't directly announce prices, ao I'll take a stab - $799 for the RT/lower end version, and $1200 for the Windows 8 Pro version; at that level, they're hardly competing with iPads, more like MacBooks and Airs.

Microsoft showed nothing compelling on the app side, nothing in terms of media, nothing to tie this device into the XBox ecosystem, so it's hard to get the consumer handle. It seems to be Microsoft's answer to the increasing presence of the iPad and iOS devices in the enterprise, with a side-dose of consumer appeal that is lackluster at best. I seriously doubt it will make a dent in the tablet market, it's just sitting too close to laptops and netbooks, and those segments are already saturated.
posted by dbiedny at 8:31 PM on June 18, 2012 [11 favorites]


Borrowing a name from another product,

Geez, Microsoft is even stealing ideas from itself now.
posted by twoleftfeet at 8:32 PM on June 18, 2012


empath: Microsoft being the scrappy underdog feels weird.

Zune 4 lyfe!
posted by filthy light thief at 8:35 PM on June 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


nothing to tie this device into the XBox ecosystem

I'm guessing that this is aimed at business - so more about the office ecosystem.
posted by mattoxic at 8:36 PM on June 18, 2012


I have no doubt that some of you wil eventually be proven totally wrong by your predictions in this tread, but given site history here with hardware predictions (and the long memories the hive mind has), I'm just impressed that you're taking a stab in public at all.

(not sarcasm)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:39 PM on June 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Hmmm. I like the form factor and colorways, but NOT THE UI.
posted by Flashman at 8:41 PM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, and anyone who OK'd the naming of the damned cover the "VaporMg", I mean, c'mon...

The higher-end model has a Mini DisplayPort, but not the cheaper one, and not a word about wireless video mirroring.
posted by dbiedny at 8:41 PM on June 18, 2012


The iPad already has a case that doubles as a keyboard, if you're willing to drop another hundred bucks on a Zaggmate. I'm crazy about mine.
posted by escabeche at 8:43 PM on June 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


They announced SmartGlass last week, Xbox integration for the iPad. Of course they will support their own OS. You guys think what you want. I'm going to be playing flash games on this and relaxing. Unless it really is vaporware, in which case I will renounce Microsoft and become an RoR developer.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:43 PM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, I like it. If, in fact, it can do what I'm imagining in my mind it can do. Be thin and convenient, namely. If it had an e-ink mode or LCD mode (ala what Pixel Qi is trying to do), then I'd be really interested.

It's got a keyboard. That's already a step up from the iPad AFAIC. We'll see about the price and the functionality. I am not at all on board with Windows 8...I wonder if that's a necessity.
posted by zardoz at 8:44 PM on June 18, 2012


Wow. You are a marketers dream.

Hardly. My spending habits are rather thrifty and I usually buy on research and experience, not marketing. I'm not experiencing any sort of "I must have that" and "Oh I can't wait" response but then I rarely if ever respond emotionally to computer hardware.

Looking back at all the awesome stuff that many companies have promised, without being available, without a price, that never really went anywhere...

Well, you should care.


Why? If it doesn't come out, it doesn't come out. Why should I care? It's not that important to me, I just like knowing what a company's plans are that affect the work I do.
posted by juiceCake at 8:44 PM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Never mind the touchscreen, build Kinect into it, bitches. I mean you own that shehat, use it and lead. Following in a weird and quirky way and hoping in vain that you're disguising the fact that you're following because, y'know, colored squares and stuff, is remarkably unlike leading. Really. Look up "leading". It says "not what you're doing, dumbass".
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:44 PM on June 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


If Microsoft has actually made a tablet with a keyboard that will play nice with existing Microsoft products, run Office, and is price competitive with the iPad, well, it's not a shot across Apple's bows as much as it's aiming for the hull below the water line.
posted by Grimgrin at 8:48 PM on June 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


Announcing it today with a price of $599 for the arm version and $799 for the x86 version with an availability date of 7/15 would have been mind blowing. Instead they announced that they're sort of working on this thing that will be available in the future and it came across as typical MS. It like when they announced the Windows 7 slate devices which were subsequently buried.

People expect more than indefinite vaporware announcements these day. Wait until October when you're ready to launch the thing and you're gold. Now excitement is going to built and then wane and you've given everyone else your 6-9 month product roadmap.

It's typical MS and it shows that they haven't learned anything, at all, in the last 5 years.
posted by mikesch at 8:50 PM on June 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Need pricing and availability, I could expect the RT to compete with current tablet prices, and the intel model to be more "ultrabook" priced. Overall however looks great, props to Microsoft.
posted by Prudentia at 8:50 PM on June 18, 2012


Even the Micro$opht hater in me, the same hater who bottom-feeds on Microsoft's end-user ineptness as an occasional support tech and virus-remover - even I have to admit MS has been pushing and successfully enabling tablet/pentop/handheld computing for just about as long as Apple has, and they've been demoing decent stuff for ages before Surface or iOs.

They've been in the embedded and commercial infrastructure touchscreen, point-of-sale, kiosk environments since the early 90s. You interact with commercial-and-sometimes-military-grade Windows NT Embedded or other variants of the nebula of "Windows Emedded" on ATMs and ticket machines and public terminals and such all the time.

And I have to admit that Windows 8 on a phone or tablet is pretty damn slick as a UI, especially if they could get third party devs to follow the UI/UX, even if it's atrocious for a desktop/laptop. No, seriously. Poke at a Windows 8 phone for a good chunk of time. It's like something out of the film version of Minority Report in a way that iOS just isn't. It's "more of a real computer" than iOS while still being more modern as an interface. That's intentional, because they're aiming for a truly seamless UI/UX between desktop, laptop, tablet and phone by forcing Windows 8/Metro as a UI/UX/OS for everyone who doesn't care about how their computer works as long as it's the same.

I would bet that there's probably already a plan for Windows 9 in the near future for the nerds who support things like Windows 8/Metro. Microsoft seems to be developing an ongoing bifurcation between "User" and "Elite".

It's rather audacious, really. Metro/8 is very close to a full reconstruction/repackage of the "Window Manager" concept as inherited from PARC to both MS and Apple.

And it pains the living shit out of me to say this. The first time I saw Metro/8 in a phone instead of thinking about it in a desktop format it actually hurt me to say to the owner "Hey, that's pretty slick and cool." Especially since he was a dev on the team. "Hey, that's pretty good." I remember saying awkwardly.

If Microsoft can preserve the user freedom, experience and developer-driven environment of previous projects such as Windows 2000, XP, or even Windows 7 in a tablet/phone environment with what can be presumed to be less-than the previous amount of vulnerabilities they'll secure themselves a huge chunk of the future.

Why? Because MS will make their OS products open to a vast amount of hardware manufacturers. As history has already shown, you'll be able to buy a large variety of hardware. It may not have the smoothness or aesthetic fetish qualities of an Apple product, but it'll do nicely for half the price or less, if you're inclined to learn to deal with the wrinkles.

And our industrial, post-modern world survives and thrives on the wrinkles "That'll do, since the price is good." Microsoft isn't going anywhere. Their own predictions may fail, but they're going to be there crufting away wherever a cheaper computer or a unique computer is needed.
posted by loquacious at 8:51 PM on June 18, 2012 [22 favorites]


A bit surprised the keyboard cover is getting so much attention since such things are available as tablet accessories now. I do think this sort of form factor will be a huge success. Though I'm a little biased. Just bought an Asus Transformer 300 tablet plus its keyboard dock because I couldn't resist the thought of an inexpensive 14 hour laptop. As a tablet, it's great. As a laptop, only kinda so-so, due to the limitations in much of the software. But, it's still pretty usable and there's plenty of keyboard friendly apps out there. If this thing had a bulletproof word & excel replacement, I could see this form factor becoming dominant in business.

So Microsoft is probably on the right track but, with their luck lately, they'll probably be eclipsed by iOS and Android in pushing this sort of thing. But, from what I've seen of Metro on touch devices, the interface is really incredible, attractive, and useful. It's dreadful on the desktop but actually quite good in its natural environment. They've got a fighting chance.
posted by honestcoyote at 8:51 PM on June 18, 2012


The problem with the Zune was it was a classic Microsoft pile of marketing department politics. And this may well turn into that -- this is Microsoft, after all. But it's clear they learned their lesson from the Kin (the lesson Apple also learned from the original iPhone, the Motorola ROKR): Own the supply chain. And it's clear they've learned from the XBox -- do what your competitor does, but do it cheaper and give people just enough wizbang to feel like they're getting their money's worth.

The Kindle Fire showed us that people are willing to accept a smaller, clunkier, harder to use tablet than the iPad -- if it's cheaper and gets the job done. And that's the fascinating thing -- I know a lot of people who LOVE their Fires, even though an iPad, even an iPad 1, runs circles around it. Yet, it satisfices. And I think Microsoft is hoping for the same.

The Intel Surface will be surprisingly cheap, and Apple will react with some combination of "well battery life suxxors" and "why don't you buy an Air instead it has a REAL keyboard." But I'm willing to bet that once everyone in Cupertino stops laughing tonight, someone is going to ask if Microsoft just did what IBM did to Apple in 1982 -- commoditized a market sector Apple completely owned. And then someone else is going to start to say "no," but then stop, think for a minute, and then realize that maybe, just maybe, they did.

And meanwhile, down the road in Palo Alto and over in Round Rock and across the sea in Beijing, a bunch of execs at HP, Dell, and Lenovo are going to be royally pissed that Microsoft just threw them and their entire ultrabook push under the bus in the name of selling Windows 8.
posted by dw at 8:52 PM on June 18, 2012 [11 favorites]


So it displays big coloured squares, it can connect to my tv, and it has lots of different input devices, one of which is a plasticy keyboard? If this can run Jeopardy, it might just replace my Atari 2600!
posted by oulipian at 8:56 PM on June 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


This... looks kind of interesting. Hard to say much without knowing more, but at least it comes with a USB port. And you can run regular software on it.
posted by Kevin Street at 8:56 PM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Intel Surface will be surprisingly cheap...

I don't think this will be the case though. It's going to be surprisingly expensive, or else why have the cheaper ARM based tablet. Apple's true advantage is in their supply chain. It's simply not possible to buy things for less than Apple pays. I'm betting this thing costs more than a MacBook Air by the time they're done with it.
posted by mikesch at 8:57 PM on June 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


and they've been demoing decent stuff for ages before Surface or iOs.

It ships as shit in a box but by golly the demo had me sold! Heh, "demoing."
posted by basicchannel at 8:57 PM on June 18, 2012


Oh, and one more thing: Windows 8 has XBox Live integrated into it. As in, you'll be able to play XBox Live games on your PC. Not to mention that Steam will run in it.

If their emulator doesn't suck (and hey, this IS Microsoft we're talking about), they just threw the mobile gaming market wide open.
posted by dw at 8:58 PM on June 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


ZOMG THE KEYBOARD COMES IN DIFFERENT COLORS?! SIGN ME UP!!



(Seriously, you're announcing a potentially huge product release, and after showing off a major feature like the integrated keyboard/cover you take time to show that it comes in several colors?)
posted by Tehhund at 8:59 PM on June 18, 2012


I'm guardedly optimistic, if it works like they say and the price is right it's close to what I've been wanting. If only the stylus had better resolution and was pressure sensitive.
posted by the_artificer at 9:00 PM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


dw: “The Intel Surface will be surprisingly cheap, and Apple will react with some combination of ‘well battery life suxxors’ and ‘why don't you buy an Air instead it has a REAL keyboard.’ But I'm willing to bet that once everyone in Cupertino stops laughing tonight, someone is going to ask if Microsoft just did what IBM did to Apple in 1982 -- commoditized a market sector Apple completely owned. And then someone else is going to start to say ‘no,’ but then stop, think for a minute, and then realize that maybe, just maybe, they did.”

Then that someone else is going to be fired, because everyone knows that's inane; Apple absolutely did not own 63% of the PC market in 1982. Apple is selling about sixty million iPads every year right now. Sixty million. There's no way Microsoft is swooping in and grabbing a nascent market before Apple has a chance to mobilize, like IBM did in 1982. Apple mobilized a decade ago.

“Not to mention that Steam will run in it.”

At the moment, it appears that Steam will actually only run on the more expensive Intel Surface. Moreover, again, iPad owns the mobile gaming market. I think Microsoft will have to do a lot more to 'throw it open.'

This is coming from a Linux guy who despises Apple in many ways, mind you. But one learns to be skeptical, particularly when Apple has flatly dominated this market for years now. This is really not 1982.
posted by koeselitz at 9:03 PM on June 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


dw just said some of the things I wanted to say, and addressed some others I hadn't considered. Preview: And some more.

Seriously. I've been on both sides of the Apple and PC/MS fence since I was a wee little kid. I support MS products. I've grown up with and supported not a small amount of Apple products.

Don't discount the overall integration of Windows 8/Metro. The Metro interface is pretty damn slick for tablets and phones and other touch devices. If it re-uses the solid bits of Windows 7 (which is finally a "real" and "mostly secure" OS) as a mobile OS it'll be some decent stuff.
posted by loquacious at 9:03 PM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


The big question: why did Microsoft do this inhouse? They (almost) never make their own hardware.
posted by stbalbach at 9:04 PM on June 18, 2012


A bunch of execs at HP, Dell, and Lenovo are going to be royally pissed that Microsoft just threw them and their entire ultrabook push under the bus in the name of selling Windows 8.

They are, of course, free to counter this product with their own.

But if they take the tact that the American automobile companies (and in many cases their workers and fellow American citizens) did and blame not themselves but others (the Japanese mainly with American auto manufacturers) it won't be unexpected but it will be equally as pathetic.
posted by juiceCake at 9:04 PM on June 18, 2012


Steve Ballmer demonstrates the shape of the new Surface tablet.
posted by furtive at 9:04 PM on June 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Wireless. More space than a nomad. Lamé.
posted by blue_beetle at 9:05 PM on June 18, 2012 [16 favorites]


"Clippy, is that rain?"
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:09 PM on June 18, 2012 [34 favorites]


The big question: why did Microsoft do this inhouse? They (almost) never make their own hardware.

Because everyone else has proven themselves incapable of it. Year after year they keep throwing the same devices at everyone with slightly upgraded specs and even if the software is amazing, people are still stuck using it on some flimsy mediocre laptop that was built to a budget that creaks whenever you pick it up by a corner. And also it weighs 6 pounds and doesn't quite sleep/wake properly.

The only way MS could show what their software is capable of is to release their own reference that works perfectly. Of course whether this actually sees the light of day is yet to be seen, but if it works and works well then it puts everyone on notice that they should probably up their game a little instead of resting.
posted by mikesch at 9:11 PM on June 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


If you haven't used a Zune, don't hate on it, unless you're specifically talking about the marketing campaign (which obviously didn't work). It was a surprisingly nice piece of hardware, and was leaps and bounds better than Apple's comparative offerings at the time. I say this as a loyal iPod user in hindsight.

Microsoft's hardware division has actually always been an underutilized strong point of the company (except for the 360, when the EEs evidently dropped acid while designing the power supplies). It's nice to see them get some attention, and frankly a bit surprising to not see this with Nokia, HTC, or (especially) HP stamped on top.

The real bold and unexpected news out of this is that Microsoft are saying "Fuck this, you had your chance, and we're going to do this without you" to its hardware OEMs. And, frankly, it's something that they've needed to be told for a long, long time. After some very rough years, Microsoft has been scooping up some of the top talent in the world, and it's starting to show.

And, yes. I know I'm not the target demographic, but a tablet with a USB port, no app store lock-in, and legacy app compatibility is a huge freaking deal to me. Done right, IT departments will buy this in droves. iOS is still problematic for many of them, and the PlayBook is just a depressingly underwhelming product. This might scratch the right itch.
posted by schmod at 9:13 PM on June 18, 2012 [11 favorites]


The hardware has promise, the Windows 8 might end up being another Vista.
posted by Apocryphon at 9:15 PM on June 18, 2012


It's going to be surprisingly expensive, or else why have the cheaper ARM based tablet.

I don't think the ARM to compete with the iPad. I think it's to compete with the Galaxy Tab -- which is already cheaper than a base iPad, anyway. As for the Intel processor, I don't see how they can charge more than $999. And they probably won't. Keep in mind that a 64GB 4G iPad retails for $829. I bet that's what they're going to compete again. And I would not be surprised if they sold the Surface at a loss.

Apple's true advantage is in their supply chain. It's simply not possible to buy things for less than Apple pays.

It's not that. Otherwise, Galaxy Tabs would be more expensive than Apple -- and they're not. It is, however, impossible to buy anything Apple wants. They buy from the manufacturers in such bulk and at such low margins no one else can muscle in. But it's certainly possible to make a decent tablet with off-the-shelf parts Apple doesn't use. It's just not going to be as amazing and revolutionary as the iPad.

Apple is the Mercedes or the BMW of the computer market -- they make beautiful, functional machines that are well-built, expensive works of art. Microsoft is GM. GM is never going to build a car as luxurious as a Mercedes or as tight-cornering as a BMW. But GM can build a lot of cars that are going at going from point A to point B. And that's what I mean by Microsoft commoditizing the tablet -- they're out to make a tablet that businesses will buy in bulk and the Average User will pay less than an iPad for.

It is a gamble, of course. iPads are over 80% of tablet sales. But Microsoft is taking the gamble. And at this point, they have nothing to lose. If it works, they're back in the game. If it doesn't, well, they'll just become like IBM and sell to enterprise and forget about consumer (other than XBox).

For the first time in a long time, Microsoft is actually trying.
posted by dw at 9:17 PM on June 18, 2012 [8 favorites]


no app store lock-in

Will you not be locked into the Windows eco-system like Android apps are locked into Android and iOS apps are locked into iOS? And aren't Windows RT apps only available from Microsoft's app store just like iOS apps on the Apple App store?
posted by gyc at 9:21 PM on June 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


The hardware has promise, the Windows 8 might end up being another Vista.

I'm rather think that having a hardware side of the euation to match the software one might stick a stake through the heart of that lazy-ass meme. What is Windows 8 for? Well, this, clearly. Which is probably why they're doing it.
posted by Artw at 9:25 PM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


One way Microsoft could make this more attractive than the iPad is to make it really easy for anyone to create good-enough-looking applications. One of their strengths is, after, in creating developer tools.

Yep, developers, developers.

Damn you, monkey boy, you were right all along!
posted by benito.strauss at 9:25 PM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Android apps aren't locked into Google's storefront. Check (or uncheck--can't remember which) one box in your security settings and you can then install apps from wherever you can find them. This is how the Amazon App Store is able to work. Some open source projects are able to provide Android apps directly as well. If Windows 8 on ARM tablets has the same openness, then that's a bonus.
posted by honestcoyote at 9:28 PM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


There's no way Microsoft is swooping in and grabbing a nascent market before Apple has a chance to mobilize, like IBM did in 1982.

You're missing my point.

The IBM PC did two things:

1. It gave businesses a machine they could trust to put on their employees' desks
2. Because it was built entirely of off-the-shelf components, anyone could build one

So the IBM PC turned the "home computer" into an enterprise device, and then by not owning the hardware it accidentally commoditized the PC. And while it nearly killed IBM, it meant that anyone could have a PC for under $2000, and it'd run whatever MS-DOS program you could throw at it.

And that's just what Microsoft did. It basically said screw it, we're building our own machine with off-the-shelf parts. And now there's a template for everyone else to follow.

Apple was the dominant computer maker in 1982. It was a more competitive market (with TI and Commodore and Tandy taking up a sizable chunk of sales), but there's no question that Apple was the pre-eminent computer maker of the time. By the end of the decade, the MS-DOS running PC had turned Apple into a niche computer company.
posted by dw at 9:35 PM on June 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Why is there an ARM version and an Intel version?

As to the question of "what problem does this solve?" Microsoft thinks that tablets are the wave of the future, and they're afraid of being left behind.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:40 PM on June 18, 2012


One way Microsoft could make this more attractive than the iPad is to make it really easy for anyone to create good-enough-looking applications.

Metro supports XAML or Javascript/HTML. Yes, they have made Javascript/HTML a first class citizen. For XAML they have a ridiculous suite of tools, including Blend, which will be familiar to anyone who has done WPF or Silverlight. I'm not sure how the hell Javascript for local apps will work but the documentation ishere Microsoft has been backing jQuery pretty hard so maybe it will be familiar for people who use jQuery. What this will mean is that people can leverage existing Javascript/HTML knowlege and start developing Metro apps without having to dig into XAML.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:42 PM on June 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


The GitHub guys did a "metryo style" WPF app using XAML and I was pretty surprised at how complementary they were. There are some shots in there of mocking stuff up in Blend 4. XAML is actually a very cool technology.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:50 PM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why is there an ARM version and an Intel version?

ARM windows 8 machines only run win RT apps and are locked in to the microsoft app store in the same way iOS devices are. In return you will get better battery life, lighter, cooler devices and the same safe feeling everyone says they has that Apple approves all apps.

Intel devices can run the win RT stuff, plus all your legacy "real" windows apps and be faster. In exchange they will cost more, weigh more and have shorter battery life.

I, personally, would want an Intel one, but I can absolutely see why the ARM version would be fine for many or even most people. My feel is that Microsoft think that initially people will want the Intel one, then when enough have sold people will start writing win RT apps, once that biulds up the ARM ones will be a viable product (and a direct ipad competitor). If they just released ARM ones with no app there would be no reason to get one.

What I want is the Lenovo Yoga shown when win 8 was announced. An ultrabook with a touchscreen where you can fold the keyboard back out of the way and use it as a 13" tablet.
posted by markr at 9:52 PM on June 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


a tablet with a USB port, no app store lock-in, and legacy app compatibility is a huge freaking deal to me. Done right, IT departments will buy this in droves.

The problem is that it has to justify the cost compared to ultrabooks and lower end laptops. Tablets are great for casual consumption of media but not so good for productivity, which is what business IT departments need to enable. A 12" ultrabook is going to have a higher resolution screen, a better keyboard, a faster CPU, a longer lasting battery, and be less likely to get damaged. The portability and software that takes advantage of the touch capability is going to have to be pretty impressive to compete against that.

Why is there an ARM version and an Intel version?

Battery life for the former and compatibility with existing software for the latter. The former will almost undoubtedly fail badly if it's competing with the iPad on price because the only way to compete with Apple in that arena is to be really cheap (Kindle Fire, for example).
posted by Candleman at 9:54 PM on June 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


The problem with the ARM vs Intel stuff is that most consumers have shown that they don't care too much about the hardware specifications inside, so long as the device is lightweight, runs cool and fast, and gives good battery life.

Comparing instructions per second doesn't mean much when people can look at an iPad and a clone and compare more meaningful stats like weight, battery life, screen resolution, etc. and see themselves getting more for the same dollar with the iPad. And the market has shown that people have made that calculation.

In any case, Microsoft isn't competing against Apple (no one has demonstrated they can, so far, and this situation doesn't look too different, at least at this point in time), so much as other hardware manufacturers who are used to moving Windows-based computers.

Getting Windows resellers on board will be a tough nut for Ballmer to crack — as much as getting wary developers to write apps for this new platform. The keyboard built into the smart cover-like cover is a neat innovation, but it's hard to see Microsoft win the larger two-front war they are up against.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:03 PM on June 18, 2012


The hardware has promise, the Windows 8 might end up being another Vista.

Yes and no. Windows 8 is pretty clearly designed as a mobile platform. I think it'll probably be Vista 2.0 in the desktop/laptop world, but it makes perfect sense for mobile devices, based on everything I've seen so far.
posted by asnider at 10:04 PM on June 18, 2012


Has anything come out about what processor is in the Intel version?
posted by madmethods at 10:05 PM on June 18, 2012


So the Intel version is a kind of spiffy version of the Macbook Air. A PC that looks like a tablet. As someone else said, people locked in to MS will go nuts for it.

OTOH, the ARM version is the Zune of tablets. It has nothing special other than the MS name going for it, and with Android on one side and iPad on the other, isn't going to do much in the way of sales. However, it's probably necessary, since they can price it low to make themselves look competitive, and make the money on the Intel version which will probably cost $900 or so.

The thing is, they're trying to make Windows a selling point, and for a tablet, that's a mistake. 95% of the existing Windows apps won't play nice with the gesture system. I think Apple's approach, to make everyone write to the new UI was a better idea.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 10:06 PM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


My husband has a Windows phone. I don't know if it's related to this, but at least at face value it looks almost identical. It's also a buggy piece of shit. The software is TERRIBLE. I am not looking forward to anything else Windows is producing.
posted by Malice at 10:07 PM on June 18, 2012


I should mention it's not his choice to have a Windows phone. It's his work phone.
posted by Malice at 10:08 PM on June 18, 2012


After looking at all the arguments for and against, I am pro Microskub.
posted by Drumhellz at 10:12 PM on June 18, 2012


I just bought a $12 replica of Marty McFy's watch. I won't be out-nerded or have buyer's remorse.
posted by Brocktoon at 10:20 PM on June 18, 2012


this reminds me of this
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:28 PM on June 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


11 years of Tablet PCs and Microsoft still can't let go of the keyboard...

I don't get it.
posted by ethansr at 10:29 PM on June 18, 2012 [2 favorites]



I don't think this will be the case though. It's going to be surprisingly expensive, or else why have the cheaper ARM based tablet. Apple's true advantage is in their supply chain. It's simply not possible to buy things for less than Apple pays. I'm betting this thing costs more than a MacBook Air by the time they're done with it.

I'm confused - Apple's supply chain is an enormous advantage to Apple. MS will make sure this is cheap. They have pretty deep pockets.
posted by mattoxic at 10:32 PM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


My husband uses my iPAd to play Sudoku and some video game. I use a desk top.

I ordered a microscope from American Science and Surplus. To take pics of my mineral collection. No worky with Mac. Unless I perform some Herculean feat of GEEKNESS.

Bring it, MS. We will buy you ... if you have a good hardware base. :-D /cheeseburger
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 10:33 PM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just because they have deep pockets doesn't mean they should be throwing billions away on losing products like they did with:

Windows Phone
Zune
Kin
Courier
posted by reiichiroh at 10:36 PM on June 18, 2012


11 years of Tablet PCs and Microsoft still can't let go of the keyboard...

I don't get it.


One of the hottest iPad accessories is this. Anyone doing significant text work on an iPad (like writers) wants to type for realz.
posted by fatbird at 10:36 PM on June 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


These things are gorgeous. Zune never had any sex appeal, it didn't have any style, it looked like a dog turd -- these things are gorgeous.
posted by dancestoblue at 10:39 PM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wow, how damn ballsy of Ballmer to introduce a touch tablet and call it the "Surface." The original Surface was the technology that should have beat Apple to market as a tablet. It should be an unbearable embarrassment to him that he missed out on the technology that was brewing in his house. Microsoft had its head so far up its monopolistic ass that Apple totally ate their lunch and defined only novel direction of computing in the last five years. As an outsider, the only explanation that I can conjure, and it's surely wrong, is that they limited their revolutionary technology to an obscure niche simply so that it wouldn't have to compete with bloodthirsty Windows PMs.

It's bad enough for a monopoly to abuse its power and prevent competitors from bringing new technology to market, but when a monopoly prevents its own innovations from getting to market and lets somebody else do it instead, you have to wonder just what, if anything, Ballmer could do to lose his job. Startups used to be afraid of Microsoft. No more. Nobody is afraid of Microsoft. They're so clumsy that I don't even really believe that this product will come out at anything that remotely resembles the expectations he set today. Microsoft is famous for vaporware and missing planned product features. Famous for second-rate sloppy products that make checklist-checking IT executives happy and users miserable. The've mastered the art of selling dog food, exploiting the discrepancy between the decision makers and those who have to endure the decisions, but Microsoft has not adapted as more and more dogs get to choose their own food. At Ballmer's level, there is no excuse for the strategic blunders that he has made in the last decade. No excuse. And has there been any good decision whatsoever that could be attributed to Ballmer? Maybe Apple and Google have been kicking ass the past decade, but it's just as likely an explanation that Microsoft and all their OEMs have been sandbagging.
posted by Llama-Lime at 10:41 PM on June 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


The hardware looks cool at first, but given a moments thought it starts to remind me of the "The Homer" car. Too many wheels within wheels within wheels.

A built in kick stand is cool I guess, but I would probably want to put this thing in a case if I'm going to carry it around...'cause I drop things occasionally you know? So then why not just make the kickstand part of the soft protective case?

Re: the keyboard case. Frankly the iPad screen keyboard is awesome. If you don't like it, you need to rewire yourself...here's why: Its a low impact design. You just lightly tap, no need to go all RSI hammerfingers on it. The technology comes from the Fingerworks keyboard of the early 00's, which was quite popular with people that had previously developed RSI on regular keyboards.

And the Fingerworks KB had all this sweet gestural stuff, which will hopefully eventually be rediscovered. I just installed the Swipe Select Jailbreak hack, which is the coolest thing ever. Two weeks later and I already find myself automatically trying to do it on my android phone
posted by Chekhovian at 10:42 PM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you haven't used a Zune, don't hate on it

ROFL Zune Guy.

I keep thinking about a story someone wrote about the Zune, he said kids would show up in school with a Zune after christmas because their parents were too cheap to buy an iPod like they really wanted, so they doomed their kids to playground fights while the other kids taunted them by chanting "zuney zuney zuney, zuney zuney zuney."

Anyway, this mythical VaporPad is an old, failed strategy born of desperation: a "knocker." It's a product you create when you realize you have no product to sell. No ship date, no price, nobody has even touched it. It doesn't really exist, except on paper. It's not intended to get people to buy it. It's intended to stop people from buying the competing product, the iPad. IBM used to do this, going back to their earliest days selling cash registers. They would offer an insanely cheap cash register that didn't exist yet, and ask for a $2 deposit. That was enough to get people to stop considering a purchase of the competing NCR cash register. The most famous knocker was the PCjr, it lost money on every unit, it wasn't intended to make money, it was intended to stop people from buying Apple //c computers during a time when Apple had poor cash flow. Every PCjr sold damaged IBM's bottom line, but damaged Apple's even more, at a time when they were in transition from the old Apple II product line to the Mac.

The VaporPad is the same thing. It's a press release aimed at IT departments, promising them the moon and stars, everything they ever dreamed of in a tablet, if they'll just wait a year or two and save up their budget and not buy iPads. I predict the Windows pad will not ship in any Enterprise-level quantities for at least a year. Maybe two. I mean, just look at it. They demoed a prototype tablet, just like the prototype demoed at CES years ago that never shipped. The tablet froze up during the demo, running a controversial OS in early beta, that is obviously designed to be compatible with the apps that don't exist for the Microsoft Phone, and isn't completely compatible with existing MS apps. It has a stylus and a plastic keyboard. But Microsoft expects customers to buy this, because they have no choice, this is what the failing Windows OS monopoly dictates you will use.

And that is why this is the most exciting thing Microsoft has ever done. Ballmer has bet the company that he can beat Apple at what they do best, something Microsoft has never done: supply chain management. Apple already has the lowest cost of materials and manufacture, by buying up long term contracts on all the crucial parts like LCDs and flash memory, Microsoft can not compete on price or volume. In order to succeed, Microsoft will have to compete with one giant industry: Microsoft PC hardware manufacturers. Ballmer declared war on Dell, Sony, Samsung, HP, and every other company that licenses their OS. Steve Jobs once said, "if anyone is going to make our products obsolete and cut into our sales, it should be us." Well Ballmer just did that to the rest of the PC industry, the very industry that keeps Microsoft alive. To beat Apple, which is obviously their goal, Ballmer will have to destroy enterprise computing and cannibalize all the manufacturers who support it. And in doing so, it will destroy the one thing that keeps the money flowing from OS and Office app upgrades: their OEMs. And Microsoft announced it a year before the product will ship, giving the OEMs time to fight back and demand concessions from Microsoft. This is the most inspired act of self-destruction I have ever seen from Microsoft.

Ultimately Microsoft has never understood how to compete on the basis of their products. Microsoft doesn't make products, it makes markets. Or at least that is how they see themselves. Microsoft's only goal is to protect its markets in Windows and MSOffice apps. Producing markets and cash flow is vital, computer software (and now hardware) is only a byproduct used to achieve their market goals. But other companies have created new products that built whole new markets from scratch while MS is still trying to figure out what is so great about the product. In the case of the iPad, they have completely failed to understand what the product does. Microsoft wants to beat the iPad by giving them MORE, a full featured desktop OS that can do everything a PC can do, but it will be very costly. Apple realized that people don't want a tablet that can do MORE, they want a tablet that can do less. People don't want their desktop PC in a tablet. They want an iPhone or iPod Touch in a tablet, just with a bigger screen. They want simplified apps that do less. No more creeping featureitis, cut that crap out and pare it down to the bare necessities. And people like it better than their PCs.
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:42 PM on June 18, 2012 [26 favorites]


A better Swipe selection demo.

Hopefully this idea becomes standard on all touch screen keyboards.
posted by Chekhovian at 10:45 PM on June 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't think I've ever met anyone with a Zune who hasn't been a a passionate fan of it.
posted by Artw at 10:49 PM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Flash games, eh? See "battery life" (and CPU hogging.)
posted by Philofacts at 10:50 PM on June 18, 2012


And re Microsoft Courier:

There's an iPad app for that, Notes Plus 3.0. Ink notes, text, a side pane for importing clips to annotate.
posted by Chekhovian at 10:50 PM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Meh I don't care about battery life. I use my iPad till it dies then plug it in and keep using it. I'll do the same with any tablet.

Slashgear has video of the in person demos.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:54 PM on June 18, 2012


I think some of you might be overestimating how bad it could get. I think worst case, this tablet will be comparable to Window Phones' relatively anemic showing. Best case, it gives Microsoft a solid footing towards supplanting Android as a tablet OS, especially since Android tablets have largely been so impotent against the iPad they'd be easy opposition to overshadow anyway. But the projections some of you are coming up with seem like analyses of RIM, not Microsoft. This is not going to be vaporware. And a stumbling giant is still a giant, even if its enemies have gotten gianter.

As for Surface- yeah, what the hell happened to the original Surface? What was the point of something costing tens of thousands of dollars? So a couple of College Humor guys could play Settlers of Catan with Lutz from 30 Rock?
posted by Apocryphon at 11:02 PM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


So I watched the video. It's netbook 2.0. $1200 vs $300.
posted by Brocktoon at 11:04 PM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


One of the hottest iPad accessories is this. Anyone doing significant text work on an iPad (like writers) wants to type for realz.

Okay. That's just a low-spec laptop now. Have we gone full circle? (That's pretty effin ridiculous. Just buy a laptop.)
posted by Malice at 11:08 PM on June 18, 2012


That's pretty effin ridiculous. Just buy a laptop.

I'm in total agreement there. Making a physical keyboard you default typing option for the ipad is just silly silly silly.
posted by Chekhovian at 11:15 PM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


what the hell happened to the original Surface?

Mainly they turn up as interactive exhibits at museums. They're super expensive, so I suspect they're not going to see much use outside of that.
posted by Artw at 11:17 PM on June 18, 2012


So fuck portrait mode, huh?
posted by fleacircus at 11:17 PM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Okay. That's just a low-spec laptop now. Have we gone full circle?

It really isn't that different from a Macbook Air, is it? I suppose the one thing the tablets offer that the laptops don't (currently) is a well-executed touch interface. You don't have to use the keyboard, and it's not even the primary interface. But if you're sitting down to do a bunch of typing, the keyboard is available, and if your typing is nothing but writing prose, and the rest of what you do is better on a tablet, it's a pretty easy switch to make.
posted by fatbird at 11:19 PM on June 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


markr: What I want is the Lenovo Yoga shown when win 8 was announced. An ultrabook with a touchscreen where you can fold the keyboard back out of the way and use it as a 13" tablet.

Yes! That thing looks amazing. But it sounds like it's going to cost an arm and two legs.
posted by Kevin Street at 11:20 PM on June 18, 2012


That ad makes me think of Saw. I don't to buy a Surface after watching it--I want to smash it.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 11:21 PM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Microsoft's problem with the Windows Phone is not the hardware or software...it's the marketing and the apps. There are tons of billboards and print ads, etc., that say that some app is available for iPhone and Android, without Windows Phone being mentioned in the same line.

I was in an AT&T store the other day. The Windows Phones were relegated to a dark corner, whereas the rest of the store wasn't much different from the Apple store around the corner. The sales people will sell you a Windows Phone if you ask for one, but they certainly aren't pushing them on customers.

Microsoft hopes that Windows 8 puts the Metro interface in front of people where they get used to it, then feel comfortable with having it on their phone. If they can do that, and get the marketing right, they can beat Apple and Google. The old saying is that "competing with Microsoft is like playing pinball...when you win, you get to play again." The competition in phones has been winning for quite a while, and I've been wondering if the Microsoft pinball machine is busted. Windows 8 and Surface at least has a chance to get the machine fixed.
posted by Xoc at 11:23 PM on June 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'll get one as soon as they port android!

This thing is pretty cool, physically. But windows 8: Bleh. And with the ARM version you can't replace the OS. So f' that.

But like I've been saying for a while: This is all fashion now, most techies haven't realized it. If Microsoft spends the money to make this fashionable, people will buy it. At this point, there isn't any serious problem with the UIs or stability or viruses or whatever in the OS the way there was when comparing MacOS to Windows in the 90s. The issue of computing power has completely dissipated when you're talking about tablets or ultra-books. The only people who need a lot of compute power are gamers.
Meh I don't care about battery life. I use my iPad till it dies then plug it in and keep using it. I'll do the same with any tablet.
Which is why the whole idea of a 'mobile revolution' is BS. I read somewhere that one of the most significant uses of 'mobile' phones is to surf the web while people watch TV. But all you need for that is regular wifi. You don't need a true mobile devices.

Mobile devices obviously make life way better when you're on the go, but the things that they're good for don't require you spend a lot of time actually using it. Check-ins. GPS, linking up with your friends. Those are useful but not really something you can monetize very effectively.

I might play angry birds or surf the web if I'm bored, but the problem for me is that the battery life sucks if I try to do that. It's not really a practical solution, and most of the time I'll try to avoid boring situations anyway. If I'm going to be bored, I might as well do it at home.
posted by delmoi at 11:24 PM on June 18, 2012


So fuck portrait mode, huh?

I type in portrait mode occasionally, mainly kind of a two finger hunt and peck thing for URLs and short things. But it is kind of an ugly kludge. Honestly I just an Incase Case for my iPad, which bulks it up a bit, but is an easy quick folding stand for typing etc.

That's the real problem with electronics though...they keep getting thinner and thinner and thinner, but no less brittle. So any sensible person should keep them in something soft and cushiony, which will shield it. I guess the solution is just be rich enough not to care that your unshielded gizmo broke after you dropped it.
posted by Chekhovian at 11:25 PM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


BP: "The problem with the ARM vs Intel stuff is that most consumers have shown that they don't care too much about the hardware specifications inside, so long as the device is lightweight, runs cool and fast, and gives good battery life."

I think it's a little more complicated than that. I'd say its more like "most consumers have shown that they don't care too much about the hardware specifications inside, so long as the device is lightweight, runs cool and fast, gives good battery life, and runs the same software as the older/newer/differently-specced model sitting next to it."

Apple adheres to that (mostly; I admit they drift away when it comes to new features features on new hardware) - something like 80+% of iOS apps are compatible back to 2nd/3rd Gen iPods running iOS4, most of the other 20% have different versions for different software/hardware versions, and only a very few are restricted to the latest hardware. The trick will be if MS can get a similarly consistent ecosystem going - so that little Billy with the cheap ARM Surface can play the same game as his mate who got the expensive Intel version. Otherwise, a fair whack of people are being set up for an annoying case of buyer's remorse…

Apple has 1 'user experience' per hardware line. MS is immediately starting off with 2 or 3 - two mutually-incompatible hardware versions, one them tied to the company store, and the other with 2 different UIs. That's just asking for confusion.

But the biggest problem with this launch is MS doing wrong what Apple does right - they create buzz, but they don't take advantage of it!posted by Pinback at 11:25 PM on June 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


Microsoft's problem with the Windows Phone is not the hardware or software...it's the marketing and the apps. There are tons of billboards and print ads, etc., that say that some app is available for iPhone and Android, without Windows Phone being mentioned in the same line.
You know, it should be easy to get the dalvik JVM running on a windows phone. If Microsoft wasn't so obsessed with controlling the platform, they could have made it super easy to port android apps to Windows phone. There isn't anything Google could have done (Would have been pretty damn hypocritical to sue them after winning the oracle lawsuit, right?)

Microsoft isn't used to being in the position of not having any application support. They're counting on people addicted to .net to come over and start writing .net apps for windows mobile. But the fact is, those guys are never that good.
posted by delmoi at 11:27 PM on June 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


In any case, Microsoft isn't competing against Apple (no one has demonstrated they can, so far, and this situation doesn't look too different, at least at this point in time)

Wait a damn second. Apple proponents keep saying "Microsoft can't compete" and I don't think it means what you think it means, because people keep expecting Microsoft to invade Apple's niche market and start chipping away at it for it to mean that they're actually "competing", when it's like Ford or GM trying to build niche-market competition for a BMW or Mercedes, even though Microsoft-as-GM-or-Ford is already (and still) outselling Apple on the desktop/laptop market.

Which company still outsells OS X and Apple hardware an order of magnitude over Apple's sales? Which company still dominates the majority of home, small office and corporate IT sales? Which company still sells the majority of email and intra-office services? Which company still has a supported OS that's over 10 years old and still has a majority market share from it?

And which company stopped making operating systems for and/or hardware servers in the last few years? (It is, of course, not Microsoft.)

For better or worse that sure looks like competition to me.

People with the income and privilege to afford the very real increased price points of Apple computers forget this too easily. Do you own a Mac or iPod? Do actually buy things from the Apple Store instead of Amazon? Congratulations! You're part of the economic elite who can afford nicer things on this planet!

The rest of us own Microsoft/PC/IBM clones for laptops or desktops because it's what we can afford. Or if it's a phone - we own Android phones. Maybe that will change, but no matter. In either case we still outnumber OS X or iOS users by wide margins, respectively.

Remember - I am decidely not a Microsoft fanboy. Even as it has provided me with work over the years. Microsoft and it's products have serious issues. I wish everyone would try Ubuntu or some other variant of desktop Linux. If enough people did that for their basic home computing needs, then the real software that I need to have written so I could also finally permanently switch to a Linux desktop would happen sooner - and the sooner that both MS and Apple could stop choking the technology markets.

But don't discount Microsoft. They probably have about 1-2 decades worth of momentum left in the worst case scenario. There's still a huge market for unique hardware backed by the flexibility of Microsoft's product.

In counterpoint - Apple can't compete with that, either. They don't know how to deal with an open hardware chain, nor an unwalled garden. Microsoft does. It's been supporting open hardware chains since just after MS-DOS 1.0. It will happily incorporate nearly any piece of hardware, or provide the hooks to make that hardware go for nearly any manufacturer.

This is precisely how MS + IBM unseated the Apple II and Visicalc back in the very early 80s. Apple used to have a majority control of the business PC market. It lost it because it wasn't willing to allow cloning of it's hardware just for the sake of selling software. I can't say I blame them, because the IBM-PC clone was an accident and a mistake.

But here we are in a world where Apple is now building IBM-PC-Intel clone hardware that will happily run MS-DOS/Windows.

And people who have adopted Apple's hardware ecology forget how large and vast the hardware ecology is for MS products. We're not just talking servers and desktops, we're talking CNC machines, laser cutters, blade-based film cutters, embroidery machines, electron scanning microscopes, film or print RIPs and file-setters, gene sequencers, plasma cutters, CAD-CAM routers, 3D printers, security camera systems, security/access control systems, software-defined radios, inventory systems, EDI integration, order picking systems, order entry systems, fast food terminals, software-based DJ systems, pro-audio automation, robotics control systems, sensor-driven integration and industrial automation... and so, so much more.

Sure, your circle of friends may own Mac hardware and software. It may be the majority of the hardware that you personally see in your day to day life - a financial/intellectual elite of the sort that uses MetaFilter instead of Reddit or Digg...

...but I suport the bottom end of technology. It's my bread and butter. The vast majority of every day people who own and use computers still use and buy Windows.

Apple is a long ways from actually dominating the global sales of operating systems for either desktops/laptops or tablets/phones for this market.

If Microsoft keeps it's loose but seductive grasp on the cheap hardware chain no matter the form factor - they'll probably be able to maintain their control and dominance of the end-user, client-side PC in most of it's forms for as long as I'm going to be alive.

Sure, things could get really bad for MS. It could utterly fail to survive as a company.

It's just not very likely.
posted by loquacious at 11:31 PM on June 18, 2012 [23 favorites]


They're counting on people addicted to .net to come over and start writing .net apps for windows mobile. But the fact is, those guys are never that good.

I don't buy that. Even if 99% of .net developers are terrible there are still so many around that a few of them have to be superstars. iOS had no apps, people went out and learned Objective-C to get in on the gold rush. You can't tell me all of them are great. Sure iOS has a head start but windows has always had a huge developer base.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:43 PM on June 18, 2012


I do enjoy this world where everyone uses Apple stuff and superstar programmers only write for the Mac OS. (I do admit those fart apps are pretty slick.)
posted by maxwelton at 11:47 PM on June 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


So a couple of College Humor guys could play Settlers of Catan with Lutz from 30 Rock

Btw, I really loved the virtual board game, especially the little view shields that allow you to have a private set of cards. Sigh, why isn't the future evenly distributed already?
posted by Chekhovian at 12:14 AM on June 19, 2012


Compare and contrast:
A)People with the income and privilege to afford the very real increased price points of Apple computers forget this too easily. Do you own a Mac or iPod? Do actually buy things from the Apple Store instead of Amazon? Congratulations! You're part of the economic elite who can afford nicer things on this planet!
A) I keep thinking about a story someone wrote about the Zune, he said kids would show up in school with a Zune after christmas because their parents were too cheap to buy an iPod like they really wanted, so they doomed their kids to playground fights while the other kids taunted them by chanting "zuney zuney zuney, zuney zuney zuney."
This is a big part of the reason a lot of people don't like apple. The argument "If you don't buy apple, rich people will mock you and look down on you" is not a compelling argument for a lot of people and in fact probably provides motivation to the other side. "Buy this or you're not cool" is something that the vast majority of 'hipsters' or and most intelligent people decry for almost everything else, but for some reason Apple gets a pass. It's pretty strange, especially in this day and age when really there isn't that much difference in terms of hardware, usability or whatever in terms of operating systems.

Like I've said before, it's more about fashion then technology. From a technology perspective, there's nothing 'new' in this device that couldn't have been put in a product 3 or 4 years ago. It's about being trendy and fashionable. If Microsoft can pump enough money into marketing this thing, they'll stand a chance.

Anyway, the Zune was dead when it was released. Expensive mp3 players were already obsolete, and apple knew the iPod would be too, which is why they invested in the iPhone. It was a really stupid mistake on Microsoft's part.

Imagine if they had released a consumer smartphone (unlike the 'serious business' smartphones they had at the time). Nowadays an MP3 player is some $30 gizmo that plays music of an SD card, and only for people who don't want to use their phone. I used to use a sansa fuse, which was exactly that, but since upgrading my phone I've been using that (my old one didn't have a 3.5" audio jack)
These tablets are just reified laptops anyway. It isn't like tablets are going to go away, they may just get cheaper and cheaper -- but Microsoft is a software company. They don't care about the cost of the hardware.
And meanwhile, down the road in Palo Alto and over in Round Rock and across the sea in Beijing, a bunch of execs at HP, Dell, and Lenovo are going to be royally pissed that Microsoft just threw them and their entire ultrabook push under the bus in the name of selling Windows 8.
How much love is lost, though? When HP went for their own tablet, they ditched windows. Microsoft knows all of these companies want their own tablets, and are probably considering throwing off the Microsoft yolk and going for something open source like android (or Web OS).

Remember, like a week before the iPad was announced, Microsoft announced a bunch of "slates" that were going to run win 7. After the iPad, their OEMs abandoned them. That had to piss them off a lot. Or look at HP who ditched their own OS in a fit of psychosis.

If Microsoft doesn't control the platform, like they do with XBox, they run a risk of partners not giving it their all. They wouldn't control the marketing, they wouldn't control the hardware, and so on. HTC has a windows phone, but HTC doesn't care if you chose it over their android offerings.
I would bet that there's probably already a plan for Windows 9 in the near future for the nerds who support things like Windows 8/Metro. Microsoft seems to be developing an ongoing bifurcation between "User" and "Elite".
Can you expand on this? They have a huge chunk of the 'gamer' market that apple doesn't even really go after much. Those are probably the people who spend the most on hardware, but not too much on software.

They also have a huge following of corporate IT drones and developers who probably like them, they might buy a windows phone or this surface tablet just because of brand loyalty. But who knows how plentiful they are. Microsoft wants to keep them happy because they play a role in deciding what hardware/software corporations buy.

I don't really know how much they push these things as far as their products go, other then "ultimate" "home", etc versions of windows.
I like that it has a built-in Micro-SD slot and a USB port, something Apple still hasn't figured out that people really really want in a tablet. I just hope they've made some real improvements to the Metro UI, because damn is it awful.
Apple knows. They're saving costs. You ever notice how the richest people are the cheapest? Saving a few bucks on the cost of an iPad might not seem worth while, but apparently it is. Same reason the original iPhone only had one button. It wasn't to make it 'easier' it was to make it physically cheaper to produce (and now android phones have no buttons, just a continuation of the capacitive surface for home, back, etc)
The hardware looks cool at first, but given a moments thought it starts to remind me of the "The Homer" car. Too many wheels within wheels within wheels.
If you'll remember The Homer cost like $82k for all those features. It was wildly impractical. One of the amazing things apple has been able to do is convince people that cost saving feature removal is somehow something they should want. The extra hardware features on this tablet are nice. Each person might use just one or two (the USB, the keyboard, the stand, who knows)
(Seriously, you're announcing a potentially huge product release, and after showing off a major feature like the integrated keyboard/cover you take time to show that it comes in several colors?)
Like I said, man. It's all about fashion now. Something that makes it more fashionable is way more important then technical features.
I do enjoy this world where everyone uses Apple stuff and superstar programmers only write for the Mac OS. (I do admit those fart apps are pretty slick.)
Define "Superstar"? Most of the most famous/self promoting developers that I hear about seem to web programming these days. Other then that, you're going to hear about developers who code in the same niche you do. Unless it's John Carmack or someone.
posted by delmoi at 12:14 AM on June 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


I was interested, but the moment that I learned that there's an ARM/Intel model, I knew that this would fail.

Most people don't care about ARM/Intel. Laypeople will ask -- "what's the difference?" Most salespeople won't really know the difference either. What is the difference? Different developing platforms? Different speeds?

It's not that the ARM/Intel split is important. The point is that any smart company worth their salt would have immediately seen the larger picture and nixed one of the two models. Having two processor architectures sounds like this was a committee compromise, which is a bureaucratic success but a design failure. And if they can manage to fail on such a fundamental level, then what other design failures will exist?
posted by suedehead at 12:21 AM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Wait a damn second. Apple proponents keep saying "Microsoft can't compete" and I don't think it means what you think it means, because people keep expecting Microsoft to invade Apple's niche market and start chipping away at it for it to mean that they're actually "competing", when it's like Ford or GM trying to build niche-market competition for a BMW or Mercedes, even though Microsoft-as-GM-or-Ford is already (and still) outselling Apple on the desktop/laptop market.

Owning 80% of a increasingly larger market isn't a niche. When it comes to iPads and their clones, the GM and Mercedes stuff just doesn't compute, mainly because Mercedes doesn't sell 80% of all compact cars. A Mac Pro might be expensive, sure, but that's a speciality computer, and the iPads and MacBook Airs are just killing the competition in price. Everyday people are buying these "Mercedes" compact cars by the millions and millions, all in order to replace 95% of the functionality of older computers — many of them former Windows boxes — and the economy sucks!

Ignoring the whole issue of cannibalization of Windows PC sales, portable/mobile computing on its own is still not much of a contest. The only way the GM metaphor now makes sense is when the metaphorical federal government steps in and bails them out — i.e., when Intel comes in and subsidizes Intel-based iPad clones and ultrabooks, so that "GM"/Microsoft can hope to compete.

Microsoft will have a very tough time making the argument to people who can buy an iPad computer for $500 as to why they should bother to buy a Microsoft clone for what will likely be $600 or more (unsubsidized), for the same screen size, mostly equivalent hardware features, and very little software. Running Office is not the end-all and be-all of productivity that it once was, and for enterprise users there is already Citrix on iOS.

All that said and done, how does Microsoft somehow get past fatally pissing off Dell, HP and all the other Windows resellers? Fewer Windows boxes sold mean fewer Windows sales, which translates directly into fewer Office sales, too — it's like a reverse halo effect. The more I read about this whole project, the more I wonder how long Ballmer can stay CEO.

All that said, when Microsoft makes hardware, it is generally good stuff — with the notable exception of the Xbox 360. I've been happy using Microsoft mice and keyboards with Linux and OS X workstations. The keyboard-on-a-smart-cover is something I'd definitely try out if they ever give up the Surface project and just make that accessory for the iPad.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:25 AM on June 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


One of the amazing things apple has been able to do is convince people that cost saving feature removal is somehow something they should want. The extra hardware features on this tablet are nice. Each person might use just one or two (the USB, the keyboard, the stand, who knows)

My phone has a microHDMI port. I have literally never even popped the cap open. I don't even have a tv to connect to it. Its a lot like the WWII German equivalent to the America middleweight howitzer. The American one had like 5 moving parts. The German one had 25. More features don't make some better. Having the right features is what matters.

now android phones have no buttons, just a continuation of the capacitive surface for home, back, etc

This is also for reliability reasons. Fully electronic switches are way way WAY more reliable then anything with mechanical parts, both against long term wear and against fall damage. The number one problem with old iPhones is that the home button starts flaking out, while the screen will still work perfectly, provided it hasn't been shattered or something.

Just the other day I had all this trouble plugging this coated SMA connector into its proper position. You'd think two clean pieces of gold pressed firmly together would always easily conduct. Nope. Fuck you Nature.
posted by Chekhovian at 12:28 AM on June 19, 2012


"(Seriously, you're announcing a potentially huge product release, and after showing off a major feature like the integrated keyboard/cover you take time to show that it comes in several colors?)"

Yeah, god knows that's never worked before.
posted by aurelian at 12:30 AM on June 19, 2012 [9 favorites]


A tablet form factor with an OS that can have more than one application on screen at once? Yes, please.

There's another killer feature in Office. Remember how Jobs said at the iPhone launch that other smartphones had the "baby" internet? iPad has the baby word processor and baby spreadsheet. This won't.
posted by fightorflight at 12:31 AM on June 19, 2012 [7 favorites]


when Microsoft makes hardware, it is generally good stuff — with the notable exception of the Xbox 360

It took them three generations to mostly guarantee that the graphics card didn't spontaneously desolder itself. THREE GENERATIONS.
posted by Chekhovian at 12:31 AM on June 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


"Having the right features is what matters."

The problem is, as Spolsky has pointed out, my right features aren't necessarily your right features. I'll bet not only is there someone who bought your make/model of phone because of the microHDMI port, but there are probably a few companies that bought it for their employees because the microHDMI port was vital for their business.
posted by aurelian at 12:34 AM on June 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


my right features aren't necessarily your right features

And thus we have the marvel of the free market. The problem is that if you have the same materials budget and the same manufacturing skill, the device with fewer features will be better made. So a $500 tablet with 5 features will be of higher quality for those features, than a $500 tablet with 10 features.

I'd rather have 5 things that work well than 10 things that barely work.
posted by Chekhovian at 12:42 AM on June 19, 2012


The first version will be ok. The third or fourth should be pretty good.

Can't say more until more details are known. Which says a lot.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:44 AM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


11 years of Tablet PCs and Microsoft still can't let go of the keyboard...

I don't get it.


You fingerpaint for a living, then?
posted by Jimbob at 12:54 AM on June 19, 2012 [8 favorites]


"And thus we have the marvel of the free market."

Welllllll... When upper management isn't busily cloning the other guys. Or some other pointy-haired boss from Dilbert behavior.

The optimist believes we live in the best of all possible worlds. The pessimist fears this is true.

"I'd rather have 5 things that work well than 10 things that barely work."

And this is a good example: So would everybody else. What happens more often, though, is 5 things that don't work at all, compared to 10 things that barely work.
posted by aurelian at 12:57 AM on June 19, 2012


I just wish Apple products didn't require so much loud public Cognitive Dissonance reduction.
posted by srboisvert at 12:57 AM on June 19, 2012 [7 favorites]


I actually am looking forward to a Windows 8 tablet. The story of this week should be the Verge's coverage of the up-and-coming SoCal company Vizio, who cracked into the TV market a while ago and is now trying to do the same with PCs. It'd be fascinating to see what Vizio's Win8 tablet will look like.
posted by Apocryphon at 12:58 AM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Keyboard thing will inevitably be crap.
posted by Segundus at 1:00 AM on June 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


I just wish Apple products didn't require so much loud public Cognitive Dissonance reduction

I've owned three tablet PCs in the last 10 years or so. I have this incurable romantic fascination with eInk reading/writing stuff. But honestly, I never really made full use of the Tablet capabilities. They're too heavy to hold for writing in the right way, the battery life is generally crap, so you're constantly looking for a place to plug it in, and Windows "Tablet Edition" has always been a cruel joke. Though the handwriting recognition improved dramatically when they could throw more CPU cycles at it.

Then I got an iPad, which honestly, sucks for eInk writing stuff. Capacitive screens don't do that kind of precision. But it can be passable with a decent stylus and some software workarounds. Now I use the damn thing all day long for reading papers/books, annotating them, keeping my notes. Its so great.

My hope is that Apple is going to add a Wacom stylus to the iPad at some point, mainly because they'll have run of other new features to add and they need an excuse for a new model, right, and Jobs can't kibosh it anymore?

There are similar android tablets with active styili, I know, but having looked at their reviews, they don't seem to be fully baked at the moment. And the divirsity of available software is shit. When I was looking for note taking software I bought about 6 different programs hoping each one would be "The One", which Fuck Apple for its no shareware/demo period btw, but oh well. I figure $20 to get the most use out of $500 was worth it.

The economic lockin effect of the Apple App Store is going to be a big challenge for any competitor to beat. Tablets really aren't useful without lots of apps. And all the ubernerds clamping at the bit to use their normal desktop apps on a tablet, seriously, that's a bad idea. New hardware form factors demand new modes of interaction.
posted by Chekhovian at 1:24 AM on June 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


srboisvert: "I just wish Apple products didn't require so much loud public Cognitive Dissonance reduction."

Funny thing is, the days of the shrill Apple fanboy are mostly long past. In this day and age, Apple haters and fanboys of other hardware have to run around screaming loaded opinion and rubbish just to stir up the remaining few.

And half the time the ones they do stir up are Apple haters who have turned to trolling other Apple haters for their kicks, which simply perpetuates the "Apple fanboy" stereotype…

(Not picking on anybody in this thread; it's pretty clean in that respect.)
posted by Pinback at 1:36 AM on June 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


And all the ubernerds clamping at the bit to use their normal desktop apps on a tablet, seriously, that's a bad idea. New hardware form factors demand new modes of interaction.

They do, but the mistake is to think those modes supplant the old. When the mouse came out, we didn't get rid of keyboards. Even if you had Word and InDesign installed, you can still edit text on your computer with vi and never touch the mouse once.

The iPad blocked mouse/keyboard interaction in the same way the original Mac had no arrow keys. But the point has been made, and it's now time to let traditional apps have their place inside the touch-enhanced world.
posted by fightorflight at 1:41 AM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Keyboard thing will inevitably be crap.

Keyboard thing didn't actually work.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 1:44 AM on June 19, 2012


Owning 80% of a increasingly larger market isn't a niche. When it comes to iPads and their clones, the GM and Mercedes stuff just doesn't compute, mainly because Mercedes doesn't sell 80% of all compact cars. A Mac Pro might be expensive, sure, but that's a speciality computer, and the iPads and MacBook Airs are just killing the competition in price. Everyday people are buying these "Mercedes" compact cars by the millions and millions, all in order to replace 95% of the functionality of older computers — many of them former Windows boxes — and the economy sucks!
Looking at the revenues, they're in the same ballpark. Microsoft made $15G Q4 2011, $13G Q1 2012 ("gross profit"). Apple pulled in $20G and $18G in those quarters.

That said, who even cares? I don't own stock in either of these companies. I care (vaguely) about how good the tablet is, but I would prefer seeing more android tablets anyway.

People talk about the financials of these companies because it matters to investors/speculators. For some reason fanboys get caught in the numbers as well and argue about it, but it really doesn't matter. It's kind of a weird phenomenon.
And thus we have the marvel of the free market. The problem is that if you have the same materials budget and the same manufacturing skill, the device with fewer features will be better made. So a $500 tablet with 5 features will be of higher quality for those features, than a $500 tablet with 10 features.
Or you, you know, sell it at a lower profit margin. A $500 iPad cost like $250 to make. And an $800 barely costs anymore. I mean, a wifi $16GB iPad costs $499, and a 64GB version costs $699. That's $200 for 48 GB of ram. A 32 GB Micro SDHC card or USB stick costs less then $20.

So which would you rather have, a device that costs $5 more to manufacture but can be expanded with as much storage as is practical now and in the future when prices come down, or one with a fixed size and a 7x markup on storage costs?

These features are not that expensive. Certainly not in the hundreds of dollars. Plus the idea that a USB port, memory card reader or HDMI output would "barely work" if you don't change hundreds of dollars for them is really ridiculous.
Funny thing is, the days of the shrill Apple fanboy are mostly long past.
There are obviously still a few diehards out there.
posted by delmoi at 1:52 AM on June 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


So which would you rather have, a device that costs $5 more to manufacture but can be expanded with as much storage as is practical now and in the future when prices come down, or one with a fixed size and a 7x markup on storage costs?

Unfortunately the choice isn't quite so simple. Its more "get shafted by graft like arbitrary price set points by Apple" or "spend hundreds of dollars on something that won't actually be useful, because there isn't a software ecosystem to support it."

Plus the idea that a USB port, memory card reader or HDMI output would "barely work" if you don't change hundreds of dollars for them is really ridiculous.

I was alluding more to the Tri-force input mode options for the new Surface thing, touch, pen, trackpad. I'm sure they'll work on the hardware level, but I suspect the input modalities are not going to harmonize very well. But I guess we'll see.
posted by Chekhovian at 2:01 AM on June 19, 2012


The ARM/Intel thing if a bit of a misnomer. What they are is a WinRT model and a Windows 8 model. Think of it as an iOS version and an OSX version, except that the OSX one also runs all the iOS apps.
posted by markr at 2:04 AM on June 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


It's got a keyboard. That's already a step up from the iPad AFAIC.

People can't seem to stop trying to turn tablets into notebook computers - - no wonder the iPad continues to dominate so easily.
posted by fairmettle at 3:34 AM on June 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


It used to be that Microsoft made dumb things, and noone cared. Now, they make great things, and get the same result...
posted by zoo at 3:37 AM on June 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


Fwiw, 3rd party web browsers (Firefox, Chrome, Opera) will be available for the Intel-chipped Windows 8 devices but not for the ARM-chipped ones (at least for the moment.)
posted by gen at 3:48 AM on June 19, 2012


Yeah I don't think hardware longevity is a big concern. It's pretty obvious this shit isn't supposed to last more than 2 years max.
posted by Brocktoon at 3:54 AM on June 19, 2012


no wonder the iPad continues to dominate so easily.

The iPad dominates because nobody has done a tablet even half-well yet, even those that didn't try to be laptops too.

But seriously, anybody who tells you the iPad doesn't have flaws -- or at least, has markets that it is deliberately not catering for in favour of being better-suited to other markets -- is blinkered. There is a huge gaping space here for a tablet that does more. Even simple things like having more than one app on screen at once.

The trick is to add those but not to mess up the things the iPad does superbly. Like battery life, heat, weight, screen.
posted by fightorflight at 3:56 AM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


This never happens to me vis-a-vis technology, but four years ago, at an MS-organized demo for Surface (1), I correctly predicted this: told them they'd shrink the Surface table to a laptop or a tablet level before they'd start selling this massively. The MS rep gave me one of those you-so-dont-get-it looks, and went on to describe that the Surface table was targetted at enterprises and that it's different somehow, before channeling his inner MS fervour for the ability to pan-zoom into a 3d map of Seattle on a table.

Look what's happened, O nameless-MS-rep, seems like I was right all along.

In the spirit of this sudden demonstrated ability at clairvoyance, here are a few more predictions:

1) Execs will begin spouting this to meetings and business-trips. The killer-app here isn't email, but ability to take notes and give quick presentations with the ability to hook up to their office projectors cheaply. They'll lap this up, if they haven't already bought iPads. Expect MS to not get it, and be focussed on email and Word/ Excel though.

2) The Intel version will be about SGD 1.5k, or USD 1.1k. The cheapest WinRT version will be about US$500. So you'd have devices at USD 500, USD 750, USD 1000-ish, and USD 1200.

3) Before long, there will be a racing game on the Xbox that will involve you sitting in front of the Kinect/TV, and holding this like a steering wheel and going whrrrrrr. There'll be some connected information being displayed on the Surface as well, simulating an F1 race.

4) The form-factor to explore here for games on this is not vertical, but horizontal. Think board-games with animation.

5) It'll be a biatch coding in Visual Studio on this. No function keys in either of the keyboards.

6) iPad's will still outsell this, but that's okay.
posted by the cydonian at 3:57 AM on June 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Ultimately Microsoft has never understood how to compete on the basis of their products.

So true.

I used to be able to tolerate the existence of MS, until last year. Then, I was at a school concert sitting next to a woman whose nine-year old girl was about to sing a capella, having recovered from a brain tumour a few months previously. The mum got out her brand new Windows Phone. You know what's coming.

As the girl began to sing, I was doing all I could to help the mum by ripping out the battery from the frozen piece of MS shit she'd frantically put in my hands. She recorded nothing while all those with iPhones have the beautiful singing forever. I mean, this company can't even make a camera work like it's meant to?
posted by colie at 4:00 AM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


And meanwhile, down the road in Palo Alto and over in Round Rock and across the sea in Beijing, a bunch of execs at HP, Dell, and Lenovo are going to be royally pissed that Microsoft just threw them and their entire ultrabook push under the bus in the name of selling Windows 8.

Ahhh, this is the crux of it. Microsoft desperately wants to cut Apple and Google off at the knees, as the iOS and Android products have almost broken its monopoly of the corporate desktop. Microsoft does not have a credible entry in the "Smart Device" market, and never had - Nokia is faltering badly with their new smartphone strategy, and Microsoft is pouring cash into the company just to keep it afloat. Its traditional hardware partners... aren't interested. Android lets them do more interesting things for less money.

So, Microsoft is forcing the issue.

The problem is, it's trying to transition to a new OS at the same time. Vista was a catastrophe for the company that Windows 7 is still trying to fix, and the pushback against Windows 8's new interface is almost as savage as the Vista blowback. The PC sector is very, very conservative. Windows 8 is only going to be a success if the big hardware vendors sell it to their large institutional customers.

Why on earth would they do that? Windows 8 competes directly with their Android product lines and their profitable convertible-tablet lines and undermines their ultrabook investments.

I wouldn't be surprised if Microsoft backed off and started referring to these as "reference platforms."

On the other hand, if they are a success, that's the end of any non-Microsoft user device at the workplace for at least the next 10-15 years. This is Microsoft. They will use any market success to shut out competition, and now that they're no longer under the anti-trust consent decree, they are free to go back to the bad old days of predatory business practices to create and secure a monopoly. (Which is why some professional nerds are really, really eager for these tablets - they miss only having to support a single platform, and forcing their users into taking whatever they're given.)
posted by Slap*Happy at 4:23 AM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


There is a huge gaping space here for a tablet that does more. Even simple things like having more than one app on screen at once.

Yet another reason the iPad continues to dominate so easily - - people can't grasp the beauty of uni-tasking.

The tablet becomes the app.
posted by fairmettle at 4:25 AM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


people can't grasp the beauty of uni-tasking.

Uni-tasking is marginally more beautiful in a tablet than it was in MS-DOS, but not by much.

If I want to watch a live stream and also tweet about it at the same time I need two tablets? If I want to refer to figures in a spreadsheet or quotes on a web page while typing my essay I need two computers? No.

Uni- tasking is brilliant. But my tasks might be "write a blog post" and that doesn't map at all neatly onto one app.
posted by fightorflight at 4:31 AM on June 19, 2012 [11 favorites]


Thank God for my Windows phone. I used to have an iPhone, but you couldn't do anything on it. A piece of shit camera it took ages to get to. (Because all cameras are for photographing stuff that's been staged for two minutes while you struggle to find and click and wait and run the photo app.) I upgraded it once, and it started just dropping calls and crashing applications. At least I got cut and paste. Not to mention the auto-correct. Gah!

Window's stuff just works. Want to take a photo. Click a button twice. Email just works; the phone just works. The iPhone may look nicer than my HTC, but by God, the HTC works. I've never had an app kill the entire phone, and I've never had my windows phone brick itself for no reason.

#semi-ironic comment about the confirmation bias in colie's last comment
posted by zoo at 4:39 AM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


I mean, really? - the take home message from colie is that microsoft hates sweet nine year old girls with brain tumors. I'm all for anecdata, but there must be a verb for that kind of godwining.
posted by zoo at 4:42 AM on June 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


the take home message from colie is that microsoft hates sweet nine year old girls with brain tumors.

Microsoft doesn't hate anyone. It just feels like they do when you try to use the stuff they produce. I honestly didn't think computers crashed any more until the above-recounted incident.
posted by colie at 4:55 AM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


At my last weekly newspaper job, I had two different iMacs crash without hope of recovery on days when I was supposed to be putting an issue together. Apple obviously hates journalism.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 4:56 AM on June 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


Uni-tasking is marginally more beautiful in a tablet than it was in MS-DOS, but not by much.

I disagree, and I think charlie don't surf said it best above:

In the case of the iPad, they have completely failed to understand what the product does. Microsoft wants to beat the iPad by giving them MORE, a full featured desktop OS that can do everything a PC can do, but it will be very costly. Apple realized that people don't want a tablet that can do MORE, they want a tablet that can do less. People don't want their desktop PC in a tablet. They want an iPhone or iPod Touch in a tablet, just with a bigger screen. They want simplified apps that do less. No more creeping featureitis, cut that crap out and pare it down to the bare necessities. And people like it better than their PCs.
posted by fairmettle at 4:57 AM on June 19, 2012


Thing is, Microsoft has to use the desktop OS. If they want this thing to have a fighting chance, they don't have a choice. It's the critical-mass problem. When there are already robust options on the market, people aren't going to buy the new-kid-on-the-block machine if it doesn't have any software, and nobody's going to write awesome new software for a machine that nobody owns. Microsoft can port a bunch of its own products, which means a launch with basically nothing but productivity suites and XBox tie-ins, or they can leverage their existing library of umpteen-million compatible programs.

And, of course, in true Microsoft fashion, the tablet team is working with this while the company is simultaneously pushing a phone line that is just ignoring it and hoping to beat the problem through sheer awesomeness.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:11 AM on June 19, 2012


In the case of the iPad, they have completely failed to understand what the product does.

If that's the crux of what you agree with it, it's wrong. It is entirely possible they have *completely* understood what the iPad does *and decided to do something else*.

I get the appeal of single app, simple device. I know why my mother loves her iPad. There are genuine fundamental reasons why the iPad is taking over the world.

But the "people" who want everything Charlie describes are not *all* people. I am one. I'm wool-died die-hard Apple, and I don't want this. Panic don't want this. Wil Shipley doesn't want this.

There is *another* market, one of people who can understand a reasonable amount of complexity and want to get things done. There is a huge market waiting there for them. Perhaps not as large as the iPad market, but big enough.

Android missed the mark by going for Linux types. But this market doesn't want to customise everything to the nth degree, it just wants to get things done efficiently in a well-designed and thought-out space that doesn't waste their time.

That used to be what Apple did, with the Mac. The iPad isn't great at that.

It feels like iOS could become the ubiquitous Windows equivalent here, with Win8 taking the popular 2nd place Mac role (bolstered by the business market the Mac didn't crack), leaving Android a desktop-Linux-sized slice.
posted by fightorflight at 5:14 AM on June 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


People don't want their desktop PC in a tablet.

I do. I believe there are lots of people like me that do. I was just considering getting an Android tablet, but would much prefer a decent Windows tablet - and will happily pay 2-3X for it.

The only app I think I work with by itself is maybe the browser. But I usually have a few others open even then. One of my bigger worries about Win 8 is the push for full screen, single app at a time approach.
posted by Bort at 5:18 AM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


"But this market doesn't want to customise everything to the nth degree, it just wants to get things done efficiently in a well-designed and thought-out space that doesn't waste their time."

Do you work at my college? This is out attitude toward technology, exactly.
posted by oddman at 5:28 AM on June 19, 2012


As the girl began to sing, I was doing all I could to help the mum by ripping out the battery from the frozen piece of MS shit she'd frantically put in my hands. She recorded nothing while all those with iPhones have the beautiful singing forever. I mean, this company can't even make a camera work like it's meant to?
posted by colie at 12:00 on June 19 [+] [!]

I am curious about what brand this phone was. I have had an HTC Trophy running Windows Phone 7 for over a year now and nothing like this has ever happened. It is quick, smooth, intuitive, and the camera works beautifully at the touch of a button (admittedly the pictures aren't amazing quality). The phone has never slowed down even a tiny bit despite that fact that I keep piling up the apps (over 80 installed so far) or however many OS upgrades it goes through. My main issue is with battery life, which is definitely poor.

I have an iPad which I love, but if the Surface works as well as my phone and they do a decent job on battery life then I will be seriously tempted.
posted by jonnyploy at 5:31 AM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


In the case of the iPad, they have completely failed to understand what the product does.

Yes they understand what the iPad does, it erodes penetration in the corporate space.

The Microsoft of yore had it easy. They waited for 'big things' to develop, copied them crudely, and bundled them into existing product as a no-/low-cost feature to kill the competition. In software that's a low risk proposition.

With this, they are now copying hardware as a feature, and tying it to existing software product (like Office). It remains to be seen what they're going to do on the pricing side. If they eat the cost of hardware, they've got a fighting chance to take share from Apple. If they charge anything near what the thing costs to produce, it may stem corporate erosion to Apple but I'm not sure it stops the Apple juggernaut. I guess it really depends what Microsoft is trying to do here.
posted by mazola at 5:32 AM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


>People don't want their desktop PC in a tablet.

I do.


"If I had asked my customers what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse."
-Henry Ford
posted by charlie don't surf at 5:52 AM on June 19, 2012 [7 favorites]


Android missed the mark by going for Linux types.

Um. What?
posted by Mayor West at 5:56 AM on June 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


True, Charlie, but at the moment, an iPad clone is the faster horse.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:57 AM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Um. What?

I assume this refers to Android-in-tablets specifically. If not, chalk it up to the mass delusion that iOS is beating Android.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:57 AM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I find it odd there is no mention of connectivity options (WiFi, cellular), this thing will live or die based on a quality connection to the internet and servers that do the real work. I think this is a big f-u to all the hardware vendors who jumped on the android bandwagon early, if the software is a hit Microsoft can bring many manufacturers back in line.

The big winner? Web-based applications, the only thing that should work cross platform (Apple, Android, Microsoft)
posted by nickggully at 6:00 AM on June 19, 2012


"You can have any color you like, so long as it is black"
-- Henry Ford
posted by fightorflight at 6:01 AM on June 19, 2012


I look forward to playing with one. I keep trying various tablets and it reaffirms my preference for the iPad, but the competition is good. The keyboard/cover is the most exciting part of the package though.

One odd thing is that they make a big deal out of offering it in ARM and Intel versions, but it isn't clear what difference that makes. Most people don't know what processor drives their fixed or mobile computing devices. I just can't figure out what they are signalling there so I can't be the only one feeling confused.
posted by dgran at 6:03 AM on June 19, 2012


I am a recent convert to the (new) iPad. It has changed reading and marking up manuscripts (what I do about 30 percent of my work time, it seems) in a fundamental and amazing way for me. It's been a *huge* productivity booster, and there are half a dozen excellent keyboard cases for it -- Zagg, Adonit, Clam, and Logitech all make $100 options that are decent, if you need it, the keyboards are netbook-small, but they are ok. Pen input? I do it all day every day on my iPad and I love it. Voice input too. I do wish iPad had an SD slot (I don't care so much about USB because the camera connection kit also works for USB audio input, my main issue there, but alas its card reader won't work for general data storage, just photos and movies.) But there is no function I need an iPad for for which a good to excellent app solution is not available. 10 hours of battery life is the fucking shit, it's awesome. And MS Office for iPad is due out in the fall if you need it.

I also heard no mention of 4G cellular connectivity on the Surface, nor anything about strategic partnerships for things like maps. No word on battery life, display resolution, or cost.

Too little, too late as far as I am concerned, unless Windows 8 and Metro turn out to be a far superior OS to iOS *on the tablet,* not just as a unified computing environment (in case folks haven't noticed, iOS and OS X are quickly converging anyway).

Might try out, but can't see why I'd even consider one of these unless it's under $500 and/or has 4G.

Microsoft Blue (Screen of Death). MS has produced so much suck over so many years, they would have to pay me to go back to their ecosystem.
posted by spitbull at 6:22 AM on June 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


Did I miss it, or was there also no mention of cameras, microphone, or audio output specs?

Also, they are still too expensive, but pocket wifi hard drives for iPad are out there, and more are coming (and cheaper) soon, so you can carry 500GB of data in your shirt pocket and access it from your iPad.

Finally, once you go to the Retina display, if reading and marking up text is your thing (or anything involving photographs), you will never be happy with less. So MS had better have a very hi res display on this thing to compete.

As someone who has used Windows in every iteration since 95, Metro looks as ugly and unwieldy to me as any other version of Windows (and apparently still is, according to reviewers I trust). I don't think it will be any more "open" to the end user than iOS is, either. And as yet, the app ecosystem and the content ecosystem for Win8/Metro is pathetic (as anyone who owns a Lumia) compared to Android or Apple. Real techies will still want Android more than W8, and the Rest of Us have already configured our lives around Apple's iOS ecosystem, which Just Works. Flawlessly. Every time I think of something new I want to do with the iPad, there are 10 apps that do it in different ways, elegantly.

I still think MS is in a death spiral and I thought this announcement was underwhelming, if not pathetic. A keyboard cover is your big selling point? I'm typing this on mine now.

Apple has them by the balls at this point for everything but the enterprise desktop/thin client market. By the time this is released iPad 4 will be on the way, and iOS 6 will be in widespread use.
posted by spitbull at 6:30 AM on June 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


Oh, look! It's an Asus Transformer, two years later!
posted by Old'n'Busted at 6:31 AM on June 19, 2012 [6 favorites]


"You can have any color you like, so long as it is black"
-- Henry Ford


"I mean 'white.'"
-- Steve Jobs
posted by wenestvedt at 6:33 AM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


I am curious about what brand this phone was.

I think it must have been whichever phone MS was giving phone store employees a 15 dollar bonus for pushing onto less tech-savvy people...

But I also appreciate that my original anecdata added nothing to the debate and was not worth posting...

:-)
posted by colie at 6:34 AM on June 19, 2012


"Or black" -- Steve Jobs.

Remember when all computers were beige (or Bondi Blue)? Does anyone care what color their tablet is?
posted by spitbull at 6:35 AM on June 19, 2012


I just can't figure out what they are signalling there

About a $200 price difference, I suspect.
posted by spitbull at 6:36 AM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Bort - One of my bigger worries about Win 8 is the push for full screen, single app at a time approach.

It does seem incredible that MS would consider removing the windows from Windows, there don't appear to be any handles for resizing windows but there apparently every app can be 'snapped'. It may be the case that the user can choose what the snapped view looks like.

iOS is a phone operating system that has been used to run a tablet. The success of the tablet seems to have surprised Apple and they are scrabbling to capitalise on the lack of competition to force the iPad into places it is not well suited before the MS monolith creaks into action, e.g. enterprise and education. People who are running MS servers will be very happy to have a tablet that can be managed in the same way as the rest of the PCs on their network. I don't grok how everyone working on tablets rather than desk top PCs would benefit productivity (certainly tablets bring at least as many ergonomic issues as any other set up). MS seem to consider it the way forward.

I suppose rather than everyone bringing a laptop to a meeting, tablets sit horizontally on the desk so people can see each other rather than hiding behind a laplop. If the Surface allows the screen contents to be mirrored via some wireless method without extra hardware it will negate potential inroads for Apple TV+iPad for presentations.
posted by asok at 6:40 AM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


What are the odds that an iPad accessory maker clone the Surface keyboard before Surface is shipping? It seems like something a Chinese electronic company could bang out over a weekend.
posted by humanfont at 6:48 AM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is the big problem with Microsoft: I read the liveblog of the updates and this thread, and I have no real grasp on what in the living fuck they are actually selling. It's like acronym soup up in here. I get that there is a new tablet, in 3-4 different forms, running a bunch of different OS versions or something, and it can do some new things...

but it's just so overcomplicated. That's one thing Apple get consistently right: just release one freaking new thing, and tell us all about that one thing. It's like windows Ruby platinum server 2k9 monkey fish nuts. Way too busy.
posted by lazaruslong at 6:52 AM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sigh - for all the complainers regarding previous Windows Phone/Mobile attempts - a big part of Microsoft's problem has always been not "owning the stack". Unfortunately this is their own fault - if they did, they would alienate their hardware partner ecosystem that they have grown over the decades.

... so they don't... but then their hardware partners can't write decent drivers and you get POS-lock-prone-crashy devices...

These days, for my laptop+desktop - I ONLY use drivers that Microsoft installs - nothing else - and guess what... No more bluescreen crashes'o'death...

When it comes to the iPhone/iPad - Apple has it "easy" - one driver per model per year...

Personally, I think having the split between a cheap WinRT ARM and an "Intel-Pro" is bucketloads of stupid. The average consumer is not going to understand the difference - and frankly I have never met an executive that wouldn't opt for the cheaper option... Only to be fucked when they bring it to corp IT and ask to "make it work" properly with their single-sign-on/domain-integrated SharePoint...

As someone mentioned - the CxO-level people are not going to care about Word/Excel - they are going to care about single-sign-on web applications (think BI dashboards) and email.

So - now they have mistakenly purchased a shiny-new ARM WinRT device, "loose-face" amongst their employees and boom... Another probably "dead-in-water" product launch...
posted by jkaczor at 6:59 AM on June 19, 2012


Full video of the presentation.
posted by Artw at 7:07 AM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


When are we finally fully going to get to the era when computers are just devices? Who cares about the name and interface? We are seeing the commoditization of small computers (tablets, in this case). All of the old vertical markets for these kinds of computers are now horizontal. No more $100,000/annum fee to some speciality shop that builds speciality computers for your warehouse inventory system. Now you can run down to WalMart and pick one up for 500 bucks and an app or two. MS might succeed. They might not. Who knows. But more importantly, who cares? Do I care what kind of computer my dishwasher has in it? Or what kind of computer controls my microwave? Or what kind of computer changes pressure in my car's fuel injectors? No. And my feeling is that the tablet-as-a-device, not tablet-as-a-dffierent-kind-of-computer is where this is all headed. My gut says that we will see buttloads of different brands and probably even OS'es. Much like we already see buttloads of different remote controls for myriad equipment we use (TVs, DVRs, xbox, christmas tree lights, remote car starters, etc, etc, etc). The writing is on the wall. For example, KORG Music currently sells the SAME EXACT product in their old vertical way (a special box designed just for the task) as well as an iPad software version. They are virtually identical in appearance and functionality. We've just finally reached a point where small computers are about as powerful as their big brothers, making them immensely useful. The pretty screens and all that is nice, but my bet is on what I've said above. computer-as-device, not computer-as-computer
posted by readyfreddy at 7:08 AM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Full video of the presentation.

"It is a tool to surface your passion, to surface your ideas, , to surface your creativity and to surface your enjoyment."

I wonder who squirted that nonsense into Ballmer's head.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:24 AM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Chekhovian: "So any sensible person should keep them in something soft and cushiony, which will shield it. "

I don't get this. Consumers love wrapping their beautifully-designed glass and steel
electronics in a ugly hard plastic shell, while gluing a layer of cellophane onto their scratch-resistant screens.

I treat my phone like shit, and it still looks and works pretty well 2 years later, despite the fact that I haven't entombed the thing in a case. That hard plastic shell isn't going to do squat to protect your iPhone.

fightorflight: "Android missed the mark by going for Linux types. But this market doesn't want to customise everything to the nth degree, it just wants to get things done efficiently in a well-designed and thought-out space that doesn't waste their time. "

Huh? Have you used Android at all? It's about as similar to Linux on the desktop as iOS is to FreeBSD (which is to say, not at all). The "customizability" doesn't get in the way of the user experience. Stock ICS offers a very nice experience out of the box, and the OEMs are finally creating tolerable skins. Customization features are there, and pretty easy to use if you want them. Otherwise, they stay out of your way. The iPhone menu structure is actually a fair bit more confusing at the moment.

I can talk for hours about Android's shortcomings, but this is definitely not one of them.

lazaruslong: "just release one freaking new thing, and tell us all about that one thing. It's like windows Ruby platinum server 2k9 monkey fish nuts. Way too busy."

White iPad2 64GB 3G Verizon? 4 lines of iPods? Apple do this too. However, they are occasionally better at it.
posted by schmod at 7:31 AM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Huh? Have you used Android at all? It's about as similar to Linux on the desktop as iOS is to FreeBSD (which is to say, not at all).

I was talking more about perception there than technicalities. (Windows RT isn't going to be the new Mac, either, but it could occupy the space in consciousness that the Mac used to). When I think about all the common selling points and touted advantages of Android tablets over the iPad, it has always been "open", "install anything", "customise", "Definition of free: git pull", etc. All things that would appeal to the same people Linux appeals to.

Where the space was in someone that would accept the same premise of the iPad - simple, easy to use, curated - but offer a different path of getting there.
posted by fightorflight at 7:39 AM on June 19, 2012


I'm always late to these conversations, but MS appears to be making a mistake by offering a lower-tier tablet with a different OS. It reminds me of the XBOX 360 launch with two models: the "Core" and the "Pro" or "Premium" version. The Core system just made no sense, why buy a system with no HD cables, a wired controller, and no hard drive? I suppose MS is trying to hedge their bets? I guess it's their privilege to waste that kind of money.
posted by d1rge at 7:52 AM on June 19, 2012


What this will mean is that people can leverage existing Javascript/HTML knowlege and start developing Metro apps without having to dig into XAML.

You mean "without getting to dig into XAML" right? (What? XAML's cool!)

I'm impressed. A few years back, I remember thinking, boy, it sure sucks there aren't really any serious tablets on the market to compete with Apple. Now there will be, maybe. And maybe this one actually has the muscle to be a really useful machine for productivity (unlike most smart devices, which seem better suited to consumption by design)...
posted by saulgoodman at 7:53 AM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I guess I might be the target for the new Surface. I was initially excited about the MacBook Pro but am definitely not getting one now. Obviously what it won't do is play a single stinking CD without adding on a peripheral and the memory is ridiculous. This is what Mac zealots don't get. If you say, this iProduct won't do this they say, "oh, you just have to add such and such." OK, I am paying double of what a PC product would cost but to do this simple task or add more memory I need to buy yet another off-white plastic or faux-aluminum peripheral? No.

Take iPads. No USB ports, no camera, no keyboard, no optical drive, no multi-tasking. Yes, I can add on off-white peripherals. For yet more money. What I want from a portable device is the ability to write while surfing for research and play my CDs. Can't do that on an iPad and for over $2K I can do that on the new Macbook with enough peripherals. Now Microsoft is dropping this Surface tablet that actually has a keyboard and will support the Office products. The hipsters and zealots may scoff but this is going to get so many sales from corporate offices it will make Jobs spin in his grave.
posted by Ber at 7:55 AM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


d1rge, they still sell the base version of the console (now the "4GB" model), and it doesn't seem to have hurt their sales any. I think an entirely different architecture will split the userbase more than that - you can't decide "oh, I want an Intel processor after all," tand then go out, spend fifty bucks and plug one in - but they have had success there.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:58 AM on June 19, 2012


Actually, the camera connection kit was $17, and it allows me to connect USB audio interfaces and microphones (undocumented but it works perfectly). I don't see an optical disk drive on the Surface tablet, do you?
posted by spitbull at 7:59 AM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


And what few seem to realize is that one reason Apple has dominated the tablet space from the beginning is that their products are actually cheaper than the competition for much better specs and an incomparably more polished ecosystem.
posted by spitbull at 7:59 AM on June 19, 2012


Obviously what it won't do is play a single stinking CD without adding on a peripheral and the memory is ridiculous

Why are you playing CDs?
posted by empath at 8:04 AM on June 19, 2012 [10 favorites]


And finally, if you have $2500 to drop on a modestly configured Retina Macbook Pro, what's $80 for an external DVD drive (I just bought one, and it is a tiny and light thing). You cannot buy a Windows laptop with a display like the Retina, and to get even close to the MBP+RD at $2500 (presuming you want to bump up the RAM) you will spend just about as much.

The "Macs Cost More" thing is such a canard. I've been buying gear and equipping whole labs with diverse machines for 20 years. I have plenty of criticisms of Apple stored up, but the fact of the matter in my experience has always been that Apple products are price competitive, certainly when you figure in total cost of ownership and the cost of productivity across a diverse userbase, and presuming you have good Apple tech support in your organization. I am still using a 5 year old PowerMac G5 in my lab as a primary audio digitizing workstation. It has never been down for anything since I bought it in 2007, and the only thing that's cost a penny is OS updates.

Any tablet that competes on specs with the iPad is either the same price or more. Show me different.
posted by spitbull at 8:04 AM on June 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


The reaction on Reddit was shockingly positive. The hate fest on here is more what I expect to see over there.

I still think tablets are the no man's land of computing. This one looks like it makes some real improvements in offering input options. Thumb keyboard, cover keyboard, and handwriting recognition. If the pen input actually works, I will probably get one.
posted by paperzach at 8:08 AM on June 19, 2012


I held out for good pen input. It was the one thing I MOST wanted a tablet for (and which had most disappointed me about every other device I've used for this purpose, going back to the Palm Tungsten C) -- to stop printing out 400 page manuscripts and be able to edit them onscreen with a stylus. In the 3 months I have owned a new iPad with Retina display, I have not printed out a single paper or manuscript, and I have edited dozens on the iPad. It has been a productivity game changer for me, almost shockingly so. I read in situations where I never read before, I don't waste reams of paper anymore, my back is better for not carrying either 10 pounds of manuscript in my bag or -- in many situations -- even my 5 pound MBP. I find the Retina display awesome for reading except in direct sun (where it does suck, I admit), but it's the shit on an airplane. It's not a no man's land for me. It's the fucking promised land. I think I've gained 15% productivity (in time saved alone, and time well used) by buying this tablet, and if I value my time at (let's say, to be modest) $50 an hour, the thing has paid for itself and then some already. I got papers back to students (all by email, they got back annotated PDFs) faster this spring than ever before, because I read and edited them on the subway where my MBP would have been too cumbersome by far. Every time I show my workflow on the iPad to a colleague, s/he buys one the next week. It's that good.

Thank you Apple.
posted by spitbull at 8:15 AM on June 19, 2012 [8 favorites]


(Oh, and thank you iAnnotate PDF, which might be available on Android too -- it is the cat's meow.)
posted by spitbull at 8:17 AM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Only a Ballmer-led Microsoft would respond to the need for an iPad competitor by building a product that competes with the MacBook Air.
posted by runningdogofcapitalism at 8:20 AM on June 19, 2012


Take iPads. No USB ports
Add-on. (Camera connection kit).

no camera
Wrong.

no keyboard
Add-on. (Apple or 3rd party).

no optical drive
No cassette tape player either. Consider upgrading to the 1990s and use MP3.

no multi-tasking
Not entirely true. You can have music playing in the background, and certain other operations (network access). There are no parallel windows, it's true, but you can read/cut/paste from your research pane and double-press to task switch to your editor without too much trouble.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 8:20 AM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


I will also plug PocketCloud (although SplashStreamer and VMWare have good competing products), which gives me full remote access to my Mac and Windows machines (including servers) over the internet or local network, including audio/video and flash. I can sit outside my building and administer my servers all afternoon. Sweeeeeet.
posted by spitbull at 8:22 AM on June 19, 2012


You mean "without getting to dig into XAML" right? (What? XAML's cool!)

I really like XAML. I was also really impressed with the fact that I could translate whatever designs someone handed me into a working prototype quickly. I could also tweak designs and see what they looked like immediately.

There are some things that annoy me about Blend, I am sure it is simply because I'm not used to them or am doing it wrong. If I just drop stuff onto the design surface they get positioned by margin offsets. When an app resizes everything moves around and looks all wonky. I have to manually set up a grid and manually figure out the correct ratios so when apps resize they look right.

Probably just missed something though, I'm not a UI guy by trade.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:24 AM on June 19, 2012


I play CDs because on decent equipment MP3s sound like ass. On Apple earbuds, compressed brick-walled indie rock MP3s might sound good to you. But taking jazz or Pink Floyd and drilling it down to a lossy format sounds terrible on a good pair of headphones.

Take iPads. No USB ports
Add-on. (Camera connection kit).

no keyboard
Add-on. (Apple or 3rd party).

no optical drive
No cassette tape player either. Consider upgrading to the 1990s and use MP3.

no multi-tasking
Not entirely true. You can have music playing in the background, and certain other operations (network access). There are no parallel windows, it's true, but you can read/cut/paste from your research pane and double-press to task switch to your editor without too much trouble.


Pretty much standard Apple zealot responses. "here, buy more off-white shit". And for the record, St Jobs played his music on LPs. He didn't have much use for his own product either.

posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 8:20 AM on June 19 [+] [!]
posted by Ber at 8:34 AM on June 19, 2012


is this really happening
posted by defenestration at 8:36 AM on June 19, 2012


really you need a usb turntable, man.
posted by symbioid at 8:38 AM on June 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Why are you playing CDs?

Why go to art galleries when there are perfectly good jpegs?
posted by mobunited at 8:39 AM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not to derail much further, but do you really think a 320kbps is *that* much worse than a CD? Why not use a lossless codec then?
posted by symbioid at 8:41 AM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


and have you tried hilighting your mp3s with green? helps the processor track the bits better.
posted by entropicamericana at 8:43 AM on June 19, 2012 [7 favorites]


Apple has cornered the tablet market so far, but that's for tablets targeted at people who have certain jobs and certain entertainment preferences, and that's only one part of the global market. I certainly believe that the iPad is great, but in my work/leisure environment, it's about as useful as a brick. It's simple: iPads have been out for a while and I still haven't seen a single (work-related) one in the wild. A typical meeting is twenty people with Dell/Asus/HP/etc. laptops. Even Macs are a rare sight. A tablet that could run/open all the stuff I'm using (including some legacy files and software from the early 1990s), just like Windows 7 does, is welcome indeed and I can't see why that should fail, if done right of course.
posted by elgilito at 8:52 AM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


This product is going to seem laughably dated once the deformable surface tablets hit the market, which should be roughly a year away.
posted by naju at 8:53 AM on June 19, 2012


I play CDs

I still buy CDs. Then I rip them to FLAC or ALAC on my work machine. Then I play them through a nice off-board DAC. Please don't tell me you're using your laptops headphone socket.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 8:57 AM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


LOL. I have a lot of my music (field recordings) stored in 24 bit 96Khz master PCM files. They sound better through my high end headphones (on the iPad or Macbook Pro) than any CD or LP I have ever listened to. Don't blame Apple for compressed lossy audio files. Apple's native compressed format is lossless (AAC), but the fact is that keeping your music on a hard drive or in the cloud allows you to keep it in the highest resolution possible.

So in other words, why go to the art gallery when you own a collection of original Picasso paintings.

Stupid argument. The CD is almost dead as an audio medium.
posted by spitbull at 9:00 AM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Or if you want higher end D/AC for your iPad, check out a TASCAM iU2

It's $150, but if you are into high end audio that is nothing. It allows 24/96 recording through any USB or XLR mic (with phantom power) and is a far better D/AC than the native iPad D/AC.
posted by spitbull at 9:03 AM on June 19, 2012


Isn't the cloud an argument for low file quality, until unlimited data becomes ubiquitous in the rainbows-and-sunshine future where telecoms don't want to squeeze us for every penny they can? I run close enough to my data limit without tacking 10 MB on for every song I listen to outside of my home.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:05 AM on June 19, 2012


True that. One reason I use PocketCloud is that my "cloud" is the 12TB drive array in my lab, and I'm always near fast WiFi when I need it. But as I said above, you can buy a 500GB wifi portable hard drive for your iPad (and many more are coming, and cheaper, in the next 6 months) if you need to carry a lot of data.
posted by spitbull at 9:07 AM on June 19, 2012


So in other words, why go to the art gallery when you own a collection of original Picasso paintings.

Because I don't want to pay for the art gallery/Macbook pro with "high end headphones." But I do want to maintain a small collection of music that plays on nearly anything at the highest possible quality available to the hardware. I don't want it for all my music, but I want it for some. I also want quality physical storage as a hedge against various disasters, as opposed to a cloud solution I don't control.
posted by mobunited at 9:23 AM on June 19, 2012


I've ripped a couple of thousand CDs, that date back as far as the 80s. The number of read errors and tracks that are unplayable has convinced me that they're not an archive format. They're barely a reliable transfer format.

They're not dead yet though. There's a large catalogue of tracks on CD that aren't available in other digital formats, and an even larger one that isn't available at 320+. Hunting down lossless copies of albums I love has replaced trawling second hand record shops for gems.

Optical drives in portable machines though? Utterly pointless. Waste of energy, space, materials, everything.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 9:39 AM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I always get a kick out of the sort of offhand dismissal of iProducts because they don't do Flash. Like we're really missing out or something.
posted by xedrik at 9:50 AM on June 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Obviously what it [any tablet] won't do is play a single stinking CD without adding on a peripheral

Oh man, this is one of those moments when I really love Metafilter. Its like the inevitable moment during debates of 90's Scifi shows when some yahoo comes in claiming that Lexx was the best show ever. Fucking Lexx. Amazing. Stay crazy, you crazy Mefites.
posted by Chekhovian at 10:00 AM on June 19, 2012 [8 favorites]


If not, chalk it up to the mass delusion that iOS is beating Android

Interesting stat: "According to Google Analytics, around 70% of mobile visits are from Apple devices. Android is around 28%, Blackberry around 2%, Windows around .5%."
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:00 AM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Mobile visits to MetaFilter, I feel compelled to point out. Internet-wide, Android is up 2:1 on iOS.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:02 AM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


The inability to play CDs is not hurting iPad sales. I guarantee it. It can't play cassettes, 8-tracks, or vinyl records, either.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:03 AM on June 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Though yes, if you get your impression of what's popular from MetaFilter and other sites with a similar user pool, you could be forgiven for thinking iOS is the dominant smartphone OS. And that nobody votes for Republicans.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:03 AM on June 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Duh, Blazecock, all the Windows and Blackberry people are getting Real Worktm done and are too busy to idly surf the Web!
posted by entropicamericana at 10:04 AM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


This debate is so disingenous. It's really a dick-waving contest, every time. Plenty of us who are avid fans of Apple have very deep technical resumes. I spend plenty of time on the Unix command line, and I have been programming since 1982. Fill in the rest. And so far, a few months in, the iPad has found its way into my workflow in a stunningly productive way, it has been an actual revelation, and I think it will be very hard to beat and pointless to copy. My first reaction is that this is a dumb move by MS, but we'll see, won't we? And then we won't have to argue entirely subjective questions as if they had clearly objective answers.

Mobunited, then the only comparison is to live music. Nothing you do will make recorded music sound better than listening to it with high quality headphones over a high end D/AC in uncompressed 24/96 format. Nothing. It's what I do (partly) for a living, and I was a hardcore professional musician for 20 years, which means I'm not ignorant about what sounds good. If I could carry a symphony orchestra and Pink Floyd (original lineup) and a group of Native American drummers around with me, I'd be a happy god. Closest thing to that is carrying uncompressed audio files on an iPad with an iU2 interface and a pair of kickass AKGs.

As for the limitations of the cloud, it's true if you think of "the cloud" as being Dropbox or iCloud, or certainly if you are often required to use your cellular data plan because you are away from WiFi, with the workaround being a portable WiFi hard drive at the moment, or a laptop back in the hotel safe, or leave your desktop running and connected and PocketCloud or SplashStream yourself over to your desktop apps and data. But as I said I'm usually near very fast wifi (even when I'm not outdoors in the Arctic, via satellite!), and my "cloud" is a server and drive array on a fast ethernet connection in my lab, so I don't think much about storage limitations, or preserving data (the drive array is of course double backed up in two separate locations, as it is a precious archival collection; and we also have it on optical disks in yet a third location), plus the array itself is mirrored RAID. Anyone can do this with their home desktop level as cloud storage with a simple VNC client like PocketCloud, so it's not rocket science to control your own cloud and data, at all. How much you pay for data ain't Apple's fault, but I think of the 3G connection as a luxury/emergency thing. (I have also kept an unlimited data T-Mobile phone with tethering, so I have wifi, albeit slow, on the run in most places.)

I also have an iPod touch that is loaded up with uncompressed audio if I really need to listen where I don't have access I can take 32GB of it with me in my pocket. Still sounds good on my AKGs.

People who really need to be responsible for answering these questions correctly over years and on a regular basis with someone else's money do not worship technology companies or CEOs, whether Microsoft or Steve Jobs. We buy what works for us, and we adjust when something better comes along. I waited 3 generations to buy my first iPad, even knowing it was the best option for a tablet for the 3 prior years. When the Retina version arrived, it finally did what I needed a tablet to do, and it did it nearly perfectly, to the point (as I said above) that I think I can feel about a 15% productivity gain in working with text, and an emerging productivity gain in other areas (and OK, movies in bed).


My next field test for the iPad is whether it will work for editing manuscripts (the way I learned, with a pen in hand, beginning 25 years ago) in a goose blind on the Alaskan tundra. Those are long, boring hours (and cold, even in July, and wet -- so I bought a Griffin "military grade" case that seems to be pretty impermeable) when you can't even talk very much with your fellow hunters because the noise might drive away birds. I will also use it to record the 2 minute bursts of activity when the birds show up, and the bird calls of experienced Native subsistence hunters, which are extraordinary. But in between I shall be writing "awk" and "move this to the beginning of the chapter" in red "pen" on the margin of a crystal clear PDF document while munching on baloney sandwiches and coffee and sharing cigarettes and cleaning guns. If this thing is as rugged for wilderness fieldwork as my iPod touch has been, it will be worth its weight in Apple stock certificates. I'm sure someone will be making a super-ruggedized Android tablet too, if they don't already. But one of the overlooked beauties of the iOS ecosystem's success is that there is a real market for even niche case uses, and the plethora of attachable solutions for the base iPad is amazing, especially for audio work, where DJs and performing musicians and studio engineers have quickly adopted the iPad as a standard tool

posted by spitbull at 10:07 AM on June 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


around 70% of mobile visits are from Apple devices. Android is around 28%, Blackberry around 2%, Windows around .5%."

I do occasionally reload Mefi couple of times. Sorry about that!
posted by the cydonian at 10:19 AM on June 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Internet-wide, Android is up 2:1 on iOS.

Keep ignoring iPads as you see fit, but the rest of the world still counts them as iOS devices, which have the lion's share of usage, as other samples of the broader Internet confirm. And at the end of the day, that's all that matters. It's why Microsoft is making a desperate move to get into the tablet market, for one.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:19 AM on June 19, 2012


All I know is that people who use their computers for different things than I do are wrong, practically and morally. The only right way to use a computer is the specific way that I use it and if you are doing it any other way you are stupid. Stop embarrassing yourself by having different needs and desires than me.
posted by fuq at 10:22 AM on June 19, 2012 [10 favorites]


Factoring iPads into the equation does precisely jack, surprisingly enough. The tablet market is split right down the middle.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:24 AM on June 19, 2012


Granted that split is mainly thanks to the Kindle Fire, which isn't really an iPad killer and is more its own thing, but you can either factor it into the overall "tablet market" or invent a new term for smaller media-driven devices and give Android total ownership of that platform, which strikes me as a lot of trouble to further differentiate something that in my experience people typically still call a "tablet." It's not like Apple invented the term.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:29 AM on June 19, 2012


I wonder how far up sales of my particular model of car are up compared to another and if they are higher am I supposed to react in some sort of way?
posted by juiceCake at 10:29 AM on June 19, 2012 [7 favorites]


I always get a kick out of the sort of offhand dismissal of iProducts because they don't do Flash.

The problem is with your iDevice is not the absence of Flash. The problem is that your device is completely locked to the whims of the manufacturer.

My latest Android tablet didn't come with Flash preinstalled. I'm happy to live without Flash so I left it that way. But, and this is a huge but, I'm given the option to run Flash if I choose. I'm given the option to run whatever software I choose, even if Google doesn't particularly approve of it.

You're stuck in a world where Apple's blessing must always be present. If that works for you, great, but I can't imagine voluntarily accepting such restrictions when I've come from the wide open desktop world. Freedom's kinda nice. Locked devices, even if they're awfully pretty, are too constricting.
posted by honestcoyote at 10:31 AM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you think Microsoft is making the Surface/Win8 combo look and behave the way it does because of Android, you are welcome to believe that. But there are compelling fact- and numerically-based reasons to believe it is an attempt to emulate the empirical, demonstrable success of the iPad - and of iOS as a whole.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:35 AM on June 19, 2012


If you think Microsoft is making the Surface/Win8 combo look and behave the way it does because of Android, you are welcome to believe that.

Don't hurt yourself punching that strawman.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:39 AM on June 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


I wonder how far up sales of my particular model of car are up compared to another and if they are higher am I supposed to react in some sort of way?

Give into your rage, young Jedi.

You know, your rage. Well, where did you last see it? It must be around here somewhere...
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:43 AM on June 19, 2012


juiceCake: "I wonder how far up sales of my particular model of car are up compared to another and if they are higher am I supposed to react in some sort of way?"

Oh man - yeah... I grew up in farm country, and there was this crew of 3 farmboys who would always argue over Case IH vs John Deere. It was like the country version of Mac/Windows/Linux. Occasionally it would cross over into Chevy vs Ford as well.
posted by symbioid at 10:46 AM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Wait, there were arguments? When I was in farm country it wouldn't have been difficult to mistake John Deere for a major religion.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:48 AM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


You know "FORD" stands for "Found on the Road Dead," but in any case I would rather push one of those than drive a Chevy!
posted by spitbull at 10:50 AM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also what's really funny is how many farmers now feel brand loyal to Komatsu.
posted by spitbull at 10:50 AM on June 19, 2012


Sorry to pepper, but I actually have a dear friend who is a tractor mechanic in the Ozarks. I've hung around in his shop, where about half the work is now on Asian branded tractors (there is some new one from India that is all the rage, surprisingly). Hearing these boys go on about these brands in the exact same tone they'd use for Deere or Case or Caterpillar is hilarious. They are mechanics first. If they see a good motor, that's their religion.
posted by spitbull at 10:52 AM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wonder how far up sales of my particular model of car are up compared to another and if they are higher am I supposed to react in some sort of way?

Good point. Maybe it's more useful to look at how many people use a particular type of car, instead. If more people are using hatchbacks to commute to work, as opposed to tractor trailers or even hovercrafts, maybe there's something useful about knowing what it is about hatchbacks that is unique or important, when trying to learn where personal transportation options are going in the next ten years or so.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:06 AM on June 19, 2012


spitbull: "You know "FORD" stands for "Found on the Road Dead," but in any case I would rather push one of those than drive a Chevy!"

Nah, nah nah... Fucked Over Rebuilt Dodge! LOL
posted by symbioid at 11:09 AM on June 19, 2012


I wonder how many people are gonna buy this to replace their laptop, get it home, and only then realize that a floppy keyboard and a display that has to be held up with a kickstand aren't usable in their lap.
posted by glhaynes at 12:08 PM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wonder how many people are gonna buy this to replace their laptop, get it home, and only then realize that a floppy keyboard and a display that has to be held up with a kickstand aren't usable in their lap.

Well, it can still be used as a tablet in that case.
posted by empath at 12:12 PM on June 19, 2012


Well sure. But so much of why people are interested in it is because they want it to be their tablet and their laptop (and perhaps their desktop, too). A laptop that you can't use in your lap (as a laptop) just seems like ... not really a laptop.
posted by glhaynes at 12:17 PM on June 19, 2012


Have laptops ever seen much use in lap?* this thing does seem like it would be more dependent on a stable horizontal service than a laptop though. That seems to be a common feature of transformables.

On the other hand, as empath says, works as a tablet.

* yes, this is Metafilter. I'm sure you have 100 anecdotes.
posted by Artw at 12:18 PM on June 19, 2012


Have laptops ever seen much use in lap?*

This depends on how well cooked you like your genitals, especially if you intend to have any flash processing going on while its sitting there.

Fucking flash, such a drain on computational resources.
posted by Chekhovian at 12:27 PM on June 19, 2012


Am I weird that we almost always use our laptop on our laps? Sitting on the couch in the tv room or in a nice comfy chair in the comfy chair room?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:39 PM on June 19, 2012


Having watched the presentation and thought about it a bit, it doesn't seem like a bold move. It's Microsoft selling to IT crowd or anyone heavily invested in Office who can now breath a sigh of relief that Redmond actually has a tangible product to release in a few months.

Keyboard as cover was cool, as was stylus (It can be used for more than pointing Steve). But the entire device and OS seems firmly rooted in the idea that "THIS IS WINDOWS, SO NO WORRIES, WE'RE STILL HERE." Which isn't a bad way to go, leveraging Office and Windows into their new device. But it's hardly bold, more of the same in a shiny new package.

But firmer details, such as battery life, price and whether the damn thing works good enough to make an impact, need to known. I'm guessing we'll know by the 2nd or 3rd software or hardware release.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:42 PM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Good point. Maybe it's more useful to look at how many people use a particular type of car, instead. If more people are using hatchbacks to commute to work, as opposed to tractor trailers or even hovercrafts, maybe there's something useful about knowing what it is about hatchbacks that is unique or important, when trying to learn where personal transportation options are going in the next ten years or so.

Except we know these answers already. A hatchback suits some people. A hovercraft others. We also know that all the major car companies make hatchbacks, SUVs, sedans, etc. But let's try to shit on each other and point fingers about how Honda was inspired by Renault so NAH NAH NAH! I means it's so fucking wonderful isn't it!
posted by juiceCake at 12:54 PM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


But so much of why people are interested in it is because they want it to be their tablet and their laptop (and perhaps their desktop, too). A laptop that you can't use in your lap (as a laptop) just seems like ... not really a laptop.

I have a macbook and an ipad, and only ever use the ipad on my lap. The air is a computer I can move from desk to desk.
posted by empath at 1:05 PM on June 19, 2012


Yup, test for Metafilter is positive.
posted by Artw at 1:14 PM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


I concur that, like Windows Phone, the ultimate purpose of this is to keep Microsoft from losing its hold on the office environment through attrition. They can't allow Google Apps and iWork to gain significant traction. It's getting close to make or break time for them, which is why they're announcing this right now even though it's not ready. In fact, I'm guessing it is basically ready (at least the RT version) but they're going to product test the crap out of it. They absolutely can't afford anything like RROD in their bread-and-butter arena.
posted by xigxag at 1:18 PM on June 19, 2012


Listen all! This is the truth of it. Fighting leads to killing, and killing gets to warring. And that was damn near the death of us all. Look at us now! Busted up, and everyone talking about hard rain! But we've learned, by the dust of them all... Metafilter learned. Now, when OS get to fighting, it happens here! And it finishes here! Two OS enter; one OS leaves.
posted by Ber at 1:19 PM on June 19, 2012


I don't know if this is too anecdotal for you, Artw — I don't know what else I could point to since I don't exactly have studies at my fingertips — but I see people in coffee shops, airports, etc using laptops on their laps all the time. I also often use one on my lap and have seen many family members, coworkers, and friends using them like that, too. (Do note, though, that none of these people have genitals, to my knowledge, so perhaps that's why our experiences seem different.)
posted by glhaynes at 1:25 PM on June 19, 2012


Yup, test for Metafilter is positive.

We can treat the symptoms (regular walks are a useful therapeutic measure), but there is no cure.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:40 PM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


22 DEGREE BEZEL! PERIMETER VENTING! WILL THE INNOVATION NEVER STOP?!?!?!
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 1:48 PM on June 19, 2012


Have laptops ever seen much use in lap?

Yes.

MetaFilter is hilarious for how you can suppose what seems to you a pretty ridiculous edge case and some fucko is going to raise a hand, pointer finger up, and launch into, "Well, actually..."

This is not one of those cases though. Of course people use laptops in their laps! Eesh.
posted by fleacircus at 1:51 PM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sales figures don't mean much — or they shouldn't. Companies like HTC and Samsung either withhold or make up sales numbers; for example, allowing confusion of shipment figures with unreported estimates of sales.

But once a device has shipped, it is much harder to make up empirical usage figures, so it seems preferable to look at those numbers. Certain people will then play games with fake divisions between mobile devices like smartphones and iPads, but if it's a mobile device, it'll run a mobile browser, regardless. Some others will look at statistics that are based on ad hits, which biases numbers to Android, where there are by some measures twice as many ad-supported applications as on iOS. There are lots of ways to cook the books, but web browsing (for example, user agent sniffing) seems like a more even-handed, non-ad-based way to look at usage. Within error margins (like UA spoofing), a browser is a browser, after all, and most who use a computer are probably using the web a good portion of the time.

So when trying to understand why people do things, to understand why Microsoft is terrified enough of Apple's success that they are emulating Apple all the way down to emphasizing design, presentation, style, etc. — perhaps without understanding fully why those details are important — it is usage figures that include all of the mobile devices that are probably more useful than made-up sales numbers. Most sites get the majority of their mobile traffic from iOS devices, including, apparently, Wikipedia and, even more scandalously, Metafilter. Even Google makes the largest chunk of their mobile search revenue from iOS, because apparently iOS is what most people are using to Google-search for stuff on the Internets, when using mobile devices. Horrors!

Microsoft finally sees the writing on the wall: If they don't make their own iPad, if they don't make a device and version of Windows that are as or more compelling than an iPad with iOS, which they can tie in to their Office suite and their own search engine, their future and influence in personal and enterprise computing will likely be significantly diminished. Enterprise is already making the shift away from Microsoft, and as far as personal computing goes, regular folks have spoken pretty clearly on that by voting with their dollars over the last few years. It's like Adobe shifting to HTML5 after mobile Flash panned out. Companies either adjust or die off.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:13 PM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm still confused as to where this is coming from. Who are you arguing with? Me? I brought up sales figures, but that was as an aside to the “Apple is teh winnar, Android failed” kneejerk, but this whole "who is Microsoft copying" nonsense...how does the iOS/Android split even matter with regards to the Surface? Neither of them runs Windows, and Google ain't Microsoft just because it's competing with Apple – Redmond would like it just fine if they were both wiped out and replaced with Windows Phone/8. Whether Android beats iPhone or iPhone beats Android, MS is still on the outside. As far as inspiration goes, pretty much every Android tablet that isn't a Nook or Kindle is trying to be the iPad anyway, and Surface clearly isn't going after the Kindle Fire market, and nobody's claimed otherwise, so once again, who is on the other side of this debate you're trying to have?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:28 PM on June 19, 2012


Forget it Jake, it's Grubertown.

/fully expecting an essay on how serious amounts of typing are only EVER done hunched over a laptop perched on the knees and nobody has ever used a table or a desk ever excpet freaks in the entire history of humankind by morning.
posted by Artw at 2:42 PM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Funny this new thing: As long as there's a good discussion going on with plenty of people, the usual suspects in the "anything remotely related to Apple"-squad now stay mostly silent, but down here, at the tail of a really long thread, they fire away their appleseeds.
Pure chance? Or, because they figure no mods are listening in?
posted by mr.marx at 2:57 PM on June 19, 2012


~$1k for the Intel version? Seriously? For that money I'd rather get an ultrabook that I can actually use as a lap top, which doesn't really seem likely with this magnetic cover thing. I certainly don't want this locked down ARM crap.
nor anything about strategic partnerships for things like maps.
Why would they need one?
Window's stuff just works. Want to take a photo. Click a button twice. Email just works; the phone just works. The iPhone may look nicer than my HTC, but by God, the HTC works. I've never had an app kill the entire phone, and I've never had my windows phone brick itself for no reason.
Do iPhones still not have shutter buttons?

If I were designing a cellphone I'd actually set it up to record the last five seconds of camera footage in a loop, then, I would measure reaction time and how long it takes to fully press the (physical shutter) button.

The camera would store two images from that loop 1 exactly when you pushed the button, and the would be the image the camera saw when you first wanted to push the button, so like 250ms-500ms prior to actually pressing the button.

I'd include a 'reaction time game' that people could play to calibrate the reaction time.
Android missed the mark by going for Linux types. But this market doesn't want to customize everything to the nth degree, it just wants to get things done efficiently in a well-designed and thought-out space that doesn't waste their time.
Android didn't "go for Linux types" and make things super-customizable by default. That's just what happened due to it being an open platform. People wrote all kinds of utilities to customize it. It's not something you have to do. If you just leave it alone it's as simple to use as the iPhone.
I was talking more about perception there than technicalities.
Perceptions of who? 95% of the population probably has no clue what Linux even is, much less any idea what it's "like"
I play CDs because on decent equipment MP3s sound like ass. On Apple earbuds, compressed brick-walled indie rock MP3s might sound good to you. But taking jazz or Pink Floyd and drilling it down to a lossy format sounds terrible on a good pair of headphones.
So use FLAC, or WAV files. Put the files on MicroSD cards and use them like tiny CDs if you want. I'd really rather hardware makers not waste space on 5 inch optical drives, when storage media is more likely to measured in millimeters.

A 2GB microsd card is $5. You could put 2-3 uncompressed CDs on that.
Keep ignoring iPads as you see fit, but the rest of the world still counts them as iOS devices, which have the lion's share of usage, as other samples of the broader Internet confirm.
iPads aren't really mobile. Just ask Mark Zuckerburg

An iPad is really something you'd use in place of a laptop, not a smartphone.
Maybe it's more useful to look at how many people use a particular type of car, instead. If more people are using hatchbacks to commute to work, as opposed to tractor trailers or even hovercrafts, maybe there's something useful about knowing what it is about hatchbacks that is unique or important, when trying to learn where personal transportation options are going in the next ten years or so.
Sure, if you are an investor or perhaps an auto maker yourself, but for the consumer, who cares?

I mean, in some sense it's kind of fun to follow these companies the same way people follow sports teams, I guess. But at the same time it doesn't really matter if a device is that popular, so long as it's self-sustaining.

But there seems to be this weird view that "popular = better" and that the iPad is some kind of ideal device that every single person will be better off with and if you don't realize that you're a chump. But maybe people do want to use two apps at the same time, and maybe even transfer information between them on the screen. There are tons and tons of cars on the road in tons of form factors. It would be ridiculous to say, okay hatchback sales are up and therefore every single person needs to drive a Prius or they're a chump. Maybe some people enjoy sports cars, maybe they enjoy SUVs, etc. If this windows tablet doesn't become more popular overall then the iPad, that doesn't mean it's bad anymore then the fact that Justin Bieber sells more records then, well, probably anyone anyone here listens too.
posted by delmoi at 3:08 PM on June 19, 2012


~$1k for the Intel version? Seriously? For that money I'd rather get an ultrabook that I can actually use as a lap top, which doesn't really seem likely with this magnetic cover thing. I certainly don't want this locked down ARM crap.

I agree with you about the ARM version. A tablet locked to the Windows 8 App Store would be no better than Apple or Chrome. Don't think they've said anything about pricing except:
Suggested retail pricing will be announced closer to availability and is expected to be competitive with a comparable ARM tablet or Intel Ultrabook-class PC.
Which suggests (in Canada) a range between $850 - $1500 for the Intel version. If we talking the $800 end of the range, I could see myself saving up to get one. But not if it's closer to $1500.
posted by Kevin Street at 3:22 PM on June 19, 2012


Pricing is going to be important.

Personally I am hoping they subsidies the crap out of it because then I can get one.
posted by Artw at 3:23 PM on June 19, 2012


If I were you I'd, hope it actually ships first before I hoped for subsidies.
posted by entropicamericana at 3:25 PM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


That said, I'd probably get the ARM one. Hey, I've done my time with Ubuntu, the not-quite Word 97 stylings of Open Office get old eventually.
posted by Artw at 3:26 PM on June 19, 2012


But there seems to be this weird view that "popular = better" and that the iPad is some kind of ideal device that every single person will be better off with and if you don't realize that you're a chump.

So the interesting question is what feature set really really matters to the most people. When I read commentary by super nerd types its always "FEATURES FEATURES FEATURES FEATURES. I need 8 cameras!" etc. A lot of my friends used to get really erect over the old nokia smart phones, the ones with every possible swiss army knife attachment possible and terrible unusable software not linking it all together.
posted by Chekhovian at 3:29 PM on June 19, 2012


Gah. "Feature" phones. They were fucking garbage. Now your old two color brick Nokias, they were awesome, but anything between those and a modern smartphone is awful.
posted by Artw at 3:35 PM on June 19, 2012


If I were you I'd, hope it actually ships first before I hoped for subsidies.

With your insider knowledge you should probably go place some actual cash bets on that.
posted by Artw at 3:36 PM on June 19, 2012


Microsoft Surface Just Made the MacBook Air and the iPad Look Obsolete
posted by octothorpe at 3:48 PM on June 19, 2012


Gizmodo? Really?
posted by entropicamericana at 3:53 PM on June 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Honestly, this looks like the tablet I would buy, if I wanted to buy a tablet. Why by this over a Macbook Air? Becuase I can use this as a tablet on the bus or subway, without needing to put it on my lap. Why buy this over an iPad? Because I don't have to buy an accessory keyboard for this to be useful as a productivity tool, and crucially, because I can run MS Office on it. The iPad is beautiful, but it's a toy. I have no interest in spending $600 or more on a tablet whose only use is playing games or reading web pages. I can do that on my iPhone or my Macbook, depending on the situation. The iPad, to me, isn't a nice halfway point, it's a useless and expensive compromise. This, however, is exactly what I would be looking for in a tablet. It's the first tablet I can say that about.
posted by Dasein at 3:56 PM on June 19, 2012


All I can say is what features I wanted to see when the ipad first came out, because that's what I'm still hoping for from a tablet today: something that interfaces with and functions as an extension of my desktop. A relatively light glass screen that I can plug into the desktop to download and upload data, that can run at least two programs simultaneously. That way I can subscribe to Internet comics or whatever, put them on the tablet, then take the tablet on the bus and read the magazines while listening to an MP3.

If the tablet can also play games, then bonus!

If the tablet can also be used for serious writing, then double bonus! And whoa, because this is starting to get into awesome territory.
posted by Kevin Street at 3:57 PM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think this is where we're going to know if Steve Jobs leaving apple has crippled the company, btw. If they have somebody there that's going to say 'no' when people demand all the cruft that Windows adds to their tablet. I have no idea who that is at apple any more.
posted by empath at 4:02 PM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Gizmodo? Really?

One marvels at how a demo of an unreleased product with unknown availability and price can immediately obsolete what's already available and relatively inexpensive. Still, it was a pretty good demo, even if a clickthrough is a clickthrough, at the end of the day. Can't fault their writers for that.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:09 PM on June 19, 2012


read the magazines while listening to an MP3

Sorry I don't want to go all apple nerd on you, but iOS does this, at least since version 4 IIRC? They have case particular multitasking roles that generally cover most things you can imagine. I jailbroke my iPad and enabled full multitasking, which I basically never use. About the only time I use it is to keep the Remote Desktop client running in the background while I do something else, but that's not really a hugely big deal, were I to close it and restart it like normal, that's real fast, so not a big inconvenience.
posted by Chekhovian at 4:12 PM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sorry I don't want to go all apple nerd on you, but iOS does this, at least since version 4 IIRC?

Not only that, but stuff like going to the soundcloud website works beautifully with multitasking, I do it all the time while I'm making long drives and listening to dj mixes. I can switch out to the maps at stoplights and the music never stops playing.
posted by empath at 4:14 PM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


iOS has supported running things like the music app in the background since 1.0. But, yeah, multitasking for App Store apps (not just the built-ins) arrived in 4.0.
posted by glhaynes at 4:15 PM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Things I don't need in a tablet:

- Internet connectivity. It's easy enough to waste time at home, I don't have to play Team Fortress 2 and stream video at the coffee shop. And if there's a pressing need to look up bus schedules or maps right now, that what a smart phone is for.

- Special snowflake ports with cables and adapters that can only be purchased from one manufacturer. The peripherals that work with the desktop should also work with the tablet.

- A damned app store. Sic semper tyrannis, and their walled gardens too.
posted by Kevin Street at 4:15 PM on June 19, 2012


- Internet connectivity. It's easy enough to waste time at home, I don't have to play Team Fortress 2 and stream video at the coffee shop. And if there's a pressing need to look up bus schedules or maps right now, that what a smart phone is for.

People tell me about Write or Die and other applications to help you focus on writing and avoid getting distracted - the local coffee shop and the wifi on/off switch on the side of my netbook are my versions of that.
posted by Artw at 4:20 PM on June 19, 2012


Kevin, may I humbly suggest this tablet for you?

It certainly don't do the internet, nor does it have an app store. I don't know about the peripheral stuff, but I imagine you could probably solder up anything you'd need. Certainly you wouldn't have to buy really expensive proprietary solutions, as they simply wouldn't exist.
posted by Chekhovian at 4:58 PM on June 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Most sites [in the USA] get the majority of their mobile traffic from iOS devices, including, apparently, Wikipedia and, even more scandalously, Metafilter. Even Google makes the largest chunk of their mobile search revenue from iOS, because apparently iOS is what most people are using to Google-search for stuff on the Internets , when using mobile devices. Horrors!

Sorry, but emphasis mine. The US internet is not THE INTERNETS. North America represents about 12% of the internet population.

If I had more time I'd try my hand at searching for what device is actually most used by the rest of the 88% of the world to access the Internet. So far I have a post claiming Nokia is king, but it ignores tablets, which is frankly a big omission.
posted by FJT at 5:04 PM on June 19, 2012


Gizmodo? Really?

Might still be bitter about the time Apple had the cops raid one of their editors houses

Anyway, link bait. how many more clicks do you get saying "the iPad is OBSOLITE" then "the Surface is kind of cool"
posted by delmoi at 5:51 PM on June 19, 2012


colie writes "Microsoft doesn't hate anyone. It just feels like they do when you try to use the stuff they produce. I honestly didn't think computers crashed any more until the above-recounted incident."

It's pretty easy to crash iTouches too. I managed to wedge my wife's touch in about 10 minutes first time I used it and then couldn't figure out how to unwedge it (and of course removing the battery isn't even an option).
posted by Mitheral at 5:56 PM on June 19, 2012


It's not a joke, Chekhovian. Why should we have to jailbreak or cludge or otherwise climb some company's learning curve to get basic functionality? It should just work.
posted by Kevin Street at 5:58 PM on June 19, 2012


Honestly, this looks like the tablet I would buy, if I wanted to buy a tablet. Why by this over a Macbook Air? Becuase I can use this as a tablet on the bus or subway, without needing to put it on my lap. Why buy this over an iPad? Because I don't have to buy an accessory keyboard for this to be useful as a productivity tool, and crucially, because I can run MS Office on it. The iPad is beautiful, but it's a toy.

Dasein, I thought this until I bought one. An accessory keyboard is going to be better than the Surface keyboard, cheap at $50 to $100 (an Apple Bluetooth keyboard slightly wider than the iPad gives you full size for $50). Office for iPad is due out by October (but I hardly miss it with Pages and Numbers and iAnnotate). I didn't need a tablet until the right one came along.

Besides we don't know what the surface will cost. Might be cheaper to buy an iPad and a good keyboard folio case, in fact.

15 million people didn't just buy this because they were suckers. Nearly everyone I know who had a first gen, and many with iPad 2s bought retina iPad 3s. I've said it in detail above, but it has been a genuine productivity enhancement for me. Surveys of iPad owners show huge levels of satisfaction and strong loyalty.
posted by spitbull at 6:12 PM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, multitasking on the iPad? I'm doing it now. It's a press and a tap to any other open application, faster than on my MBP with 8gb RAM.
posted by spitbull at 6:14 PM on June 19, 2012


Why should we have to jailbreak or cludge or otherwise climb some company's learning curve to get basic functionality?

A beautiful dream certainly. There has been some discussion lately in the nerdosphere that iOS is actually better for hacking than Android. This isn't because of any great virtue on apple's part or them showing any love for hackers. It's just that android is totally fucking fragmented.

Jailbreaking requires doing one thing to basically one version of the software. Android involves a hour snipe hunt through forums and dark alleys of the Internet for vague and often contradictory instructions, or worst of all watching many YouTube videos of teenagers explaining how to do these things in nonsensical ways.

Certainly this was my experience. Jail breaking my iPad was one click at jailbreakme.com. Installing cyangogen on my android phone was 24 hours of pain, where most of the time I thought I had bricked my new pricey phone. And whatever you do, don't believe the instructions on the cyanogen wiki, they're full of lies.
posted by Chekhovian at 6:19 PM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Gizmodo? Really?

Yea, sorry. You seldom see any over-the-top breathless headlines about Microsoft products these days and it was kind of refreshing.
posted by octothorpe at 6:22 PM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Spitbull checkout out notes plus 3.0 it's incredible, basically it's a full fledged multimodal notes program, ink, text, sound, with a pane on the left that you can drag open in which you can load webpages or PDFs or whatever, read them, then take captures of them into your notes and annotate them directly.

It's everything I've ever wanted in a computer. As Tracey Jordan would say, I love that program so much, I want to take it out behind the high school bleachers and get it pregnant.
posted by Chekhovian at 6:24 PM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thanks Chehkovian! I'm still definitely trying things out and will try notes.
posted by spitbull at 7:06 PM on June 19, 2012


spitbull writes "I'm doing it now. It's a press and a tap to any other open application, faster than on my MBP with 8gb RAM"

What you are doing is task switching not multi tasking. Playing music while web browsing is multi tasking.
posted by Mitheral at 9:36 PM on June 19, 2012


Playing music while web browsing is multi tasking.

So iOS multitasks, then.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:47 PM on June 19, 2012


Only in a very limited way. Nothing where both tasks need to be on screen at once, for instance.
posted by fightorflight at 11:48 PM on June 19, 2012


Double-tap the home button, swipe to the right. Then you have access to music controls and whatever app you're using.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:54 PM on June 19, 2012


Mitheral: "It's pretty easy to crash iTouches too. I managed to wedge my wife's touch in about 10 minutes first time I used it and then couldn't figure out how to unwedge it (and of course removing the battery isn't even an option)."

My iTouch has been getting crashy lately, and it's maddeningly unpredictable: random crashes seemingly unrelated to what I'm doing. Why does this Youtube video crash it but not that one? This webpage? This video file? This Netflix selection? I love the thing but I'm questioning whether to stay with Apple when it comes time to upgrade.

I'd say it was forced obsolescence but the 2011 iTouch was identical to my 2010 one.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 12:14 AM on June 20, 2012


Double-tap the home button, swipe to the right. Then you have access to music controls and whatever app you're using.
Great, now I can pause and skip tracks while web browsing. How about tweeting while watching video? Reading figures from a spreadsheet while typing a report? Or having a third-party client checking email (eg Sparrow) in the background without me giving their server access to my password?

iOS multitasking is baby multitasking.
posted by fightorflight at 12:17 AM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


GUYS SERIOUSLY THIS IS NOT AN ARGUMENT THAT ANYONE EVER WINS AND THAT EVEN THE PEOPLE NEARBY LOSE

SERIOUSLY

Spitbull, by the way, what stylus do you use for your iPad? I'm kind of curious, since I've been desperate to feel superior to someone else based on something I bought and that they didn't toying with looking into one of those for my own.
posted by DoctorFedora at 12:20 AM on June 20, 2012


Jesus Zombie Christ, how does every thread about any other computer system turn into a fight about Apple?
posted by octothorpe at 4:58 AM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


SERIOUSLY
posted by DoctorFedora at 5:25 AM on June 20, 2012


Well, if we're going to talk about what the proper feature set is for a tablet, then some discussion of apple is merited, isn't it?

But seriously, why does every thread about any computer system turn into a bunch of ubergeeks arguing about why bizarre features should be included eg "I'll only buy ______ if it has a reel to reel tape drive for reading my archived nethack games".

As a funny aside, one of my ubergeek friends recently came to me wanting me to solder this GPS chip into his Nook tablet that he'd just unlocked. Apparently it had the requiste pin connections available and just needed some delicate soldering of a $50 GPS chip. I pointed out to him that he could get a bluetooth GPS puck for $25 that would do the same thing and not risk damaging his expensive new toy.

Of course at that point he lost interest because it wasn't the feature he wanted, it was the thrill of hacking it himself. Which, I can understand, but it still does piss me off when that kind of nerdery is presented as "the normal thing most people want in mainstream devices".
posted by Chekhovian at 5:46 AM on June 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


>Of course at that point he lost interest because it wasn't the feature he wanted, it was the thrill of hacking it himself. Which, I can understand, but it still does piss me off when that kind of nerdery is presented as "the normal thing most people want in mainstream devices".

Yes, whenever the complaint about a mainstream device is "it doesn't have X, Y, or Z", my first questions are "What percentage of the buying population are the people who want those features?" and "Are they justified in saying or at at least implying that of course everyone else should want those features too?" I suspect that Apple's design teams ask these questions very early on.

For the average geek to put himself (and it's usually a him) in regular folk's shoes seems to be difficult. (Something well documented and discussed in a book I read about 15 years ago, by Bell Labs' Thomas K. Landauer, "The Trouble with Computers: Usefulness, Usability, and Productivity".)

From an ordinary user's POV (not that I'm an ordinary user - musician using tech for the last 30 or so years, have been a sys admin & tech support guy, which got me very interested in user experience and design issues - better design would make most tech support obsolete), the saying "my life is not a failure to be you" comes to mind vis-a-vis such geekery.
posted by Philofacts at 6:58 AM on June 20, 2012


(Geeks can never have the ordinary users' points of view, since it's impossible to unlearn one's accreted knowledge and experience. As Landauer puts it, "The acquisition of a rich and intricate web of knowledge and skill is a one-way street; one can't go backwards by an act of will."

This is what makes the art and science of design something essential, and essentially different than engineering. It aims to bridge the experiential gap between maker and user, the phenomenological gap, as we say in philosophy. Design is not an after-the-fact coat of paint you slap on; it's not mere aesthetic packaging. It involves the basic conception of the object, physical or otherwise, that you set out to create for someone different than yourself to use.)
posted by Philofacts at 7:11 AM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


But seriously, why does every thread about any computer system turn into a bunch of ubergeeks arguing about why bizarre features should be included eg "I'll only buy ______ if it has a reel to reel tape drive for reading my archived nethack games".

Where did this happen here, exactly? Nobody is talking at the "must support expansion cards and have an integrated Arduino". We're not even at the "must support MMS" level, in this thread.
posted by fightorflight at 7:22 AM on June 20, 2012


Where did this happen here, exactly?

Well, I probably shouldn't pick on the CD audio guy anymore, but his demand was hilarious.
posted by Chekhovian at 7:25 AM on June 20, 2012


Weird anecdata: all of the CDs I've bought in recent years have been from Starbucks.
posted by Artw at 7:57 AM on June 20, 2012


Design is not an after-the-fact coat of paint you slap on; it's not mere aesthetic packaging.

Philofacts, even paint itself shouldn't be slapped on. Having worked customer support for a consumer paint and stains company, I would say that if you look on the back of a can of paint, there are extensive instructions on preparation, cleaning, square footage per gallon, dry times, optimal temperature/humidity use, proper surfaces to be applied on, and re-coat times that customers ignore and then call to complain when something doesn't turn out the way they wanted it to look.

Even the best design is useless without training and instruction.
posted by FJT at 8:46 AM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


"I'll only buy ______ if it has a reel to reel tape drive for reading my archived nethack games".

Whoa, sign me up!

(We still have 8-track data tapes from long-ago radio telescope observations - unreadable, of course, but how could we throw away raw data?)
posted by RedOrGreen at 10:09 AM on June 20, 2012


"What percentage of the buying population are the people who want those features?" and "Are they justified in saying or at at least implying that of course everyone else should want those features too?" I suspect that Apple's design teams ask these questions very early on.

Seems Apple would ask those questions but one must remember that what is good for users isn't nessecarily good for Apple. The most glaring example of this is, IMO, secondary storage. iFoos don't include SD or USB ports. Which from my analysis means:

1) Apple doesn't think consumers want additional storage in their iFoos. This is obviously not correct as Apple makes serious bank selling iFoos with additional storage. Markups of easily 500%, maybe even a 1000% (EG: 8GB to 16GB Nano is an additional C$50!).

2) Apple designers and engineers aren't smart and innovative enough to design say a MicroSD slot that is durable and fits into their esthetic. Possible I suppose. My Sansa MP3 player has nothing but a micro sd card sized slit in the side that seems plenty durable but I suppose even such a minor blemish may be considered objectionable.

3)Apple thinks users will be better served with cloud storage. Maybe true but see item 1. Apple already provides a money making method of obtaining on board storage.

I can't think of any other reason not to include SD/MicroSD slots on iFoo Devices.
posted by Mitheral at 11:23 AM on June 20, 2012


I can't think of any other reason not to include SD/MicroSD slots on iFoo Devices.

Clearly this is the reason that people just haven't been buying any of these devices. And while you're right that markup on memory upgrades is ludicrous, should something being "too profitable" for the company making it be the main reason not to buy something? Sure you can get a better deal on storage for android tablets when you supply your own card, but...they have other problems...ie they're Android tablets.
posted by Chekhovian at 11:51 AM on June 20, 2012


I can't think of any other reason not to include SD/MicroSD slots on iFoo Devices.
iOS completely abstracts away the file system. Users can't even see it outside of apps. Adding a slot would really expose the tradeoffs in that design decision. What if no app is installed that can read those files? How would you even see them to know? Do you have to go through multiple apps to read what's on the card, hunt-and-peck style? A new "Finder" app? They'd hate to make that.

More importantly for Apple, they'd lose control of their walled garden. People could ship you content without you having given Apple their 30% cut. For instance, EA could put a shell game-runner on the App Store for free, and you have to buy the actual game content on an SD "cartridges" from retail outlets.

The whole thing is basically a can of worms and bag of hurt for Apple. I'm betting we'll never see it, except in tightly-controlled ways like the camera connector.
posted by fightorflight at 12:12 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Fun YT video: "Surface vs. iPad: Microsoft's Getting Rusty Stealing from Apple"
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:22 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Surface vs. iPad

"Yeah let me just go to the web here....ummm....hold on a second...." LOL. At least it didn't BSOD.
posted by Chekhovian at 12:27 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


I do think its weird that all these companies are doing apple-style keynotes now. Hell I think it's weird that apple does them without Steve Jobs. Jobs had a magnetic, charismatic personality that made a completely ridiculous format feel important. I'm sorry, but Tim Cooke and Ballmer don't have the personality to carry it, and apple ought to retire them, and nobody else should really try to copy it.

And really, it's cargo cult thinking on everyone's part. They have no understanding of what made apple successful, so they copy and go through the rituals hoping that manna is going to fall from the heavens.

Apple was successful, IMO, because they had passionate leadership pushing a singular creative vision. The specifics of the vision had to do with a variety of things-where apple was financially, market opportunities, the tools apple had to work with, and so on, and most of those things simply aren't translatable to another company or another era. What does translate is being brave, creative, passionate and ruthless in pursuing your vision of the future.

The team working on windows 8 seems to get it, the team working on Xbox seems to get it. But I don't think ballmer gets it. It remains to be seen if whoever is running the show at apple gets it.
posted by empath at 12:35 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sorry I should have specified I didn't see any user benifit reasons for a lack of memory card slots. Of course their are dozens of reasons big and small that benifit Apple's lock in and App store.

I hadn't thought about Apple abstraction of the file system; that kind of crap drives me crazy but I can see how some users, maybe even a majority, find it useful. So let's set the score for reasons an iFoo device doesn't feature a card reader at some where around User Experience 1: Apple's bottom line 12.

Clearly this is the reason that people just haven't been buying any of these devices.

Uh, Apple has been selling millions of these devices. Apple isn't unique in selling devices that don't meet all needs of all their purchasers. Often users will buy a device that meets 8/10ths of requirements when a device that meets 10/10 requirements isn't available.
posted by Mitheral at 12:43 PM on June 20, 2012


I don't think that external storage would open up iOS devices to things like "cartridges" — for one thing, going to a store to buy a cartridge seems antiquated and EA would look silly making you do it. Sony and Nintendo kind of look silly making you do it as it is, imo. And, anyway, what are they gonna do — charge $0.99 for a cartridge? That model is dead.

For another, Apple doesn't allow apps that execute arbitrary external code, so you'd have to jailbreak anyway to run the shell app; and if you're gonna jailbreak, jailbroken apps can already use the Camera Connection Kit for USB storage, afaik.

I do agree that it would complicate things — iOS doesn't have any "Save As" dialogs exposing hierarchical trees of files within folders (and dropdowns to choose separate volumes), in large part because it doesn't need them. Hell, it doesn't even have any "Save" buttons. And I'm sure this causes consternation for many but I think it causes the opposite for most. Apple's clearly headed as fast as they can toward "store all your stuff in iCloud and just don't worry about the concept of 'local storage' anymore"... and it's going to be interesting to see how it pans out for them and for us: even for people who hate that model, it seems hard to argue that it serves lots of people extremely well.
posted by glhaynes at 12:49 PM on June 20, 2012


Uh, Apple has been selling millions of these devices. Apple isn't unique in selling devices that don't meet all needs of all their purchasers. Often users will buy a device that meets 8/10ths of requirements when a device that meets 10/10 requirements isn't available.

Yeah that was the joke. Guess it needed a /sarcasm tag, as much as I hate those. So that's the qustion isn't it? How much do you pay for how much you get?

One of my friends was asking me if it was a good idea to get a no-name chinese android tablet for $150, since he was interested in tablets, but thought that the iPad was overpriced (this was before the kindle fire revolution). My advice to him was that he wouldn't get (150/500)% usefulness out of it. After all, it had a shitty resistive touch screen, about 2 hours of battery life, just bad stuff all around.
posted by Chekhovian at 12:50 PM on June 20, 2012


Also, Apple could easily do what Microsoft does for outside storage units connected to the XBox and require them to be formatted by the hardware on first connection, and all their space reserved for its use in a way that's completely opaque to other systems, so the card functions purely as an expansion of internal memory. Although I guess that still has the potential to wreck the file-system abstraction when the card fails or is removed.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:51 PM on June 20, 2012


Even the best design is useless without training and instruction.

Way to belabour the paint metaphor... But sure, for paint you gotta read the can.

However, good design encapsulates the instructions into the form of the object itself (see cog sci prof/design guru Don Norman's concept of "knowledge in the world" vs. "knowledge in the head" in his books from "The Design of Everyday Things" onward), so that far less instruction is needed. The object itself shows you how it is to be used. Every page in a manual is to some degree an admission of design failure - at least in the cases of larger manuals. It might never be possible to forego a manual entirely, but that's a primary goal of good design, a horizon game to be played.

Obviously you can't embed instructions (or more precisely, "constraints and affordances", to use the language of design- the things that discourage or encourage ways of using the object) in the paint itself the way you can do with more sophisticated products like software and appliances.

To repeat the larger point: design isn't about surfaces (pun intended), it's about structural & functional conception, and a clear communication from maker to user through the object itself.

(Hmm, maybe Microsoft should call the product "Superficial"... ;-)
posted by Philofacts at 2:34 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Microsoft Surface Just Made the MacBook Air and the iPad Look Obsolete

More utter nonsense in regard to ignoring that there are more than just person type Y or company type X on the planet. I have no doubt that for some people, the iPad is absolutely perfect for their needs, the way they work, they way they think, and in some cases, it's also important and personalized so they identify with it like they do with a lover.

Same is quite possibly the case the Surface as well, but we shall see. I don't see this competing rather significantly with the iPad or vice versa. Many people who would pick this up would not have bothered with an iPad anyway, and vice versa.

The word obsolete is used far to loosely (like innovation). The iPad was said by some to make desktops obsolete. Not happening anytime soon. The iPad was said by some to make the laptop obsolete, despite the fact that they are, you know, not.

Obsolescence is usually a slow process and some very good technology that was way ahead of it's time in some ways (i.e. aspects of the Amiga's preemptive multi-tasking OS with dedicated sound and graphics hardware in a desktop that didn't come to be widespread until years later). Guess what OS is obsolete now? The trail blazers do not always triumph and in many cases are forgotten. I rarely seeing anyone getting outraged that any of don't constantly credit Turing when talking about computing giants.
posted by juiceCake at 3:45 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


And today they announced Windows Phone 8 - runs on a kernel shared with Windows 8 and Windows RT, requires new hardware.
posted by Artw at 4:26 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Amazing, I can't wait for people to phoneate-ing me. Its going to be phonetically beautiful.
posted by Chekhovian at 4:28 PM on June 20, 2012


Microsoft Surface Just Made the MacBook Air and the iPad Look Obsolete

That link is the most fantastic thing I've seen in years. The symbolism is unintentional, but it is a work of genius.

The big image on that page is a 4 bit greyscale dithered animated GIF.

I am declaring this to be the symbol of Microsoft: the latest vaporware packaged in a 25 year old format.
posted by charlie don't surf at 6:50 PM on June 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Gizmodo ≠ Microsoft
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:11 AM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


(Unless, and I;m not ruling this out, the conspiracy goes to the very top.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:12 AM on June 21, 2012


I think everything that is not Apple is ruled to be various aspects of a single evil entity by some folk.
posted by Artw at 7:41 AM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


"But the solid hardware isn't what has me perplexed. It's the complete lack of software demonstrations. It's ironic, isn't it? Here's a company that has made billions of dollars selling software for over 30 years, and when it comes time to debut the device launching them into the future, they don't bother to allocate even a few minutes to showing off how well software runs on it."
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:54 AM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Gizmodo ≠ Microsoft

Makes no difference to me. The symbolism is perfect.
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:48 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


they don't bother to allocate even a few minutes to showing off how well software runs on it

Didn't you hear BP? Its got a kickstand. A KICKSTAND!

Are your doubts now quelled?
posted by Chekhovian at 4:51 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


charlie don't surf: “I am declaring this to be the symbol of Microsoft: the latest vaporware packaged in a 25 year old format.”

That doesn't seem like a very good symbol. When has Microsoft ever dealt in vaporware? Zune, Windows Phone 7, etc, all of these things were actual products. Failed products, yes, but failed products aren't vaporware.

Also, I honestly was contemplating buying a Macbook, but the atrocious unhackability of the recently-released "retina" Macbook combined with the fact that it has minimal actual hardware updates and is pretty much the same on specs as a two-year-old Macbook Pro aside from the screen have turned me off the company completely. I kind of feel like Apple has peaked. Without Steve Jobs, I'm not sure they have anywhere else to go.

None of which is to say that I'm suddenly buddy-buddy with Microsoft or anything. This looks like a good idea, yes, and it's something they should have done years ago, but I don't trust them, and they've decided to start pulling the same crap that Apple pulls on top of the crap Microsoft has always pulled.

Basically, like always, we'll pretty much have to create our own future. And I'm okay with that.
posted by koeselitz at 6:29 PM on June 21, 2012


Also, what a weird reading of the movie The Graduate.
posted by koeselitz at 6:30 PM on June 21, 2012


That doesn't seem like a very good symbol. When has Microsoft ever dealt in vaporware? Zune, Windows Phone 7, etc, all of these things were actual products. Failed products, yes, but failed products aren't vaporware.

Probably the relevant point is the Microsoft Courier - which of course is much more interesting as a story than a simple "vaporware" narrative. Arguably, the loss not of the Courier but specifically of J Allard dealt Microsoft's hardware division a hit the shockwaves of which can be seen radiating through the Zune and the Kin. The Allard-Sinofsky story can be overplayed, but on the other hand here we are with a Microsoft tablet with a whole bunch of enterprise-friendly features...

Windows Phone 7 is a different story, because that's a software play, from Microsoft's perspective, although that distinction gets progressively blurrier the more intricately entwined Nokia's fortunes become with not just making Windows Phones but making the best Windows Phones on the market.
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:40 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


>Of course at that point he lost interest because it wasn't the feature he wanted, it was the thrill of hacking it himself. Which, I can understand, but it still does piss me off when that kind of nerdery is presented as "the normal thing most people want in mainstream devices".

Et voila?

Also, I honestly was contemplating buying a Macbook, but the atrocious unhackability of the recently-released "retina" Macbook...
posted by Philofacts at 8:16 AM on June 22, 2012


Meh. The hackery-related flaws of the Macbook go beyond “Why can't I solder this Atari 2600 emulator card I made onto the motherboard?” and into “I need more RAM. Guess it's time to buy another laptop.”
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:30 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Can someone tell me if there is video of a reporter actual using a Surface keyboard?

All of the videos I've seen so far have PR people talking about how it connects with magnets, or what colors it comes in, or estimated typing speeds, but no actual
"Here I am—a tech reporter—actually using it... with the letters appearing on the Surface's screen as I type."
It just seems very hand-wavy, "do not look behind the curtain", as if the keyboards are not actually functioning yet or something.
posted by blueberry at 1:33 PM on June 22, 2012


It just seems very hand-wavy, "do not look behind the curtain", as if the keyboards are not actually functioning yet or something.

Engadget tried, to no avail:

Unfortunately, we didn't get to see a working demo of the keyboards. As in, we weren't permitted to type sample sentences and feel what it's like to hammer out characters on a flat keyboard, or on keys that have just 1.5mm of travel. It's a shame, because what makes both keyboards special is that they have built-in accelerometers that allow the keyboard to tell which key you're hitting, how fast and how forcefully. An intriguing idea if ever there was one, but difficult to weigh in on if all you're allowed to do is peck at a lifeless demo model.

As did Ars Technica:

How well does all this cleverness work? That we don't know. Microsoft says that the Touch Cover allows typing speeds twice as fast as those possible on glass, but until we can actually use one, the company's claim is untested.

If Engadget and Ars Technica can't get to review these devices properly, how far away is Microsoft from actually releasing a product?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:33 PM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I really don't understand what MS is doing here. Apparently they caught the pc makers by surprise.

OTOH, Acer doesn't have a great track record at picking winners.
posted by empath at 3:46 PM on June 22, 2012


Blackballs

But what about the flip side? Why does no one bitch about that? Two examples this week:

1: Microsoft Surface Just Made the MacBook Air and the iPad Look Obsolete

2: Microsoft Is the Most Exciting Company in Tech, Hands Down

Two insanely idiotic titles, if not articles. And guess what? Both were published by the same publication: Gizmodo.

...

I get it. I really do. What I don't get is why no one calls them on this? Their stances are often nonsensical bullshit with no basis in reality. The Microsoft Surface just made the MacBook Air and the iPad look obsolete? Really? It would be an insane thing to say that an un-launched product with no release date, no price, no real app support, and which Microsoft was clearly afraid to let journalists actually play with, would harm one of those Apple products. Gizmodo is saying it will render both obsolete.

Amazingly, the other article is worse.

“Microsoft is a company reborn.” Really? Really?! That's not the feeling amongst any of the people I know who have left the company in recent months and/or those thinking about leaving. What we're seeing now is a company that knows it's in trouble. Not in the short-term — and that's important, Microsoft could coast for years on past successes — but in the long-term. And kudos to them for recognizing that. But, let's be honest: it's already too late. No one rules forever — Apple included, by the way — and Microsoft's reign is over.

posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:49 PM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


The object itself shows you how it is to be used. Every page in a manual is to some degree an admission of design failure - at least in the cases of larger manuals. It might never be possible to forego a manual entirely, but that's a primary goal of good design, a horizon game to be played.

Hmm, what you say kind of makes sense in a very pure, design as theory sort of perspective, but I wouldn't agree that using a manual or having a large manual should be seen as a failure. Words or language itself is the least mutable sort of medium (though there is still some difference in meaning, as you'll read below).

Sci-Fi author Neal Stephenson wrote about GUIs Apple, Windows, and Linux in his essay "In the Beginning was the Command Line", which I would recommend since we're on the subject of design and the communication between maker and user. One thing I found seems apt to our discussion:

So even the word "save" is being used in a sense that is grotesquely misleading---"destroy one version, save another" would be more accurate.

Anyone who uses a word processor for very long inevitably has the experience of putting hours of work into a long document and then losing it because the computer crashes or the power goes out. Until the moment that it disappears from the screen, the document seems every bit as solid and real as if it had been typed out in ink on paper. But in the next moment, without warning, it is completely and irretrievably gone, as if it had never existed. The user is left with a feeling of disorientation (to say nothing of annoyance) stemming from a kind of metaphor shear--you realize that you've been living and thinking inside of a metaphor that is essentially bogus.

Now, in 2012 we can all laugh at Stephenson back in the 80s/90s and how stupid he was to believe in what "save" actually is, but I think what Stephenson writes relates to your point about how "good design encapsulates the instructions into the form of the object itself". I think part of his point is that design for users is built on what they are familiar with at the time, and especially with computers, employs metaphors based on the real world. But, obviously these metaphors take certain shortcuts with meaning that are convenient and often necessary, but aren't entirely true. It's taken decades of people having to be told (and more often than not, lose their work at 3 AM) to learn that "save" doesn't mean an absolute permanence.
posted by FJT at 4:57 PM on June 22, 2012


Chekhovian: "Of course at that point he lost interest because it wasn't the feature he wanted, it was the thrill of hacking it himself. Which, I can understand, but it still does piss me off when that kind of nerdery is presented as 'the normal thing most people want in mainstream devices'."

Philofacts: "Et voila? (quoting me:) 'Also, I honestly was contemplating buying a Macbook, but the atrocious unhackability of the recently-released 'retina' Macbook...'"

Hey now - I appreciate where Chekhovian is coming from, but please note that that is not what I said. I absolutely did not say that the teeming masses would like to be able to resolder the motherboard of their computers. I hold no illusions that any large group of people is like me in this. I have happily recommended Macbooks to people in the past and will probably continue to do so.

It's just that - good god, I'd like to at least be able to replace my own freaking RAM myself. Is that seriously too much to ask?
posted by koeselitz at 8:13 PM on June 22, 2012


Well, the non-next generation MacBook Pros got a refresh at the same time, so if you want a 15" screen and upgradeable RAM that option exists. Probably worth worrying about the long-term survival of that feature, though.
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:23 PM on June 22, 2012


Honestly, though, my final take on this is:

I own an iPad and an iPhone, although my iPad is first-generation. Because it's so old - well, a couple of years - it's on the edge of obsolete; from what I can tell, the iPad 1 won't be able to update to iOS 6 when it comes around. Becaause it's getting to that point, I look around and wonder about other options, and honestly I don't know if I like them so much. All the succeeding iPads just seem to be perfecting the same ideal, and while that's fantastic, I almost feel as though I'd like to be able to do more with a device like this.

That's why I welcome the Surface, tentatively at least, and I really hope it does well. And I really feel as though anybody who really likes Apple probably ought to feel the same way. Competition is a good thing. Nobody seems to want to admit it, but there are ways in which the competition with Android has pushed the iPhone to even greater heights. Up until now, though, no large company even remotely comparable to Apple has taken on the task of seeing a product through the whole production cycle, from software to design to manufacturing and distribution.

We're coming to a time when that will change. Apple has clearly has a large impact on how technology works - well, in many ways, but especially in this one: full product-creation cycles look to be the new paradigm. Microsoft is trying it, and Google is clearly about to, considering their significant acquisition of a major cell phone manufacturer, Motorola Mobile.

Competition is a good thing. I'm not sure anybody is going to threaten Apple's place on to of the mobile heap, but I know that competition will drive Apple forward to do bigger and better things. And I feel as though, for that reason, those who care about Apple's continued relevance should welcome the Microsoft Surface as a competitor, and hope that it brings at least a few new ideas to the table.
posted by koeselitz at 8:26 PM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Here's some rumored pricing and availability:
Microsoft’s Surface tablet will launch as a Wi-Fi-only device, according to a report from Bloomberg. And though Microsoft has remained ambiguous about its tablet’s pricing, saying it will be “comparable” to tablets with similar specs, a report from The Next Web indicates the Windows RT model will start at $599, and the Windows 8 Pro model will start at $999.
posted by zombieflanders at 5:32 AM on June 23, 2012


Surface Tension: MS Tablet Is Relevant To Our Interests
posted by Artw at 6:10 AM on June 23, 2012


> So even the word "save" is being used in a sense that is grotesquely misleading---"destroy one version, save another" would be more accurate.

>Anyone who uses a word processor for very long inevitably has the experience of putting hours of work into a long document and then losing it because the computer crashes or the power goes out. Until the moment that it disappears from the screen, the document seems every bit as solid and real as if it had been typed out in ink on paper. But in the next moment, without warning, it is completely and irretrievably gone, as if it had never existed.

FTJ: it's taken decades of people having to be told (and more often than not, lose their work at 3 AM) to learn that "save" doesn't mean an absolute permanence.


Hardly anyone has noticed that MacOS X 10.7 introduced an incredibly radical change in the user's interaction with their computers: Save A Version. In applications that properly support this new feature, there is no Save command, only Save a Version. Documents are continuously saved, and can be reverted to any previous save point. It autosaves once an hour, but I believe you can change this to smaller increments like 10 minutes, in by changing the settings in the Time Machine continuous backup app.

The MacOS/iOS user space model has been completely redone, but is only now starting to be implemented at the App level. I didn't really notice this feature until I started seeing Save A Version show up in TextWrangler and I was completely baffled. This new document storage structure seems like it was designed for cloud storage of live documents over unreliable communications channels. It essentially introduces Version Control to end users. I've spent years giving lessons to writers about how to do quick-and-dirty version control with Document1.0.txt, Document1.1.txt, Document2.0.txt and it is incredibly difficult to get non-techy users to comprehend version numbers, let alone create those versions in a useful manner and actively use them.

I don't see any innovations like this coming out of Microsoft.
posted by charlie don't surf at 6:40 AM on June 23, 2012


Version control I'll do myself if I want to be able to go back to an old version; I realize that doesn't help if I accidentally overwrite something important and save it, but I write something like 7,000 words a week, am terrible about saving properly and still can't remember the last time that happened to me. Maybe other people do it more often. But anything that makes autosaves a fundamental part of the program gets a thumbs-up from me. Recovering files after a power outage, especially if you hadn't had a chance to assign them a filename yet, is a total crapshoot in Word, whether for Windows or Mac, and just finding the damn things in OpenOffice makes me want to throttle somebody.

Kinda surprising that it took until 2012 for that kind of thinking to make it into a user application; both Microsoft and Apple have been pushing version control-style backups of the Operating system with System Restore and Time Machine forever.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:20 AM on June 23, 2012


charlie don't surf writes "Hardly anyone has noticed that MacOS X 10.7 introduced an incredibly radical change in the user's interaction with their computers: Save A Version. In applications that properly support this new feature, there is no Save command, only Save a Version. Documents are continuously saved, and can be reverted to any previous save point."

So, OpenVMS?
posted by Mitheral at 9:54 AM on June 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


a report from The Next Web indicates the Windows RT model will start at $599

So their least expensive entry-level device will cost $200 more than Apple's least expensive entry-level device. And they are taking on Acer, HP, et al. at the same time. How times have changed...
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:41 AM on June 23, 2012


A thousand bucks is a bit high. At that level I'd probably wait a year or so to see if the price comes down.
posted by Kevin Street at 3:14 PM on June 23, 2012


$599 is a guess based on parts cost and equivalent Pegatron assembly costs, I imagine - it sounds about right, though.

Panos Panay has said that the RT version will be priced equivalently to other market-leading 32GB and 64GB tablets - which means the $599 guess is presumably for the 32GB model, which tracks to the 32GB New iPad Wi-Fi.

It is interesting that Microsoft are presumably leaving the lower (16GB) end of the market to HP et al in the Windows 8 tablet market, and not competing with old iPads or 16GB iPads. Possibly the market logic is that by the time the device comes out 16GB will be leaving the market, but it also has the look of an enterprise play, even for RT. I can see this as a "road warrior" device - Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics CRM app, email, VOIP, calendar and contact management...
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:05 PM on June 23, 2012


I'd want it as a go anywhere writing device - something I've considered the ASUS Transformer for in a similar price range. TBH that price would be about a hundred dollars north of where I'd snap it up but it'd still be under consideration. With the intel model at $400 more it's possible I'd hold and splash out for that, though any differebce in battery life and wake time between the two would be a real consideration.
posted by Artw at 5:26 PM on June 23, 2012


Didn't Microsoft lose money on the original XBoxes, selling them for less than they cost? What's to stop Microsoft from doing the same thing with the Surface? I guess in the XBox case the idea was to give the razor away and make it up on blades (games), but with the Surface, how could they do that? Surface Apps?
posted by blueberry at 6:57 PM on June 23, 2012


Theoretically - but with the Xbox, you get the money the developers pay for dev kits and machines, and also a licensing fee for every game sold - so you get paid both ways, and you also get a goodly chunk of money, because games are in general pretty expensive.

I can't imagine there being anywhere near as many Surface tablets in the market as there are XBoxen, and mobile apps are a lot cheaper than Xbox games, as a general rule, so you wouldn't get the same level of earnings, even if you cranked the app cut to 30% - in fact, you are possibly going to have to pay at least some developers to develop "must-have" apps for Windows 8 RT, at least initially, or at least give them desirable profit terms...

There will be Microsoft-made apps, and they will be sold, but if they are already bundling the crown jewel - Office - I don't know if the rest will have enough earning power to justify a significant cut.

Enterprise customers may get discounts for bulk, and might get discounted or free tablets with big cloud service subscriptions, but if MSFT plans to discount their consumer product they'll have to take a cash hit to do it... which may still not be a bad idea. I could see $549, say, as a possible price point...
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:08 PM on June 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I honestly was contemplating buying a Macbook, but the atrocious unhackability of the recently-released 'retina' Macbook

Of the dozen or so laptop I've owned, okay half dozen, I have never needed to replace any of their screens.. Maybe this is just because I am always fetishistic about keeping things in nice padded cases whenever possible. Given how some people mocked that idea, maybe all you guys spacing out about the unfixibioity of the display need them to be fixed more regularly when you drop them?

I agree the soldered in ram is pretty crazy though. Apple devices can't use memory sticks for extra ram can they, like windows machines can? Maybe the thunderbolt port can?

But back to the display, I'm not really shocked that apple used different assembly techniques, more glues and stuff, at a certain point things get really small and small screws are just as bad. Anyone that's ever stripped off a screw head will probably agree.

All the succeeding iPads just seem to be perfecting the same ideal, and while that's fantastic, I almost feel as though I'd like to be able to do more with a device like this.

This becomes really more of a materials science/topology question. Folding glass displays would make things way cooler, but until then what can you do? You could make a dual display folding clamshell unit, but the hinge design becomes a major failure point as well as adding bunchs of weight, and getting apps to play well on both screens is hard too. And if one android maker does that, the market is so fragmented that no app designer has reason to really support that esoteric dead end oddball.

So people make a big deal about this surface form factor, WTF? They just made a laptop, but crappier because you can only use the keyboard on a table.
posted by Chekhovian at 8:47 PM on June 23, 2012


What's to stop Microsoft from doing the same thing with the Surface?

They probably don't want to undercut HP, Dell, etc. even further than they're going to have to do. Talk about a rock and a hard place!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:04 PM on June 23, 2012


This becomes really more of a materials science/topology question. Folding glass displays would make things way cooler, but until then what can you do? You could make a dual display folding clamshell unit, but the hinge design becomes a major failure point as well as adding bunchs of weight, and getting apps to play well on both screens is hard too.

The rigidity of glass (if not its fragility - see the story about Corning being approached by Apple to start remaking the Gorilla Glass they first developed back in the 60s) is perhaps the major limitation to form factors that would protect the surface from direct impacts of significant force. My first gen iPad is in a zip-up folding case which adds bulk in the process of protecting the screen from the inevitable drop & smash (which hasn't happened yet in the two years I've had it, but...) My iPhone has nothing covering its display, just a skin which provides some padding and grip-ability to the back and sides, but the Gorilla glass hasn't gotten any scratches even when I've occasionally failed to put it in a pocket that doesn't contain items that could scratch regular glass.

Apple's cover from the iPad 2 on and the Surface's keyboard/cover minimize the bulk, sure, but they do fall short in the all-one-piece elegance that would let you be able to forget about having to fiddle with an extra, detachable piece every time you go from storage mode to usage mode or vice versa.

To ditch glass or its (currently non-existent) equivalent, we'd probably have to wait until flexible roll-up displays became both cost-effective and competitive in display quality to glass-surfaced ones. There the only actions needed to switch modes are pull-out and push-in. (Insert inevitable jokes here.) This Samsung patent design leaves a portion of the display exposed in rolled-up mode, which I'm not sure is a great solution to the "need something to display incoming calls on" problem (which is only an issue for phones, not tablets, of course.) My old Motorola phone had a separate small display on the back of its clamshell for that purpose when the phone was closed. (It also had a more ordinary glass surface on its main display, which was shattered one day when a coin got wedged between it and the clamshell top, necessitating an expensive replacement.)

Of course, with flexibility, typing and swiping become much harder, if not impossible altogether, so I don't really think roll-up is even the right solution to surface impact protection. You'd need a material that could easily go from flexible to rigid and back (again, insert obvious jokes here), and do so without material or process fatigue over many iterations.

I wonder if "iScroll" has been trademarked by you-know-who... (They could hark back to the original iMac days, with different colour "flavours", a la fruit rollups: "Daddy, I want a Strawberry iScroll for Christmas!" I jest, I jest...)
posted by Philofacts at 7:03 AM on June 24, 2012


Hands-Off: Microsoft Surface Tablet Review
"If we were lucky, we were allowed to hold one for a few seconds. But if you tried to do anything with it, bang, it was gone.

Believe me, I know. I tried. I had kept hearing everyone on Twitter screaming about how no one at Microsoft was saying what the screen resolution was. Since it was such a big uber-secret, I figured I’d try to find out.

After asking repeatedly if I could hold one — I felt like a seven-year-old, “please can I hold it, please can I try, would you mind if I try” — one of the Microsoft guys gave me a shot. I brought up the Start screen by hitting the Windows button on the front of the tablet, hit Desktop to get to the Windows 8 desktop, did a long press guessing that would bring up the Screen Resolution setting and it did — at which point, the unit was literally jerked out of my hands."
posted by blueberry at 11:25 AM on June 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


That post links to this one, which is interesting primarily for a look at how, ergonomically, one might use the surface on one's lap...
posted by running order squabble fest at 11:58 AM on June 24, 2012


I wonder if "iScroll" has been trademarked by you-know-who

Sounds like someone has been watching earth final conflict reruns. Which btw is up on YouTube because apparently no one cares enough to enforce the copy right. Which is pausible, cause man that was a shitty show.
posted by Chekhovian at 12:36 PM on June 24, 2012


After asking repeatedly if I could hold one — I felt like a seven-year-old, “please can I hold it, please can I try, would you mind if I try” — one of the Microsoft guys gave me a shot. I brought up the Start screen by hitting the Windows button on the front of the tablet, hit Desktop to get to the Windows 8 desktop, did a long press guessing that would bring up the Screen Resolution setting and it did — at which point, the unit was literally jerked out of my hands."

With all the bizarre secrecy, one has to wonder if these demo units are even real, anything more than, say, glorified VNC clients, with the real action going on in a Terminal Server somewhere off-stage. Smells like vaporware.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:04 PM on June 24, 2012


I hope didn't actually push past him at the Surface event at any point, when I was reaching across the tables and touching the screens on the Surface units we were being shown, or when I picked up the Touch Cover and Type Cover and tried typing on them, or when I was talking to folks from the Windows team after the formal demos and getting them to show me more things on the Surfaces they were carrying or when I went back to the first table with the various Surface units on them and asked the PR folks if I could pick them up and take pictures of the ports and compare the size to the hefty tablet PC I carry
This in response to the Marketing Land post, which was itself in response to Branscome's original 'hands-on' review (I'd say preview, personally...), which talks about the experience of typing on both covers.

It seems that some journos got more time with it than he did. Or that the conspiracy goes to the very top, of course. Either is possible.
posted by running order squabble fest at 1:52 PM on June 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


One Windows to rule them all - Microsoft's upcoming mobile OS has a lot more in common with Windows Sr., a technology decision that hints at closer future ties.
posted by Artw at 3:29 PM on June 24, 2012


I think it's entirely possible, incidentally, for those those blog posts to be right - it sounds like Sullivan was doing something which would specifically have triggered a response from the Microsoft handlers - looking for system information.

There are always things which handlers are instructed not to permit during tests. For example, at MWC people kept trying to take photos the Nokia PureView 808, with its 41MP camera, and then trying to activate wireless to email them or send them to a dropbox - and the handlers kept preventing them from doing so...
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:53 PM on June 24, 2012


Blazecock Pileon writes "With all the bizarre secrecy, one has to wonder if these demo units are even real, anything more than, say, glorified VNC clients, with the real action going on in a Terminal Server somewhere off-stage. Smells like vaporware."

It doesn't seem all that bizarre at all; every development piece of hardware both for computers and for physical devices that I've experienced has been like this. Until they are actually ready to go into production they don't let people who aren't covered by NDAs use the devices in an unlimited way. Geez all you have to do is compare and contrast to Apple. Apple doesn't show anything months out, its pretty well announced on the first shipping day.

MS is obviously a veteran of FUD marketing but their treatment of the dog and pony show around the Surface isn't unusual. The idea that they'd be secretly running a VNC to a remote wireless TS is laughable if only because it would be obvious to anyone running a wireless packet sniffer. And it's not like the Surface is some sort of huge leap ahead; it's specs aren't all that better/different than the iPad. Especially considering they can short the battery life at this point as no one is using it for hours at a time.
posted by Mitheral at 7:51 PM on June 24, 2012


(Sorry, typo above - should have read "I think it's entirely possible, incidentally, for both those blog posts to be right" .)
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:47 PM on June 24, 2012


Geez all you have to do is compare and contrast to Apple. Apple doesn't show anything months out, its pretty well announced on the first shipping day.

Usually, nowadays, when Apple announces a product, journalists are pretty much guaranteed a shot at using it the same day as the announcement. No vaporware from Apple.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:26 PM on June 24, 2012


That's kind of beside the point, isn't it? Mitheral was saying that Apple only announces products pretty much the day they release them. Nobody else really has that luxury, and Microsoft was struggling to wait this long already.

Besides, if it's possible to bring up system details, it seems extremely unlikely that this is vaporware. This seems to me to be exactly what it appears to be: Microsoft being dumb about how it demos a product. They wanted to allow a hands-on without releasing certain details, because those details may change. That's fine and all, but the is an incredibly easy way to do that which they clearly didn't do. Hand this thing to one of the better teams at MS a week before the demo and tell them to lock it down so that stuff isn't accessible.
posted by koeselitz at 10:55 PM on June 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sounds like someone has been watching earth final conflict reruns. Which btw is up on YouTube because apparently no one cares enough to enforce the copy right. Which is p[l]ausible, cause man that was a shitty show.

Yup, and that's the reason the only thing that stands out in my memory (no re-runs, don't have a TV any more anyway) from the times I tried to watch it out of sheer boredom is that tech. (There was also something like it in the 90s game Obsidian, IIRC.) Like the displays in Minority Report, which stand out better than that Scientologist.

I still like the idea of collapsible displays (or even better, holographic or other projected ones), if only the rigidity need for touchscreen functionality could also be implemented only when needed. Tactile feedback would be hard to eliminate from any interface, unless you want to go with some Stephen Hawking-friendly gaze-tracking, blinking and twitching sensor system, combined with voice - but why give up the benefits of our hand's fine motor control?

(The best YouTube reruns I've seen lately are the Barney Miller ones, though they're poorly organized.)
posted by Philofacts at 11:20 PM on June 24, 2012


This thread is worth it if only to see Blazecock Pileon complain about Microsoft being "too secretive".

This actually made my day.
posted by zoo at 1:23 AM on June 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


Heh. I'm not really supposed to pay attention to him but in the other he's putting up a passionate argument that Windows 8 is the only conceivable way forwards for Microsoft. Well, it could be an argument that all companies other than Apple should just stop existing, but since that's not goo g to be happening I assume it's the former.
posted by Artw at 7:23 AM on June 25, 2012


?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:06 AM on June 25, 2012


No fighting you two.
posted by zoo at 12:17 PM on June 25, 2012


Interesting advice from someone coming in here at the end of a thread, in order to be fighty. Lol.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:37 PM on June 25, 2012


Lol
posted by zoo at 12:58 PM on June 25, 2012


/shrug.

This sounds like a hell of a good reason for MS to be doing what it;s doing to me:
Operating systems that do not care to accept or recognize touch gestures are doomed to obsolescence. Systems that go out of they way to preserve outdated interfaces are doomed to obsolescence. Probably not in the next five years, but I'll bet good money that desktops make up a shrinking minority of computers in 10-20 years, and that the sixth or seventh and subsequent generation successors to the iPad will dominate computing going forwards.

I'd disagree with the iPad being the root of all things tablety, of course, but it's certainly a big driver in the form factor right now.
posted by Artw at 1:26 PM on June 25, 2012


Microsoft: We Won't Build Own Windows Phones

Microsoft has revealed that hardware makers building Windows Phone 8 devices include HTC, Nokia, Samsung, and Huawei. "We have a strong ecosystem of partners that we are very satisfied with," Sullivan said Friday.

Sullivan's outright denial of plans to build a phone is significant in that Microsoft officials almost always issue a standard "no comment" when asked about industry rumors.

posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:16 PM on June 26, 2012


Meanwhile Google are indead doing a Kindle/Nook type thing: Google makes the Nexus 7 tablet official: Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and a $199 price
posted by Artw at 10:36 AM on June 27, 2012


Nexus design, good hardware, unlocked stock OS, $200-250? Wow. Put a microSD slot in that thing and it's my dream tablet.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:44 AM on June 27, 2012


On the other hand there's a Transformers movie on it.

DELETE DELETE DELETE DELETE DELETE
posted by Artw at 10:49 AM on June 27, 2012


I choose to believe it's the one with Orson Welles and Leonard Nimoy.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:50 AM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also there is some kind of media blob.
posted by Artw at 10:51 AM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


$299 for media streaming? Yikes. For that price, even if I really want to turn my phone into a remote control, I'd just get a 360 and plan on using Smart Glass.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:02 AM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'd say that one is going to be an uphill battle.
posted by Artw at 11:05 AM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't think the ARM to compete with the iPad. I think it's to compete with the Galaxy Tab -- which is already cheaper than a base iPad, anyway.

Apple Gets Sales of Galaxy Tab Blocked In U.S.
posted by homunculus at 11:15 AM on June 27, 2012


The Nexus 7 at $199 is going to be interesting - it's a Kindle Fire price, but without the Amazon gatekeeping...

(And with Google gatekeeping, but. Stock OS!)

The media blob would be cool if it were $59 or so, and you plugged your phone into it - it's basically going to be a phone SoC in there anyway...
posted by running order squabble fest at 11:18 AM on June 27, 2012


Apple Gets Sales of Galaxy Tab Blocked In U.S.

Yay patents on rectangles!
posted by Artw at 11:19 AM on June 27, 2012


it's a Kindle Fire price, but without the Amazon gatekeeping...

Though with video at least the Amazon gatekeeping is more Amazon Awesoming, for those with Prime that is.
posted by Artw at 11:20 AM on June 27, 2012


Wonder if the surface will actually do this very basic thing?
posted by maxwelton at 12:17 PM on June 27, 2012


Artw: "Apple Gets Sales of Galaxy Tab Blocked In U.S.

Yay patents on rectangles!
"

Don't exaggerate, it's only a patent on rectangles with rounded corners.
posted by octothorpe at 1:30 PM on June 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Stabby rectangles are okay! Or maybe they could add some extra edges and make it an octagon.
posted by Artw at 1:47 PM on June 27, 2012


And don't forget that it can't be matte black, because Apple invented that. Or white, I guess. And Nokia might sue you if you go with blue. Tartan is inexplicably unclaimed, though.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:49 PM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Patent trolls curb innovation and cost the U.S. $29B in 2011
posted by homunculus at 2:23 PM on June 27, 2012


If you don't think Samsung is blatantly ripping off Apple designs, I suggest you have your eyes checked.
posted by entropicamericana at 3:52 PM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's a rectangle! With rounded corners! In a field where everything is rectangular! It has a grid of icons, in a field where everything is icons and grids!
posted by Artw at 4:09 PM on June 27, 2012


It's hard to call it "ripping off" when (a) Apple is trying to patent everything under the sun (often times seemingly retroactively and punitively), and (b) Samsung is responsible for almost as many parts in Apple products (including the RAM and storage) as Apple themselves.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:10 PM on June 27, 2012


It is one of the most blatant examples of why the current patent system is utter crap.
posted by Artw at 4:11 PM on June 27, 2012


$299 for media streaming? Yikes.

Made in the US instead of China. Everyone says they want things that aren't made in Chinese sweatshops right up until they see what the price is.
posted by markr at 5:01 PM on June 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Everyone says they want things that aren't made in Chinese sweatshops right up until they see what the price is.

Let's see the usual suspects pay $400 for Google-brand speakers, actually. Call it fair penance for mouthing off about the evils of Apple.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:55 PM on June 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


If you don't think Samsung is blatantly ripping off Apple designs, I suggest you have your eyes checked.

Even Samsung's lawyers couldn't tell their clones apart from Apple's iPad, when the judge challenged them to do so from the bench. The patent system might have problems, but even Samsung's lawyers couldn't tell them apart. These are the kinds of people paid millions of dollars just to lie represent on behalf of their client, and they couldn't even manage that.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:00 PM on June 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's a rectangle! With rounded corners! In a field where everything is rectangular! It has a grid of icons, in a field where everything is icons and grids!

Yes, that is where the similarities stop.
posted by entropicamericana at 7:05 PM on June 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


On the plus side, for those who are looking for a Mac tablet with pen input and an Intel Core processor, the Modbook is apparently back...
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:02 AM on June 29, 2012


Huh. Better ModBook link.
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:03 AM on June 29, 2012


Possibly the first bit of collateral damage? HP kills ARM based Windows tablet
posted by Artw at 1:44 PM on June 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Qualcomm bets on Windows RT tablets and hybrids
HP Windows 8 RT tablet plans postponed over chip snags
posted by Artw at 3:59 PM on July 2, 2012


HP reportedly ditches Windows RT as Microsoft readies Surface

HP has scrapped plans to build Windows RT-based tablets which would have been direct competitors to Microsoft's own upcoming Surface tablet that was announced in June.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:36 PM on July 2, 2012


Gates: Apple may have to make a Surface-like device

How come, though, pressed Rose, Jobs was able to cross the tablet threshold and Gates wasn't?

"He did some things better than I did," admitted Microsoft's co-founder. Gates referenced Jobs' timing and "the package that he had put together."

Microsoft's tablets, he said weren't as "thin and attractive."

posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:41 PM on July 3, 2012


Microsoft to acquire Perceptive Pixel, pair up with 82-inch touchscreen manufacturer
posted by Artw at 2:26 PM on July 9, 2012


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