Surface Tension: MS Tablet Is Relevant To Our Interests

By Alec Meer on June 19th, 2012 at 11:00 am.

bagsy pink
For a few years now, RPS has been nervously eyeing tablets from afar, not entirely sure what to do about them. Well, I say nervously – actually, John spends most of his time doing unmentionably intimate things with his beloved Asus Transformer Prime. Microsoft last night turned up with something that might just end our dilemma. It could introduce brand new ones at the same time, though.

Surface/Surface Pro is a suspiciously iPad-shaped Microsoft tablet which runs Windows 8. Watching Twitter last night was hilarious, as the assorted games and tech journos I inexplicably clutter up my feed with poured scorn upon scorn onto first the concept of a Windows Tablet and then the 10.6″ reality of it. Then Microsoft revealed a keyboard built into the Surface’s protective cover and the vast majority changed their tune from “pfft” into desperately trying to devise how to talk Microsoft PRs into sending them one for keepsies.

Before we get all knicker-twisted here, let’s bear in mind a) that there are two superficially similar variants of Surface which boast fundamental differences underneath their 9.3mm and 13.5mm skins respectively. The thinner of those is based around an ARM CPU/NVIDIA Tegra graphics system on a chip, which puts it essentially on a par with the iPads and Transformers of this world. Yes, yes, the keyboard case is very nice, but for the sake of argument let’s consider that a traditional tablet that might have some nice ARM-based games but doesn’t really encroach on PC territory. It does run Windows 8, but Windows 8 RT, the cut-down, walled-garden version designed for SoC devices. Even if you could somehow install, say, Steam or Diablo III on it, they wouldn’t actually run unless they were recompiled for non-x86 CPUs. Essentially, this entry-level Surface will be stuck with mobile apps.

Then there’s the other one, which is 4mm fatter than Surface and iPad but otherwise looks very similar to the ARM Surface. It’s toting an Intel Core i5, Ivy Bridge-based CPU. That means integrated Intel HD 4000 graphics (same as in my laptop, which can just about cope with the likes of Skyrim and DXHR on lowest settings). That means support for all manner of existent x86 applications. Its USB ports mean mice, gamepads, headsets and the like are good to go. That means, well, it’s a PC running Windows. Windows 8, specifically – and what appears to be a full version of it.

The easiest way to think about this is that the Surface Pro – as this Intel-based model is known – is basically an ultrabook with a detachable keyboard. Big whoop, we can get loads of fixed-keyboard ultrabooks already, though perhaps not with quite so nice (1920×1080) screens (and don’t go ‘pfft, the iPad is higher res’, because all that ‘you can’t see the pixels!’ stuff is just marketing rot rather than anything remotely relevant to everyday use). Touchscreens are all jolly nice for mobile use, but it’s hardly a seachange for PCs, is it?

Where this becomes very interesting for you and I and that guy with the nose over there is if Surface Pro is a success. If so, PC game devs will be encouraged to include touch-screen controls into the games they’re making anyway. They won’t actually have to make different versions. Their PC game will work on Surface Pro, and their Surface Pro games will work on PC. Because Surface Pro is a PC. A PC with a touchscreen. That’s probably part of what’s informed Skulls of the Shoguns’ controversial decision to go Windows 8-only, and at a guess we’ll be hearing more about its Surface support before too long.

And if Surface Pro and its touchscreen are an appealing place for PC devs to go, that means they might wind up in the Windows 8 app store, Microsoft’s attempt to wall up the garden of Windows applications and games. That worries me enormously. Choice of store, freedom of modding, support for older versions of Windows – those can go out the window, so to speak. We’ll see, but it’s certainly not where I want PC gaming to go.

I do rather want a Surface Pro, though. It’s an ultra-light, relatively high-performance, just about games-capable Windows laptop with a detachable, super lighweight keyboard (though I don’t know how comfortable that soft-looking thing will be to type on for long stretches) and a touchscreen. I fear it will be enormously expensive, however – I’d guess at around £800 for the Surface Pro and £400 for the ARM-based (and thus not really a PC, or of interest to me) Surface.

It might even be more, given ultrabooks tend to land around £1000, but if Microsoft want to get a big foothold on the tablet market they’re going to need to compromise. £800 for a sexy tablet PC is okay, but of course you can’t upgrade the thing and those integrated graphics are going to get left behind by games pretty sharpish. Unless the device is a huge success, and we see more games being made specifically for Intel HD 4000 (and its predecessors/successors), but that means PC gaming becomes more like the years-long tech homogeneity of console gaming cycles, and I don’t think we want that in our back yards.

Surface Pro is as frightening as it is exciting, because while it’s a hugely covetable device (from where I’m standing at least) if it takes off Microsoft have the power to hinder what we most love about PCs and PC gaming – freedom, variety, choice, no-one calling the shots. Of course, it won’t kill off traditional PCs no matter how well it does, because you can’t really beat the pure power, practicality and versatility of a full-size system for work, productivity and play, but it could cut in the market and moreover affect game development priorities. I do fear that.

Fascinating times, though. This is the convergence point of PCs and tablets – the power of the former, the portability and ease of the latter. This is presuming Microsoft gets it right, of course. I’ve been far from impressed by Windows 8’s messy, cubey, playschooly Metro interface, and I wouldn’t put it past them to include every obstacle they can to installing whatever we like on Surface Pro. I (we) will be watching carefully, as it could well be something RPS should cover as part of its mandate to follow the twists, turns, stasis and wild changes of PC gaming.

There’s no release date or price as yet, but here’s the bulk of the specs to mull over for now.

Surface Pro (‘the good one’)

OS: Windows 8 Pro (aka, Windows on Intel)
Display: 10.6-inch HD Display: 16:9, 1920×1080.
Chip: Intel Core i5 “Ivy Bridge.”
Weight: 903 g
Thickness: 13.5mm
Slots: microSDXC, USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort Video
Battery: 42 watt-hour
Configs: 32GB, 64GB, 128GB

Surface (‘basically an iPad’)

OS: Windows RT (aka, Windows on ARM)
Display: 10.6-inch HD Display.
Chip: Nvidia Tegra.
Weight: 676 g
Thickness: 9.3mm
Ports: microSD, USB 2.0, Micro HD Video
Battery: 31.5 watt-hour
Configs: 32GB, 64GB

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185 Comments »

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  1. Flukie says:

    Im excited.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      Yea, I actually like the look of Metro, the Nokia phones, and this… my worry just comes in form of it being from Microsoft.

      Not like they’re any worse than Google or Apple in a lot of respects, but they seem to be treating Windows as a losing battle (by adding various walled-garden restrictions) when they were winning quite well with version 7.

      I think MS have a pretty good history with basic hardware (not locked down stuff like Xbox), so hopefully this will be a good step-up (and if it fails, there’re plenty of other hardware manufacturers aiming for Win8 tablets)

      • ThTa says:

        It’s not so much that they’re losing right now, but there’s a definite trend towards mobile devices such as tablets and phones, with those becoming more and more capable. It’s a fairly reasonable to expect them to replace traditional PCs entirely for the general public as they become more powerful. Microsoft hopes to beat the competition to the punch by essentially scaling their already-capable software down to such devices. Where the competition is working up, towards more PC-like devices, all Microsoft had to do was work a bit down.

        I’m not guaranteeing it’ll work, and their project has definitely come at the expense of traditional PCs, but it does make sense.

        • Hoaxfish says:

          My issue isn’t really too much to do with the Tablet UI/Metro.

          I can see the benefits in a lot of the changes, and understand some of the reasoning.

          What I don’t like is the erosion of how open Windows is, both for users (who can install just about anything, anyhow, right now) and developers (Metro apps only through the app-store, with MS creaming money off the top).

          It’s not “open” like Linux is (nor troubled by the lack of “consumer level” support), but Android/Chrome OS aren’t “real” Linux in that they’re basically “Google OS” and boosted by the Google name.

          It’s certainly not currently as harsh as Apple’s policies, but the marketplace costs certainly look like Microsoft see the app-store money, Xbox Live money, and think that they can basically hijack the revenue stream that emanates from their OS. Money that ends up on Windows because it is as “Open” as it is… which this action might effectively kill.

          At best (for MS), we’ll all fall in line, and Windows will remain a near monopoly on desktop.. at worst, this might be the “final mark” against their name that basically turns their monopoly into an “Apple competitor”. That their platform simply becomes “as attractive” (because of the new limits dragging it down) rather than Apple making any specific improvements of its own.

          • HerrSanders says:

            Yeah that’s the big concern.

            I like the increased security and sandboxing of the new apps as a security measure, and the background stuff they’ve done to allow apps to talk to each other through contracts is a great complement to this. But for me it would be best if you could have a Windows Store and other stores like Amazon and Steam or an Indie store. That would be the best mixture of secure but open OS not sure how likely it is though.

          • Ergates_Antius says:

            I don’t think that anything is likely to break Windows’ grip in the desktop market in the short or medium term future. Even if mobile platforms start to take a larger share of the home market, they’re not going to have much of an impact in the business world – nobody who does anything important uses a Mac.

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            Llewyn says:

            I think it’s more accurate to say that no-one who does anything mundane-yet-productive – which does of course represent the overwhelming majority of business desktop/laptop users – uses Apple.

            I agree that no external agency is going to break Windows’ dominance, but that doesn’t mean that specific future versions of Windows will have the same dominance. Business uptake of new versions will potentially be affected by changes which increase the cost of upgrading, such as killing support for bespoke/specialist/legacy applications that many businesses use and occasionally depend on.

          • Hoaxfish says:

            There’s a lot of “talk” with regards to Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) policies.

            e.g. Blackberry, suffers/ed from this heavily.

            It used to be that Blackberry phones were the business phone that companies would hand out to employees (in the same was as a company car), because they were easily managed by the support/security staff. iPhones, and now Android, etc completely disrupted that because now employees were buying their own phones, and asking for them to be hooked up for email, etc (security be damned, etc). Now include tablets into that scenario.

            This of course means a possible security compromise, etc, when you let an unmanaged device onto your network. So, a lot of 3rd party solutions pop-up.

            One “win” for metro tablets was assumed that they’d have good management with regards to business networks, that they could be controlled as any other windows PC. In fact, MS has thrown out a lot of the normal windows control methods, even the basic control over what software is installed has horrible kludges (allowing side-loading that they’ve banned from cheaper version, tying your computer account to a network account in the roughly the same way you’d associate a facebook or twitter account).

            Effectively, the rise in popularity in Smartphone/portable devices meant businesses had to adapt to their employee demands (or just look like arseholes and having to spend money on buying duplicate equipment), while Windows’ popularity among businesses due to ease of management is being eroded by other companies bringing support for that form of “controlled chaos”. There is still a lot of power in Win8’s management compared to Apple/Android, but it’s an almost psychological shift from “company supplied hardware” to “my hardware I bring from home”.

            Probably the worst thing that could happen for MS, is if Google or Apple start going full guns at the business market, rather than playing the “we’re so hip, we don’t even properly support spreadsheets”

            (gotta stop writing so much about this on a games website)

    • iniudan says:

      I will be exited the moment I know that I can actually install Linux on it, cause it does seem like nice portable hardware on that pro version.

      And would actually be nice to have something a bit lighter then my 2.5kg Lenovo T520 (not that I don’t like it, but it not something you bring out on a moment notice).

    • Electricleash says:

      If this were penabled for wacom pen input, I might actually be interested… but alas.

  2. groovychainsaw says:

    I love the standard ports on the side – it means you can use a usb 3.0 SSD or there’s the possibility of one of these external graphics card thingies I’ve seen around to make it capable of playing the AAA games, whilst still keeping the main thing portable and not too battery limited. The hardware has got possibilities, that’s for sure (the software and implications of an app-store model are more worrying).

    • Hoaxfish says:

      It’s possibly the silliest thing… but I do get excited over software/hardware that actually follows agreed standards.

      Had enough trouble with Internet Explorer ignoring how web-code should work, various nonsense with office document formats, and Apple’s almost complete disregard for a user’s right to fix their own product/non-proprietary cable-connections (hello USB ports/cables with an extra “lump” so you can’t plug in a standard USB cable).

    • ChromeBallz says:

      Hate to burst your bubble, but those USB ‘graphics’ solutions don’t actually work. The port doesn’t have the proper bandwidth to make something like that work.

      You’re looking at a minimum capacity measured in GIGAbytes per second. Otherwise you just won’t get good results, especially not on a 1920×1080 display, simply due to the massive dataflow. There’s a good reason why graphics cards developed faster and faster interfaces (isa to pci to agp to pci-e) – USB 3.0 is somewhere on the level of AGPx2, which puts the capabilities at best somewhere around 2001 or 2002 – Think GeForce 2. It might be enough to keep a 720p image at 30-ish fps, optimistically, but i wouldnt count on it.

      The on-board chip will be faster simply due to having more internal bandwidth available.

  3. Loki_MGF says:

    DO WANT!

    Mainly the PRO as an aide for photography when I’m out and about. Plugin camera via USB, fire up Lightroom and check shots. No more waiting till I get home to find out I’ve ruined shots in new and evermore ridiculous ways!

    Now, where to find several hundred pounds.

    Also, bit skeptical that they haven’t mentioned battery life, can’t imagine an i5 being particularly frugal when it comes to power.

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      Malcolm says:

      Battery life shouldn’t be too bad actually. Compare it to a typical ultrabook for which real world figures are available: the snappily titled Toshiba Z835-P370. This has a 47Wh battery and an Intel i5-2467M (32nm Sandy Bridge) processor and runs Windows 7 compared to the Surface Pro which has a 42Wh battery, but a 22nm Ivy Bridge processor and Windows 8.

      The Toshiba has a real world battery life of about 7h30m.

      Ivy Bridge is a smaller, more power efficient chip Windows 8 has made massive strides in power efficiency (particularly when idle/standby) so I would guess that you will be looking at an 8-10 hour battery life.

    • fish99 says:

      Pretty sure it’s gonna be more than several hundred pounds. Sounds like the ARM version will match current tablet prices (£350-450) and the I5 version (the Pro) will be around ultrabook prices, which I’m guessing means £600-700.

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      FriendlyFire says:

      If you’re curious, I actually did exactly such a thing using a Transformer. The dock nets you a USB2 port and an SD card reader, which meant transfering shots was a snap. I found an app called RawVision that lets me look at my RAW files (I only shoot in RAW) and read EXIF data and the likes.

      It’s nothing fancy, you won’t be able to retouch the photos on the spot, but for the purpose of verifying shots on a larger screen, it’s quite nice. RawVision also supports EyeFi, so if you pop one of those nifty SD cards in your DSLR, you can get your shots instantaneously transfered to your tablet as you shoot them. I’m also pretty sure x86 tablets won’t be able to touch ARM tablets as far as weight and battery life go: this thing can easily run for 10 hours, more while in sleep.

  4. byteCrunch says:

    The typing experience on that must be awful.

    Microsoft really are going to flop with the Surface, being ARM it doesn’t have any advantages over an iPad or an Android device, except iPad and Android have a metric ton of apps already out, and they are cheaper.

    In the case of the Pro, its a more convincing device, but a regular laptop or an ultrabook still wins out, also the heat from an Ivy Bridge is going to be a real issue, an issue I doubt they have resolved.

    Also the fact Microsoft have had to make the device, clearly most of the OEMs aren’t that interested.

    • Qwentle says:

      They’ve been moderately successful with Windows phones with the same constraint though, so there is hope. Plus if it’s anything like a Transformer Prime, the typing experience isn’t that bad if you’re not writing a novel (though in this case the keyboard looks a bit slimmer, so there could be issues). The addition of a touch-screen to a laptop btw should not be understated, I routinely get laughed at for attempting to control laptops by touching the screens, it’s a lot more intuitive than a touch-pad.

      One breakout area that Android/Apple don’t really have a grasp on also is business. Being able to sync up all your work without massive amounts of faffing around is huge, which is fairly easy across multiple machines on the same OS.

      • Toberoth says:

        Hmmm I don’t know, Dropbox makes it pretty easy to sync work across my Android phone and my Windows PC(s).

        • RvLeshrac says:

          DropBox security leaves much to be desired for business, especially the enterprise market.

      • Simon Hawthorne says:

        Definitely right on the business front.

        As much as I’m not an Apple fan, I would buy an iPad in a heartbeat if it had a fully capable word processor. I work with documents where changes are proposed using MS Office’s ‘tracked changes’ and ‘comments’ features then pinging the document back.

        It would be a joy to read and comment using an iPad rather than a computer, but it’s just not something that can be done on an iPad. Every time I pass Comet I walk in and give the iPad a go, but without a good word processor, it’s just not worth it for me.

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          Vandelay says:

          Writing on an iPad is mostly fine for things like commenting on the web (certainly better then the piss poor implementation on this Android phone I’m currently using.) I also have a cover with keyboard attached that makes typing long documents much easier.

          But you are right; Pages isn’t the most complete package and I expect it is the best around (not actually looked, to be honest.) For everyday, non-work based work though, the iPad is a fine replacement for a desktop. Quite honestly, if it weren’t for games, I could probably just replace my desktop with a Blu-Ray player, now I have an iPad.

        • tossrStu says:

          Sorry to hurt your wallet like this, but Office2 HD has just been updated to support tracked changes and comments:

          http://www.cultofmac.com/172013/office2-hd-for-ipad-adds-track-changes-and-comments/

    • Hoaxfish says:

      Typing is apparently not as bad as I’d expect: http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2012/06/wait-theres-a-tablet-too-microsoft-announces-type-and-touch-covers/

      probably still not up to proper keyboard, but better than tapping a glass plate.

    • ChromeBallz says:

      Apps made for Windows 8 may be run on both ARM and X86 devices. Windows 8 has a new environment to make that work, something along the lines of .NET

      Apps have to be made specifically for this though.

  5. Kdansky says:

    I’m looking for something like this. I want a tablet (for browsing and mail and so on), but I really don’t want to miss out on Eclipse / Visual Studio and possibly a few games like Dredmor. It’s probably going to be too expensive though.

  6. kikito says:

    The song in the promo sounds like “meeeeh (chiticlack chiticlack) meeeeh”.

    Which is pretty much how I feel about this.

  7. HerrSanders says:

    I’ve been running the messy, cubey, playschooly Metro interface for the past couple of months and it’s actually rather lovely to use and look at. It’s strong and bold graphic design on a computer for once which is nice to see.

    The Surface Pro is exciting, (a pen and photoshop too! yay!) but I understand the alarm of closed gardens etc. Is there anything prohibiting Steam creating a metro store for RT though? Competition is always a good thing.

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      Harlander says:

      I’d been waiting for someone to tell me how they were finding Metro to actually use. Do you mind if I badger you with further questions? I’m going to anyway, but you can always just ignore them. What in particular do you like about it? What kind of role are you using it in? Work, gaming, a mix? Thanks.

      I’ll take your and look at with a pinch of salt for the moment, though, because in still pictures it kinda looks like ass.

      • HerrSanders says:

        I use it for work mostly (but also gaming) I’m an animator/illustrator so Photoshop, Flash, After Effects etc, on a 24″ monitor and a 21″ Cintiq.

        What do I like about it? Well it’s faster to start with, it boots very quickly now, and the start screen (home screen) is far more useful than I ever found the start menu. The start button is now a toggle to go home (much like the home button on an iPhone say) where you can quickly review any new incoming information launch or switch to an already running app or type away for a very powerful system wide search with strong filtering options. Graphically I think it’s clear and strong but as you can put any tiles on it and choose different background colours and patterns then yes you can make it ugly . But it’s also animated so static pictures don’t necessarily serve it best.

        Metro apps are very early days (this is 1.0 stuff really), but they have a lot of potential to provide beautiful solutions to some of our computing needs. The news and sports apps although very simple at the moment are very attractively presented. Likewise wikipedia. Being able to neatly snap a twitter app to the side and watch the feed while you’re doing other work is lovely.

        And desktop is just Windows 7 but with some nice improvements (task manager, flattened UI better copy dialogue etc). But desktop is also conceptually now an app. Once you understand that the flipping between Metro apps and desktop isn’t hard to get to grips with.

        The hot corner support for dual screens is much improved in the release preview and you quite quickly get used to using them. I find myself using the corner app switcher more than alt-tab and win-tab which is surprising.

        • Halberd says:

          (Hopefully this replied to the right thing).

          I also enjoy using win 8. I’ve tried all 3 previews, and all have been good. My thoughts are that while it’s maybe not amazing to use with a mouse, it’s really easy to use with a keyboard. I’ve taken to using my keyboard to start programs (ie. I press the windows button, then type ‘chr’, press enter and it starts google chrome. I can do that very quickly. The metro screen looks good, but even if its not your thing, you don’t have to use it on a desktop. I largely don’t, primarily staying on the desktop. And the desktop has been improved, especially for multiple screens (I have 2 screens), with catchement areas for the ‘charm’ features of the OS.

          As said before, the apps need a bit of work, but they’re not finalised anyway, so thats not a great drama.

          So yeh. I reckon its still a good upgrade, even if you don’t have a touch screen, and its worth trying regardless.

          • DrGonzo says:

            Just wanted to agree with all this. Found Windows 8 to be very impressive so far (mostly). Unfortunately I’ve found RP to be much more buggy and even a bit unstable, but I’m not sure what’s causing the issue.

            After a few weeks, I’m accustomed to the Metro interface and actually really like it. It boots incredibly fast for me, under 10 seconds with a slow old hard drive. It’s all very attractive while managing to be more useful and practical too. It has nifty features for restoring and repairing windows, for rebooting into safe mode etc from the desktop, no more mashing keyboard keys on boot.

            Very impressed so far. It’s unlikely I would bother upgrading a desktop from 7 to 8, but would buy it if I was getting a new rig. And I’m very interested in getting it on a tablet/ultrabook thingy. Definitely selling my slightly awful Android tablet if this feels as smooth and slick as Windows Phone 7.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      I’ve probably got it wrong, but I think Metro has the same “no 3rd party load-in” legal agreement like iOS has… i.e. where you can’t have an “app”, that loads other programs because “security” and “you could make money outside of the app-store”.

      Not too sure though, and I hope it isn’t true.

      They’ve already made blocks in terms of side-loading apps from outside the marketplace (with the exception of expensive version of win8), so I don’t think its looking too good.

      • HerrSanders says:

        I know you can put links in the Windows store to download desktop apps and I don’t think MS gets a cut of that.

        Edit: To explain further. So Adobe for example can put all their software in the Windows Store but it links to their own site for purchase and download and they take all the profit. This is for desktop apps so whether it will be possible for metro apps is another matter.

        So we can but hope they might allow other stores, like Amazon, Steam, Origin etc

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      Chaz says:

      “Competition is always a good thing.”

      Unfortunately that is the complete antithesis of how Microsoft see things.

    • soldant says:

      Why would Valve want to set up a store for ARM devices? They deal in x86 executable games, I don’t think they’re set to compete with the App Store on ARM games. There’d be no point to it; the kind of people interested in those casual games won’t think to install Steam assuming it’s allowed, they’d just grab them straight from the MS App Store.

      • HerrSanders says:

        Well for one thing it wouldn’t just be for Arm Metro is both arm and intel. So why not? Especially as touch devices become more powerful.

        • Brun says:

          ARM and x86 are different architectures – applications written for one won’t work on the other. Right now Valve’s entire gaming inventory is x86, meaning that unless they undertake a major acquisition initiative for ARM games between now and Surface’s release, they won’t have anything to sell on ARM platforms.

          • HerrSanders says:

            Games (and apps) written for Windows Runtime the heart of Win8 and WinRT, the Metro part, will run on both architectures. Only legacy desktop apps won’t run on Arm. So if Steam are allowed there’s no reason why they couldn’t have a Metro Store in which the games (new games made for Windows Runtime) would run on both Arm devices and Intel devices. The Shogun game will be like that.

          • Brun says:

            Right, but the point is they don’t have any Metro apps yet – everything currently in Steam’s catalog would be considered a “legacy application” by Windows 8, and as such would not run on ARM/Windows RT.

            The point is that sure, Steam could make a Metro app and sell Metro apps from it. But the problem for Valve is that people need a reason to get Steam instead of buying their games from the Windows App Store. For the PC, that reason was Half-Life 2.

      • DrGonzo says:

        For money. For lots and lots of money. They already have an Android app, they could get ARM games and now have a significant market to sell to. I for one would use Steam over Windows Store or the Android Play Store, especially over the Play store actually.

        You would also be mad to not want your game on Steam. The Play Store is way too cluttered, the Windows store is soon to be too cluttered. It’s incredibly hard to get your game seen. If Valve set a minimum quality and don’t overcrowd it, it could be massive.

  8. Premium User Badge

    hellboy says:

    It’s like a window into the future

  9. Tams80 says:

    It looks great. The stand won’t be much use on your lap/in bed etc. though, but I guess you could use it as a tablet then (still not ideal). If there’s a nice educational discount I might get one.

    I’m not enthusiastic about games coming to only the Windows Store though. It’s not that impracticable, but supporting such practices goes against my values.

    I think I’ll stick with my current TabletPC though. Only HD3000 graphics, but hey, it runs AoE, which is fun to play with a dual digitizer (touch and pen for the uninitiated).

    My OCD is revving up though. That asymmetric Windows logo…

    • Hoaxfish says:

      Does it help to know that the window is symmetrical, just viewed from an angle?

      • Commodore says:

        I was just about to say that

      • Tams80 says:

        No. As a 2D shape it is not symmetrical. Neither was the old logo, but for some reason that was less rage inducing.

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          VelvetFistIronGlove says:

          But it is symmetrical! The top half is the same as the bottom half, only reflected.

        • Bassem says:

          it is symmetrical on a horizontal axis. Maybe you can sate your OCD with that fact.

  10. ThTa says:

    It was surprisingly good, the cover really convinced me. Aside from that, it’s just plain pretty. (And it has a kickstand! Finally!)
    The ARM-based one is already outdated in terms of hardware, but the Pro’s pretty exciting. It’s just unfortunate that we don’t have any real pricing (just comparable to ARM-tablets/Ultrabooks for RT/Pro respectively), battery-life stats or even a solid release date.

    Still, I suppose this is more of a way to get the other OEMs into gear, some high-end x86-based Samsung and Asus tablets with a similar(/identical? Will Microsoft license it?) cover would be lovely. Microsoft’s Pen-thingy might be good, as well. (I managed to get an HTC Flyer on the cheap (200 euros for the high-end 32GB+3G version, brand new) and I’ve found the note-taking aspect of it surprisingly useful.) A full Photoshop/GIMP suite should yield some fantastic results, provided it’s actually accurate. (They said it was 600dpi, but they didn’t say anything about pressure sensitivity, which worries me.)

  11. abandonhope says:

    More candy for the always-on generation as it transitions to the exponentially-on generation. This stuff makes me feel like a Luddite, and I’ve got 5 grand in electronics on my desk. I’m going to hunker down in my desktop-centric man bunker until a sex android drags me away.

  12. asshibbitty says:

    Classic DOA MS product. To expand so my comment doesn’t get deleted: it’s ugly, late, underspecced, has established and emerging competitors, as well as own derivatives.

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    Joshua says:

    If the keyboard is as good as the one on the EEEPC I am using right now, I actually might buy one of those bloody buggers later on.

  14. D3xter says:

    No, I don’t think it’s exciting.
    I got a (gaming) PC for the usual tasks and well… gaming, got a Thinkpad X301 for taking around and doing work (programming, text, some designing) on the go, which is small and rather light with the magnesium case.
    And I also got a Lenovo Thinkpad Tablet with Android 4.0 and a pen, and honestly aside from reading PDFs and doing very basic stuff like browsing whenever possible I’m not very impressed with Tablets at all.

    What’s more important, I DON’T want a tablet UI on my desktop and I DON’T want things like a Xbox Live Marketplace being included with it (and honestly hope for some new fresh antitrust actions like over Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player and MSN from the EU) as well as more of this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Union_Microsoft_competition_case
    “The Commission must do its part…..It must not rely on one vendor, it must not accept closed standards, and it must refuse to become locked into a particular technology – jeopardizing maintenance of full control over the information in its possession”
    If anything, all this crap makes me want to move on to Linux instead in the near future.

    I also don’t think “touch” would be “great for gaming”, don’t we have enough problems because of games being primarily designed for consoles/console input devices and effectively ending up “dumbed down” because of it? “Tablet gaming” would potentially make that even worse…
    There was for instance already talk in one of the Double Fine videos about how they could implement “MouseOver” in Adventure games on a tablet, since people only have the ability of “clicking” on stuff and don’t search the screen with a mouse (pixel hunting). One can’t just do a MouseOver Tooltip when an item is interactable e.g. displaying “Wheel of Cheese” when you move the mouse over it or unit information in RTS on a tablet because it’s technically not possible.
    Ultimately if you want to develop a game for even more platforms, you’re likely going to end up with it furtherly degenerating into “mass appeal” and only implementing features that are possible on all such platforms.

    • DrGonzo says:

      So, you could have summed all that up with, ‘I don’t like change’. Even if it’s change that doesn’t effect you (all of Windows 8s touch stuff is easily ignored and never used).

      As for the anti trust stuff… Whaaa? I’m still shocked they managed to get Microsoft on Internet Explorer, it’s absolutely nuts. Considering Apple have a massive, massive head start with phones and tablets, you would have thought including Safari would get them in trouble.

  15. DazedByTheHaze says:

    Microsoft Fail because:

    2 OS’s for the same shit
    Tablet’s are NOT PC’s

    RPS Fail:

    Discussion about touch as an upcoming “input device” in gaming is just PR blablabla … Don’t tell me you guy’s think a game with both, keyboard and touch input would work. I mean, what the fuck should that look like? And about the Win8 walled garden rolling over PC gaming (Steam)… that will never happend because the XBox-Devision is way too powerfull in MS to let all that money slip through their hands. They want us all in their “LIVE” service. Maybe if they are able to hide the XBox-Shit completly behind the market doors and lable everything diffrent then on the XBox… but til then… we have our “Steam-Box” and can tell all those shitheads to f themselfs?

    • Premium User Badge

      golem09 says:

      No, 1 OS for two things.

      And Touch as an input control IS exciting. Not for the usual casual and small portable games you see on handhelds. There it is a gimmick.
      But for full PC it’s another story.
      Imagine playing Civ or HOMM or Shogun 2 with only touch controls on a tablet. I think that’s a dream come true.
      Sitting out in the garden with only a tablet in hand, play the shit out of Simulations and Strategy games.
      I say YES

      • Subject 706 says:

        Until you realize that using a tablet outside is difficult, due to daylight making it very hard to see anything on the screen. For TB games touch controls can be ok, for realtime though; nope.

        • abandonhope says:

          Yeah, playing Minecraft on my girlfriend’s Android was pretty much an abortion.

        • Premium User Badge

          golem09 says:

          That’s why I spoke of simulations and strategy games.

          • DazedByTheHaze says:

            About beeing out in the garden and playin games… I happend to be come a farmer in the next years when I take over the farm from my dad. We have a lot of nice spots on our land and I’m thinking about making a WIFI garden or whatever Im gonna call it. In the sommer months I put a nice couch/chair and table under a tree, bring in power and WIFI and rent it out to the public. 10 bucks an hour with no gear, additional 10 bucks for a tablet or something.

            Not really for playin games, but a modern way for “reading the newspaper in the garden” for people who have no garden or newspaper?

            Jay or nay?

  16. serioussgtstu says:

    I don’t think I’ll ever understand why someone would pay that much money for a device with half the disc space of an mp3 player. One the other hand, I’m really looking forward to the inevitably awkward marketing campaign which only Microsoft can pull off. Perhaps huge amounts of WUB WUB while an elderly lady looks at photos from yesteryore.

    • ThTa says:

      Or perhaps they’ll be talking about how bad their competitors really are, instead of how good their product is. Kind of like the Mac Vs. PC ads, but in reverse.

      And don’t think they won’t stoop so low, have a look a their anti-Google Apps ad:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4EbCkotKPU

      I’m going to make an oddly specific prediction by claiming it’ll be Samuel L. Jackson yelling at an Apple/Google salesman because his tablet won’t make Excel sheets or something.

      • DrGonzo says:

        Mr Jackson already advertises Siri. And I can never look at him the same way again. He buys organic.

    • Cameron says:

      I remember a great Microsoft advert that rapidly got banned in the UK. Showed a woman giving birth, the baby flying through the air, getting older, growing into an old man then finally landing in a grave. “Life is short, play more” showed on the screen at the end.

      Gave me a chuckle.

    • Subject 706 says:

      It does have a microSD slot if you need more storage space. Though high capacity microSD cards are still rather expensive.

  17. 13tales says:

    I kind of feel like Microsoft still don’t *get* the tablet thing, with this all-things-to-all-people approach. The biggest tip off, for me, is what looks like a trackpad built into the keyboard cover. I thought this was a touchscreen tablet? Either the UI is optimised for touch, or it’s optimised for a mouse. One could make the case that it can be both, but I’ve never seen that work particularly well. PC to iPad ports tend to suffer in that regard.

    • Cameron says:

      I don’t think you understand this tablet. Unlike the iPad you will still be able to run software that you want on the device (On some versions anyway). This includes older software that pre-dates the very idea of a touch screen in every house (Let alone every pocket).

      Microsoft are giving you the option. Don’t beat them over the head with it or they can just go the Apple route and take away options.

    • Stuart Walton says:

      It’ll be an ad featuring said lady using multiple Metro apps, cut together at an exponentially increasing frequency (tied with increasingly strained violins), punctuated by a dirty bass sting (which will be the new alert.wav). The cacophony reaches a crescendo…. THEN it drops into full wub-wub.

    • HerrSanders says:

      It’s a touch first UI but it works very well on mouse and keyboard. There’s also trackpad gesture support for scrolling, semantic zoom and the swiping in the edge UIs. So you can pick which interaction model works best for a given situation. If you’re doing a fair bit of writing then having a trackpad with gestures will be useful.

      • 13tales says:

        You write “pick which interaction model works best for a given situation”, and I hear “woefully inconsistent and annoying UI differences between different apps”

        I guess time will prove one of us right ;)

        • HerrSanders says:

          Give me an example and I might believe you.

          But from everything I’ve tried on Windows 8 so far how the user experience works is consistent across apps. You can just do things in a few different ways depending on your preference and input. I can win-tab to switch apps say on keyboard or I can swipe from screen left if on a touch device or I can mouse to screen left corner (which I find myself regularly doing). But whichever way you do it the way the UI works and OS responds is always the same.

        • DrGonzo says:

          Except. it’s already out and ready to try. And already proven to work very well in my experience. Although I only have experience using Windows 8, the iPad 3 and a Samsung Android 4.0 device. I think it’s more impressive, attractive and definitely a lot more responsive than the other two. Well, maybe not quite as nippy as Android 4.0 at times, but it’s certainly a lot more consistent.

  18. aircool says:

    Hmmmm… Interesting (strokes chin).

    Virtual DJ will be a right laugh.

    Also – I thought everyone had grown out of Microsoft bashing, especially after Win7 proved to be damned good?

    • byteCrunch says:

      We did, until Ballmer was put in charge.

      • Cameron says:

        When you consider that Windows 7 was released in 2009 and Balmer has been CEO of Microsoft since 2000 that makes little sense.

        • byteCrunch says:

          Ballmer is management, I am referring to his business decisions, he had nothing to do with the development of Windows 7, Gates was still running the show on the software side until 2008.

          • Cameron says:

            He was CEO at the time, Microsoft delivered the product under him. That’s pretty much what he is there for, it’s his job.

            And whilst I will admit he has made some rather bad mistakes in recent years he is (According to Forbes) the 19th richest person in the US so he can’t be all that bad at business decisions.

    • DazedByTheHaze says:

      MS and EA are like Dumb and Dumber of PC gaming. And not in a funny movie kinda way. Yeah they try as hard as they can to make a fool out of themselfs. But after 10 years of this shit, I just can’t laugh at it anymore. So I bash all their crap like whak’a’mole, whenever I see their ugly heads, I smash as hard as I can… it’s like a primal instinc after all those years.

  19. Premium User Badge

    Gap Gen says:

    Can anyone recommend that I get a tablet given that I already have a decent smartphone, portable laptop and a desktop? I keep mulling over it but in the end I can’t think of a reason to slot another screen into my life.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      I probably wouldn’t.

      From what I’ve heard you’ll probably end up carrying both the laptop and tablet simultaneously.

      If I were you, and you/I didn’t have a laptop, and I was looking to buy, I’d probably buy the tablet, as real work can be done on the desktop, while you can watch youtube in bed with a minimal device (Or if you like spending electricity, you can remote into your desktop and do work from the tablet).

      • byteCrunch says:

        I have to agree, to use everyone’s favorite buzzword, “trend”, the trend leans more to tablets being devices that accompany your laptop or desktop, if you already have a decent laptop, tablets offer between, nothing better to less functionality.

        If you want portability but need it to do work on it, stick with a laptop, if your only interest is browsing the internet and watching YouTube get a tablet.

        • philbot says:

          I think you missed the point, the surface IS a laptop. The pro (Supposedly, and the RT to a lesser extent) is a fully functional PC, with very good tablet functionality too. Microsoft didn’t want a compromise, they wanted everyone to get the real deal. I have been wanting to get a tablet for a while now, but I wasn’t sold on the idea of sacrificing functionality. Now there is an option.

          • byteCrunch says:

            I am sorry, a tablet is always a compromise, the Surface and the Pro are not laptops by any stretch of the imagination.
            The Surface is ARM, so goodbye to all your regular desktop applications.
            The Pro whilst has an Ivy Bridge, it is going to suffer from heat issues and battery life, I would surprised if it gets over 3 hours.
            Then finally price, as I said before the regular model is next to useless and doesn’t leverage the advantages of Windows so we can strike that off, and the Pro is massively more expensive than a mid-end laptop that most people will buy.

          • DrGonzo says:

            @byteCrunch

            Over 8 hours of battery life, and Nvidia claim over 10+ hours of battery life. Stop talking out of your arse please.

            There really isn’t a significant compromise. It’s a tablet on the go, and can turn into a fully fledged pc if needs be. Plug it into a monitor/tv and plug in a mouse and keyboard. Bam, you have a fast pc that is light and portable.

        • Premium User Badge

          Gap Gen says:

          So another thing is that I tend to work with the Unix command line a lot, so I don’t particularly need/want a Windows laptop (my current laptop is dual-boot with Wubi, which is cripplingly slow if I change a lot of data on my Windows partition, it seems, but since I never use Windows this isn’t a significant problem). The idea of it being a proper computer rather than a big smartphone does appeal, though, and was something that eventually decided against the Asus Transformer for me.

          But yeah, I think a tablet is one of those things that I have wanted because it looked cool, rather than because it fills a gap in my computing ecosystem. The main thing I was thinking about was reading papers on one, since it seems like a good way to avoid reading on a laptop screen or printing out reams of pages, but I don’t know if that justifies Nhundred currency units.

          • DrGonzo says:

            I picked up a Samsung Galaxy tab 2 7.0 (phew, very poor name I know). It was about 150 quid, it’s 7 inches, so actually fits in my jacket pocket, and is great at just reading stuff but wasn’t so expensive I feel guilty. But it’s soon to be replaced with a Windows 8 tablet if they turn out to be reasonably priced and decent. Which I suspect they will.

            Oh and I hope they release a 7 inch Windows 8 tablet. 10 inches is way to big to carry around with you unless it’s a proper pc (which I suppose some of them are, but the ARM one I mean).

          • Ergates_Antius says:

            “10 inches is way to big to carry around with you”

            [INSERT PENIS JOKE HERE]

      • aircool says:

        You also look like a bit of a dick when holding a tablet to your ear and talking into it ;)

    • Premium User Badge

      Gap Gen says:

      Sure, I need a computing device I can move around with a lot for work, and from what I’ve seen tablets are not great at this. It is a little clunky to pull out my laptop randomly and work on it, but then again it’s more versatile than a tablet, so eh.

    • Subject 706 says:

      I got a Transformer Prime, but then again I had no use for a laptop at home, where I have a powerful desktop, and a NAS. The transformer slots in nicely in that ecosystem though. It gets used a lot in the sofa, for reading, web surfing and as a remote control (Unified remote FTW!). About the only thing I don’t really do much with it is gaming. I’ve tried some games on it, but the lure of much better games on my desktop pulls me away…

  20. Cameron says:

    If Microsoft can pull off the unified interface/device strategy that they are clearly going for (Phone, tablet, PC, Console) then they may, if not overtake, make significant progress in their efforts to catch up to Apple.

    But yeah, it’s a big if.

    • D3xter says:

      “Catch up to Apple” how exactly?
      In regards to selling PCs they don’t even register Worldwide among the Top 5 vendors: http://www.gartner.com/it/page.jsp?id=1821731
      They are #3 in the US with ~13% market share.

      In regards to OS share Apple is somewhere between 6-9% with Windows being around 92%: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usage_share_of_operating_systems

      Tablets are still a rather insignificant part of worldwide tech, while they’re continually growing they aren’t anywhere near PC numbers.

      • Cameron says:

        Phones & tablets. At the moment amongst the average consumer the word “Tablet” is synonymous with iPad and (although I understand it’s more widely known in the US) in the UK and Denmark you hardly hear “Windows Phone”.

        When I say “catch up” I mean get their tablets and phones in the minds (and pockets) of average consumers and the media as much as Apple have. A unified user interface and device OS could help get them there.

        • DrGonzo says:

          You will never get Apple users away from their devices. A lot of them are morons, who dismiss other devices without trying them and blindly follow. The other half wouldn’t mind switching but they are completely locked into Apples poor ecosystem.

          Microsoft are taking on Android, and trying to get the billions of people who have yet to get a tablet or phone to buy one. They have by far the best phone OS on the market, and it looks like they will have the best tablet OS on the market once it’s out. They just need to advertise it well, and actually have people in shops encouraging people to try them.

      • tossrStu says:

        “Tablets are still a rather insignificant part of worldwide tech, while they’re continually growing they aren’t anywhere near PC numbers.”

        There might be more PCs than tablets but I wouldn’t exactly call tablets insignificant, seeing as how there are 67m iPads alone out there, which puts it roughly on par with the PS3 and 360 (63.9m and 67.2m respectively). To catch up with 6-7 years of console sales in 2 years doesn’t seem too bad to me.

    • asshibbitty says:

      Don’t forget the Surface. I mean the Microsoft Surface. Shit I mean the thing that was previously known as Microsoft surface that’s the huge table thing.

      • Hoaxfish says:

        I hear the big table thing is popular in businesses that like that sort of silliness… Las Vegas nightclubs, and, er, that’s literally the only place I’ve ever seen them shown on TV (oh, except maybe some BS in CSI)

        Now the Courier thing they had a while a go would’ve been interesting.

        • asshibbitty says:

          A popular product does not get its name cannibalized by another product and then renamed. Courier lives as an iPad app called Tapose. 

          • Hoaxfish says:

            I don’t think that let’s me fold an iPad in half? (apart from the stylus, which is becoming a bit more common again, that’s really the only thing that really stuck with me as special about the courier)

          • asshibbitty says:

            Sure, it’s more of a curiosity than a true productivity tool,  it lets you see  how useful it could’ve been (not very). There’s a number of androids with two sceens including the hilarious Sony one, also not terribly useful. IMO a tablet should be a tablet, one monolithic device with as good a screen as you can get. If it’s successful the addons will come, there is already a surface-like keyboard attachment for iPad, for example. 

          • HerrSanders says:

            Paper is the other iPad app developed by the other half of the Courier team. Lovely it is too.

  21. somnolentsurfer says:

    Wow. This is a real product? That’s actually going to market? I saw the pictures appearing on Twitter this morning and just assumed it was a typical Microsoft concept design that they were splashing around to promote Windows 8. And that the reality would turn out very different when HTC or Asus or someone finally built something along these lines.

  22. Text_Fish says:

    That’s the first “not embarassing” promo video I’ve seen for a Microsoft product. Here’s hoping they didn’t fire all their tech guys to pinch some fancyschmancy shallow aesthetics designers from Apple.

  23. JD Ogre says:

    Looks like a neat pair of tablets, especially the Intel. Such a shame, though, that they’re running Windows 8…

  24. Sauronych says:

    I very much doubt that there is any chance of serious PC games moving to Windows Store. Most PCs are still going to be running Windows 7 or even Windows XP. Add to that the fact that Windows 8(and therefore Surface Pro) includes a desktop environment identical to Windows 7’s and here is just no point whatsoever for any serious PC developer in switching to Windows Store. It will be reserved for casual games.

  25. Premium User Badge

    Skystrider says:

    I wouldn’t play games on it, but I can definitely see it replacing my IPad as web-surfing device away from home. I do believe it would complement my desktop PC quite well indeed.

    Will wait a few years for the price and tech to mature before I take the plunge though. No rush to get one.

  26. PC-GAMER-4LIFE says:

    Not being sold in EU its a US only product for now & of zero interest to most PC gamers but this is why they want Windows 8 to succeed so they can push their own products & crappy Metro UI!!

  27. frightlever says:

    Without knowing the price and how long the battery will last I’m finding it difficult to care. My iPad lasts me around a week on a single charge using it for a couple of hours a day, just browsing. Much less if playing games or video.

    If the Surface Pro is only good for 3-4 hours of gaming or video between charges then I can’t see the point. I can hardly see the point of the Pro for games with its integrated graphics, though obviously there are a bunch of old games that would play fine on that.

    If the Surface RT hits the right price point then it could take off, and the lack of legacy support won’t be an issue if you’re sticking to the Metro Store.

    Honestly, I don’t much care. Shoe-horning Windows into a tablet never worked well, and I’m not convinced that Microsoft have got it right this time either.

    And I love tablets – I have five of them right now. An iPad and four Android tablets of various configurations.

  28. ratbum says:

    Anyone who’s tried the consumer preview of Windows 8 knows this will be an unmitigated catastrophe. The UI for that OS just makes NO sense. To get an idea of the pure stupidity, go here.

    • HerrSanders says:

      Well as I said higher up, I’ve been using it for a couple of months to do work on my Mac Pro. It’s really not something to fear or something that’s hard to use. And once you understand the new interaction model it’s a very likeable OS. But sure dismiss it without taking the time to use it for while if you like.

      • wodin says:

        Apart from it being that games can be developed on WIn 8 exclusively cutting out Win 7 which hasn’t happened before as a design decision I believe, this alone is a worrying aspect.

      • ratbum says:

        I’m sure it’s possible to get used to it, but it seems like it’s been built specifically to be as unintuitive as possible.

        The settings are bizarrely split across Metro and the Desktop, the shutdown button has been cunningly hidden. The lock screen gives you no clue as to what you’re supposed to do. Utter stupidity.

        • HerrSanders says:

          Shutdown is in the settings charm and as a result is consistently accessible wherever you are in the OS or whatever input method you’re using (touch, keyboard and mouse etc). The lack of a lock screen opening indicator is confusing at first on a regular PC but once you know hitting any key opens it, there’s no big hassle. Still putting a subtle arrow at the base pointing upwards might help.

          • ratbum says:

            Shutdown is not a setting; it’s a command. It should not be in anything labeled settings.

            “Once you know” – This is exactly the problem. I should be able to work it out without ridiculous amounts of trial and error.

  29. tehfish says:

    Interesting…

    I’ve totally avoided tablets so far because the app restrictions would drive me bonkers (plus i have an android smartphone already, i see no need for a oversized one). Much prefer my little Lenovo 11″ ultraportable instead.

    The more expensive version of this tablet looks very nice as it runs a full OS, but i’m still not convinced it’ll be worth paying double the price i paid for said ultraportable above ;)

  30. Hunchback says:

    I still don’t understand the use of tablets, to be honest. Or to be more precise, i don’t understand all the hype about them – I guess APPLE is to blame for hyping their iPAD/MAT to hell. Pads existed long before the iPAD but noone seemed to care all that much about any of this.

    Then building such a device as the Surface Pro seems pointless – it will be way too expensive for people who just want some mobile browsing/m$office device, and way too underpowered (and with super tiny screen) to be of any use to a gamer. Not to mention that playing anything more advanced than minesweper will probably consume the batteries in 30 mins, so you will most likely have to keep it plugged in the power network, thus making it a … fixed portable device? It’s these kinds of weird hybrids that are generally capable of many things but good at none that rich ignorant people will buy cause they look fancy and all. That, or maybe i just don’t get the pad hype.

  31. Halberd says:

    I hope these tablets aren’t too expensive. I’d really like to get one!
    Having been using the OS, it works well on a desktop, so should be amazing on tablet.

  32. Premium User Badge

    PikaBot says:

    I doubt this will make much of a dent in the gaming market, for the same reason that there are essentially no worthwhile Kinect or Playstation Move games; when only a relatively small portion of your audience has access to your input method, it’s difficult to justify designing around it.

  33. wodin says:

    It’s a touch screen netbook..yippee..

    Tablets and the net gen Consoles are the biggest threat to out PC boxes (consoles alone never where). So yes you can all jump for joy, but I warn you once the next gen come along from one side and tablets from another topped of with Win 8 it really will be a bad time for a PC gamer.

    Casual games will be everywhere. AAA development will concentrate on the next gen consoles (from what I’ve seen of a square enix vid of supposedly in game gameplay it looked better than any PC out there, Xbox is reported to have 16CPU’s for godsake)and the small indie developers who could keep the PC alive will drift to the tablet (its already happening look around you).

  34. WinTurkey says:

    Want my prediction?
    MS released both tablets which, despite being marketed as 2 variants of a single product are in fact totally different from one another on the base architecture level. Most people buy the iPad clone because they’re either too ignorant to know/care about the differences between the ARM and Intel architectures or they’re not ignorant enough to spend money on a x86 tablet which is as powerful and easy to use as a laptop half its price, but with a worse OS.

    Surface Pro gets overlooked by consumers and subsequently by MS itself, anyone who wants a Windows machine for something more than just dicking around online get slighted and goes back to using W7 desktops or laptops, MS establishes a questionable foothold on the tablet market, PC gaming doesn’t suffer any more than it did when MS went into consoles.

  35. Brun says:

    I don’t generally like tablets, but I think that the touch/keyboard cover is actually quite clever and solves one of the biggest issues I have with tablets and touch devices (bad typing ability).

  36. Ratchet says:

    This actually looks really cool, I’d love to have one myself (the Pro, of course).

    Hopefully a future version will have a Thunderbolt port so that external graphics devices to boost the 3D power, and thus the gaming potential, of this would be possible.

  37. Berzee says:

    But,
    I already have a laptop I can play on teh bus!

    Still,
    this thing may as well exist as not!

  38. Jac says:

    “And if Surface Pro and its touchscreen are an appealing place for PC devs to go, that means they might wind up in the Windows 8 app store, Microsoft’s attempt to wall up the garden of Windows applications and games. That worries me enormously. Choice of store, freedom of modding, support for older versions of Windows – those can go out the window, so to speak.”

    I may be misinterpreting but i don’t really understand the concern here. Is it that you’re worried devs will concentrate on more touch centric and “light” games or that developers will put their game on the windows store?

    Not sure how the latter would be a bad thing – surely the beauty of this device (the pro version at least) is that you can get the metro style apps but also install proper games, whether that is from the microsoft store, steam, origin, your backup usb disk, wherever. How is developers selling their games through microsoft bad when you can still get them elsewhere.

    If developers are free to price the games on the windows store as they see fit then i dont think that’s a bad thing – same as steam really.

    Anyway this looks like it is going to replace my laptop when it comes out. Hopefully civ and footy manager will get some updates. No more civ revolution or cut down rubbish on my phone!

  39. Shortwave says:

    I was hoping for something a but more beefy than this.
    Though if the price is competative with iPads or better, I can see myself getting one.
    Simply for the purpose that I know my music writing program is going to have a mobile version for it.
    So I’ll be able to write tunes no matter where I am and have it instantly synch with my home cloud and be ready to work on my main PC when I get home.. So yea’ for that..

    I was hoping I’d be able to game with this, but maybe it will serve as an extra game window with potions and stats on it and such as well.. (Hopefully without needing 8 on my main pc.. : /) But yea, I don’t see myself caring for this thing overly much. Still, a great alternative to iPads. Which Microsoft originally designed anyways. Lol. So it’s good they are finally getting back into this seriously. They were WAY ahead of the times back in 2000. : P

    • asshibbitty says:

      They say the prices are comparable to ultrabooks, which are basically a ploy by netbook makers to extract more money for the same crap, and cost about twice as much as an iPad.

      • Shortwave says:

        Weird, Microsoft is usually more clever than that.
        It’s doomed to fail I personally believe at those prices.

        • HerrSanders says:

          The Pro is aimed at the MacBook Air area not iPad, (the standard Surface is aimed at iPad)) and will judging by current Ultrabook pricing be cheaper than the Air but with better specs.

        • asshibbitty says:

          You know what would’ve been clever? Developing one device at a time, releasing it shortly after presentation, letting Nokia people design the case, calling it something else (have fun hearing Chinese or Russians try to say “surface”), clearly differentiating between clearly different devices (have fun explaining why this windows tablet can’t run windows apps), etc etc. I want MS to give Google a bloody nose but that sure as hell not happening now. 

          • HerrSanders says:

            I agree Windows RT is a stupid name.

            The split of Surface and Surface Pro though makes more sense and would be easily explainable I think. As the desktop on WinRT is so limited they would have been better dropping it and making things much easier to explain. This one runs the new stuff. This Pro one runs the new stuff and the old stuff.

            Instead we have. This one runs the new stuff, and office and the explorer. This Pro one it runs everything.

            Still it is Microsoft though so they have to have some silly along with good but I think there’s mostly a lot of good with Surface and Win8 and I think they’ll be very good products as well. Whether it will do well or not I have no idea.

      • DrGonzo says:

        The prices of the ultrabook surface will be comparable to ultrabook prices. What with it being an ultrabook. The price of the lesser tablets will be comparable to tablet prices. What with it being a tablet.

        • asshibbitty says:

          I’m guessing people on a pc blog would be mostly interested in the intel one.

  40. killias2 says:

    On one hand, I’m excited about this, and, at the right price point, I’d definitely get one.

    On the other, I understand the fear about the impact on PC gaming.

  41. Moraven says:

    Do not see the purpose of the ARM version. Apps won’t be compatible between the 2 and will just confuse people.

    They will have to inform customer well that one can run your laptop/PC apps, and the other is Windows Phone blown up and their app ecosystem.

    Apple was fine with this in introducing the iPhone into an iPad. And Macs are not that popular. You knew the iPad was a bigger iPhone. Windows Phone is not that popular and no one can imagine using a bigger version of theirs.

    • Brun says:

      I think the purpose is to throw them both out there and see which one sticks. One is basically an iPad clone (Windows RT/ARM), and one is something different (Ivy Bridge/Win8). No one is really sure what the market wants – do they want things that are basically just like iPads (I see analysts and tech writers ask that question all the time: “do people want tablets not made by Apple?”)? Or do they want something more functional?

      Fast forward 5 years and when Surface 2 or Surface 3 comes out there will only be one version – Microsoft will pick whichever one really takes off and use that as their future model. Obviously the risk is that they will confuse their consumers and neither model will gain widespread adoption.

      • ReV_VAdAUL says:

        Or the ARM version fails and Intel scraps the pro version before it goes into an expensive production run.

    • HerrSanders says:

      All Metro apps and games will be compatible between x86 and Arm.

    • chopsnsauce says:

      I’m pretty sure ALL apps will run on Intel AND ARM. It’s only desktop apps that won’t run on ARM, but ARM won’t have a desktop anyway.

  42. Moraven says:

    And you already had laptops like http://www.asus.com/Eee/Eee_PC/Eee_PC_T101MT/

    Not breaking new ground. People used flat bluetooth keyboards with the iPad.

  43. thegooseking says:

    If it can run Skyrim, the touchscreen will make the UI finally almost make sense!

  44. Kaira- says:

    I wonder if the Surface one has been locked down with the UEFI. It might make a nice Linux-tablet.

  45. roryok says:

    It’s toting an Intel Core i5, Ivy Bridge-based CPU. That means integrated Intel HD 4000 graphics

    It’s likely, but ivy bridge doesn’t automatically mean that. It could still have a discrete nvidia chip

  46. MadTinkerer says:

    So basically: Microsoft are trying to break into the Netbook market while pretending to break into the PDA market.

  47. DrGonzo says:

    ‘Surface Tension’ made me chuckle, well done sir!

    • Stephen Roberts says:

      I only came to the article to see the Half Life chapter pun reference thread in the comments. Alas, it was not to be found.

      I am a cynic when it comes to most things and tend to believe the only commendable thing Microsoft have achieved in ten years is Windows 7, so it’s something to say I’m looking forward to Windows 8. But this tablet stuff I will observe with quite some Apprehension.

  48. Bobka says:

    Crazy rant incoming.

    I’m probably just really paranoid, but I’m not sure I’m comfortable with tablets from a sociological perspective. Tablets are, as far as I’m aware, primarily consumer hardware, as opposed to developer *and* consumer hardware like PCs (correct me if I’m wrong – please, I hope I am – but I don’t think many developers actually develop on their tablets), but their price is such that people on the lower end of the socioeconomic scale will probably have to choose between a proper PC and a tablet (if they can afford either to begin with), and now, it seems many will go for the latter. There goes any hope of their kids getting early exposure to the intricacies of information and computer technology, and thus having easier access to better-paying jobs (and more developed understanding of engineering and design in general).

    As a child, I learned to design levels in the Warcraft III editor (yes, dating myself here), and I discovered to my glee that all that working with Boolean logic and If-Then statements helped me learn programming so much faster later on. I would spend hours scouring the internet trying to install mods or whatever on my games, or trying to extract music files from game data, which helped me understand some basics of how these things are put together. I would make my own “free” websites, learning basic HTML formatting. I would design “art” in various programs, such as Inkscape (which I still use). MS paint taught me about numerical color representations. I was constantly learning, and I still am, and I’m in a position now where, if I can manage to get a job when I graduate, I can start off earning as much as my father was earning 5-7 years into his career.

    Do kids with tablets learn much about IT, software, or design in general? Are they going to learn to mod games (which, IMO, is a good way to learn game design and development early)? Are they going to learn about the rudiments of computer hardware? I really don’t know, since I don’t have that much money and, having to choose between a laptop and a tablet, have chosen to stick with the latter.

    I’m not saying they have to – hell, I myself modded almost no games, unless you count using built-in level editors – but PCs (both desktop and laptops) put these learning opportunities right at their fingertips in case they *do* want to learn; and I think they do draw them in. I feel like tablets, though, just present users with an end-product, without the potential to develop any interest or talent in IT that they may have. It’s great if their family can afford both PCs and tablets, but not everybody is so lucky. Please correct me if I’m wrong, I’d love to hear that developers to develop directly on their tablets.

    Ugh, I feel like such a curmudgeon. I mean, tablets are really cool from a consumer perspective, for the most part (though I’ll still be sticking to PC for gaming), but… oh, I don’t know. I’m probably just nuts.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      Apple has always been a bit paranoid about people fixing their own stuff (turns out the iPad is not filled with magical fairy dust). Their newest Laptop thingy is apparently completely unrepairable, even soldering RAM directly to the board rather than the normal clip-in systems.

      All-in-one desktops are also on the rise (it’s not like a lot of people understood the difference between the computer and the monitor in the first place), and are functionally as fixable as a bad laptop.

      Hopefully the general understand of PCs will pick up such that kids get shown the real basics early, and the rest of their education becomes something a bit more substantial. The UK is apparently making moves to make computer lessons actually about the computers… not just googling your english homework, and then typing it up in Word.

      Unfortunately, the approach is questionable, with a sort of “free reign” on what can be taught… why is that a problem? Because a lot of teachers don’t know/care anything about the subject (and nobody has written the teaching plans for them to do by rote), so you have the blind leading the blind (or the ignorant teaching the unsure I guess).

  49. mseifullah says:

    Let’s not forget that the Unity and Unreal Engines already compile for ARM processors in the form of iOS & Android games. All it would take for Windows 8 to become a restrictive console — in the sense that an iPad or iPhone is considered one — is to have Unity and Unreal provide options for compiling to Windows RT & Windows Phone 8. And that *will* happen.

    They’ll just target the non-pro Surface’s hardware specs, pretending that other Windows tablets don’t exist — and because they know that the majority of people are going to buy the cheaper ARM tablet version anyway.

    Most developers will follow suit, using Unity or Unreal if they want a stand-out graphical presentation on Surface tablets, and since iOS builds would only a few clicks away, why not?

    Consequently, most new Windows games are going to be held back by what the Unity and Unreal Engines can do with mobile-level hardware since developers will want to ensure that they reach the largest amount of Windows 8 users.

    The rise of Microsoft’s Surface tablets as a competitor to iPads are going to hold back the progress PC gaming as a whole.

    Edit: It just seems like everything is slowly (or rapidly) becoming consolized because 1) it ensures that repair and upgrade options are non-existent, forcing people to switch out expensive hardware as if it were a mobile phone, 2) limits the places you can buy software, and 3) gives every sale 30% a default shave off the top.

    In the end, we all lose.

  50. irongamer says:

    I’m sure I’ll pick up a tablet at some point. However, for a tablet to functionally replace my PC it will require modular components which will extend the life of the shell/screen. The ability to swap out mb, cpu, ram, gpu, and hd.

    I have a hard time justifying my support of the “throw away” product in computer hardware. Our ability to make replaceable parts and modular systems needs to be incorporated into smaller devices. If those abilities do come to smart phones/pdas/tablets it is still a long ways off. And if we completely loose the ability to upgrade/replace/swap components I feel any “consumer power” has regressed further than any progress made by small powerful devices. Not to mention the complete waste of resources and energy that tags along with throw away product cycle.

    • Brun says:

      Device makers don’t want their devices to be upgradeable because that devalues future device updates – i.e., if you could swap components out of an iPad to give it the same performance specs as an iPad 2, fewer people would go out and buy brand-new iPad 2s.

      • irongamer says:

        Yes yes. I understand greed. It will be the end of our pathetic species if we are not careful.

        • Brun says:

          I think greed might be too strong a term. You have to consider that the vast majority of tablet users would faint at the sight of a motherboard or GPU. Upgradeability has zero value for them – but the reduction in component complexity (and corresponding increase in reliability) that comes from eliminating it does have value. It does take away some freedom for power users, but there are legitimate benefits to many consumers by eliminating user upgrades.

          Also, the fixed-hardware issue is only prominent when tablet hardware is iterating on a very rapid cycle (1.5-2 year refreshes). That rapid cycle exists because the tablet market is relatively young and is growing quickly. Soon enough, the market will come closer to saturation and we’ll start seeing people hold on to their tablets rather than buying the next iPad every time a new one is released.

          • irongamer says:

            Yeah, I get that. But I’m still not convinced. Over the years I’ve watched more and more products move toward a throw away system. And like a mentioned they may get around to the idea of modular again, but it is a long ways off if they do. I also believe that they could make these devices modular with little to no increase in cost on their end. Overall I still think we are loosing out, but it doesn’t matter because the marketing creates so many googly eyed consumers ready to devour whatever is tossed at them.