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back to article Microsoft Surface: Join the Windows 8 teardown

PC makers’ slipups have forced Microsoft into designing its Surface tablet, but can a software company succeed where the HPs and Dells of the world have failed... can it become more like Apple? Sure, the computer makers have slipped up badly on tablets. They are also in the dock for cramming PCs with crapware and selling you the …

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xyz

I want....

...one NOW! Oh and so does everyone else I work beside. Nuff said.

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Trollface

I don't...

...and neither does anyone I work beside. Isn't anecdotal evidence fun?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I don't...

I do, and so do - well there was someone else in the office a moment ago

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Re: I don't...

I want one. So I can sell it to some mug on eBay and then go out and buy 4, 5, 6, who-knows-how-many equivalent Android tablets and still have change.

Oh, I have to PAY for it? No, probably not then.

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xyz
Happy

Re: I don't...

Yeah, I can understand it won't help you or your colleagues serve better coffees.

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Re: I don't...

"...and neither does anyone I work beside. Isn't anecdotal evidence fun?"

Well at the time I post this, the voting on the OP's comment is 6 up and 6 down. So looks like 50% of voters would like one and 50% not. That's a pretty awesome start, imo. There's no right choice for everyone.

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JDX
Gold badge

I think it looks fairly sweet - the ARM version is as thin as the iPad and adding the keyboard into the case seems a nice move to avoid buying an expensive add-on. USB+SD are big deals to business users too.

Hoping for something nice but not massively optimistic.

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Yeah

But being locked down to within an inch of its life by someone else and having a mad UI is also important to business users, but for the wrong reasons.

It's also important to me, I'd be interested in a Win 8 RT tablet if it were as open and customisable as the x86 version and I'd be interested in a Win 8 x86 tablet if it weren't a lesson in how to use up all the battery charges in less than a year. So as it is a cheapy Android tablet or an expensive iPad will do the job.

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Re: Yeah

There's nothing fundamentally wrong with x86, all depends on the implementation and right now it's only getting better. The latest atom chips match ARM foor power/performance.

Have an ARM cpu running full blown windows and it will also use a shed load of power

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Re: Yeah

Nothing wrong with x86 apart from it has an instruction set which rivals the Complete Oxford English Dictionary. The fact that Intel have managed to keep it going for 35 years as testament to bloody-mindedness and vast amounts of money, not particularly good design. Atom is low-power but still not in the same league as ARM.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Yeah

Medfield is pretty close to giving ARM a run for money. The real race will get going next spring although the real winners of competition in the space will be us.

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"They are also in the dock for cramming PCs with crapware and selling you the machine they want you to have instead of the PC you deserve."

Anyone else think of the old spice guy when they read this?

Can't help but agree on the crapware bit though. My mum bought a windows 7 laptop with 64bit win 7 pre-installed. It ran like a brick.

I uninstalled as much of the crapware as I dared, removed a load of useless processes from the startup and it still ran like crap.

Then I realised that they'd sold it with 1gb of RAM, when you include the onboard graphcisit was only 768mb on a machine which had a recommended minimum of 2gb.

Sorry, this has turned into a bit of a rant on something of a completely different nature.

I like the look of it, what I would like to know is how sensitive the screen is, and how accurate. I'd like to use it as a very amature artist tablet. I don't need anything as accurate as a wacom because well, I suck at drawing, but accurate enough for noob week drawing would be nice.

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"what I would like to know is how sensitive the screen is, and how accurate"

In the presentation, MS said that it had 600DPI resolution which is more than visual resolution. They demo'd some handwriting on it and it was pretty slick. The presenter pinch-zoomed what he'd just written to be about three times the size and it didn't become pixelated. Also nice the way that the screen ignores palms, fingers, etc. as soon as it notices the pen is over it. I think this will be plenty good for amateur artists and casual work and roughs. Pressure sensitivity will probably be the big differentiator between this and a real graphics tablet or Cintiq. Someone on a forum said it would be good, but I've heard nothing official on it that aspect unless I missed it. Probably falls into "good enough" category for most of us.

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Unhappy

Lets hope Apples lawyers rip in as viciously as they did to Android

It would be great to see these two at each others throats whilst the good guys just got on with it, but somehow I sense evil recognises itself and this won't happen. It won't matter now what the shape of its corners are nor the fact that like the iPad, its look and feel was ripped (oops. "innovated") from 2001 A SPACE ODYSSEY way back in 1969.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Lets hope Apples lawyers rip in as viciously as they did to Android

Do you know what "Good" and "Evil" actually are? Or do you just like the sound of your own hyperbole?

Oh, don't bother answering, it's a rhetorical question.

(Nah, it's a potato)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Lets hope Apples lawyers rip in as viciously as they did to Android

Apple objections to the competitors products are not about what they have made in terms of what the device is (a small tablet computer). It is how it behaves and how it is packaged.

So 'slide to unlock' was something Apple created and others copied. Before then you would typically unlock a phone by pressing a key combination.

Samsung's Galaxy phone copied the look of the Apple packaging as well as the making their icons very similar to iOS.

Microsoft haven't done any of these things and so are safe. Which just shows that there is no need to blatantly copy.

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FAIL

Re: Lets hope Apples lawyers rip in as viciously as they did to Android

Heres the FAIL video microsoft tried to censor - catch it quick before they stop showing the same level of competence attempting that as the guy failing so badly in it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oTrWPqS4Kxk

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Lets hope Apples lawyers rip in as viciously as they did to Android

Yeah, so a pre-production device running a pre-production OS crashed at a demonstration, it's not the first and it's not the last time that it will happen. The guy presenting handled it pretty well and the demonstration was setup sufficiently professionally that he could pick up a second piece of hardware and carry on. It's embarrassing, but nothing else.

You say they tried to censor it, I doubt it, I suspect in your mind you think they did, but as your posting history shows you to be so rabidly anti-Microsoft that you'd give Barry Shitpeas a run for his money I don't really care.

Anyway, what has this got to do with Good or Evil?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Lets hope Apples lawyers rip in as viciously as they did to Android

I love how at the end he says "surface works great for entertainment as well", because it sure entertained me all right.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Lets hope Apples lawyers rip in as viciously as they did to Android

There's the difference with Apple (who Microsoft are competing with). Apple don't demonstrate alpha/beta products, they show you the final product (except at developer conferences) and they tell you the price and when it will be available.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Lets hope Apples lawyers rip in as viciously as they did to Android

re: Apple tell you the price: That's because no-one competes directly with Apple, and everyone can undercut them on cost. Look at a top of the range Mac Book and compare it to a top of the range ThinkPad, the Thinkpad will be cheaper. If MS announced a price, they'd be undercut by the whole of the rest of the PC market, prior to launch. If Apple tell you the price, they get undercut by no-one, because no-one else makes Apple products.

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Happy

Re: Lets hope Apples lawyers rip in as viciously as they did to Android

Thank you. Best presentation in ages.

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Starting from the wrong place...

"Microsoft claimed to have a "30-year history" of hardware engineering that it can bring to bear. We must have missed that"

Probably because you weren't paying attention - they didn't say that they produced commercial products, but they have done shed loads of hardware engineering in their research labs, which they have, most of which doesn't see the light of day - I once saw Craig Charles talking about being taken round the teledildonics labs in the Washington campus - I have yet to see a Microsoft branded dildo or Fleshlight in the local sex shop.

Thank god.

I know it's the Reg's duty to be sarky, but try to be sarky about what's said, rather than what you think that they said.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Starting from the wrong place...

They started their hardware group in 1982, and started selling mice in '83.

I can think of a few other companies with more impressive records of 'hardware engineering'. Amstrad, for example.

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Re: Starting from the wrong place...

MS released a mouse in 1983.

It's worth having a look at the collection of HIDs that MS researcher Bill Buxton has accumulated over the decades:

http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/um/people/bibuxton/buxtoncollection/default.aspx

A rather fun collection of devices, I hope you will agree.

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Bronze badge

Re: Starting from the wrong place...

Yep, that mouse was for use with pre-Windows Word. I remember thinking at the time that vi was still faster for most editing work.

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Re: 30 year history

Microsoft produced a Z80 softcard for the Apple ][ in 1980 in conjunction with SCP (who 'wrote' QDOS). This ran DRI's CP/M. Both MS and SCP were full DRI OEMs for CP/M so they had as full an access to CP/M internals as anyone could get.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Z-80_SoftCard

"""the SoftCard was Microsoft's number one revenue source in 1980."""

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Presumably, since its ARM

it wont run a 'proper' version of Office (though Libre Office will run on it) so I'd imagine most business wont want it - or rather the BOFH will ensure they don’t last long.

Popcorn and beer for this one...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Presumably, since its ARM

As I'm sure you know:

One of the tablets is ARM, one is x86. Personally, I strongly suspect the ARM one is more targeted at home users and the x86 at business, what with the x86 tablet running the "pro" version of the OS.

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Re: Presumably, since its ARM

"pro" presumably meaning "anyone who wants to run the biggest selling applications on the planet".

I'm a bit fed up with "pro" designations on software, despite being one. If you have to be "pro" to want to encrypt your hard drive, or run old XP apps, or use those various bits that aren't available with "non-pro" Office versions, then I think that my grandmother is probably a "pro" too.

Personally, I think of them as "normal" and "cheap fob-off to be replaced when the user wants to do anything vaguely interesting with it". A bit like OEM vs retail, which is really "I don't care if I have to throw this machine away next year, or if it corrupts, or if I change a component" vs "I do care".

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Re: Presumably, since its ARM

The trouble with 'pro' features is that even a causal user can sometimes run into situations where they need the functionality that only the 'pro' version provides- even if it is only twice in a year. Paying hundreds of beans extra for a feature you only use for 10 minutes is annoying- and is, I guess, an argument for pay-per-use.

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Re: Presumably, since its ARM

> Libre Office will run on it

Windows RT, and Metro applications on Windows Pro, can _only_ source applications from Microsoft's store. I don't think that you will find Libre Office there.

I did run OpenOffice on my Nokia N800. Interesting, but it did need a keyboard to work properly. The N810 had a slide out kb. With the N800 I could use a USB kb, or Bluetooth, but that wouldn't fit in my pocket.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Presumably, since its ARM

>I don't think that you will find Libre Office there.

Down to Libre office. @Richard, where have you been? Modern application stores list free of charge apps, Windows 8 store is no exception.

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whats the point?

I don't get the point of it.

I use a Windows PC for work (which I love) and an Ipad (which I also love) for arsing about, one handed surfing etc.

If they are trying to sell me something with a screen and a keyword, then can't I have a laptop instead?

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Re: whats the point?

I don't have an issue with the keyboard - seems as good a design as any. It folds out of the way - or is removed - when you are just watching movies on the sofa, and is there if you want to tap out an email.

Some people actually proof-read their written work- being to get from their desk and sit in a different chair can only be a good thing, ergonomically. ("The best position is the next position" - some chiropractor)

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Re: whats the point?

"don't get the point of it. I use a Windows PC for work (which I love) and an Ipad (which I also love) for arsing about, one handed surfing etc."

Well for those of us who either want to spend less or carry less, this is both. The keyboard's 3mm thick and folds out of the way. It can also be completely removed. So it's not really a competitor to the iPad, it's not entirely an ultrabook. It's basically both.

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Re: whats the point?

> it's not really a competitor to the iPad, it's not entirely an ultrabook

What MS have said about pricing is that the RT will be priced around that of ARM tablets (ie iPad3 or top Galaxy) while the PRO will be about the price of an Ultrabook.

So you are correct: it won't be competitive with iPad and it's not entirely an ultrabook, just the price.

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Stop

It has potential

The keyboard, the inclusion of office it has potential.

But until there is a price it's meaningless.

If it's going to cost £800 plus another £200 of licences to hook it up to the enterprise then MS can go take a hike.

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FAIL

Typical media stupidness

"Yet, despite a history of getting hardware wrong (Zune), "

lol Ok. So tell me "Gavin", since your an electronics expert, what exactly was wrong with the zune? I mean other than it didn't feature a stupid apple with a bite out of it. Anyone? What exactly was wrong with the zune hardware? cricket..cricket..cricket

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Re: Typical media stupidness

Stores stopping stocking it because nobody was buying it.

Which is probably what will happen with "Surface" too. Microsoft do make some viable hardware (whether it's actually GOOD or COMPETITIVE is another question entirely), but if they can't sell it to other people, you can only buy a turkey that nobody else has and which will eventually be forgotten like the Zune.

But, to be honest, the biggest killer was its complete inability to run software that did what people wanted, i.e. decent DRM and being able to buy and play music easily. Without that ability, the Zune died. "Surface" is the same - if you lock it down and people can't use it, nobody will buy it. Not because it doesn't have nice chips in it but because it's been designed to be a piece of hardware that doesn't do the things people need it to do.

Hardware "DRM" (i.e. not being able to use the damn thing as a simple media player that could download media from rivals too) was the death of the Zune and will probably be the death of Surface too. The statement really isn't that inaccurate unless you are very blinkered and think "hardware" means the electronics and not the design and operation of the device's hardware too.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Typical media stupidness

Yay Zune - rockin' that two-tone bile/dung paint-job!

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Re: Typical media stupidness

I liked the Zune colour scheme... but making its USP (share music wirelessly! Kind of! With limitations!) reliant on actually meeting another human being who owned one was a just little bit optimistic on MS's part.

I've only ever met one person who has owned a Zune.

I used to have a iRiver H320 harddisk player (same battery, Toshiba HDD and form factor as an iPod, but with good quality ADC / DAC ) that could act as a USB host and snag music off any MP3 player that supported MSC - i.e, the same trick as the Zune, but better, and earlier.

Shame they stopped making the H320 -it's the Nokia 6210 of the PMP world.

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WTF?

Re: Typical media stupidness

"Hardware "DRM" (i.e. not being able to use the damn thing as a simple media player that could download media from rivals too) was the death of the Zune"

I have a Zune and regularly listen to MP3's I bought on Amazon on it, as well as copies of my own CDs (some ripped with Zune, some with WMP).

Now I can't get music from iTunes on it, but that's because of Apple's DRM, not the Zune's. Even the tracks you buy from the Zune store have always been un-protected MP3s. It's only 'subscription' content that was ever protected, for fairly obvious reasons.

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This is soooo MSFT

I'm not an Apple fanboi, however Steve Jobs was famous for his brainstorming sessions where he would take the top ten suggestions throw away the bottom 7 and launch a plan based upon the remaining 3. The more and more you look at this the more it seems that MSFT under Ballmer takes the ten top suggestions and throws away the top seven and uses the 3 least worthy.

The MSFT 'tablet' is a case of nobody knowing what it is they want to produce, just wanting to produce "something". Not slim enough to be a worry to Apple or Android, not enough power to be a threat to Acer, HP, Sony or IBM, no 3G to be a worry to any mobile operators ... its like something that Dilbert's boss would produce.

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Re: This is soooo MSFT

No 3G?

Why bother incorporating 3G in it, when many people have a 3G > WiFi device in their pockets... oh wait, they do if they have an Android phone. Oops!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This is soooo MSFT

@Dave my WP7 does the job.

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Happy

Re: This is soooo MSFT

I stand corrected. Cheers AC!

There we go - no need to incorporate 3G. As someone pointed out in a different thread, high speed cellular standards seem to change more quickly than hardware refreshes, not to mention varying by territory.

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Re: This is soooo MSFT

Your WP7 phone just became obsolete. MS has announced WP8 and there will be no upgrades of WP7 phones to WP8.

Back in the 80s and 90s MS relied on vapourware to delay people buying stuff until MS could write their own. Some of this never turned up, but never mind, the targets that MS aimed out were starved of sales while everyone waited for MS's product.

MS has been trying that tactic with mobile. It has failed because the targets of its vapourware are its own. With WM6 it said that 'the next version will be soon'. Then they delivered WM6.5 and talked about WP7. WP7 was short a few features so it was 'wait for 7.1', then 'wait for 7.5'. But they started discussing 'Apollo' and 'SuperPhone' as being 'this year'. Now they have announced WP8 which they claim will be this year. Who would buy a WP7.5 now they know it is already a dead product ?

Obviously 'Surface' was announced to deflect Google's tablet and to slow down iPad and Android until MS's can be evaluated. But that may be 6 months for ARM and several more until the x86 PRO.

As these are 0.9 versions you should also wait for SP2 or version 3.

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Re: This is soooo MSFT

"Your WP7 phone just became obsolete. MS has announced WP8 and there will be no upgrades of WP7 phones to WP8."

I would be more concerned about this if I heard people who actually used a WP7 moaning about this. But all I hear are people who obviously don't like the phone anyway telling people who do like the phone why they shouldn't. I have a WP7 (Lumia 710). I paid £160 for it SIM-free and t works really well, And I expect it to continue like that for a good long time. You think it's suddenly going to become incompatible with email, or Outlook or Word?

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Re: This is soooo MSFT

> You think it's suddenly going to You think it's suddenly going to become incompatible with email, or Outlook or Word??

Microsoft's business plan with Word for many years was to bring out new versions with new file formats so that existing users _did_ "suddenly .. become incompatible with .. Word", and thus have to go out and buy the new version. Don't think that this won't happen again.

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