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back to article Review: Living with Microsoft's new Surface Pro

While the Surface RT was aimed at Apple's iDevices, its posh Pro cousin is Microsoft's Windows 8 showcase in the PC space, and on midnight on February 9 the first units will go on sale. But we got one early, lived with it for a week, and have, ahem, surfaced to tell of our experience. Microsoft is adamant that the Surface Pro is …

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Damn.

I didn't want to like Microsoft Winpads©™® - and with the Surface RT that's very easy - but the Surface Pro is undeniably sexy. Bugger. Now I want one

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Damn.

Me too. However. Entry level should be 128Gb and there should be a 256Gb model. So I'll wait until they refresh with a Haswell+256Gb model.

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Bronze badge

Re: Damn.

Pervert.

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Mushroom

Re: Damn.

The iPad is a toy that some people choose to bring to work. The Surface is a high end and fully functional work orientated computer. Very different markets, and in the work market, the price doesnt matter so much for something that is targetted at executives...

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Childcatcher

Re: Damn.

That is true but the iPad is sexy and fashionable in Executive circles Microsoft is not. So if the price doesn't matter they'll still choose the iPad and the MDM that goes with it.

Also the iPad lets them display control over their IT/Procurement departments by getting something expensive and incompatible with the current system.

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Re: Damn.

Maybe iPad remains fashionable in some circles but so was the MBA and Surface Pro can replace the iPad+MBA combination at a much lower price with an apparently good build quality. I'm surprised to say I'm impressed (although it would take a higher spec version to persuade me to dip hand in pocket).

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Mushroom

Re: Damn.

Actually, iPad is now dated and unfashionable. Loads of people have one and they are no longer cool or unique.

Also, IT hardly ever allow executives to buy iPads. They are almost universally a personal purchase.

IT departments are going to be all over Surface Pro as it can be fully managed, domain joined, locked down, Bit Lockered, etc. and will be purchasing it as a corporate solution. Executives are going to queue up to get it, just like they do for every other new and flashy device...

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Windows

Re: The iPad is a toy that some people choose to bring to work

The Surface is a toy that no people choose to bring to work

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Re: Damn.

I guess it is more comparable to the 11" MacBook Air. $100 more than the Surface, but with keyboard included and not detachable, and no touch screen.

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Re: Damn.

"IT departments are going to be all over Surface Pro as it can be fully managed, domain joined, locked down, Bit Lockered, etc"

I suspect you may have inadvertently stumbled over the reason so many people bring their own devices in. Fancy being able to install the productivity software you like that helps you do your job. A plague on your locked down, Bit-Lockered, Internet monitored house.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Damn.

"the iPad is sexy and fashionable in Executive circles"

Exactley! The iPad was sexy and fashinable, least decade.

When have the Executive circles ever been sexy or fashionable, or even in this decade?

NEVER! They follow a crowd.

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Anonymous Coward

fixed that for you

"The Surface is NOT a toy ......yadda yadda yadda"

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Re: Damn.

In the last decade? It was announced April 2010.

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Poor cognitive skills..

"Not bad at translating scrawl, but failed on the last word."

Perhaps it doesn't have hardwitny in its dictionary

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Devil

Re: Poor cognitive skills..

Well at least one thing is certain, all the reviews are saying it's a stupidly designed, over priced, inadequately equipped, non portable, lacking in connectors, piece of shit....

ALL of the reviewers are saying "It's fucking CRAP!!"

LOL

Corporate Moron Design Team...... "Keyboard? Ummm no, they won't be needing that."

The Devil isn't in the detail - it's in the consumer reactions to being flogged shit.

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cooling vent?

A portable tablet-based device that requires a cooling vent and fans is obviously doing something wrong, and the battery life is hardly up there with "conventional" tablets (Nexus, ipad etc). It really needs a 7-9hour battery life, IMO, otherwise it's just another win8 laptop, albeit lighter/smaller.

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Windows

Re: cooling vent?

That very short battery life figure was the result of the very intense PowerMark 1.2 battery benchmark, which is way less than what you would get with normal use. It would be nice if the review said something more exact about what a normal user can actually expect... but they do say "getting more than a day's business use without the charger is perfectly possible if you're not silly about what you do and use power saving modes"

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Re: cooling vent?

I agree - my old Samsung NC150 Netb**k managed 10 hours on a fairly regular basis.

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Mushroom

Re: cooling vent?

Expect ~ 5 hours continual use.

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Windows

You don't know the power of the Dark Side...

Give yourself to the Dark Side. It is the only way you can save your friends. Yes, your thoughts betray you. Your feelings for them are strong. Especially for... sister. So, you have a twin sister. Your feelings have now betrayed her, too. Stevii-JobsWan was wise to hide her from me. Now his failure is complete. If you will not turn to the Dark Side... then perhaps she will...

;)

Have an awesome day!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: cooling vent?

"A portable tablet-based device that requires a cooling vent and fans is obviously doing something wrong, and the battery life is hardly up there with "conventional" tablets (Nexus, ipad etc). It really needs a 7-9hour battery life, IMO, otherwise it's just another win8 laptop, albeit lighter/smaller."

Sounds like you didn't read or fully understand what was written.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: cooling vent?

"I agree - my old Samsung NC150 Netb**k managed 10 hours on a fairly regular basis."

Yes.

But.

It takes 5 hours for it to do anything!

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Boffin

Re: cooling vent?

Readers need to remember...the surface is not a "tablet" but a Tablet PC. Similar to the old Motion Tablet PC I have on my shelf. It's unable to run Win8 due to the small screen resolution or I'd be using that hardware as my tablet.

The key for any tool is...does it do what you need and are your needs simple or diverse? We have four directors who requested IPADs and none of them actually use them for work. They can't because our software is Java based. Yes they can RDP to their workstations and run the software but they are not that savvy and its too awkward. Also any apps needed had to be bought and loaded using the registered ITunes user. No corporate account can be used. Our MS site license is useless on these toys. The Admins have been waiting for the Surface Pro and We'll be purchasing four very soon.

Most general users of Ipads have very limited needs/use and the IOS works fine for that. It's just an overprice item IMO. I have a Android powered Xoom and use it daily, but my main work is in SQL Server and only a workstation will do.

Best wishes on your choice...but don't knock people who don't follow your choice.

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Re: cooling vent?

"the battery life is hardly up there with "conventional" tablets (Nexus, ipad etc)."

Because its a COMPUTER. Its like saying the ipad is rubbish because it doesn't run photoshop, when the ipad is designed for a completely different purpose.

The arm version of Surface (Surface RT) is comparable to ipad, nexus 10 et al

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Battery life measured in Houses?

Somewhat of a typo me thinks.

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Re: Battery life measured in Houses?

I dunno, I can regularly get a couple of bungalows out of my laptop.

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Re: Battery life measured in Houses?

I don't really see the point in quoting it though. They deteriorate.

I mean my laptop used to get about 6 bungalows a year back. Now it is lucky to get 1.

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Happy

Camera

...not sure about the cat picture on page 1...either the camera is crap in low light, or that cat is wearing the latest in stealth ninja fur technology. It just looks like a blob of fur.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Camera

That's actually pretty standard for phone/tablet quality cameras photographing black cats. I get exactly the same sort of results taking photos of my 2 black cats with my both iphone/ipad and the wife's samsung kit.

Further to that, can we have more of this sort of sample pic, please? All the usual brightly lit postboxes and fruit and whatnot do not match my real world use, which is almost exclusively to capture images of my cats being cute. I deeply appreciated this journalist finally catering to my own use case.

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Happy

Re: Camera

I'm not sure about that duvet cover, myself!

I trust the shot was taken in the abode of a gypsy fortune-teller?

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Re: Camera

A black cat sleeping on a bed does look just like a blob of fur. My mum had a black cat. She also had a blob of fur - a hat, that is. We couldn't tell them apart without stroking them, or trying to wear them.

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Re: Camera

We used to have a couple of black cats and there was a furry black hat around as well.

Leave the black hat on a chair and people assume it's a cat.

(never had anyone trying to wear a cat on their head, though)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Camera

Black furry animals are a good test for digital cameras- for correct exposure, shutter speed and resolution. I have a constantly-moving black cocker spaniel, and taking pictures of him is a very good way familiarising yourself with a camera's controls. Left to 'automatic', pictures will often be incorrectly exposed, or motion-blurred. The autofocus is usually too slow for him, so encouraging workarounds.

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Stop

MS kills netbook market

Then wants to charge you four times the price for something that does exactly the same job and that has a worse keyboard. It's just too expensive.

Blah blah full blown office, god I'm sick of that argument from MS apologists. Only a masochist would torture themselves using Office on a 9.2 inch screen.

Why on earth did MS just not scale up WP8 to a tablet ?

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Re: MS kills netbook market

They did. It's called the Windows 8 Start Screen and is, IMO, the reason Windows 8 has failed.

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Re: MS kills netbook market

Please give me the ordering details for this "something that does exactly the same job " at ~$US250. I will buy it now.

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But if you're stacking the Surface Pro up against other Ultrabooks, then the system's cost is within the bounds of sanity.

You're using the absurd cost of Ultrabooks compared to other laptop/tablet solutions as a yardstick of spending >$1000 being sane?

How about "The cost of the Surface Pro is just as insane as that of any other Ultrabook around" as a better tranlation? Nice kit, but at that price it's executive toy territory, or those with more cash than sense.

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Anonymous Coward

Hmm...

At current exchange rates, the Surface at a $1k costs only £100ish more than the current top of the range 64GB ipad, but is way more functional and by all accounts much, much tougher. I think the prices stack up fairly well, in my experience if you want good, physically robust, well designed and performant hardware, you need to pony up some cash. If you don't pay a reasonable amount of money for hardware it gets battered to death in a very short amount of time.

Case in point: My partner and I have had the same X series thinkpad for about ten years, it is only just at the point of needing to be replaced. It did, however cost a lot of money. My Acer aspire one is only a couple of years old, has been treated much better and is dropping apart, it cost a fraction of what the Thinkpad cost.

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Thumb Up

"Nice kit, but at that price it's executive toy territory, or those with more cash than sense."

Yes, but aren't they all? And isn't that the market-point for them?

Remember how much a Tosh laptop cost ten years ago?

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Anonymous Coward

Yes. Its too expensive (if 128Gb and keboard) were included at the $899 if could still sell at a decent margin so a missed opportunity for a hit product). But even at this price it makes the MacBook Air look like a device from yesteryear, no way would I consider buying an MBA anymore now these multitouch detachables are out. In that sense, its already a win for Microsoft.

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Stop

Re: Hmm...

You forgot about VAT (sales tax for the US folks). The 64 GB iPad is only $700 to compare like with like.

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FAIL

HOW MUCH?????

It's gonna be a hard sell at that price. Apple will be hugging itself with glee.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: HOW MUCH?????

The 128GB iPAD seems to cost between $800 and $930, it's going to have a little more storage space inside, but it's not going to be able to run all your legacy software, have external storage, USB, become a member of a domain, have a stylus and handwriting recognition out of the box, etc. etc.

I'd say Apple are probably kacking it, certainly from the point of view of losing their enterprise toe hold.

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Stop

Re: HOW MUCH?????

If you want to run legacy software you can buy yourself a much cheaper laptop. If you want to run tablet software then the catalogue available under Windows 8 is slim and unimpressive, the iPad has it beaten into the ground here. What Microsoft have ended up producing is a machine that isn't good in either environment and is 25% more expensive than Apple's top end iPad model (cellular data and GPS not being options that Microsoft offer so I'm not including that model). I'd guess that Apple are laughing their socks off.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: HOW MUCH?????

@Steve Todd - Tell that to the execs at my company who want to use both the legacy software and a tablet.

If Apple are laughing their socks off, how come they released a 128GB ipad only a few days before the launch of the Surface Pro?

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Re: HOW MUCH?????

So they will try it for a short while and the Surface will end up in the cupboard like the rest of the junk they thought they wanted. See how many of them are prepared to spend their own money one one.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: HOW MUCH?????

At least with an ipad you get pretty much the memory stated on the box. You have only 23GB left on the 64GB surface pro and 83GB left on the 128GB pro.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: HOW MUCH?????

Yes, you only get about 32Gigs less than the full space of the disk, but what's this? Oh look a memory card slot and a USB slot and skydrive and a wireless NIC which will allow me to connect to CIFS/SMB/NFS shares, in fact connect to whatever I want...

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Comparisons with the iPad are wholly fair even if not an Apples for Apples comparison, because this device is at the very root of it's conception a response to the iPad. To avoid making the comparison is to let Microsoft off the hook and avoid the most obvious measure of success, will this device show the way to reverse the trend in fortune of the Windows PC platform.

The answer is a rapidly emerging and increasingly resolute "no." Not because it isn't an interesting device or well made. Not because it doesn't have strong points. It just isn't a thoroughbred addressing a clear market / use case. IT history is littered with quality devices that, if quality were the only measure, deserved better. The batton of "more than worthy also ran" has passed the hands of Archmedies, Psion series 3 and Revo, Palm and now to Microsoft Surface.

It's worth for a moment considering the circumstances of the genesis of the two devices: iPad and Surface. The iPad emerged after much experimentation and under no real market pressure to release. It was the product of a process if trying and rejecting many different approaches and choosing the one that felt right. For those that know their IT history, though the iPhone came out first, the project it came out from was actually the iPad project with the iPad held back until large touchscreen display prices made it feasible.

The Surface on the other hand, though also built with a laudable degree if commitment to quality and engineering design, is the product, if not in actuality, in spirit, of a bullet point list from a presentation titled something along the lines of "how we respond to the tablet threat." In other words the parameters for it's design for both time to market and political reasons, were cast in stone, long before the many claimed prototypes were produced. This notional presentation would have had to be one that could obtain Steve Ballmer's approval. 'Nuff said.

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Anonymous Coward

bollox

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