back to article Microsoft: Just swallow this tablet ... the rest will take care of itself

The clearest sign that Windows 8 may have a fighting chance has nothing to do with the software, and everything to do with hardware. Microsoft's hardware, that is. The gods must be crazy. After all, Microsoft has spent decades printing money based on a booming software business. Despite the criticism leveled by the technorati …

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  1. AceRimmer

    Personally

    I think it's quite a nice looking device.

    As always though, I'll wait and see how it behaves in the real world first before parting with my cash

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Personally

      Been thinking about Argos, and their 16 day no-quibble returns policy.

      Once Argos are stocking them I would probably try one out.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Personally

      Unfortunately, those square blocks you see in all the screen shots aren't Windows 8 tiles, but individual pixels.

      Surface really needs a decent display.

  2. Juillen 1

    The hardware...

    Will get the tech heads perhaps interested. The rest of the world just wants something that works..

    From this review, it seems you're extrapolating the possible tech wish of lovely hardware into a prediction that everyone will love it, despite the software really being a bit of a pain in the derriere..

    That's not usually the way it works, alas. From all the 'normal people', to quote Avenue Q, I hang out with, they all say they just want something that works and doesn't get in the way. Good hardware spec, bad hardware spec, they'd not know the difference.

    However, show them a graphical inconsistency, and they lose patience really quickly.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The hardware...

      "The rest of the world just wants something that works.."

      That'd be great if it was true. Unfortunately the rest of the world just wants what their peers own or idols endorse, and nothing more.

  3. DJV Silver badge
    Joke

    "Microsoft actually writes fantastic software"

    Can I have some of what you're smoking?

    1. Zane
      Headmaster

      Re: "Microsoft actually writes fantastic software"

      It would even more be interested in the list. I'd guess that Age of Empires is on it, but what else?

      1. bean520

        Re: "Microsoft actually writes fantastic software"

        Good:

        .

        Windows 2000

        Windows 7

        Halo series (excluding the original as it was written before Bungie was bought)

        Age of empires (as mentioned)

        Forza Motorsports

        Pre 2007 Office

        Active Directory

        Sega Dreamcast's OS

        .

        Bad:

        .

        Windows Vista

        Internet Explorer

        Office 2007 and up

        Windows Me

        Microsoft Bob

        Windows Phone 7

        Fucking Clippy (it looks like you are writing a letter)

        Initial release of Win95 (too buggy for words)

        Recent incantation of WIndows Livew Messenger

        Windows....Fucking....8

        1. VaalDonkie

          Re: "Microsoft actually writes fantastic software"

          What don't you like about WP8?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @bean520

          That list says more about you than Microsoft.

        3. Andrew Williams
          Black Helicopters

          Re: "Microsoft actually writes fantastic software"

          You had me up until AD. I'd sooner have an appendectomy with a blunt spoon than suffer AD.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Microsoft actually writes fantastic software"

        Here's a list for ya:

        Active Directory

        Exchange 2003, 2007, 2010, 2013

        Windows Server 2008 R2

        Windows 7

        Windows Server 2012

        and yes, Windows 8

        1. Shane Sturrock
          Mushroom

          Re: "Microsoft actually writes fantastic software"

          That list, is it meant to be the crap software? I've experienced much of it and it all frustrated me in a number of ways. Even the much vaunted Windows 7 is a pain the arse many times and still chews through clock cycles like the bastard offspring of Vista that it is. Exchange? Wow. Just Wow. And AD? Oh my...... I've played with Win8 and found it quicker than 7 but otherwise very frustrating. Stick ClassicShell on it and it morphs into 'good' old Windows but still struggles to hide some of the cut and shut nature of the OS. As for Windows Server, I'm not even sure why that should still exist in a world of Linux servers but there's no accounting for taste and I guess if you've been raised in an MS only environment it sort of makes sense but those of us who have more diverse experience know it is easier to run a solid Linux server environment.

        2. hplasm Silver badge
          Stop

          Re: Here's a list for ya:

          That's one sick fantasy

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "Microsoft actually writes fantastic software"

          Active Directory - a poor copy of Novell's NDS

          Exchange 2003, 2007, 2010, 2013 - an 'enterprise strength' mail system with it's datastore based on MS Access, and which can't be ported to SQL server (which wasn't a MS written product)

          Windows Server 2008 R2 - let's remove useful functionality present in R1, and make its version of AD not work properly with a mix of XP, Vista & 7.

          Windows 7 - Vista with most, but not all, of the bugs removed, & useful functionality (present in XP) removed.

          Windows Server 2012 - finally a server OS that installs without a GUI, but you are expected to manage it with TIFKAM.

          and yes, Windows 8 - least said about this the better.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "Microsoft actually writes fantastic software"

            Get some new arguments.

            - Exchange 2010/2013 is not Exchange 55

            - Windows Server 2008 R2 AD is not NT4

            - Windows 7 is not Vista

            - Windows Server 2012 management - hmmm, you've not heard of PowerShell then?

          2. RICHTO Silver badge
            Mushroom

            Re: "Microsoft actually writes fantastic software"

            Wow, what a load of poorly informed FUD. What about the market leading development tools, the market leading UC platform in Lync? the market leading Office applications, The worlds most popular email system in Outlook.com? The worlds fastest browser in IE10, etc, etc...

            Active Directory is based on LDAP and Kerberos whereas NDS was based on X500. Having used both, I can't think of anything that strikes me as a direct copy of NDS - maybe you could enlighten us?

            Exchange datastore and SQL server are designed for very different things so i dont see your point here - Exchange has lower IOP and storage requirements than any competing mail system versus number of users / transactions, so I guess you are saying that Access has an amazingly scalable and efficient database engine in JET for an office product? I assume you refer to SQL being based on code purchased from Sybase. Since SQL server 2005 there has no longer been any legacy Sybase code in SQL server.

            Server 2008 R2 - no idea what you are on about here. R2 only added functionality and it works just fine with a mix of platforms.

            Windows 7 - many times more functionality was added than was removed. So what do you care about that was removed? I cant think of a single thing that mattered.

            Server 2008 also installed without a GUI.

            Windows 8 - more secure - more efficient - new functionality - and reinvented for touch and guesture - which is likely the future of computing.

    2. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Fantastic can mean many things!

      fantastic (fænˈtæstɪk) — adj

      1. strange, weird, or fanciful in appearance, conception, etc

      2. created in the mind; illusory

      3. extravagantly fanciful; unrealistic: fantastic plans

      4. incredible or preposterous; absurd: a fantastic verdict

      5. informal very large or extreme; great: a fantastic fortune ; he suffered fantastic pain

      6. informal very good; excellent

      7. of, given to, or characterized by fantasy

      8. not constant; capricious; fitful: given to fantastic moods

    3. Hi Wreck
      WTF?

      Re: "Microsoft actually writes fantastic software"

      Fantastic for Intel. But us plebes? I think not.

    4. DiBosco

      Re: "Microsoft actually writes fantastic software"

      I couldn't read the rest of the article for laughing once I'd got that far.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Microsoft actually writes fantastic software"

      If you throw enough shit at the wall some of it will stick....

      1. hplasm Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: "Microsoft actually writes fantastic software"

        And the rest is RTM'ed...

    6. VaalDonkie

      Re: "Microsoft actually writes fantastic software"

      Please tell me how Eclipse is so much better than Visual Studio, for starters.

      1. steven W. Scott
        FAIL

        Re: "Microsoft actually writes fantastic software"

        Ummmmm..... for one, you have to actually know what you're doing rather than depending on bloated crutch-ware which simply reduces the knowledge set required to write a program to pre-MCSE level. I love watching VS/.net types when confronted with ANY other OS/IDE/language environment; that deer-in-headlights look, that anger over the realization that they don't know jack, and then the mumbling about how great VS is as they walk away in complete denial of the fact they have little to no understanding of the internal workings of any computer system.

        All they extra "stuff" VS shoves in and around your code? Don't worry about it; it's very important but too complex for you Scooter. No. Really. Don't look at it. And don't worry about that extra 25% in compiled module size. Its completely necessary. How exactly do you get VS to work for other languages/environments such as PERL, btw? Got PHP? Brightscript? Android plugins/emulators/development? No? Didn't think so.

        1. Paul Shirley

          Re: "that deer-in-headlights look, that anger over the realization that they don't know jack"

          Yes, but you have to admit their adaptable.

          They have to be with the endless churn of new execution enviromnents/programming frameworks/languages MS throws at them. Barely enough time to learn this years replacement for Silverlight or .NET for normal mortals, before it's unceremoniously dumped...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Microsoft actually writes fantastic software"

        Well... for starters, Eclipse supports Java.

    7. Robert E A Harvey
      Meh

      Re: "Microsoft actually writes fantastic software"

      To be fair, they've done some pretty good compilers & dev systems. And Excel seems pretty good, especially at pretty graphs.

      But there have been some real turkeys, and some half-finished stuff too. And yes, AD is the work of satan

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Microsoft actually writes fantastic software"

      Sort of. Vista was fantastic in the same way that the Bubonic plague was a fantastic killer.

      Windows 8 leans more towards the indescribable.

  4. Admiral Grace Hopper

    "but I soldiered on because the hardware was so pretty"

    Really? When I switched to Apple for my personal computing at home it was solely for the OS as after my first brush with Vista I was determined never to touch another MS OS unless I was being paid to do so. It was the OS that I wanted, the hardware was an admittedly pleasant bonus but it didn't drive my decision.

    1. Ossi

      Re: "but I soldiered on because the hardware was so pretty"

      I have a feeling there might be lot more people like you soon. Another Vista moment on its way.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "but I soldiered on because the hardware was so pretty"

        There's been times MS had tried to implement new OS features, but has failed because it hasn't been taken up by hardware vendors - (like that thing in Vista that was supposed to put widgets on small secondary screen on the laptop's lid)... and other times new hardware has been ahead of the OS and has require a confusion of drivers before being included in the next version or Service Pack. USB3, for example, isn't native to Win7.

        The Apple model has some things going for it, such as a limited range of hardware for the software to be tested on, and solutions that depend on a combination of hardware and software can be more easily rolled out as a finished product, whose advantages are easier to demonstrate. Like that Fusion disk system on the new Macs- it requires one SSD, one HDD, and the logical volume manager CoreStorage that OSX has had for a year (but only previously used for whole volume encryption).

      2. Al Jones

        Re: "but I soldiered on because the hardware was so pretty"

        Percentage of Vista users who switched to OSX?

        Percentage of OSX users who run Bootcamp or Parallels so they can run Windows apps?

        Guess which is higher!

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Microsoft actually writes fantastic software."

    A troll if there ever was one. Care to make a reasoned argument out of it?

    All I see is shoddy, scratch that, fantastically badly written, software that focuses more on fancy flashy sell-it-to-the-managers "features" than on function. And no thought at all spared to security for decades; all that thought went into finding creative new ways to shut out the competition.

    If you see something else, please provide some reasoning.

    "Microsoft has to make too many compromises with its customer base to move forward its software story with conviction."

    So curious how apple was in pretty much the same situation, yet didn't need to compromise and stacked roaring success on top of roaring success. With devices that curiously lack interfaces the competition does provide, yet that doesn't seem to pose a problem for the "experience" of using the thing.

    You might be right that this is what they're shooting for, but I am not quite so sure they'll manage to hit it, too. On that note, just what lessons did they learn from the roaring lack of uptake of "winpho"? Care to expound, Matt?

    1. Phoenix50
      Stop

      Re: "Microsoft actually writes fantastic software."

      Tripe.

      I see fantastically GOOD software written that allows me to get my work done, allows me to play games, listen to music, read books, browse the internet, edit my accounts, write my letters, send my emails...the list goes on. Do other operating systems offers this? Of course they do - but I don't want other operating systems. I want Windows, I've always had Windows, and I always will - as will many millions of others.

      And if you're going to throw the "security" arguement in there you've clearly not been paying attention for the last 10 years - Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing Initiative pushed forward personal computing security not just for themselves and their customers, but also because it forced vendors and third parties to up their game too.

      And as for roaring uptakes, I see Google has clearly learned lessons from the roaring uptake of Android - by packing it all with more buggy features, and standing by whilst their App store is littered with apps containing chinese root kits. Utter, utter, UTTER turd.

      1. hplasm Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: "Microsoft actually writes fantastic software."

        "Utter, utter, UTTER turd"

        At last- a realistic assessment of Win8.

    2. dogged
      WTF?

      Re: "Microsoft actually writes fantastic software."

      I don't think there's there any real argument that Visual Studio is absolutely hands-down the single best programmer's IDE in existence right now.

      You could call "Eclipse" but if you do I'm afraid I'll be laughing too hard to reply.

      1. Tom 38 Silver badge
        Stop

        Re: "Microsoft actually writes fantastic software."

        VS is ok, but it's no vim.

      2. Irongut

        Re: "Microsoft actually writes fantastic software."

        VS is a hell of a lot better than Eclipse, oh how I hate using Eclipse, but it still comes second place to the Delphi / C++ Builder IDE.

      3. DiBosco

        Re: "Microsoft actually writes fantastic software."

        Pah. Qt.

      4. Goat Jam

        Re: "Microsoft actually writes fantastic software."

        "Visual Studio is absolutely hands-down the single best programmer's IDE in existence right now"

        VS is to programmers as rap is to music.

        1. dogged

          Re: "Microsoft actually writes fantastic software."

          You type your code at the command line, then?

          No. Didn't think so. Either you don't code at all, you never use VS at all or you only use VS and therefore hate it because you've never seen how fuckawful all the alternatives are.

      5. KjetilS

        Re: "Microsoft actually writes fantastic software."

        Netbeans is actually very very good.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Microsoft actually writes fantastic software."

      > So curious how apple was in pretty much the same situation, yet didn't need to compromise

      They dont really need to compromise with less than 5% market share.... its hardly the same situation now is it?

      1. Dana W
        Meh

        Re: "Microsoft actually writes fantastic software."

        2007 called, they want their data back.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    tripe

    The hardware is old and clunky. It's DPI is even worse than the woeful iPad Mini.

  7. Pat 4

    You have it wrong.

    " I'm just saying that software isn't the primary selling point for Apple's devices.

    The device is."

    No... the main selling point of Apple devices, is the Integration!

    The fact that you can film something with you iPhone, open your iPad and edit it, then get home a show it to your kids without really having to "do" anything.

    Integration is Apple's secret. It's how they go from selling an iPhone, to a iMac, to an iPad, to a timeCapsule to the same person. And it's all meant to work together, and it does, and it all works...the same.

    1. hplasm Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: You have it wrong.

      pity they don't do scanners, isn't it?

  8. Dana W
    Mushroom

    No. I DO like the software.

    Its not about the "cool" its always been about how well OS X and iOS work.

    Its been seven years now since I went Mac. Things I'm still not missing. Freeze ups, blue screens, saving my documents every 10 minutes online or off for fear that three hours of writing will disappear in a browser crash. "this happened many times"

    I don't miss virus scans, I don't miss keyloggers, I certainly don't miss ACTIVE X, I don't miss disk defragmenting. I don't miss security updates that take an hour or more to download and install, I don't miss re-installing every 6-8 months to keep my gaming computers performance sharp. I don't miss my OS turning itself off with a hardware upgrade and having to be reactivated by a call center in India trying to read me a giant string of numbers over a crackling phone connection. I don't miss heinous and rude customer service.

    Things I do miss, more and better games in the desktop, things I do miss, a decent choice of video chip-sets. But in the end I had to ask myself if gaming was all there is, and I realized than gaming was the least of my needs, and the only thing Microsoft seemed to be any good at. It just was not worth the hassles anymore.

    But "I buy it cuz its kool?" Hardly. I'm possibly the most dated, least cool person on planet earth. But I buy what works. I'm not the only one by any standard, judging by the mob at the Apple store on the rare occasions I go.

    1. Oninoshiko

      Re: No. I DO like the software.

      your experience is better then mine. we got these mac minis at work. nothing but freezes and hangups for the past three months. Never mind that some of the applications we use don't work on a mac (or the port is so bad, it's unusable), so we are doing most of our work in windows in a VM anyway. I find it's UI behavior random, at best. I have done everything I can think of to try to get these things bearable, finally upgraded to 16G and the most responsive SSD I could find. It has helped a little, but still worse experience then my machine from 5 years ago.

    2. Naughtyhorse

      Re: No. I DO like the software.

      you know what?

      i dont miss any of that crap either, and im a windoze user! thing is the situation you describe was 7 years ago.

      i cant remember the last time i saw a BSOD.

      only thing that ever crashes a browser these days is flash - hardly redmonds fault.

      updates, cant say for sure but typically less than 10 minutes, usually in the background so you dont really notice anything.

      I reinstalled vista a few times and have never had to reinstall 7

      defrag and activex - really showing your age now.

      plus i get all the games and endless choice (as an apple used you may want to google that last word :D) in terms of hardware.

      but most of all as a 'hairy arsed design engineer' - keeping the country's lights on ALL the software i need to use is windoze only.

      1. Dana W
        Meh

        Re: No. I DO like the software.

        I've used and installed Seven, "for other people". I kind of liked the beta. I'm sorry the finished product wasn't more like it. But no sale. been there. Done that.

  9. Burbage

    Are we sure?

    It looks very much to me that putting RT on a tablet means they're aiming not so much at the hardware or the software, but as acting as a controlling retail channel. That's where the money is. That and subscription models. If, for comparatively little effort, you can lock in customers to an ecosystem and take a cut of everything they do in it, you can mine the hardware/software dependence without ever having to do anything new. Very much like Apple did with the graphic design community and their frightfully expensive font libraries.

    Ten years ago, that would have seemed laughably arrogant, and wouldn't have stood a chance in the retail environment. After the collapse of so many content empires, music stores and the DRM ruckus, expecting people to cede control over their own computers just so they could be more efficiently fleeced would have been as insane an idea as selling "thin clients" to consumers. Or 'push media', for that matter. Back then, computers were tools for enabling creativity and innovation as much as for flogging it. Linux was offering a genuinely open, in all senses, alternative to the proprietary restrictions of monopolists, and a new generation was growing up with computers, unfazed by complexity and jargon, who would engineer innovative solutions, turn data into knowledge and forge a bold, new, meritocratic economy.

    It hasn't turned out like that, sadly. Instead, it's turned into a meretricious, ad-spattered, proprietary soup of electronic soma, served up via pointlessly expensive, and mostly useless, devices. Walk through any public space, and you'll see a huddled mass of shuffling humanoids, like an ADHD version of Second Life, tweeting gibberish to the void, waiting for some Shoreditch flack to rediscover the knowledge economy.

    Perhaps I'm getting old, but if this is the future, I think I'd rather be dead.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Are we sure?

      you tell em grandad

  10. DougS Silver badge
    FAIL

    Good hardware with bad software gets returned

    The idea that Surface will sell because the hardware is great is silly. As is the idea that Apple stuff because the hardware is great, and in spite of the software. Add to that the idea that Microsoft is great at software (rather than being great at milking a monopoly IBM accidentally handed to them 30 years ago) and it makes for one huge FAIL of an article.

  11. P. Lee Silver badge

    It isn't the cloud its familiarity

    W8 is there to seed the market with the Pane interface so MS can move into mobile. They won't lose much desktop market because of the W8 interface and once people are familiar with the design, they are more likely to pick up a windows phone, because its obvious that it will work with their computer, right?

    MS need/want to get back to "windows is the only option" and that would be hard to do if they themselves introduced yet another interface in the phone market. The last thing MS want is a heterogeneous marketplace as that will suggest that Windows is not the only fruit and Other Things Are Possible. Things like ARM and Android and iOS follow each other into corporate IT and then comes Linux and other things which are Bad For Microsoft.

  12. Confuciousmobil
    Linux

    I have learned..

    From reading all the comments, I have learned that Apple are crap and so are MicroSoft but no one is slanging of Linux?

    This must be the year of Linux....

  13. The Grump
    Mushroom

    A Pox on all your houses...

    I'm going back to Win XP again. I don't need aeropeek, and I sure as hell don't need Win RT trying to emulate the Apple monopoly on software. I have had enough on Games for Windows and Steam telling me I can't use the game I bought and paid for, because my Internet connection is down (again).

    No more Win games or Steam games. No more games that require an internet connection. And absolutely NO WIN 8 !!! Before long, MS will get the bright idea to lease your computer's OS by the year - your OS will require an internet connection to verify if it has been paid for ! Only the hardware on your computer will belong to you. Get a copy of XP while you can, and turn off auto updates so MS cannot disable it. This time, MS has gone too far !

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Hardly "all your houses"...

      What kind of lame retort is "I don't like Windows, so I'm going back to Windows"? If you want to use your hardware and software in the way you want, use hardware and software that gives you that ability and legal right. Microsoft Windows XP certainly isn't part of that equation!

  14. VirusType2

    The desktop is a dream, I think people just haven't been able to understand how it's used by reading articles, mostly because people review it before using it more than an hour. They talk about it felt to initially transition to it, rather than talking about how they feel NOW.

    Windows 8 Pro is many, many times better than Windows 7, which I'll admit was almost acceptable. Windows RT on the other hand is consumer grade weakness, but so are tablets at this point. Gotta figure people that hate Windows 8 Pro haven't tried it. Metro is kinda neat to play around with, but there isn't any good software yet.

    I've never been interested in a tablet or smartphone before until Surface Pro was announced. It's a shame they couldn't launch it at the same time as Windows 8 RT. And it's a shame with the names of these things, probably causing confusion. 8 Pro is a full computer and 8 RT is so far, an experiment.

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