back to article Surface RT: Freedom luvin' app-huggers beware

“It’s the ultimate expression of a Windows PC,” says Windows chief Steven Sinofsky... or “a compromised, confusing product”, according to Apple’s Tim Cook, who has not used one. This is Surface RT, Microsoft’s first own-brand tablet, which went on sale today. Along with the fact that it runs Windows 8, there are two notable …

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  1. Whitespace

    Software costs?

    "The inclusion of Office is not quite the bargain it first appears, since it is restricted to non-commercial use unless covered by an additional licence."

    "I was able to write this review in Word..."

    So could we have some details of the commercial usage licence costs? Presumably Libre Office will never get a place in the Windows store, so the cost to use this thing legally for business purposes may be a lot higher than the price tag on the box.

    1. qwarty

      Re: Software costs?

      This non-commercial use of Office seems the craziest part of the whole concept, presumably the result of some internal turf war in Redmond. Nowadays we use our personal devices for all sorts and to have to consider whether a given document has commercial value or not is sheer madness. Something Microsoft need to be pressed on. Hard.

      1. APJ
        Windows

        Re: Software costs?

        There's no likely issue with Office use for the vast majority. Non-commercial use covers the home and student scenarios and Microsoft permit the use of Office 2013 RT for users who have access to the full Office suite via other licensed means:

        "According to Microsoft, you will be able to obtain commercial use rights for Office RT via Office 365, Office Standard or Professional Plus 2013, a Commercial Use License (which will be detailed in the coming days), or through volume licensing"

        http://www.winsupersite.com/blog/supersite-blog-39/office-2013-beta2/microsoft-relax-office-2013-rt-work-144541

        1. Sporkinum

          Re: Software costs?

          That is if your office license is 2013. I think a lot, most, probably are running older versions. Most of our office is running 2003 or 2010. We would not be able to use it.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Software costs?

        I thought everyone was saying there was no way they would use a touchscreen device for working in the office?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Software costs?

      What is stopping Libre Office going to Windows store? Anyone actually know if its being ported yet?

      1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

        Re: Software costs?

        > What is stopping Libre Office going to Windows store?

        It is likely that Microsoft will be that. It has already said that other browsers need not bother to apply.

        > Anyone actually know if its being ported yet?

        It is being ported to Android.

        There was a version of OpenOffice that would run on Nokia's N900 tablet which was ARM based, but Maemo was GTK based so it didn't need to rewrite the UI for that.

      2. ScottTx
        Meh

        Re: Software costs?

        "What is stopping Libre Office going to Windows store?"

        Microsoft is. They have approval of all apps in the store.

      3. Don Jefe
        Stop

        Re: Software costs?

        What is stopping Libre Office? Itself. It is pants for productivity and collaboration compared to a full featured version of MS Office. People who don't use Office everyday to make their living may not get how business works but in my little company of just 130 staff we couldn't be without real Office.

        All my macros have to work throughout the staffs PC's & whatever they send me for approval has to "just work" as well . All the formatting must be according to a standard we decide and control. It has to be managable on a distributed network. YoU CanT WorK WHen EvrY1 Has the OptiN to TyPE bullshit responses in 22 size Comic Sans in four different colors.. It's a waste of time and money to give users too many options. They are there to work.

        1. Big-nosed Pengie
          Headmaster

          Re: Software costs?

          "Office everyday"?

          Is this a new version?

          1. Don Jefe
            Happy

            Re: Software costs? @ Big-nosed Pengie

            "Office everyday"?

            Is this a new version?

            No. But that's a great idea! Someone should make that, maybe a fork, or you should at least try to register a trademark before someone does.

            1. ROC

              Re: "Office everyday"? @ Big-nosed Pengie

              I think it used to be called MS Works ;-)

            2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

              Re: Software costs? @ Big-nosed Pengie

              "Office everyday"?

              Is this a new version?

              No. But that's a great idea! Someone should make that, maybe a fork, or you should at least try to register a trademark before someone does.

              "Office Everyday: Because office suites are only suitable for the mundane and trivial"

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Software costs?

          All my macros have to work throughout the staffs PC's & whatever they send me for approval has to "just work" as well . All the formatting must be according to a standard we decide and control. It has to be managable on a distributed network

          That list doesn't contain anything OO or LO cannot handle, with added benefit that you can leave users on any platform and your format will *STILL* look the same. Granted, the macro language needs learning, but at least it works consistently across versions and languages.

          It's a waste of time and money to give users too many options. They are there to work

          Although you don't exactly sound like fun to work for, I actually agree. But then ask yourself: are you prepared to have them fight with every new version that MS rams down your neck, the main change usually being enough to totally destroy productivity for months? The only bit in OO/LO that could really, really do with a change is the insane colour management. I don't want to have to name a colour for the 3 times in a month I use it. But at 130x nada for license costs I think it's something you may want to reconsider - you save enough money to pay for someone converting your macros.

          Having said that - get decent software for that. Office macros are not exactly the most stable platform to base an organisation on..

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Software costs?

          There's a question: What is stopping Libre Office [being available on Windows Store]?

          There is also an answer: Itself. It is pants for productivity and collaboration compared to a full featured version of MS Office. People who don't use Office everyday to make their living may not get how business works but in my little company of just 130 staff we couldn't be without real Office.

          But what the hell have they got to do with each other?

      4. RICHTO Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: Software costs?

        Lack of demand would be reason #1

      5. hazydave

        Re: Software costs?

        It's certainly possible other office suites would be permitted in the Microsoft Store, but that remains to be seen. There's a huge disincentive for any company to do that, since Microsoft isn't allowing Windows RT to be sold alone -- it's always bundled with Office Jr. (or whatever it's called, Home and School). Given that Microsoft has copied Apple on nearly every other thing, it's no shock to imagine they'll reject some applications they feel are overly competitive with things they want to sell you. But again, there's no obvious history on this -- though a few reports, already, of apps being rejected for "no obvious reason", just like Apple.

        The other way Microsoft is limiting things is the private API thing -- only Microsoft applications can use Win32 calls in Windows RT. Everyone else is limited to WinRT, and WinRT was designed to be more restrictive ... one might even guess that "RT" means "Restrictive Technology", rather than "RunTime" as suggested by Microsoft (they wouldn't be the first company to play that kind of joke on their customers and developers). So you can't write a full fledged web browser under WinRT -- no way to turn data into code, so no JIT for your Javascript (you can use Microsoft's Javascript engine, but look at how that's handled in iOS -- apps get the older, slower Javascript engine, while only Safari gets the new one... permanent advantage to Apple).

    3. Richard Gadsden

      Re: Software costs?

      If you have a volume licences for Office with SA, then the commercial use licence for Office RT is already included, which was all I needed to know.

      It's the small businesses that will get killed on this.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Software costs?

        >since it is restricted to non-commercial use unless covered by an additional licence."

        >"I was able to write this review in Word..."

        I'm sure MS will overlook his license violation, since the 'hands-on review' could be summarised as "It might alright!" : D

    4. Pat 4

      Re: Software costs?

      Software cost for Office?

      somewhere around 6$/month until you decide you don't want it anymore.

      That's what I read, to aloow commercial use of Office on Surface, you have to "buy" an office 365 license, which is really more like renting it...

    5. Mr__H

      Re: Software costs?

      No other office apps and no other browsers. I'm surprised the EU competition committee haven't said something yet.

  2. EddieD

    I actually want one...

    I was going to hold out for the full fat version, but as a Mobile device, RT will be sufficient.

    A friend (journo) was at an opening event, and was most enthusiastic, which is surprising, because I didn't think she could switch a machine on without assistance...

    1. hplasm Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: I didn't think she could switch a machine on without assistance...

      The target market, right there.

    2. asdf Silver badge

      Re: I actually want one...

      WinRT is Silverlight all over again. It will fail to get traction just like WP and in 3 years it will largely be dead. No way in heck am I buying a windows ARM device until they can be rooted and OS that will not be dead in a few years can be put on it.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I actually want one...

      If he got an invite, it's because he has been lured there to write nice things. It's a subtle form of press backmail. look at what you get if you write nice stuff/.//

      Thankfully, it seems consumers have voted with their feet anyway, as Microsoft had to PAY it's staff to queue up outside stores to make it look like there was interest...

      http://www.theatlanticwire.com/technology/2012/10/microsoft-fakes-excitement-its-surface-tablet-launch/58417/#

    4. RICHTO Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: I actually want one...

      TIFKAM is perfect for morons / the IT illiterate and very very easy to use, with all of the more complex options hidden. As the vast majority of 'home users' fall into this category it is bound to be a storming success....

      1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

        @RICHTO

        > TIFKAM is perfect for morons / the IT illiterate ...

        How many did you say you were getting ?

  3. Mike Taylor

    Remote network access

    I expect both ssh and vnc will be available in windows store, as they are available for winpho 7.5, so should be easy to use other routes to get onto remote networks / boxen

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What happens.....?

    So, what happens when you surf to a website for some software, click the download link, save the exe, and try to run it? Does it just say "Sorry Dave, I can't let you do that." -?

    Isn't that going to REALLY annoy users?

    1. Mike Taylor

      Re: What happens.....?

      Good question. I don't like this trend, even if it is just a fancy version of aptget - at least you can install other repos. Winpho fires marketplace, gets the app and installs it. Obviously it needs to be in the marketplace.

    2. Big_Ted

      Re: So, what happens when you surf to a website for some software.....?

      Or more importantly you go to a site that requires specific software installed to work.

      ie a site you currently use a lot that has a player you have to install to watch videos. If there is no app for that then I can see a lot of people being quite upset.

      1. El Andy

        Re: So, what happens when you surf to a website for some software.....?

        "Or more importantly you go to a site that requires specific software installed to work.

        ie a site you currently use a lot that has a player you have to install to watch videos. If there is no app for that then I can see a lot of people being quite upset."

        Except that those were the exact same arguments levelled at the iPad, which would supposedly be useless because it's web browser didn't support any plugins.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So, what happens when you surf to a website for some software.....?

        Doesn't seem to have stopped people using the iPad. Or Android tablets for that matter, since AIUI you can't just download an run an exe on that either.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: So, what happens when you surf to a website for some software.....?

          Its been a while, but I seem to remember some Linux package managers having to be told explicitly to use other repositories than their default....

          Seems to me the best solution would be a system with a walled garden for novices, but a walled garden it is straightforward enough to escape from for anyone who has the knowledge to safeguard against the potential consequences of doing so. Maybe a one time "Are you sure you know what you're doing?" sort of dialogue.

      3. Mad Chaz

        Re: So, what happens when you surf to a website for some software.....?

        You mean those nice sites that ask you to download and install malware? You making the argument for or against RT here? I can't decide.

    3. RICHTO Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: What happens.....?

      Yes - it tells you that the software is not compatible with your OS.

    4. ROC
      Megaphone

      Re: What happens.....?

      Pretty much like doing that from a Linux PC (which is what I use for personal use on the Web - no Internet Exposer for me, thanks) - you learn to look out for Win exe files, and skip them. No Big Deal.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I got to the end of paragraph 3...

    and I got bored and confused.

    Think I'll stick with what I've got.

    1. Handle This

      Re: I got to the end of paragraph 3...

      Thank you, Mr. Cook!

    2. sabroni Silver badge

      Re:Think I'll stick with what I've got.

      a tiny attention span?

  6. DrXym Silver badge

    Security advantages?

    "The inability to install desktop apps will protect users from many threats,"

    Threats such as people using their own machine with software of their own choice.

    I suspect the only reason RT even has a desktop is because Office is such a large, complex piece of code filled with thousands of dialogs and legacy components that Microsoft was unable to port it to WinRT in time. So they shipped a stripped down, locked down desktop as a workaround hack.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Security advantages?

      And I suspect we will see WinRT desktop apps further down the line on RT and 8.

      Time will tell.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Time for a car analogy

      The inability to install desktop apps will protect users from many threats

      The inability to install accessories will ameliorate the fact that we fit crappy brakes.

      Given the shabby/shoddy/crap [delete as applicable] workmanship over he years when it comes to security, I would not exactly lay the blame with the users. In addition, if all "apps run in sandboxes", why can't the user have their own sandboxes? Lack of confidence?

    3. Keep Refrigerated
      WTF?

      Re: Security advantages?

      That's the first time I've seen a severe lack of functionality described as a security advantage.

      That's like saying any bank has security advantages if it doesn't provide ATM/cash machines.

      Just what is the point if the utility is scaled back so much as to make it inappropriate for the task for which it was designed? Or is this a cynical attempt to poison a market - as was done with netbooks by embrace, extend, extinguish?

      1. Kristian Walsh

        Re: Security advantages?

        "That's the first time I've seen a severe lack of functionality described as a security advantage."

        You don't follow Apple's proclamations on why iOS is so crippled, then...

    4. hazydave

      Re: Security advantages?

      Not just for Office. Microsoft wants every other company to re-write their code for WinRT, but they don't want to have to do that themselves. And they don't want to follow the limits that WinRT is meant to impose on every other apps developer. So they have Win32 as a Microsoft-only API. And if you have Win32, you might as well include Explorer/Desktop, that's not so much extra code -- and some applications from Microsoft may actually require it (though the RT tablets aren't getting the pen interface that's apparently going to be common in full Windows 8 tablets).

  7. Mike Taylor
    Linux

    I guess you can write / download source code and compile it to run.

    Maybe they're just copying linux a bit too closely .

    1. RICHTO Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: I guess you can write / download source code and compile it to run.

      Windows hasnt had as many security vulnerabilities as an Enterprise Linux distribution any time since 2003 so they are not copying that closely...

    2. hazydave

      Re: I guess you can write / download source code and compile it to run.

      Can you actually get a compiler? Apple pretty much kept these away from the iPad -- they didn't want any other way for software to enter the device, than via the iTunes store. And that's clearly Microsoft's model -- no idea if they'll be meaner or nicer about these things than Apple, but they clearly want their own "tax" applied to everything sold for WinRT.

  8. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    FAIL

    If you can't run a compiler on it

    it's not a computer, it's a toy.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So what do you call it...

    When it CAN run a compiler, but 95% of the devices never have? Try telling your Dilbert-like boss that he uses his computer like a toy

    1. hazydave

      Re: So what do you call it...

      Actually, CAN it run a compiler.

      Here's the thing.. it's already established that WinRT doesn't support compilers per se -- you can't convert data to code. This is the main technical reason no one can launch a competitive web browser on WinRT, as there's no way to build a JIT for Javascript (that's before you even ask the question of whether MS would allow this in their store).

      So a compiler, of course, can write object to disc storage, link, write out the binary... and then what. WinRT systems won't run non-signed binaries of any kind, supposedly. How to run that newly compiled code?

  10. Anonymous Coward 101
    Unhappy

    Can we please have a full featured version of MS Office instead of crippled bollocks?

    1. RICHTO Silver badge
      Mushroom

      It is a full version of Office included. It is not crippled bollox like Libre office.

      1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

        > It is a full version of Office included.

        No. That is wrong, as usual for your posts.

        It is Home and Student edition which is not 'full Office' as it lacks some programs. It is also only licenced for 'non-commercial' usage and business users will need to buy another licence.

        It is Office RT which has less features and is missing:

        """

        * Macros, add-ins, and features that rely on ActiveX controls or 3rd party code such as the PowerPoint Slide Library ActiveX control and Flash Video Playback

        * Certain legacy features such as playing older media formats in PowerPoint (upgrade to modern formats and they will play) and editing equations written in Equation Editor 3.0, which was used in older versions of Office (viewing works fine)

        * Certain email sending features, since Windows RT does not support Outlook or other desktop mail applications

        * Creating a Data Model in Excel 2013 RT

        * Recording narrations in PowerPoint 2013 RT

        * Searching embedded audio/video files, recording audio/video notes, and importing from an attached scanner with OneNote 2013 RT

        """

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    thinking ahead

    "The front camera is designed to view straight ahead even when the screen is angled back by the kickstand"

    now that does sound like a sensible option.

    1. Dick Kennedy
      Thumb Down

      Re: thinking ahead

      Except that when you're holding the device, you presumably need to hold it angled backwards, when it will pick up annoying reflections of sky or overhead lights.

      1. uhuznaa

        Re: thinking ahead

        And if you want to photograph a document lying on a table (for me the most common use for a camera on a tablet when I don't have a scanner handy) you have to angle it away from you to have the camera pointing straight downwards.

        Idiotic idea, really. How often do you need the camera on the back pointing exactly horizontally when you have the thing propped up on a table? What for?

        1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

          Re: thinking ahead

          The camera image is apparently fixed at 16:9 which wastes space for documents. You would proboably want to photo in portrait which would give an odd sideways tilt. The camera is only 1Mpixel and the 16:9 crop make image 0.9Mpx which is rather low for readability.

          In other words: fail.

          1. RICHTO Silver badge
            Mushroom

            Re: thinking ahead

            It has a 1.2 MP camera. Which when cropped still gives you full native 720P video capability.

            1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

              Re: thinking ahead

              > It has a 1.2 MP camera. Which when cropped

              It is cropped to 0.9Mpx

              > still gives you full native 720P video capability.

              720P is _not_ 'full' HD.

  12. graeme leggett

    What is the purpose of Surface

    is it to really compete with ipads and Android tablets, or is it to spur the PC manufacturers to produce similar machines (cheaper) running Windows 8?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      My guess...

      It's an experiment to see if they can make a profit margin like Apple.

  13. Stubbs

    I'm hoping that at some point WinRT desktop apps will be allowed in the store.

  14. Silverburn
    Facepalm

    Useful features

    Sinofksy has even attached wheels and used Surface as a skateboard

    Because that's important in a tablet. Why has it taken all the manufacturers so long to add this mission critical feature...?

    Though it would not surprise me in the slightest to find Apple has 'patent-turfed' this particular feature.

    1. El Andy

      Re: Useful features

      Because that's important in a tablet.

      When you consider that the point of that little stunt was to demonstrate how tough the surface is and the kind of battering it can withstand (very important if your fondleslab is ever going to leave the lounge) then yes, it really is quite an important feature

      1. hplasm Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: quite an important feature

        So the surface is as good a computer as say, a plank of wood?

        1. fritsd
          Joke

          Re: quite an important feature

          "So the surface is as good a computer as say, a plank of wood?"

          It gets much better than that...

          The inability to install desktop apps will protect users from many threats.

          Just like a good plank of wood would.

    2. nematoad Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Useful features

      Nah, it's called "future proofing" so that the thing can be of some use when the app store fails to deliver.

      Better than a door-stop I think.

    3. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      Re: Useful features

      Why has it taken all the manufacturers so long to add this mission critical feature...?

      Because no other computer so far has needed training wheels..

    4. ROC

      Re: Useful features

      No, no, no - Apple has patented WINGS, not mere wheels.

      What were you thinking?

    5. This post has been deleted by its author

  15. moiety

    " locked down so that you cannot install new desktop apps even if you can find versions compiled for ARM"

    Fuck that. Showstopper for me.

    1. Ramazan
      Facepalm

      Re: you cannot install new desktop apps

      How about kernel "extensions" ;) then? And maybe with user installed kernel modules we would be able to connect LUKS encrypted external USB3 harddrives, modems, Ethernet adapters etc? The thing comes with USB port, did everybody hear that as MS said that several times? Of course USB port will be very useful to us ordinary customers. They've seen things (done with the USB port) we people wouldn't believe (c) Blade Runner etc & so on

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I don't get the whole "confusing" idea.

    When Apple launched the iPhone did everyone find that confusing?

    The iPad is pitched as a tablet computer, it doesn't have a Start menu or Windows, did people find themselves unable to use it?

    So why is Windows 8 seen as confusing? perhaps if you are using a desktop or laptop without a touchscreen or you're expecting a small tweak to Windows 8.

    Okay, Windows 8 on x86 is more confusing due to the split personalities of touch and desktop. But I suspect few people will be running it on a desktop until forced to do so.

    Of course the biggest problem with iOS and Windows 8 (RT) is how we've moved to a games console marketplace where you can't simply run what you like. It may stop inexperienced users running their machines and install malware but the rest of us it is a serious dumbing down.

    1. Not That Andrew

      Apple clearly positioned the iPhone and iPad as consumer devices and clearly explained IOS as distinct from OSX.In my experience, there still remains confusion as to the the capability of Windows RT among those consumers who are even aware that Microsoft tablets don't run Windows 8.

    2. TheOtherHobbes

      The giveaway is the fact

      that the desktop version is called OS X and the tablet/phone version is called iOS.

      So - here's the clue - they have different names, and they're designed for different things.

      If iOS had been called OS X RT users would have confused users too.

      But MS is shackled to the Windows brand, so anything OS-like has to have the W word in it - whether or not it intersects with a normal person's concept of common sense.

      It's likely to confuse developers too, because it's not clear how much of Windows is in Windows RT, and how trivial/easy/hard/impossible it is to port existing code to the Wapp Store.

    3. DougS Silver badge

      Here's why it's confusing

      Okay, Windows 8 on x86 is more confusing due to the split personalities of touch and desktop. But I suspect few people will be running it on a desktop until forced to do so.

      You answered your own question!

      As for Windows RT, given that Microsoft has called their consumer OS Windows 3.1, 95, 98, ME, XP, Vista, 7 and 8, could you blame a consumer who doesn't read tech news from not understanding that "Windows RT" isn't just the next version of Windows that comes after '7' and be totally confused when it can't do everything his PC can? Microsoft's advertising isn't helping this perception, either.

    4. uhuznaa

      Desktop apps or not?

      It's confusing because it has a desktop mode that runs Office and Explorer and the system settings and tools, but nothing else. It looks very much like ordinary Windows with a touch-friendly layer on top and the desktop beneath it but it isn't. It looks as if you COULD install "normal Windows software" but aren't allowed to. For the mere mortal it will look like another licensing fence. Lately I was asked quite a bit about "the new Windows iPad" (really) and whenever I started to explain WinRT and ARM and Intel versions eyes clouded over, eyebrows rose and heads shook.

  17. erikj
    Meh

    Non-Commercial Office Use?

    I'm not sure I know what that means. I can send an email to my dad, but not to a colleague?

    1. Sporkinum
      Flame

      Re: Non-Commercial Office Use?

      Email is not Office/Outlook, so email is fine.

      1. erikj

        Re: Non-Commercial Office Use?

        Ah -- of course! But perhaps Tim violated the license by writing this article in Word 2012 on the Surface?

        1. Ramazan
          Joke

          Re: perhaps Tim violated the license by writing this article

          Surely Tim violated the MS License and if he does't apologize ASAP he'd be fired as that stubborn Apple manager who refused to apologize for Apple Maps in iOS 6

  18. Azzy

    I got to touch one today

    I found a promo event outside the local microsoft building while getting lunch.

    I got a free shirt, water bottle, and a cup of cider that gave me a stomach ache, and I got to play with a surface tablet for all of 2 minutes (I'd like to say that it gave me a headache, but the screen's actually pretty good).

    The hardware is very well made - the kickstand is a good idea, and actually feels like it will last well. Device has an excellent feel, screen is great, touch is very responsive. The connectors for the keyboard are not normal - it consists of a set of contacts, with a magnet on either side; the keyboards practically jump onto the bottom of the tablet, and it looks like it would be hard to mangle the connector, or get crap stuck in it.

    They had both a touch and type keyboard cover there. The type keyboard is a typical too-thin-to-feel-good mobile keyboard, with a little touchpad on it. Nothing special. The cheaper touch keyboard, though, really impressed me. It performed far better than I had expected - it wasn't ideal to type on, but I've used keyboards that made a much worse first impression on a daily basis. This isn't some squishy foamy thing with a membrane switch buried in it (or if it is, it's not obvious, which is what matters) - the responsiveness makes me think they're using a proper touch sensor. And it has it's own touchpad too, which works quite well.

    I'm not sold on Win RT though - the metro part is a great match for the tablet form factor, and looks and feels good... until you start office. Switching between start screen and office was jarring, I don't like it. They didn't have the wifi working (probably because they were a block away from their HQ, and that block was occupied by a big steel-and-brick wifi absorbing building), so I couldn't check the windows store, but I hear it's pretty barren, which is another big downer. But the hardware looks excellent.

    1. TheRealRoland

      Re: I got to touch one today

      Good to hear that for some people, when drinking the kool-aid, the mind makes the body rebel...

    2. Mr__H
      Alert

      Re: I got to touch one today

      "The connectors for the keyboard are not normal - it consists of a set of contacts, with a magnet on either side"

      Anyone else feel a MagSafe patent case coming up?

  19. Chet Mannly

    "The inability to install desktop apps will protect users from many threats,"

    The inability to install desktop apps will ensure users have to buy the more expensive full surface tablet when it is released

    There, fixed it for you.

  20. stewski
    FAIL

    yet another pointless and inaccurate post.

    Surface is the worst thing in the world ever, well since the nazi's final solution and terrorism.

    By the way I haven't used it yet, surface that is...

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "New apps can only be installed from the Windows Store"

    Thst's like putting a sticker on it saying "AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE"

    The future's not orange or bright - "Daddy, what was it like when you could create and install your own software on a computer?"

    1. Rob F

      Re: "New apps can only be installed from the Windows Store"

      The Computer nerd in me says that you are absolutely right, but my experience is that if Microsoft take a similar approach to the store as Google does then most users aren't going to care that they cannot run unsigned code. If they put their business interests first, then I guess it will be a race to see who unlocks the system first and get the EFF to defend it.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "the inability to install desktop apps will protect users from many threats"

    "the inability to install desktop apps will protect users from many threats"

    We don't really think so, do we, though it might make for good PR fluff for a few seconds?

    It will allow certain dim-witted types (PR-fluff merchants, IT helpdesk jockeys, IT directors) to convince themselves that many classes of threat are no longer threats.

    But in reality, how many meaningful Windows threats ever needed to be installed like a desktop app, rather than just run as a simple executable (or, for the better exploits, opened and loaded like an ordinary document, with or without macros, or even just simple unauthenticated remote access buffer overflows ).

    Those attack vectors are not in any way being blocked by being unable to install apps in general.

    There is no meaningful security improvement here. There is potentially a significant cost increase (if you want this for business use) associated with loss of productivity, and a loss of convenience and flexibility for the home user. At work, those costs don't matter because they don't directly affect the IT Director. At home, you were only ever going to buy one anyway.

    In any company with an IT Director, they'll likely be using Active Directory, and RT doesn't play in a domain/Active Directory environment does it? Or has that changed?

    Let's see if it lasts as long as MS Handheld PC 2000 did. Much more interesting hardware for its time (see e.g. HP Jornada 720) but hampered by running a variant of Windows CE, and it didn't get much development effort anywhere, especially in MS.

    1. uhuznaa

      Re: "the inability to install desktop apps will protect users from many threats"

      "But in reality, how many meaningful Windows threats ever needed to be installed like a desktop app, rather than just run as a simple executable (or, for the better exploits, opened and loaded like an ordinary document, with or without macros, or even just simple unauthenticated remote access buffer overflows ).

      Those attack vectors are not in any way being blocked by being unable to install apps in general."

      Of course they are blocked. These things won't run any unsigned code not coming from the store. App or executable or whatever.

      And yes, I think it's a good idea. If you don't like it, get a proper computer instead of an appliance.

      1. Paul 129
        Facepalm

        Re: "the inability to install desktop apps will protect users from many threats"

        Not only that but if I read it right, the design was to require validation at the dll or interface level. ie you've got to have your code pass the correct signature to talk to different sections of the os. Very locked down. And of course code signing would ensure a good new revenue base as well. A MS win-win. You gain security, and MS profits.

        Now what was the saying of trading off security vs liberty?

        Shame the unwashed masses won't care about the power game that is now afoot.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "the inability to install desktop apps will protect users from many threats"

        "These things won't run any unsigned code not coming from the store. App or executable or whatever."

        You appear to have a major problem distinguishing between "won't run unauthorized code" (the PR view) and "aren't supposed to, but frequently do, run authorized code (the factual view supported by history".

        Go and read some history.

        There is no security in obscurity.

  23. JeffyPooh Silver badge
    Pint

    "The case is made from VaporMg, moulded magnesium..."

    Wiki: "Magnesium metal and its alloys are explosive hazards; they are highly flammable in their pure form when molten or in powder or ribbon form. Burning or molten magnesium metal reacts violently with water. ..."

    Well, that should be exciting... ...when a battery short causes a small fire, then igniting the magnesium metal, especially if it happens at 38,000 feet in mid-Pacific.

    Hopefully they've already addressed this obvious concern.

    1. RICHTO Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: "The case is made from VaporMg, moulded magnesium..."

      The auto ignition temperature of solid Magnesium is 650 Deg C. If it gets that hot you have far bigger worries than if the chassis burns too....

      1. JeffyPooh Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: "The case is made from VaporMg, moulded magnesium..."

        What if an internally-shorted, burst-into-flames Lithium battery just happens to reach - oh, for example - 651°C ?

        Somebody at Microsoft Q-branch ought to draft up a nice White Paper explaining exactly why this nightmare sequence is physically impossible (given a perfectly reasonable assumption that the battery pack might fail in the sputtering and flaming blob of molten metal fashion, exactly as so many have done a few years back).

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Agreement

    “It’s the ultimate expression of a Windows PC,” says Windows chief Steven Sinofsky... or “a compromised, confusing product”, according to Apple’s Tim Cook, who agrees.

  25. d3rrial
    Alert

    Java

    Hey I'm a C++ and Java Dev and I wonder whether or not you can compile and run your own applications on the Windows RT thing and if there are even IDEs / Compilers available in the Microsoft Store. Thanks

    1. hazydave

      Re: Java

      It's actually worse than you think, right now anyway.

      You could probably run an interpreter on WinRT, though whether Microsoft would allow one in the Windows Store remains to be seen. Apple didn't allow these for years, and finally compromised on allowing such things basically for education only ... you can save a program, but you can't download code from the net. Apple really wants to be the only company that can deliver a working application, thus, they maintain their ability to collect their 30%. And this is MS's model here.

      Compilers, I think not. Ignore for a moment the things a compiler might actually need that aren't allowed in WinRT, and say, ok, we have magically put a compiler on WinRT. We know we can't compile directly in RAM, because WinRT won't allow data to become code. So you run your compiler and linker, create a binary on your storage device (flash disc). Now you want to run it... sorry. WinRT will only, ever, run signed binaries, or so they say.

      But here's the "even worse" part... you need things in a compiler runtime, like memory allocations, exception handling, etc. that cooperate with the OS. Microsoft's VC++ compiler encapsulates all of these in the VC++ RTL DLL. All of this stuff is ILLEGAL in an Windows RT application. Period. There's a built-in exception for the VC++ RTL DLL, but no one else can currently get this exception (obviously, Microsoft could allow others to get the same exemptions, but I wouldn't hold my breath). A compiler could use the Common Language Runtime to build RT applications (though again, not likely supported on RT itself), but that's not native code.

      Android is the only full function tablet OS on the market. There are all sorts of development tools for Android that run on Android, and allow full commercial development.

  26. AZComicGeek

    Cool & Clunky?

    Sounds like the coolness factor of an iPad with the clunkiness of Microsoft all combined in a walled garden. The worst of all worlds, what could go wrong? Are there Winheads clamoring for this like the iClones drool over the latest gadget from cuppertino?

    1. lauri_hoefs
      Windows

      What's the problem?

      I get it that people who generally dislike closed systems are going to dislike this one too. And the people who want to sideload, or bring their own code (or like to pretend that they use their devices for anything else than surfing the web and watching YouTube) won't be getting these slabs either.

      I won't be getting a tablet anytime soon, I consider them too much of a compromise between mobile devices and laptops, etc, the usual complaints.. But I still see the appeal. Most users don't give a f**k about compiling their own code, or installing third party apps. C'mon, most use their tablets for what? Surfing the web, listening to music and watching an occasional video. What part of that is prevented by a walled garden?

      I'm interested to know, what are the apps that you absolutely would need, and that are not already provided with the OS or available through Store? It would be interesting to hear from iOS users too.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What's the problem?

        I agree. How is this approach any different to iOS? You can't run anything apple don't approve. Or can you? I got fed up with iOS after the iPhone 3G.

        Annon, because I don't want people knowing I hate iOS, in case they think that I'm odd!

      2. Tim Almond
        Go

        Re: What's the problem?

        C'mon, most use their tablets for what? Surfing the web, listening to music and watching an occasional video. What part of that is prevented by a walled garden?

        In which case, why spend out the £480 for a Microsoft WinRT tablet when a £160 Nexus will do the same job and has more apps?

        My feeling is that there just isn't a place for Microsoft on touch. They arrived too late to the party and Android is already well-established in the place they should be. People with deep pockets are going to buy iPads and people seeking value will buy Android.

        I know a lot of .net people, and one of them has ordered a Surface, and he happens to be writing a WinRT book. If you can't get .net devs interested in a Microsoft product, then frankly, it's doomed.

  27. Jess

    Not going to temp me away from my Pi - Lapdock

    And interestingly RISC OS was officially released for the Pi the same day as Windows 8.

    Ironically, as Windows 8 looks like a throwback to the early 90s, RISC OS now looks nice and modern. (Previously without a theme it looked a bit dated, though the GUI is still far better thought out than Windows or Mac)

  28. ROC

    A Step Up from Chromebook?

    Interestingly, on my wanderings yesterday, I tried out both the new Samsung 11.6 " Chromebook (tethered it on my phone with WifiRouter quite easily since it would not connect to BestBuy's store network), then the RT at a MS pop-up store at a nearby mall. I have read a lot of criticisms of the Chromebook concept for its dependency on network connectivity to be of any use, and I have to concur. If I could not tether it, the CrB would be useless on the go.

    The RT is almost in that situation, however it does have enough built-in apps to offset that restriction quite well, and, if it can be tethered (need to see if I can grab one long enough at the mall, and not have a crowd looking over my shoulder...), then it does what the CrB can do, plus a lot more (provided the RT version if IE plays nicely with Google's cloud apps).

    And I did like the Surface hardware better, especially the clicky keyboard vs the fuzzy keyboard (neither of which will stay closed over the screen on their own per my test and confirmed by the MS "attendant" - Fail!).

    Now if I could figure out a way to put an ARM Linux distro on the Surface....

    YMMV

    1. hazydave

      Re: A Step Up from Chromebook?

      Now if I could figure out a way to put an ARM Linux distro on the Surface....

      Sounds like you really want an Android tablet. Linux is included :-)

      I never quite got the Chromebook idea myself. I mean, put a fully functional HTML5 browser (Chrome, for example) on any normal application-hosting computer (an Android device, let's say) and you ought to have pretty much the same functionality. Plus, all this other stuff that's NOT tethered to the net. At the same performance levels, too... the cheaper Chromebooks are using the same ARM SOCs used in ARM tablets. There's perhaps a call for this among people who want the simplest, hand-holding-ist computer possible, in one location (eg, no network issues).

      I upgraded my tablet to an Asus Transformer Infinity this year, with keyboard. Together, you have the same basic functionality you'll find in any netbook, only, with applications actually designed for that performance level, or maybe a bit lower. Things go fast, rather than struggling in full Windows on a netbook, or as they will on the cheaper x86 tablets on the way. Plus, you get the full day's runtime... that's 7-9 hours stand-alone, around 14 with the keyboard attached (there's a spare battery there). The display is great, 1920x1200, same as my desktop. Plenty of storage, 64GB inside, 64GB on a flash card... Microsoft gets this, but the Google devices don't have expansion, they believe "the Cloud" should be where you keep your stuff. That is in character for Google.

    2. Richard Plinston Silver badge

      Re: A Step Up from Chromebook?

      > (neither of which will stay closed over the screen on their own per my test and confirmed by the MS "attendant" - Fail!).

      That, apparently, is 'by design'. An MS apologist claimed that the keyboard is 'easy to open' (ie it won't stay closed) so that the device is more like a book and gives the user the impression that it is always ready to use.

      Sounds like post hoc rationalization to me.

  29. JeffyPooh Silver badge
    Pint

    I asked the nice MS lady...

    At Best Buy, the nice lady offered to demonstrate Win 8.

    I challenged her to show me the pick list of all installed programs a la Start menu. She replied "Programs? You mean Apps?" My reply was that until last week they were called "Programs", even by MS.

    She swiped the screen to show me a couple dozen apps. I told her my PC at home had approximately 150 programs installed. The Start menu fills four columns, even with subfolders.

    She explained that Win 8 wouldn't have that problem...

    "64 apps should be enough for anyone."

    LOL.

  30. Ramazan

    Re: The presence of USB is a significant advantage

    Really? What can you do except attachinng kbd/mouse and loading photos/videos from camera when s/w is locked? BTW there's official Apple camera adapter for iPad, it's cheap and it works just fine.

    1. RICHTO Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: The presence of USB is a significant advantage

      You can also connect to printers, scanners, GPS dongles, 3G and LTE dongles, etc, etc.....

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