I consider myself to have a major bias towards Microsoft products. It is what I have made my living on ever since I started my career. I will say however, when the Surface was set to release, I was skeptical. My goal was to have a tablet that could be used for work and play, and to have said tablet be a replacement for my laptop when I travel for work. After testing the Surface in the Times Square store on launch night, and after a few days of use, I think I may have found my dream device.
First, the launch event. Microsoft has finally stepped their game up in the marketing department. I am sure most of you have seen the Surface and Windows 8 ads on TV. To me, it is such a relief to finally start seeing Microsoft ads on major TV networks, and having the ads do a great job of selling a truly revolutionary product. Microsoft chose to launch the Surface and Windows 8 with a bang in NYC. The launch of these two products was accompanied by the grand opening of the Times Square Microsoft Store. This store may be a pop up, but I would not be surprised if they kept it open longer.
I took a walk through Times Square the morning of October 25th and saw many Microsoft staff in Windows 8 jackets setting up demo tables with new tablets and touch enabled PCs. When I returned around 7PM, the area was flooded with Microsoft employees AND curious consumers. They had a great setup where you could try nearly every new device, with the exception of the Surface! After playing with all of the devices I could get my hands on, I wandered over to where the line was forming for entrance in to the Microsoft store. They were opening the store at 10PM, by time I got there I was #98 in line. I was absolutely shocked. When I was entering the store there were well over 200 people waiting in line behind me.
Around 9:30PM nearly all of the massive screens in Times Square came to life with brilliant Windows 8 ads. As a major Microsoft fan, it was a great sight. There was lots of loud music, and more and more people gathered for the unveiling of the new store, and most importantly, Surface.
After a bunch of celebrations by the Windows and Surface teams in Times Square, Microsoft allowed VIPs and Press into the store. I waited in line for over an hour with many others, including Microsoft employees, and many enthusiastic windows fans. There were even a hand full of people around me that walked out with a Surface and I am pretty sure they didn’t know what it was before that night. When I finally made my way into the store I found the closest Surface without a person attached and went to town. I knew Windows 8 very well, however I had not fallen in love with the OS until I used it on a touch device.
Many of the most popular tech blogs have done detailed reviews, you know the hardware, you know the software, and you know the “lack of apps”. I challenge anyone to find something they cannot do on their Surface RT (be reasonable, don’t say Photoshop). I walked out of the store at 12:02AM with my Surface and ran to the apartment. On the way, I was notified that Lync for the Windows Store was available, it was official: My tablet finding mission was complete.
I used my Surface all day Friday, including in a cramped regional jet I economy class. I used this device for multiple Lync calls, collab sessions, and video sessions. I was glued to the device all day playing with my new toy. When I went to bed, I plugged the device in at 30% battery. At that point I was even more convinced that this would be my new device.
Fast forward to today- three days of using the device. Today I typed up around 10 pages of my new book exclusively on the Touch Cover. I am also writing this blog post on that same keyboard. I did not think it was possible, but I type just as fast, if not faster on this keyboard than my standard keyboard.
Opening documents from SharePoint, writing my book, exchanging IMs over Lync and Skype while having Word open, this device does everything I need.
I am very excited to say I will no longer be lugging a laptop around when I travel. I will however be carrying the most versatile table available on the market. Oh, and incredibly well built, thin and light, sleek tablet with my red cover looks amazing and has been drawing an enormous amount of attention.
Microsoft: You have definitely won on this one. I just hope the rest of the world is able to give up their iPads and experience this device.