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Microft Surface

In the past 48 hours I have done a lot of thinking about the Microsoft Surface Laptop and Windows 10 S. I have also read a few opinion pieces and watched video hands on. There is a lot of opinions about the device and how it fits within the Windows ecosystem; about how it changes or doesn’t changes things.

So I thought I put in my 2 cents.

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The Surface Laptop on first glance looks like a matchup of the Surface Book’s screen and a Surface Type Cover. The Laptop’s profile and body has these angles that work to hide the lower half given the allusion its just a screen and keyboard. The colored versions only come with middle tier models; that may upset some. The lack of USB Type-C or the Thunderbolt connector of the same shape will be one the major dings facing the Surface Laptop. The argument being these things are the future (even though it is not the case now).

The Surface Laptop’s profile when open really reminds me of the profile of the Surface Pro. The device’s screen is incredibly clear. You know it’s a good, crisp screen if it works well on camera. In terms of the Surface family the Laptop is quite conservative. It doesn’t fit into the tablet PC mode of the Pro or Book, but it does fit the name Surface. The colors chosen for the Surface Laptop are a good balance; they aren’t too bold to be considered toy-like but aren’t so muted as to be barely there. As interesting as it would be to see this notebook as one those 2-in-1 devices that flips, it’s intriguing to see the Surface team’s take on the clamshell design. It sort of like watching a comedian in a dramatic role; they are following the script but bringing another perspective.

For example the last few years has seen a number of thin and light designs for PC laptops that have pushed the boundaries. From Lenovo’s Yoga and its jeweled hinge to Dell’s XPS 13 and its near bezel-less screen to Hewlett-Packard’s svelte Specter. PCs have been getting better designs across the board. The Surface Laptop isn’t as flashy. The laptop’s most daring features is the Alcantara layer sitting on top the keyboard and the fact it runs Windows 10 S. Of course there are innovations such as putting the SSD on the same motherboard as the Intel chip, but where Surface excels at is in eliciting a response. With Surface Microsoft built a brand; they built something that works on an emotional plane. I mean for me the Surface devices have been coveted items. There is something to buying a device built for the software it runs. Inherent in buying a Surface device is buying into the design; into the notion of a tablet that can replace your laptop.  Its buying a device from people you think give a damn about you loving what they made.

The Surface Laptop is a desirable object; I want but I can’t afford it and its quirks I gladly try to fit in my computer usage.

There are some issues. Like I wished Microsoft would have made a fan less Core M version. I know there are power freaks out there, but I’m all about no fans. Secondly I was thinking the device would be smaller. Like 10-11 inches. Lastly I’m surprised there was no talk of an LTTE model. The USB thing to me is not a big deal and this running Windows 10 S isn’t a hurdle either. Actually the other thing is I wish colors were available for all models.

And that’s about it. Hopefully I will get a hands on (aka playing with the demo model at a Best Buy).

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This was going to be my preview and predictions for today’s Microsoft event but the Walking Cat, Microsoft watcher/leaker/Ghost in the Machine, had other ideas.

So we now know what the rumored Surface Laptop will look like. And right now it looks like a well built 13.5 inch laptop coming in multiple colors (Grey, Burgundy, Blue, and Gold). This post will be littered with images. Spec wise the machine weighs 2.76lbs is 14.47mm thin at the back, 9.9mm thin at the front. And the laptop will have a screen with 3.4 million pixels according to the Walking Cat. From view Microsoft has chosen to not use USB Type-C or the Thunderbolt variant and looks to maintain its proprietary charging cord/port. So far reaction is mixed with many wondering why the laptop isn’t on the Type C bandwagon (best guess is for the education market).

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I’m surprised the laptop is not smaller. A smaller screen means this could have been used in early grades such as Kindergarten. And the lack of Type C will be met with head scratches; but the device is looking quite desirable.

So before I go too far into the hardware I did want to preview the event.

Tomorrow in New York Microsoft will be unveiling the laptop but it will also be showing off Windows 10 S aka Cloud. This version of Windows will locked down and limit use to the browser and to applications inside the Windows Store.

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I think the major focus of tomorrow will be about education and how Windows can work for educators and students. Services like Office 365 and Intune for Education will be on display along with applications like OneNote and Minecraft for Education to show the company’s breath and their ability to compete with Google’s ChromeOS.

And while the big reveal is out, the bigger story will be how Microsoft sells its newest SKU. Chromebooks have made a dent in education and the larger computing market. For Microsoft today is about making the case that they have something of use to education.

It will be interesting.

images: Walking Cat (@h0x0d)

So this week the Surface 3 finally went on sale in stores and online and I once again wade through the reviews (both written and video).

Since the release of the very first Surface I have noticed a pattern in a lot of the reviews that almost become cliché. Actually it reoccurs so much you could make a Bingo game out of them. I am not saying they aren’t making valid points but at some point even they have to know they shooting the proverbial dead horse and move on. So this is my list of things said about the Microsoft Surface aka Surface Review Bingo (Surface 3 edition).

Lapability

Now this is the part of the review that either comes at the end or sometimes is the whole review, especially when the Surface was new. Now this problem I blame on the Surface team itself; for giving a name to how well a tablet could sit on one’s lap. It seems like every review has to remark on it. How well it does or doesn’t and how some wish it were a laptop.

Is it a PC or is it a Tablet

This is the part of the review where you can tell how the whole of the review will go down. This part is also tied to the discussion on apps. Now the issue with the Surface for most reviewers is it doesn’t really conform to how a tablet is defined. Most tablets are defined by the iPad; a light, keyboard-less device that runs a mobile (phone) OS and apps which you touch the screen to use. A tablet (most times) doesn’t have or require a keyboard. The Surface is a tablet, but it also functions like a PC. The Surface also has an optional keyboard which makes it more of a PC; many reviewers will tell you it is required and thus the debate continues.

Apps

Now if a review mentions how to use the Surface or “real” Windows you have reached the apps portion of the review. Let’s get this out of the way, there are not a lot of apps (software written for tablets/phones) in the Windows store, and what is there is a mixed bag. When apps are talked about it usually ends up as, “don’t buy this to use as a tablet, you’ll be disappointed”. They’ll also mention again how you will need the keyboard because you’ll want to use the desktop which isn’t touch friendly and thus you need a keyboard.

“Real” Windows

Now up until the Surface 3 the Surface line was divided between the ARM based Surface line the Pro line that ran on Intel. The ARM version ran a ARM based version of Windows called Windows RT which only ran tablet apps and not the one’s built for PCs. The Pro line though runs on Intel which REAL Windows; desktop programs like Photoshop, iTunes, and Chrome. Real Windows has none of the limitations Windows RT did except not suitable for touch, not scaling well to certain screens, a tad on the insecure side. But hell its REAL Windows.

Why doesn’t Microsoft just include the Keyboard?

So the Microsoft Surface comes with a set of accessories. One of these has been the TypeCover which as it’s name implies is cover that also doubles as a keyboard. The keyboard section in the review usually goes like this, ” We love the keyboard, but wish it was included with the Surface. We also wish that there were a version that was a real keyboard attachment to turn this into a real PC.” Sometimes I wish they would say it’s optional (because it is).

Now these are just some of the re-occuring themes, motifs, and memes that will litter the next Surface review you read. I am not pointing them out to say they are wrong; only that they exist. I may even use one or two myself.