Why I love Microsoft’s vaporware Surface tablet

“I don’t wish to suggest that Microsoft Surface is truly vapourware, but surely it’s suspicious that it’s announcing a product that no one’s going to be able to buy for half a year,” Alistair Dabbs writes for Reg Hardware. “The problem with jumping the gun – apart from the ‘false start’ accusations that lead on from this metaphor – is that commentators are left with a void to fill. Lacking a physical product to test, all we can do is talk bollocks based on conjecture.”

“Take ‘Metro,'” Dabbs writes. “‘We call it Metro because it’s modern and clean.’ Oh, and here’s me thinking they called it Metro because it’s populated by young Algerians brandishing flick-knives and smells of wee.”

“‘Surface has not just one but two cameras.’ Yes, and it also has not just one but two stereo speakers, not just 76 but 77 keys on the keyboard, and the rectangular unit has not just one but four edges. It also has none of these things because it doesn’t bloody exist yet,” Dabbs writes. “I was also evilly amused watching Microsoft’s Windows president, Steve Sinofsky, deal with a frozen manufacturing mock-up of his non-existent tablet live on stage at the beginning of his presentation.”

Dabbs writes, “So how does the Surface tablet compare? It doesn’t look ugly but I suspect it’s going to be nut-crunchingly expensive: ‘About the same as an ultrabook,’ means a starting price of £1000. Hmm, should I buy a diddy Windows 8-only tablet that has a built-in stilt or buy a MacBook Air with proper memory spec, full-size fuck-off keyboard and trackpad and that will run just about any operating system I want?”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Exactly.

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Microsoft’s Surface tablet said to be Wi-Fi only at launch; no 4G, no 3G, no 2G, not even 1G – June 22, 2012
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The cost of Microsoft’s Surface tablets – June 20, 2012
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The Guardian: Microsoft’s Windows 8 is confusing as hell; an appalling user experience – March 5, 2012
More good news for Apple: Microsoft previews Windows 8 (with video) – June 1, 2011


  1. Funy assesment. Prolly as funny as the real product when – or if – it ever materializes. You do have to feel kinda sorry for Sinofsky. It is only a brief – but pretty significantly ruinous – part of his presentation. It was, Microsoftian in its predictability, however.

  2. Is it only me, or does any else wonder what it would be like to flip the keyboard cover around to the back like one would with an iPad and try to use the thing with your fingers all over the exposed keys?

    1. It has an accelerometer built into the keyboard and it shuts off when folded back. If you watch the presentation, it highlights a lot of those kinds of things

        1. Leave it to Microsoft to put an accelerometer in a keyboard. That is the extent of their hardware knowledge: keyboard, mouse, webcam.

  3. I love how he sheepishly turned it away from the audience when it quit working. Then he gulped uncomfortably before running to get another one. That was not very well handled in my opinion. He should have just acknowledged that it froze and calmly replaced it, since he didn’t fool anyone anyway.

    1. Totally… Actually up to 10 seconds before, he’s tapping the screen. I think he realized that there was something wrong, but waiting for it to work.

      At the first sign of trouble he should have walked over to the table and put it down and just talked to the audience… then picked up the other tablet.

      Should’ve been prepared for it to happen.

  4. One thing I *would* like to see on an iPad, that this author touches on in jest about the Surface, are forward-facing stereo speakers.

    Left-right channels would automatically switch depending on which side is up while in landscape mode, and in portrait, mix it to mono and mute one speaker to save power.

    Frankly I don’t see how it was ever a good design decision to have a great device for watching videos and such, but have a single speaker which shoots sound out the side.

    Every time I pass a friend my iPhone with a video or music playing, even at max volume, they end up putting the bottom of the phone to their ear and miss some of the video, until I have them cup the bottom with their hand to redirect the sound towards them.

    That’s bad for a multimedia smart phone, even worse for a tablet.

      1. Headphones work real well when you want to show that awesome video to friends gathered around you.

        The iPad is supposed to be a full-fledged portable multimedia device. No one expects it to fill the room with rich sound and bass, but the current speaker is lame. Don’t excuse shortcomings just because it’s an Apple product.

        1. Mossman,

          While I agree with some of what you said and I believe there is room for improvement (always is), I think you might be missing the point. It is a full-fledged portable multimedia device but……for a single user, not a group of people.

          Apple has other ways of dealing with “groups” wanting to watch or view things from an iPad/iPhone/iPod. It’s called AirPlay.

          These devices are “personal devices” not “group devices”. Stop hacking something because you want it to do something it was not designed to do.

          1. Even as a personal, solo device you have to admit directing the speaker sound to the side is silly. If a non-Apple tablet had been released with this, we’d have mocked them mercilessly.

      1. Apple TV has speakers built in? You carry a TV and maybe receiver/speakers with you all the time?

        Come on, why are you guys complicating things so damn much! The sound itself from the current speaker is fine, why is it such a stretch to want built-in speakers that direct that sound towards you???

        1. Mossman is right. Though the sound is fine for small speakers and an iPhone and iPad are personal items, all Mossman is suggesting is for Apple to perhaps put stereo speakers facing toward the viewer. I often find myself blocking the speakers. That is not a problem, but it would be a good idea to have speakers in the front.

    1. I love our iPads, but I too HATE the way the sound is projected away from the screen (and it’s even worse with our iPad 2 than iPad 1). I often lay the iPad on a magazine with the edge overlapping the speaker side while watching Netflix, which doubles the sound coming at me. (But yes, headphones solve the problem too.)

    1. I’m gonna go out on a limb that it’s actually a good thing for Microsoft that this thing is vapor because if people could actually get their hands on this thing they would see it for what it is – neither a good tablet nor a good notebook. Hell, it’s not even aspiring to be a notebook but a damn desktop with a freakin’ kickstand. Good luck using that in bed.

    1. The original NeXTcube in the late 1980’s and the NeXTstations in the early 1990’s were made of magnesium. Using this material as a case is something Steve Jobs did decades ago. Not as innovative as MS would have you believe.

  5. Announce a product 6-months+ before it’s available.
    Brillent marketing strategy.

    Anone remember Osborne Computers? No? Well they were the first ones to market with a “portable” computer. Had a 5″ (?) B/W screen and was the size (and weight) of a tower computer of today.

    No matter, the important thing is that the Osborne1 was a hit. They sold well for the time. And then the CEO announces that the Osborne2 is going to be much, much better and will launch in a few months. Osborn1 computers stop selling. Osborne2 experiences difficulties and gets pushed back more and more. Competition catches up. No more Osborne Computers.

    So has Ballmer just killed the PC and Android market single handedly? Or at least frozen a healthy percentage of sales til the Surface, ah surfaces?

    Because if you are an android fan but use PCs you might be thinking that it would be great to have a tablet that can use your MS software. And if you decide to wait to see what the MS tablet/Windows8 looks like then there’s a Samsung or Zoom or somebody else’s Android tablet that doesn’t get sold. I know, I know there are some iPads that don’t get sold too but chances are it affects Android powered products far more.

    Meanwhile if the Surface release gets pushed back or/and when it is released it really sucks then folks are going to go looking for another tablet.

    By this time iPad4 might be released giving those frustrated folks something new to think about.

    As for Mr Ballmer:

    Zune -Strike One!

    KIN -Strike Two!

    Surface -Strike Three! You’re Out!

  6. What would the naysayers have to say about a frozen iPad @ an Apple demo? Good GRIEF!! MicroSloth is a pathetic bunch of bedfellows. Sinofsky even looks like a Ballmer Mini Me!!! I bet that Surface is going to cost ONE HUNDRED BBBBBBIIIIILLLLLLLIIIIIIOOONNNNN Dollars$$$$$$$. MwaHHHHHHaaaaaaa MMMMWWWWWHHHHAAAAaaaaa!!

  7. At what point will M$ shareholders finally realize that Ballmer doesn’t have a clue?? After 30 months, he called a secret worldwide media late night conference to introduce a prototype tablet copy that added a kickstand, bigger speakers, and an expensive optional keyboard cover that has to cover backwards.
    When will people get it that he has zero innovation! He even let his poor guy employee take the fall and can’t introduce it himself. Via the Slate and the Playbook, doesn’t anyone at M$ realize that you don’t show up that late to a party without something revolutionary. Just how long will they let Ballmer go. Just how long before they get that he doesn’t get it?? Baffling! It wouldn’t make a dent even at $99.

    1. Shhhhhh! Not so loud. Ballmer’s the best. Absolute perfection. He should stay at the helm of Microsoft forever, or at least for as long as it takes, whichever comes first.

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