InfoWorld reviews Microsoft Surface RT: A disappointment; you’re better off with Apple’s iPad

“After using a Surface tablet, it became crystal clear that the Surface is really an Office appliance, not a tablet à la the iPad,” Galen Gruman writes for InfoWorld. “But it’s not a very good Office appliance. One reason is that the hardware doesn’t work well for Office, even with the bundled keyboard cover, because the Office apps are nearly unusable with the touchscreen and just so-so with the keyboard’s trackpad. You’ll want a laptop’s superior input hardware if you do a lot of Office work. Even then, you’ll suffer from the poor Windows touch environment, where text selection is difficult, gestures are limited, and the heavy reliance on menus is interruptive.”

“If you’re looking just for a tablet, not an Office appliance, the Surface is also a disappointment,” Gruman writes. “Metro apps are few, and those that exist are largely limited both in their functionality and by their menu-oriented interface. You can do a lot more with an iPad… It’s ironic that Microsoft’s premier touch device needs a traditional keyboard and trackpad to make Office useful. The Windows RT touch UI (the same as Windows 8’s) simply doesn’t work well with legacy Windows applications — including Office 2013, despite a cleaner design than Office 2010.”

Gruman writes, “If you think you’ll use a Surface tablet to access corporate and other ‘rich’ Web apps, think again. They may not work. Microsoft has long made IE incompatible with the Web at large, but given its efforts to converge IE with the standard Web, it’s very disappointing to see that IE10 falls so far short… The rest of the software provided on the Surface are Metro apps, lightweight widgets that are much less capable than their iPad counterparts… Keep in mind there is nothing like iTunes for Windows RT, and you can’t install Apple’s iTunes for Windows on it. If you use iTunes on your PC, you can’t preserve that library or its playlists on the Surface… The Surface falls behind Android and way behind iOS in terms of what you can do with it… A key omission is support for cellular 3G and 4G networks; the Surface is Wi-Fi-only, so you can’t stay connected when on the road as you can with an iPad.”

“If you’re looking for a tablet to do the kinds of things people do on an iPad — entertainment, games, news and information services, social media, photo retouching, and some business productivity — you’re better off with Apple’s offering,” Gruman writes. “Microsoft doesn’t seem to know who the Surface RT is truly for, and the result is neither fish nor fowl. When all is said and done, the Surface RT is neither a good laplet nor a good tablet.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Yet another stellar review (for Apple’s iPad, not Surface; see related articles below) – and exactly what we expected over a year and a half ago:

Our initial impression is that Microsoft, in trying to cram everything into Windows 8 in an attempt to be all things to all devices, will end up with an OS that’s a jack of all trades and a master of none (which, after all, ought to be Microsoft’s company motto)… We simply do not see the world clamoring for the UI of an iPod also-ran now ported to an iPhone wannabe that nobody’s buying to be blown up onto a PC display.

From what we’ve seen so far, Windows 8 strikes us as an unsavory combination of Windows Weight plus Windows Wait.

Not to mention that probably no one on earth knows how much or what kinds of residual legacy spaghetti code roils underneath it all (shudder)… No matter what, if Microsoft’s going to ask Windows sufferers to “learn a whole new computer” (and that’s exactly how they’ll look at it, regardless of how Microsoft pitches it), millions will simply say, “Time to get a Mac to match my iPod, iPhone, and iPad!”

As if they needed it: More good news for Apple.MacDailyNews Take, June 6, 2011

Related articles:
Acer delays Windows RT tablets; adopts ‘wait and see’ approach after poor Surface RT reviews – October 30, 2012
Gizmodo reviews Microsoft Surface RT: Do not buy; inferior to Apple’s iPad; the worst of both worlds – October 25, 2012
The Verge reviews Microsoft Surface RT tablet: ‘The whole thing is honestly perplexing; who is this for?’ – October 24, 2012
Analyst: Microsoft’s Surface RT tablet priced too high, could be the next Zune – October 18, 2012
Dvorak: ‘Microsoft’s Surface tablet isn’t the Apple iPad, so it shouldn’t be priced like one’ – October 18, 2012
Microsoft inexplicably claims Surface RT tablet lower resolution screen beats iPad with Retina display – October 17, 2012
Microsoft Surface RT tablet Wi-Fi-only; 32GB for $599 with, $499 without keyboard, $699 for 64GB – October 16, 2012
Microsoft airs first TV ad for Surface tablet (with video) – October 15, 2012
Apple’s ‘iPad mini’ to obliterate Microsoft’s Windows 8, Surface RT tablet launches – October 13, 2012
Acer CEO to Microsoft: ‘Think twice’ about Surface tablets – August 7, 2012
Microsoft Surface tablet pricing leaked; US$1,000 for ‘cheapest’ Windows RT model – July 26, 2012
Ballmer: Uh, yeah, ‘Surface is just a design point,’ you know – July 10, 2012
Microsoft’s Buffoon, er… Ballmer throws down gauntlet against Apple – July 10, 2012
Microsoft reportedly dumps ‘VaporMg’ chassis, will use ‘VaporMg’ only as ‘surface treatment’ – July 9, 2012
Microsoft’s downfall: Inside the executive e-mails and cannibalistic culture that fueled Microsoft’s lost decade – July 7, 2012
HP said to dump Microsoft over Surface; to cozy up to Google Android for tablet efforts – July 2, 2012
Bad news for Microsoft’s iPad killer? – July 2, 2012
Dear Microsoft, Steve Balmer and Bill Gates: What is up with your obsession with keyboards? – June 28, 2012
Jason Schwarz: Top 10 reasons why Microsoft’s Surface is DOA – June 22, 2012
Why I love Microsoft’s vaporware Surface tablet – June 22, 2012
Microsoft’s Surface tablet said to be Wi-Fi only at launch; no 4G, no 3G, no 2G, not even 1G – June 22, 2012
Microsoft outsources Surface assembly to Pegatron; prices above $799 for Windows 8, above $599 for Windows RT expected – June 21, 2012
Acer founder: Microsoft will quit making tablets soon – June 21, 2012
Devastating video shows Microsoft’s Surface event aping Steve Jobs’ iPad unveiling (with video) – June 20, 2012
Thanks to Apple, Microsoft is doomed in the era of mobile computing – June 20, 2012
Why wouldn’t Microsoft let anyone touch its Surface tablets’ keyboard cover? – June 20, 2012
The cost of Microsoft’s Surface tablets – June 20, 2012
Apple’s revolutionary iPad vs. Microsoft’s anti-tablet ‘Surface’ – June 20, 2012
Microsoft’s Surface tablets provokes ‘sense of betrayal’ among Windows PC assemblers – June 20, 2012
Fox News: Copier Microsoft is doomed to fail with Surface tablet – June 19, 2012
Microsoft’s Surface tablet destined to be as successful as the Zune – June 19, 2012
Surface: Why Microsoft’s big mystery turns out to be a big mistake – June 19, 2012
Microsoft’s Suicide, er… ‘Surface’ – June 19, 2012
ZDNet Sr. Tech Editor Perlow: Microsoft’s Surface has catastrophe written all over it – June 19, 2012
Microsoft previews own ‘Surface’ tablet – June 18, 2012
Microsoft touts ‘major’ June 18 event said to showcase Windows RT tablets – June 15, 2012
ZDNet’s Kingsley-Hughes: Microsoft’s Windows 8 is an awful, horrible, painful design disaster – June 8, 2012
Analyst meets with big computer maker, finds ‘general lack of enthusiasm’ for Windows 8 – June 8, 2012
Dvorak: Windows 8 an unmitigated disaster; unusable and annoying; it makes your teeth itch – June 3, 2012
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. I wanted to like Windows 8. I like new things and I was glad MS is finally taking touchscreens seriously. But after trying it this weekend, YUCK.

    I had to set it up on an HP TouchSmart desktop for one friend and an Asus non-touchscreen laptop for another friend this weekend. It’s HORRIBLE to use on a non-touchscreen laptop, so clunky and confusing. Not made for tiny PC laptop trackpads at all. Just impossible to use. And it’s only mildly less clunky and confusing on a touchscreen desktop.

    To close an app, you have to literally drag your finger all the way from the top of the screen to the bottom. So much fun to do on a 24″ touchscreen desktop. There is NO close button to click, you have to use this stupid gesture EVERY TIME.

    To shut down the PC, you swipe in from the right-hand edge to reveal the invisible “Charms” bar, then click “Settings,” then “Power”, then “Shut Down”. It’s like a treasure hunt! So engaging!

    Want to see all your running applications? Well there’s no taskbar, so you have to drag your finger from the left bezel to the right just a little bit, then reverse and go back toward the bezel to reveal a taskbar-like list of your open windows. Dumb and clumsy.

    Want to move a tile on your start screen up? Well first you have to drag it down, then up. Want to reveal the context menu for one of the tiles on the start screen? You have to drag it up and let it go, then at the bottom of the screen the context menu will appear. WTF??

    I could go on, and on, and on, but you get the idea. Everything in Windows 8 is like this, completely un-intuitive, requiring weird and awkward gestures to accomplish.

    The guy who wanted Windows 8 on his laptop was quite disappointed with it. His exact words to me were, “Why did they have to make everything so hard?”

    1. But this *is* intuitive! Quit thinking of it as a computer and start thinking of it as a Window! You’re not using a mouse; rather, you are using a paper towel and Windex® — then it all becomes clear: up, down, up, down, around, quick back-and-forth over here where there was a smudge, and so on.

  2. This just says everything so well…. “The guy who wanted Windows 8 on his laptop was quite disappointed with it. His exact words to me were, “Why did they have to make everything so hard? ”

    Just a delightful thought.

    1. Windows 8 is going to sell A LOT of Macs in 2013, that I can guarantee you. Take a look at this typical Best Buy pc shopper encountering Windows 8 for the first time at the store:

      1. “Gesture heavy”? – typical MS methodology for having to go thru multiple steps, menus, etc., in order to accomplish one thing… and he talks like that is a good thing.

        I guess because it’s “very intuitive”.

        And why is it plugged in?

    1. I think the existence of Windows 8 is the best commercial for OS X. People will try it out in Best Buy, it will make them feel frustrated and stupid, then they’ll stop by the Mac table and OS X will be downright familiar to them compared to the alien landscape that is Windows 8.

      Remember, the #1 reason consumers still buy PCs with Windows is, “I don’t want to learn a new system.”

  3. i havent seen the windows tablet yet in person, but i have tried a windows 8 on a laptop last weekend and it is horrible, very confusing, frustrating and not user friendly. This windows surface tablet comes in wifi only, so that alone puts it at a disadvantage over the ipad which was introduces in 2010. in other words microsoft FAILED

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.