Slate reviews Microsoft’s Surface tablet: Too slow, mercilessly buggy; why is it so bad?

“There’s only question anyone should ask about Microsoft’s Surface tablet: Is it better than the iPad? I’ve spent the past week and a half trying to answer that question,” Farhad Manjoo writes for Slate. “But it didn’t take me a week and a half to decide whether the Surface is better than the iPad. At most it took a couple days, and that’s being generous. You’d likely arrive at the same conclusion after playing with the Surface for just a few minutes in a Microsoft Store.”

“That’s because the new tablet’s flaws are glaring: It’s too slow, it’s mercilessly buggy, and the add-on that’s supposed to set it apart from the iPad — its touch-cover keyboard and trackpad — is nice but far from revolutionary,” Manjoo writes. “At $499 for the base model, plus $120 for the almost-required touch cover, the Surface is also not very competitive on price: You can get the newest standard iPad for the same $499, the still pretty good iPad 2 for $399, and the new iPad Mini for $329.”

Manjoo writes, “Microsoft has been working on the technology in this device for years. When it decided to create its own hardware, it had to have known that making a good first impression against the iPad would be the key to the Surface’s long-term survival. The Surface is also the most celebrated home for Windows 8, the touch-friendly operating system that Microsoft is hoping will become a big hit on tablet machines. In other words, a lot—for Microsoft, perhaps everything—is riding on the Surface. So as I used it, I was nagged by a recurring question: Why is the Surface so bad?”

“The Surface ends up proving the wisdom of Apple’s limitations,” Manjoo writes. “The iPad may not allow you to do everything, but Apple has made sure that it’s great at what it can do. The Surface, by contrast, will let you do everything you want. The problem is that you’ll have no fun doing it.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Garbage with a kickstand.

Now, what was that we wrote way back in June 2011? Oh, yeah:

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.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Misha” for the heads up.]

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38 Comments

    1. I don’t know, when I first saw Microsoft Chart on a 1984 Mac I was blown away. When Excel hit the Mac, long before Windows ripped off Mac OS, I was blown away again.

      In the mid 80s Microsoft was the bomb. Now it literally is the bomb, if you know the early Mac meaning of bomb.

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

    OH GREAT. Now we are going to get it…. When MDN hits the nail on the head and is proven right,,, but can they be a real pain to live with.

    At least with the girlfriend, I could see someone else…. 🙂

    Just a thought.

  2. I haven’t used on myself yet (i’m not even sure where I can find a MS store), but I haven’t seen any glowing reviews for Surface.

    This is one of the worst I’ve seen, but a common thread is that it is a tweener. Not as good as an ultrabook. Not as good as a tablet.

    Not really a surprise that MS couldn’t figure out why consumers like tablets. The fact that they are emphasizing the keyboard, which I’m sure will appeal to niche wanting their tablet to replace their ultra book, is a clear indication of that. When the “killer app” on their touch device is a physical keyboard, either your touch interface is terrible or you are marketing to a small segment of the market.

    This is really going to compete with all ultrabooks and laptop/tablet hybrids/frankensteins that all the Windows OEMs are crapping out.

    In a previous articles on MDN today, an analyst predicted Apple making their own chips for mobile and desktop hardware, which implies a future when the desktop OS and iOS are quite similar. I think Apple is getting it right by waiting until the chips can fully support a desktop experience on a mobile device (not a laptop, obviously). MS decided everyone really wants a desktop experience on the mobile device, speed and user experience be damned.

  3. Why? Ask ‘why it’s bad?’ Stevie B is in charge! What did you expect from M$? You can see where Stevie B’s vision is leading his company! Stevie B is giving everyone good reason to switch to Apple products.

  4. My wife and I picked up a 32GB iPad mini on Friday in OKC. Afterward, I wandered down to the Microsoft pop-up kiosk down the corridor. I spent literally 5 or less minutes swiping, typing, and handling the device. I was actually impressed that it didn’t feel like junk instantly. I was disappointed that the kickstand click did NOT sound like the door of a luxury car /s.

    I hunted and pecked a couple dozen characters, and viewed a dozen photos, so I did not put it to any real test, but the device itself is interesting. It may be junk, but gives a good first impression.

    I also DESPISE tablets with a 16:9 aspect ratio. This severely limits the use. It screams landscape, and almost demands an add-on keyboard because of it. I love the iPad’s 4:3, because it truly has no wrong way to hold it. It is natural in any orientation, and leaves enough room to use an on-screen keyboard.

  5. > The Surface, by contrast, will let you do everything you want…

    Well, that’s hardly true. It can’t run apps from world’s largest (by far) catalog of tablet apps, the ones for iPad. And it can’t even run old Windows programs, because it’s not Intel-based.

    It’s limited, bloated, and buggy. A long time ago, the Palm Pilot was successful against Apple’s Newton MessagePad. It was not “better” than Newton; it was actually much more limited. But BECAUSE it was more limited (by design), Palm made Pilot more efficient at doing what it did, LESS buggy, simple to operate, and much less expensive. So in effect, the Palm Pilot (because of its design limits) was a “better” product than Apple’s Newton.

    Microsoft had the chance to do the same thing, and they are probably the only company (except maybe Google) with the resources to do it. But in contrast to the Palm Pilot example, Microsoft has somehow managed a MORE limited product that is LESS efficient (more bloated), buggy, complex and confusing to operate, and MORE expensive. Microsoft is incompetent.

  6. most of the many comments to the Slate review are MS fans wailing about how unfair it was.

    So MS will sell several million Surface tablets to all these MS fan people – especaially all those Windows-addicted IT dinosaur guys – no matter what.

    then it dies. and there is really no way to fix it with an improved V.2 model next year. a better chip can make it “snappy,” yes, but the world just does not need a half-assed Windows gizmo like this.

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