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OT: I'm sold on Microsoft Surface!

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Showing 1-21 of 21 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 5, 2012 7:24:34 AM PST
GarionOrb says:
So I got to check out the Surface tablet over the weekend. I was super impressed! The Windows 8 interface is was simply designed to be used like this. Surface combines the practicality of a Windows desktop with the frivolity of iPads and Android tablets. Or at will come January. See, the Surface tablets available now actually run a stripped down version of Windows 8 called Windows RT. Essentially it's a version of Windows that can't run desktop apps, so for now, this is just a tablet. You can do all sorts of regular tablet things like download apps, do email, surf the internet, and keep track of your calendar, photos, music, etc. It also comes with a pretty complete version of MS Office 2013, though you can't do the advanced stuff like VBA. I don't believe you can run games from, say, Steam and stuff on them either.

But come January, they'll start including Windows 8 Pro instead, which means you'll get a fully functional PC and a full functional tablet all at once. I don't see how I can possibly pass that up. Well played, Microsoft.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 5, 2012 7:29:10 AM PST
I was gonna buy one just to be a brown-noser, since the company I work made some of the chips that are in the Surface.

They also made some of the chips inside the newest Mars rover, but I can't afford one of those.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 5, 2012 7:34:13 AM PST
GarionOrb says:
The price of the RT version is not bad at all. At $500 it's a steal considering what it can do. It leaves the iPad in the dust. Though the "hidden" cost is definitely the touch keyboard, which is another $100. If you want the better push keyboard (with actual keys) it's $130 more.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 5, 2012 7:40:37 AM PST
M$ has made this confusing
It really should have been obvious, but in case you were confused, ARM versions of Windows 8 will not be able to run x86 apps and vice-versa. In fact, Microsoft has said as much in the past. This is a model Microsoft has used unsuccessfully in the past, but are things different now? Will ISVs make more than one binary?

Vague talk about the universal nature of Windows Metro apps led some to assume that such apps will run on any Windows 8 installation, either ARM- or x86-based. This is not the case. Metro apps will be composed either of x86 binary code or ARM binary code, and each can only run on the appropriate CPU.

Clearing up a confused question, Microsoft Windows & Windows Live president Steven Sinofsky addressed the matter up at an analyst briefing last week (the transcript is inexplicably available only as a Word .docx file). Sinofsky:

We've been very clear since the very first CES demos and forward that the ARM product won't run any X86 applications...What we talked about yesterday was -- what we announced yesterday for the first time was that when you write a Metro style application, all the tools are there to enable you in any of the languages that we support to automatically support ARM or X86. I think that's the key part of everything that we'll run.

Note that Microsoft always says "Metro style". I was confused about all this for a while myself, assuming that "Metro" was a new application execution model, but that's not the case. It's more of a UI design specification than anything else, and programs written to this design are native Windows program running native code. Metro is just a style of app, like conventional apps which Microsoft seems to call "Desktop apps" now because they run on the Windows Desktop UI in Win8. The cross-platform capabilities that Sinofsky was talking about were in the development tools.

Once I understood about the different binaries I was immediately reminded of Windows NT. We're coming up on 20 years since Microsoft first started showing Windows NT and in fact I wrote the first hands-on review of what I believe they called a preview version of the Win32 SDK, including the Win32 environment itself.

The 3.x generation of Windows NT came out available for x86, MIPS and DEC Alpha processors, and was eventually ported to PowerPC as well. As with Windows 8, developers had to deliver different binary versions of Windows NT applications for each CPU architecture they wanted to support. Long story short: it failed. By and large, people only wanted x86, even though this was all going on at a time when it was widely believed that the others, the RISC processors, were on a performance road that would leave x86 in the dust. ARM, incidentally, is a RISC architecture.

It was common for apps to be available only on x86, so perhaps there was a bit of the chicken and egg problem, but ISVs didn't want to have to manage, distribute and support multiple binaries. Today, things may be different enough that they won't mind.

The biggest difference is electronic distribution. Back in the early 90's you actually had to burn CDs (and probably even floppies!) for all your versions. Now you stick it in a folder and the software pretty much distributes itself. OK, I'm abstracting away quite a bit of hard work there, but software distribution is practically no trouble at all these days compared to the state of affairs 20 years ago.

At least at first, people will be attracted to Windows 8 x86 and ARM systems (basically tablets I imagine) based on features, functions, looks. This too is nothing at all like 20 years ago. But once they start using them, will they be able to find the apps they want for their architecture? Will there be an app gap? In fact, there will have to be, because the ARM systems will never run all the zillions of Win32 programs written for Win7 and prior.

Don't be surprised if the same thing happens as happened in the 90s. It's entirely possible that Intel will close any performance and power consumption gaps enough that the difference won't be compelling. At that point everyone considering an ARM system will have to deal with the fact that there is no legacy software support. Maybe this won't matter much on tablets, but it might and anyway desktops aren't going away. Intel could fight off the RISC challenge once more.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 5, 2012 8:01:00 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 5, 2012 8:02:16 AM PST
Yeah, I thought the whole point of Windows 8 was to join PCs, tablets, phones, and the Xbox seamlessly, with the only limitation being hardware.

Maybe we'll need to wait for Service pack 1 for that. hehe

Posted on Nov 5, 2012 8:21:23 AM PST
got mayo?™ says:
I'm pretty much sold on the Windows 8 movement altogether, with the all-in-one touch screen PC's as well as the Ultrabook/tablets.

Lenovo in particular has some really hot hardware.

I gave my wife an iPad3 for her birthday on friday and took her to the mall shopping that evening. After a visit in the microsoft store and having her play with the Surface RT and a nice 27" all-in-one running Win 8, i got a funny 'Wow this is really futuristic technology' one-liner out of her...hehe.

I'm def in the market for a convertible Ultrabook or Surface Pro come the new year.

Posted on Nov 5, 2012 8:27:28 AM PST
GarionOrb says:
The Ultrabooks on display at the Microsoft store were incredibly sexy.

Posted on Nov 5, 2012 10:16:38 AM PST
HorizonBrave says:
Okay I'm confused now, does that meant RT won't run any known Windows application? So I should wait for non-RT releases right?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 5, 2012 10:21:21 AM PST

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 5, 2012 10:22:44 AM PST
Not entirely, but it is VERY limited in what it can run.
I would just wait and get the real deal.

Posted on Nov 5, 2012 10:25:15 AM PST
Lucanus says:
Microsoft is 6 months to late for me. I got an iPad 3 recently and love the device. That isn't to say the Surface isn't better, but more that I don't feel the need to even remotely think about replacing my iPad for at least another 3-4 years. I didn't pay $800 to turn around and grab something else. On paper the Surface sounds great, so did the Zune. Hopefully the Surface isn't zuned in the long run. It would be nice to have more competition in the tablet market.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 5, 2012 10:35:51 AM PST
HorizonBrave says:
I thought the Surface was for people that wanted to be productive with their stuff, I.E its got Office installed even on the RT package.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 5, 2012 10:37:24 AM PST
where can I get an IPAD for $800? That's cheap

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 5, 2012 10:37:47 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 5, 2012 10:41:13 AM PST
Lucanus says:
I find myself quite productive with the iPad. I work with office documents all the time. It costs me $3.99 to be office compatible. There isn't anything I have wanted to do with the iPad that I haven't been able to do. Though typing on the iPad can be annoying. The keyboard idea on the Surface looks very promising. I wish the Surface would have been announced 6 months, that is all I am saying. I have zero intent of turning this into Apple vs MS.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 5, 2012 10:39:18 AM PST
Lucanus says:

Posted on Nov 5, 2012 10:40:26 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 5, 2012 10:40:46 AM PST
M. McFly says:
i have an ipad 3 as well. Its great but if i can get a good trade in value for it I would def consider a surface. HINT MSFT how about a trade in your ipad promotion, not a bad way to get your foot in the tablet door...

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 5, 2012 10:42:07 AM PST
GarionOrb says:
Game Stop has a pretty great trade-in program on iDevices.

Posted on Nov 5, 2012 11:04:43 AM PST
klopas says:
I played with a Surface for a bit and I too was impressed. I'm in the market for a tablet and almost pulled the trigger, but I can wait for a non-RT version with full functionality.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 5, 2012 11:13:06 AM PST

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 6, 2012 6:14:16 AM PST
When you're ready to turn in your iPad, MS will be waiting for you. :)

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 6, 2012 7:44:42 AM PST
But it's _Windows_.
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This discussion

Discussion in:  Video Games forum
Participants:  10
Total posts:  21
Initial post:  Nov 5, 2012
Latest post:  Nov 6, 2012

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