We attended the Microsoft store grand opening in Portland over the summer as an obligation. However, once the hype was finished, we decided to take a stroll through to see what the latest offerings were for the tech giant. In our mind, Microsoft had thrown in the towel, especially when it comes to tablets. The iPad, while it has its shortcomings, was definitely the top of the heap as far as we knew.
However, after briefly inquiring about the Surface RT, mostly out of curiosity, we found that just an hour later we had walked out of the store with not only a Surface, but a completely different take on Microsoft's future prospects. For the uninitiated, the Surface RT is what would appear to be Microsoft's watered down version of the iPad, however the Surface does everything, and a bit more, that we had hoped the iPad would.
Microsoft had done it again, as it had in the ’80s and ’90s. While it must have been difficult to sit back and watch the masses flock to the mirage of iParadise, Microsoft bode its time and learned from the iPad’s weaknesses.
What is the iPad’s weakness? In an attempt to generalize our thoughts on the matter, we will simply state that the iPad is for digital consumers while the Surface is for digital producers. In layman’s terms, if one needs to browse and respond to emails with text, the iPad is sufficient. If one needs to elaborate documents, spreadsheets, and the like, the Surface is everything you had hoped the iPad would be.
The iPad is not a laptop, nor is the Surface, but the Surface is much closer.
While the Windows 8 OS still requires years of app development to match Apple's offerings and a bit of training to use, the operating system is a dream in the tablet environment once mastered. The Surface RT does all of the things that we had hoped the iPad would. It allows you to easily toggle between open apps and, more importantly for those of us who grew up managing a Windows desktop, it sufficiently allows one to manage in a desktop environment.
Beyond that, the Surface tablet keypad is superior and Skydrive (Microsoft’s response to the iCloud), is extremely intuitive and allows one to make simple edits on a browser if necessary.
Finally, starting at $349, the Surface RT is an economical alternative to its flashier predecesor, the iPad. Who would have imagined it could be superior?