A Review of the Surface in a Microsoft Store by Marco Arment

Posted on October 27, 2012

If you haven’t read Marco’s review of the Microsoft Surface following his visit to a store you should do now.

Not only does he give first impressions of the device, but a lot of insight into how it’s being positioned and sold by Microsoft.

Here are my highlights:

When we finally broke the salesman’s concentration so we could pick it up and start playing with it, Tiff and I both had the same first impression: it’s heavy. On paper, it’s 1.5 pounds (without the half-pound keyboard), like the iPad 1 and a bit heavier than the iPad 3. But it’s not just heavy: it feels dense, like the iPhone 4 and 4S (and notably not like the iPhone 5).

I tried rotating the Surface. There was a long enough delay that I thought rotation just wasn’t supported, then it kicked in and the newly laid out screen just popped in. No transition, no animation. I switched to a different app and tried the same thing with the same results. Rotation was always slow and sloppy.

He showed me Office, which was almost unusable: it was extremely sluggish, and touch targets were tiny and difficult to hit. He said this was the only tablet that could run Office, and if you used Office at work, this was therefore the only tablet that you could use at work. I played dumb.

The salesman launched into an elaborate pitch. He wasn’t a confident speaker, so the rote was obvious. I wanted to jump right in and start playing with the software, but the salesman kept butting in and driving “my” demo.

Marco was unimpressed with the hardware, keyboard and software; but very telling, very unimpressed with Microsoft’s inshore positioning.