Those who have tested the software on personal computers have reported not being able to find the "Start" menu. The Surface seems to address this by putting a permanent Windows icon in the middle of the device below the screen. The icon causes a vibration when touched, which helps because it's not a physical button.
Who would use this device?
At the announcement on Monday, CEO Steve Ballmer pounded home the message that this tablet will be as good as a PC for creating documents in a way that the iPad never was. It's true that the iPad has such shortcomings as an inability to run multiple programs side by side, the way you can on a regular computer. Surface can run at least two at a time.
So, users would seem to be professionals who want a tablet they can use for work and play.
I find that proposition appealing, especially after lugging my heavy laptop to the press conference and having to keep a watchful eye on the dwindling battery life. (Speaking of which, Microsoft still hasn't said anything about the Surface's expected battery life.)
Microsoft said the low-power version using Nvidia chips will cost about the same as other tablets, while a version that runs Windows 8 Pro will cost about the same as other ultrabooks with Intel processors. The Pro version will have a stylus that allows users to make handwritten notes on documents such as PDF files. It also has an Intel processor and the option for more memory.
Surface splits the difference between a standard tablet and super-light laptops such as Apple's MacBook Air or ultrabooks that run Windows. But typing on the Surface's keyboard cover seems to require just that, a surface. I'm not sure how I would manage the cover keyboard and a kickstand on my lap.
Microsoft's ultimate challenge seems to be making sure that all the programs on my current laptop — including its range of Office software — can run smoothly on Surface. It's not clear yet whether it can deliver on that vision.
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