Surface Questions from Curious Rat

I ran across the Curious Rat blog while following a link about HBO and cutting it’s own throat through going around it’s channel and ran across this post on Microsoft Surface tablets, which have just been announced “Initial Thoughts and Questions Concerning Microsoft's Surface Tablets”.

Harry’s obviously got an Apple-centric bent, but looks like he takes feedback, so here are my attempts to answer his 15 questions with a little colour commentary by watching the announcement (MP4 download available)  and other publicly available material.

  1. What’s the price? The Surface for Windows RT (ARM) will be priced comparable to other tablets based on ARM. The Pro version will be priced like an Ultrabook.
  2. Separate processor architectures. There are three mainstream processor architectures for Windows 8 family products: ARM, x86 and x64. Jason Zander from Microsoft Developer Tools has a deep blog post on this, but the upshot is that Windows RT targets all processor architectures. If you’re using a managed language (C#, VB, JavaScript) you can use one binary. I’m sure that the longer term future for consumer software might be Windows RT. It depends on the capabilities required.
  3. How will apps be separated? For the iPad-like Surface RT, you can only purchase WinRT(Metro) apps, so you’ll only see them in the store. If you’re on the Pro version you can see Metro and Desktop apps.
  4. Three months from release? The Surface RT will be available at Windows 8 GA, the Intel based Surface Pro will be launch + 3 months. Apps are in the store now. I think Microsoft thinks they’ve been showing off Windows 8 for years, and they wanted to concentrate on the news as they saw that.
    At launch, they’re going to have to demo some of the catalog, because the consumer audience will be about as informed about Windows 8 as some Apple-centric pundits I’ve read.
  5. Digital Ink. Comment, that’s a Pro only feature, I believe.
  6. Touch cover. It’s something that comes in the box. Resting on the home keys? They seem to have that covered.
  7. If it works well… probably people will use the soft keyboard... like the iPad.
  8. Battery life. Don’t know, would like to know.
  9. 10” 16:9 portrait discomfort. Probably do what iPad users do, prop it up on something. Be interested how much movie use is in portrait on iPads.
  10. Heat. I don’t think it’s solid magnesium, rather seems to be a magnesium alloy deposited over a substrate.
  11. Loud. Vents are only on the Intel Pro models, and continuous venting is probably to facilitate fanless/passive cooling – which is silent. The top will get warm I’m sure. But probably not hot.
  12. Stylus. Only on the Pro model.
  13. Kickstand. Hard to tell if it’s robust but no-one who saw one in the flesh complained of it being flimsy, and unlike the software it seems journos at the unveiling did get to hold and use that.
  14. Bloatware. Seems like trolling as it’s not being sold by partners, but by Microsoft on-line and in their stores.

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