The Microsoft Surface isn’t a tablet, it’s a PC. But it’s also a tablet.
It’s the ultimate Windows 8 machine: A tablet/PC mix, aspiring to have the best of both worlds.
But which is it really?
Microsoft says it can be both without compromising, but two ideas prevailed throughout the Surface keynote: The PC and the keyboard. These indicate Microsoft’s natural bias in designing the Surface.
In the keynote, Microsoft used the word “PC” as much (or perhaps more) than the word “tablet” to describe the Surface. “PC” often indicates that a computer runs Windows, but its original meaning is “Personal Computer”. Because the term PC was coined in the days of desktop computers, PC most often refers to desktop computers.
Mobile devices have different priorities than desktop computers do. That’s why we call it the post-PC era. Wireless connectivity and battery life suddenly become important factors, often surpassing specs such as processing speed and storage space in importance.
Interestingly enough, we still don’t know anything about the battery life. We only know what we’d need to know if we were buying a desktop PC: processor speed, storage space, RAM, etc.
Desks & Keyboards
The Microsoft Surface was built to be chained to a desk.
What are the two big features of this tablet? The kickstand and the keyboard. Where did Microsoft spend the majority of its time demonstrating the Surface’s functionality? A desk.
The kickstand and keyboard can disappear into the chassis, but the fact that they’re built-in to every device indicates that Microsoft believes that you need a keyboard to be productive.
Though Microsoft claims the Surface can be a tablet and PC without compromising, its strong focus on keyboards, desks, and the PC indicates that Microsoft’s core ideology still lies with desktop computing, not with mobile.
Steve Ballmer boasted that it was designed in a “forward-facing” manner, but Microsoft still has one foot in the past and one foot in the future. The surface was built “for the world we know now”, not for the future.
As Ballmer said, Windows is the heart of Microsoft. Do you expect Microsoft to rip its own heart out?
Is the Surface a tablet or a PC? It’s both.
It’s also neither.
Will it be successful?
That’s an entirely different question. We’ll have to wait and see.