Why I’m Returning My Microsoft Surface RT

Do not buy a Microsoft Surface RT yet.

I’m typing this with gritted teeth.  My 24 hours with the half-baked Surface have been a frustrating challenge, a mix of love and hate.  I want want want this to work, but one problem after another have led me to come to the conclusion – a temporary one at least – that this thing just isn’t ready to ship.

The Hardware is Unbelievable

Every time Apple unveils a new gadget or laptop, my jaw drops and I wonder how they pulled off executing their industrial designs.  Their v1 designs look so beautifully put together, not a mishmash of plastic parts and lids like the PC counterparts.  Every now and then, a PC maker will bring out something similar, but it’s the very rare exception rather than the rule.

The Surface RT is Microsoft shoving their hardware partners aside and saying, “Lemme show you how this should be done. Pay attention, kids.”

This tablet hardware doesn’t just compete with the iPad – it bypasses the iPad in many ways that are significant and valuable for me.

I plugged in my USB presentation remote and it just worked.

I plugged in a 64GB micro SD card with all my presentations and files and it just worked.

I popped out the kickstand and started typing and it just worked.  Well, almost – if there’s one significant compromise in the Surface RT, it’s the kickstand.  You get two and only two positions for the kickstand: open and closed.  There’s no adjustments.  I think the kickstand angle was designed for airplane use by short people, because the screen hardly goes back at all.  It’s probably perfect for Danny DeVito when he puts it on the seat back tray in coach class, but for me on a desk, it’s too steep.

The built-in front-facing camera for Skype is angled so that it’ll work great when the kickstand is open, but again, only for Danny DeVito, or maybe for people who want to show off their chests in Skype.


There are other hardware compromises, but they’re pretty small.  The speakers are laughably quiet; I fired up one of my favorite movies, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, and I couldn’t even hear the actors’ dialog in the opening scenes.  Not couldn’t understand – couldn’t even hear it.  The magnetic power cord doesn’t snap in with authority, but rather requires careful positioning.  The volume up/down buttons are exactly opposite the USB port, so when I plug in USB devices I often push the volume up/down by accident.

But who cares? I HAVE A USB PORT! Oh, Steve Jobs, I understand that you were a design deity, but I really needed that USB port, and I didn’t want a stupid dongle to get it.  The iPad has a USB dongle available, but it was useless to me because I needed it for my presentation clicker at the same time I also needed video out, but I couldn’t use both simultaneously.

The Type Cover (the one with real keys) just works.  I’ve got big hands that often struggle on undersized keyboards, but I can type very quickly on the Type Cover.  So quickly, in fact, that I can outrun Microsoft Word on the Surface.  I get the feeling that the Surface RT’s CPU or Word code just can’t keep up with my typing.  Here’s an example video:

But that’s not a hardware problem – and it’s time for us to talk about the ugly problem with the Surface RT.

The Software is Also Unbelievable

The hardware makes promises that the software can’t deliver – and the ability to type faster than Word can digest is a great example of that.  Sure, I understand that the shipped version is “Microsoft Word Preview,” but you can’t deliver software like this.  It’s a recipe for returned products – and frankly, that’s exactly what I’m going to do with the Surface RT, return it.

Word’s problems aren’t limited to slow typing.  Once you’ve banged out a document, saving your work is another adventure:

I can understand problems with Word because it’s a new piece of software that Microsoft has never released bef – wait, hold on. I’m being told by my staff that Word is not a new program, and has been out since the 1980s.  If I want to see a v1 program, they’re telling me to look at the Mail app.  Alright, let’s give that a shot:

After waiting over a minute for the machine to boot and launch the mail app, I got a blank gradient screen. User interface 101: if the app needs to be set up on the first launch, offer to do that, please.  Folks from Twitter suggested that I swipe out from the right side and click Accounts, Add, and I did, but the Surface just sat there as shown in the video.  Eventually, after setting the unit aside and going on with my day, I noticed several minutes later that it popped up and said it couldn’t detect the email servers for brento@brentozar.com.  User interface 102: when you’re doing something, say something.

Verdict: Wait for the Surface Pro

The Surface Pro comes out in a few months.  The hardware design is very similar, but heavier, thicker, and with a “real” processor that requires a fan.  Yes, those are drawbacks, but they come with a very, very powerful advantage: the Surface Pro will run real Windows 8.  This means (hopefully) none of the buggy Windows RT problems, and perhaps more importantly, a full stable of applications.

See, the Surface RT only runs Metro (whatever) apps, of which there are woefully few.  I didn’t even get to the point of testing the very few that I found – forget it, because the built-in stuff is so incredibly bad.  The lack of apps wasn’t a problem for me – I explained why I preordered a Surface RT – but the quality of the built-in apps was.

The whole point of the Surface RT was supposed to be a tablet that’s ready for work.  It’s not.  Don’t touch it.

Update Oct 27th 7:43PM

After getting linked from HN and Reddit, I’ve gotten a bazillion comments that boil down to “You should have updated Office.”  Yes, if only I could have figured out how.  Since this post went live, Microsoft has explained how to get it:

For Windows RT Surface users, the update can be had by:

  • Head to the Control Panel version of Windows Update, not the Metro-accessible version that you use for more everyday settings changes.
  • Fire up a search for ‘Windows Update,’ and select ‘Install optional updates,’ instead of ‘Windows Update’ from the list of results.
  • If no updates are available, have the device run a check. If there are, then get going right away. The update is titled “Update for Microsoft Office Home & Student 201[3] RT Preview.”
  • Select it, and install.
  • Reboot.

Emphasis mine.  I had no idea that there were multiple places for Windows Update on the same tablet.  One tablet, but multiple places to get Microsoft updates?  And we’re not even counting the Windows Store here.  This just isn’t realistic to expect end users to find this buried treasure.

Other commenters have suggested that the Office updates apply automatically overnight – they do not.  I’d left my Surface RT plugged in overnight, but even so, that only lets automatic updates apply, not optional ones like this Office update.

And of course, keep in mind that I still don’t know if these updates fix the problem – they certainly don’t fix the camera or mail problems, both of which were already updated through Windows Update.

Update Oct 28th 8AM

Yesterday this got posted to a bunch of news sites. I was out shopping with Erika when I got a tweet saying I’d hit the front page of HackerNews, LoopInsight, and Reddit, plus getting linked to from comments at CNet and Techmeme.

Here’s what that looks like in Google Analytics:


Yesterday was supposed to be a fun shopping day, just Erika and I out looking at furniture and clothes before my trip out to DevConnections and the PASS Summit. Increasingly, though, I kept turning to my phone and typing frantically, trying to explain things to commenters. My stress level went through the roof, and eventually I realized that being out and about was probably the best thing that could happen. I stopped trying to keep up, and just went back to my life – taking Ernie for a long walk, going out for dinner, reading the paper.

Yesterday was frustrating as all hell.

I’m a geek. I’ve been using computers since my first Commodore 64, then writing code in Topspeed Clarion, VBscript, Java, and .NET before switching over to Microsoft SQL Server database administration. I know bugs. I’ve coded bugs. (That’s probably all I’ve ever coded, come to think of it.) I’m used to poking around to discover workarounds to get things to work. I’m very used to doing updates to devices before I start working with ’em, and I repeatedly did updates on the Surface RT trying to get it to work.

I’m not a zealot. I use both Microsoft and Apple gear, and while a lot of my SQL Server friends rant against cloud-based and NoSQL databases, I like those too. I’m all about using whatever works best – or to be more specific, whatever sucks the least. No software or hardware is perfect, although I’ll be the first to tell you that the Surface RT’s hardware comes pretty darned close to being perfect for 2012 tablets. The iPad isn’t. I hate that Apple continues to burden their products with wacko connectors, and now they’re even changing the connectors. Give me a freakin’ USB port, memory card port, and video out port, and let’s call it a day.

I really, really wanted the Surface RT to work. I need a lightweight backup PowerPoint device when I’m on the road presenting at conferences. That device needs to show PowerPoint presenter view while driving an external projector, while being plugged in for electricity (some of my sessions are 8-9 hours long), and take a presentation clicker. Keynote Remote doesn’t cut it because it loses reception in noisy radio areas like big conference rooms. The iPad only has one miserable dock connector or Lightning port, so it can either drive video OR be plugged in, but not both. The Surface RT looked like a great answer to this problem.

I’m fair. If I’m going to complain about something, I want to have proof. I can’t just say, “Surface RT suxxorz” if I get frustrated. Rather than just return it and call it a day, I restored the device from scratch and tried the setup experience again. (Remember, I’m a former developer, so I’m used to trying to reproduce bugs.) I recorded videos of it in action to prove what was going on.

But none of these mattered yesterday. Even with the restores, even with recording video of the problems, I got hammered. Hundreds of commenters on all kinds of sites said it was my fault.

Last night, I went to bed with a plan. I’d drive down to the Microsoft store, buy another Surface RT, film the unboxing process, show how hard it is to find the behind-the-scenes desktop update panel on your own, and find out if it fixes the Skydrive and keyboard problems. (I already know the Mail updates don’t fix the login/freeze problem, because I’d done those before filming the videos.)

This morning, I woke up with a better plan. I’m moving on. I don’t think there’s anything I could do to convince the hard-core fanboys out there that the Surface RT has problems – because I realized that most of the commenters don’t even own Surfaces. So many of the comments were flat out wrong, like saying there’s only one place for Surface updates and that Windows RT doesn’t have a desktop mode. I think I’ve done a fair job of documenting the problems I ran into, and I’ve burned enough of my weekend time on it.

And no, I’m not heading down to the Apple store to buy a new iPad, either. I’m still using a first-generation iPad 1, and believe me, it’s just as flaky as the Surface RT is. There’s no good presentation solution, the keyboards pale in comparison to the Surface’s, and many apps are crashtastic.

Find Me This Gadget

I don’t have a single right answer for my gadget needs yet, but the fun part about being a geek in 2012 is that the options are nearly endless. The journey of finding the right gadget is just as much fun as the destination, and I’m looking forward to giving the next gadget a shot.

Here’s my non-negotiable requirements:

  • Tablet so I can use it without a keyboard in cramped coach class flights
  • VGA output – can be via a dongle
  • Ability to charge the battery, show VGA out, and use the presenter mouse all at the same time
  • USB port or long-range Bluetooth (over 50 feet range) to work with a presenter mouse
  • WiFi – speed doesn’t really matter
  • Lightweight – under 2 pounds, because I’m carrying this as a secondary backup presentation device, not a primary laptop
  • At least 5 hours of battery life in airplane mode working in productivity apps
  • Some kind of cloud file sync app that runs in the background – ideally Dropbox, because I’m already using that, but if I had to add another app into my rotation I’d be okay with that
  • Last, and maybe most importantly, present these PowerPoint slide decks (28MB zip) in the fonts & layout shown in their corresponding PDFs – I put that together from a few conference-required deck templates. No, you can’t just present from the PDFs – I want to be able to make live updates to the slides while I’m onstage. People often ask great questions, and I edit the slide deck right there to include the answer, and then I give away the slide decks.

Here’s my nice-to-haves:

  • While presenting, show the PowerPoint presenter view on the tablet monitor (shows presenter notes for each slide, plus the next slide)
  • 3G radio – bonus points if it works outside of the US
  • SD card input – can be via a dongle
  • Keyboard case
  • Priced under $1000

Got a solution that’s available to buy today? Tell me in the comments.

Update Oct 28 7PM: Microsoft Confirms

It’s not completely official yet, but it appears that Steven Sinofsky, Microsoft’s President of Windows Division, agrees that the Word typing problem is a known issue and another update is forthcoming.

Everybody who called me incompetent, please take your time in apologizing. I’m sure my blog would fall over immediately if all of you apologized at once.

Update Nov 1: Other Bloggers Confirm

The real-world reviews are coming in, and they’re not good.  Here’s a very long and detailed review from Chris Pirillo:

Posted on by Brent Posted in Blog Posts

About Brent

I'm a geek goofball who lives in Chicago, Illinois with my wife Erika, my small dog Ernie, and a lot of bad habits. I like wine, travel, photography, and sharing everything I've learned so far.

600 Responses to Why I’m Returning My Microsoft Surface RT

  1. ms

    You’re taking your Surface RT back because it runs Windows RT.

    This is a bit like taking back an early iPhone because it didn’t run OS X.

    It seemed pretty clear to me on the surface.com website that Surface RT ran Windows RT.

    Did you not know this?

    • Brent

      MS – Hi, welcome to the site. I blogged recently about why I preordered the Surface RT:


      I did indeed know it runs Windows RT, but that’s not an excuse for Office not working. Microsoft positions the Surface RT as a tablet with Office.

      Thanks for coming by!

      • Jack

        Brent, but I think you are forgetting the fact that Office 2013 is currently in beta.

        • Brent

          Jack – no, I’m fully aware of that, but if a word processor can’t keep up with a human being typing, that’s not beta. That’s not even alpha.

          • AAO

            This. This X 1000.

            We live in the year 2012. Tablets should be able to keep up with the pace of a human being. Or be able to Save properly out of the box.

          • Daniel

            You realize that the iPad doesn’t even include a word processor, right? And it’s on its 3rd generation.

            Also, Word frequently cannot keep up with my typing. (on a desktop)

          • Brent

            Daniel – my GE refrigerator also does not include a word processor, but that doesn’t make the Surface RT a better tablet.

          • MarkKB

            Arguably, your GE refrigerator is not a tablet, while the iPad is, so what that has to do with the price of tea in China I’m not sure.

            Anyway, I completely disagree with your assertion. It’s very common for beta software to have performance issues (since optimization is usually done in escrow and usually beta builds are also debug builds, which mean they have a lot of additional checks that aren’t present in the final version.) Firefox, for example, is slower and laggier (and much more prone to crashing) in its beta releases than in the finals (and don’t get me started about the Nightlies, which are basically Firefox’s alpha releases.)

            They shouldn’t even be thinking of performance at the alpha stage. The point of Alpha is to get a semi-functioning build ready so they can see how it works and if the ideas they came up with are useable. If they work on performance that early, not only would they putting too much effort into something that might get scrapped (for example, the animations in Word 2013 if they had deemed it too disorientating or not worth the effort), then the work they do do might create bugs or be contravened by other code later on. Much better to do it all at once.

          • MarkKB

            I’d add, though, that I agree with your base point – if the beta wasn’t on shipping products, it’d be fine, but that it IS and has these performance issues, well…

            I’m really not sure why the RTM version’s not an automatic update (or why Office doesn’t inform you of the update on start). Perhaps they’re staggering it like they do with other non-security updates.

          • Giphi

            There is only one way to make yourself happy, build your own tablet. I luv my surface.

          • Tonio

            @Daniel. Pages is an excellent $15 word processor Apple released with the iPad 1, works fine thanks. (Also, when using an external keyboard, has more useable screen real estate on an iPad than Word does on a typical 15″ laptop display.)

            @Brent. Sounds like the device you want is very nearly called an iPad (the only missing feature is being able to charge, use the mouse you want, and some other thing simultaneously).

        • JKT

          You seem to be implying that “Beta” is an excuse for Microsoft to deliver him a non-functional product even though he paid full price for it. I believe that to be an indefensible position.

          • Felix

            Beta means – not ready for prime time

            The release version was available at launch(siri is still in beta). A version that works perfectly i must add.

            I am just tired of peoople busting on microsoft no matter what they do.

            MICROSOFT is taking steps to reform their image and have started releasing quality products.Can everyone just get over it please.

          • Joe Knows

            My android is wonderful. My “kingsoft office” works beautifully! Along with the other 3 office like products available…and drive…Microsoft has been slowly rendering itself obsolete since 2005. It’s a sinking ship that just can’t seem to avoid the iceberg in its way.

          • Ali Razeghi


            Brent Ozar is a Microsoft MVP and a Microsoft MCM. He’s pushed Microsoft more than you and I have taken breaths. The points mentioned in your post are completely invalid though, as if the article wasn’t even read. For example:

            “A version that works perfectly i must add.”
            In what fanboy universe does a word processor that can’t keep up with a HUMAN typing on it as ‘perfectly’? Even the 1986 XT computer I used would be able to keep up with typing, but maybe I just became a much faster typist now.

            “MICROSOFT is taking steps to reform their image and have started releasing quality products”
            Are you saying Microsoft has not released quality products up to now?

            “Can everyone just get over it please.”
            Get over what? A perfectly fair review praising the good and listing the bad was provided. It seems like the fanboys need to get over it.

        • Raist

          HTML5 in youtube is beta too, but it works without major problems. I played GW2 when it was beta, and I manage to encounter only one bug. I’ve used Opera beta, and it worked without major problems. (I’ve used Office 2013 on Win7 and Win8 Release Preview, no problems on x64 platform. I’ve been playing Minecraft in pre-beta stages, and it worked.

          And then you have Office RT beta, which hardly works at all. I’ve seen in-development software that worked better.

          • Dave

            Comparing the release of a tablet to HTML5 in youtube is not apples to apples. Actually comparing a release of anything to Google’s methodoligy isn’t valid. I can’t remember, is gmail out of beta yet?

          • Ross Brown

            This is the problem – Beta traditionally meant ‘feature complete, but not debugged or optimized’. With web properties, Beta means ‘optimized, but not feature complete’

      • Jim H

        Nicely thought out review. However, it’s interesting that you set out with the goal of having a Powerpoint presenter machine that you could do other stuff with and were willing to put up with a lot of negatives like lack of apps or a crashtastic buggy mess of an OS but at the end of the day you returned it because the update process wasn’t clear. At the end of the day, the machine does exactly what you said you wanted, is not unstable as you feared but because of initial setup issues it fails. You returned it and you still don’t have your Powerpoint presentation machine. It seems your requirements morphed with your experience with the RT.

        Did the update process suck? Yeah. Does Word not keep up? Works fine for most everyone (with the update to the release level). Was it slow? Yep, for you anyway. Your video demonstrated that even though it wasn’t an issue for everyone (none of the half-dozen folks I know who have one had that same experience). You may type faster than anyone I know though.

        So there’s a machine that after a day’s worth of effort to setup would meet your stated needs but because of needing that day’s setup, you don’t have it. That day is probably way less than the impact of a crashtastic unstable OS (especially in the middle of one of your Powerpoint presentations). Seems like you’re cutting your nose off to spite your face.

        Yes I do own one. I also own a Nexus 7 tablet which I love for sticking in my back pocket but doesn’t run Office or is really capable for more than occasional productive use vs. my laptop. I have an iPad I haven’t used in a year (my predecessor to the Nexus was the Galaxy Tab and supplanted the iPad) because it didn’t do anything I needed any better than the 7″ tablet and didn’t do one thing I thought was important – the iPad couldn’t fit in my back pocket. I ended up using the Galaxy Tab (and now Nexus 7) far more than the iPad because I didn’t carry it with me, I “had” it with me – in my backpocket. 10″ tablets mean I have to carry it around similar to carrying my laptop. 7″ tablets I have with me like I have my phone. The Surface RT is actually something I’m willing to carry most times. I also have a MacAir (running Windows 7) because I am a fanatic about small (thin) & light. The Surface is working as my travel laptop though. On the road I don’t run other Windows applications, the apps from the app store are fine – Evernote, Netflix, Skype, Kindle, etc. If I really wanted to run a Windows 7 application I have on my laptop I can use Team Viewer to remote control and run it at home. But I haven’t had to.

        My wishlist? I’d love a couple more apps (like Nook) that I use on my phone and Nexus but I can live without them on the Surface ’cause like you I have my phone with me. I’d also like a Cisco VPN client so I can get onto my office network. And maybe WebEx too so I can connect to electronic meetings. I’m also looking for a desktop monitor that’s touch screen with the Surface (I have a nice 22″ IPS one that works with Windows 8 but not with the Surface). The lack of these doesn’t outweigh the light weight and battery life of the Surface. A netbook or Ultrabook might be less expensive but at a size & battery penalty that I’m willing to pay extra not to have.

        You might want to reconsider the Surface RT. Otherwise I look forward to your review of whatever you find that does just what you wanted because I share most all of your wants/needs and willingness to forego some features as you noted in your “Why I Preordered” posting.

        In the meantime, I’ll keep using my RT. I’ve had it almost 2 weeks and it’s definitely sticking for me.


    • Darwin

      Either you didn’t read the article or you failed to comprehend it.

      • Adam

        He wrote the article…

        • Matt

          Darwin was replying to ‘ms’…

    • Jwcorey

      I think he’s taking the Surface back not because it doesn’t run something that’s not on it, but because it barely runs what is.

    • Jan

      No, because iOS apps actually worked very well from the start. Nobody expected it to run OSX.

      This is returning the Surface RT because it sucks.

    • Robert Hendrix

      I am probably going to be taking my Surface back and getting a refund because of 2-3 main reasons. I cannot setup my outlook emails I use for my business, the volume is too low so I cannot watch Netflix movies and music and such, and there is no BlueTooth. I compared the volume on my Surface with the volume on my iPad, and the iPad volume is 2 times louder. The iPad allows me to add outlook emails, yahoo emails, gmail emails, has bluetooth, and a few other business apps i use for my business. I must have a tablet i can use for my business needs when i am away from the office. I was forced to buy an iPad because it meets my business needs to a certain extent. I am a huge Microsoft and Windows 7 fan and use only Microsoft products in my business and i use a Widnows 8 mobile phone as well. I would love to sell my iPad and use my new Surface, but it is Microsoft that is forcing me to continue using the iPad when i do not want to do this. While the Surfase has many features and value over the iPad, it is amazing that they cannot even get 2-3 basic features right on the new Surface like emails, volume, and the bluetooth. This is an incomplete product, but when it is complete, this Surface is going to be amazing that will blow away all Android tablets and compete very strongly with Apple iPads. It is funny Apple said the Surface is like trying to combine a refrigerator and a microwave oven into 1 product, but you know what, MS actually almost pulled this off. Watch out Apple, Microsoft Surface will have a product real soon that will blow any iPad away, real soon!

      • Mark Rendle


        I just set up an Office 365 Exchange account in the Mail app with no problems at all.

        The Surface has Bluetooth 4.0. I just tried it, and it found my HTC One X in a couple of seconds.

        I can’t really say you’re wrong about it being too quiet, because that’s a subjective judgement, but I’ve been happily watching videos on mine without any problems.

        BTW: Where did you get your Windows 8 phone? I haven’t seen them on sale yet.

        • Robert Hendrix


          The Surface will not let me setup a regular Outlook POP email account.

          I was told specifically that the Surface does not have Blue Tooth. Maybe it has another way to connect devices, i will check.

          I have a Samsung – 2.1-Channel Home Theater Soundbar System that is Bluetooth enabled and with Wireless Subwoofer, so I will check and see if i can connect to this device.

          I have an HTC HD7 Windows Mobile 7.5 phone and it is expensive. It has known issues with the camera not working and I cannot get HTC or Microsoft to help me fix this. It has been a year now. I hope upgrading to Windows Mobile 7.8 will provide a fix to this.

          • Joe Zapert

            You have “been told specifically that it does not have Blue Tooth”?

            Well then you were told that by an idiot, or you misunderstood. Even the SURFACE BOX will tell you it has Bluetooth.

            Don’t get me started about calling a POP account an “Outlook account” you “use for your business.” Yeah, that’s called Exchange? If you are using a POP account for work, I mean, uh… I have an awesome 1200 baud modem I’d like to sell you.

      • Ian

        Don’t know if you ended up returning your Surface, but I’m sitting on mine now and a number of your concerns don’t actually track – e.g. Bluetooth is there (though I’ll grant a little hard to find), I’m downloading email from gmail, outlook.com/hotmail.com, my private provider through IMAP, etc.)

        Like you I’d like something to be both a work and play device, and have purchased at least 3 different apps for replacements for Word, Excel and (to a lesser extent) PowerPoint. So far it’s an abject failure – please don’t get me started on the crippled, non-compatible, document-destroying piece of garbage that is the iPad version of Pages!

        I agree with you I’d like to have seen more volume (also a complaint on the iPad) but otherwise I’d advise waiting a few weeks for the inevitable tweaks.


      • Kevin

        Enjoyed the article. Just wondering about why you don’t believe the issues will get resolved enough to make it useful within a few patches. I’ve researched them and have told my friends to hold off just a bit because of the keyboard issue I read about where the plastic separates at the seem somehow. But I too really want them to work. Though I also knew I wouldn’t be satisfied without the full win 8. Gotta have SQL and VS always.

    • Robert Hendrix

      I previously said i would take my surface back, but I change my mind for a few reasons. When i was at the Microsoft store Friday in line with 100 people ready to buy, I asked 2 MS employees if the Surface had BlueTooth, and they both said NO, it does not have this. One staff member did not even know and had to go ask someone else, and came back and said no it does not have bluetooth. After reading everyones posts on this site, i learned it does have Bluetooth, i finally looked into this yesterday and found out i could connect my wireless speaker to my surface and also connect via bluetooth. So i am upset that i had to spend a week without bluetooth and if i did not read the comments on this site i would have been going each day thinking my surface has no blue tooth.

      One last problem, can anyone tell me how to setup my POP3 email accounts on the surface. If i dont have this option, this Surface is useless to me because i must be able to use this for my business.

      • Brent

        Robert – glad you found out about the Bluetooth, but I’ve got bad news: the Surface RT’s mail app does not support POP3 email yet. Have you considered accessing your email via IMAP instead? It’s actually better in most cases – the mail stays on your server so you can see it on all your devices.

        • Robert Hendrix

          I dont know how to setup my email on the Surface via IMAP. I have never used IMAP before. Do you know where i can learn how to do this? or could you explain? Thanks for your help!

    • Teague

      Brent just looked like a retard here. If that is the case spend another 1k and get another tablet.

      • Brent

        Makes sense. I’m probably not smart enough to use the RT.

    • jack

      yeah every apple prduct i have ever used 2004-2010 desk tops imacs mac books ibooks they all lag in work you can type a paragraph. i dont think this guy is “a geek” like he claims

      • Brent

        HAHAHAHA, oooookay.

  2. Pawan

    I dont know if you are aware that when Microsoft Surface was made and loaded with OS and office, the office was still in preview so they loaded the preview version of office. Microsoft also said that they will push an update to windows RT devices to bring in full version of Office.
    I hope you will change your mind 😉

    • Darwin

      Pawan he said in the article that it was a preview version of Word. Duh.

    • updog

      The office update was available on day 1. 😉

      • JKT

        Then why were the tablets not sold with an information sheet of some type that informed the customer of that fact and provided instructions on how to update?

        • Justin

          Do you need Microsoft to cook your dinnner or tell you how to do it as well? How much software has Microsoft released that has had updates day one of launch… Turns out, a lot of people these days are just getting less involved in making decisions on their own because technology is taking over. Go to the updates section and check for updates. NO OTHER tablet out there was perfect on day one. Sheesh.

          • Hemske

            “Go to the updates section and check for updates.”
            Well, actually he did. He just didn’t go to the right one as apparently there are TWO updates sections?!?

        • Joe Zapert

          yeah so it’s pretty GD easy. When you’re in the update app in Settings, there’s a prominent link that says “CHECK FOR OPTIONAL UPDATES.” Err, you tap there. My god that was hard.

          • Christoph

            What’s wrong with you man?

  3. Joe Sack

    @ms check out the videos on his post.

    The user experience looks subpar at best.
    The little refinements matter – like being able to properly save a Word document, start up a device in less than 30 seconds, and not have a blank white screen for email without any visual prompt.

    I’m an eager tablet addict – but I will not be buying a Surface (yet). I might consider Pro, but I’ll wait to see what the early adopters find.

    • Mike Burke

      The start up time comments don’t seem right. I just restarted my Surface 5 times, timed each one carefully and averaged 29 seconds with a high of 32 and a low of 28 seconds. Isn’t that faster than iPad?

      • Mat

        Maybe, but who restarts an ipad? I can’t remember the last time i had to reboot mine.

        • leefx

          I wonder why Mr. Burke hasn’t posted his rebuttal yet…. =\

          Anyways, that’s why my mom (and I) love her iPad. She never restarts it, and hardly ever charges it, but it keeps running smoothly — like a champ.

          Now that she has an iPad, I hardly ever hear “can you help me with the computer” anymore. I’m hoping I can convince her to get a Mac when her Dell finally bites the dust.

        • Alex

          If an app doesnt work after an update or install, rebooting the iPad usually works to fix it.

        • Mike Burke

          I didn’t post a rebuttal because I have a life and didn’t come back to look until a day later and only then because I heard the poor guy running this blog was getting slammed with rude comments.

          Anyhoo, I rebooted my Surface to see how long it took. Pretty simple. I agree that using reboot time as a measure of quality is weak. I rarely restart my PC. Usually only when I am forced to with an update. Otherwise I just close the lid and the machine hibernates. I’m sure Surface will be much the same.

          • RB

            “I didn’t post a rebuttal because I have a life and didn’t come back to look until a day later”

            So what’s this then?

      • Jocca

        The iPad wakes up instantly when you press the on button. It goes and wakes up from sleep in one second. If you do not believe this, just walk into an Apple store and check it out for yourself. These machines are never powered off.

        • Utkan

          “The iPad […] never powered off.”
          – from a guy who doesn’t even know that iOS devices could indeed be turned off

          “If you do not believe this, just walk into an Apple store and”
          try to press and hold the “On/Off Sleep/Wake” button for like 3 seconds.

          I don’t own a Surface or any other fancy gadget. But I am sure that the Surface also “sleeps” and “wakes up” within seconds if you put it on the sleep mode instead of actually turning it off.

          I just couldn’t hold myself from pointing out these…

      • Brent

        That’s about the same as my iPad 1. I do shut down my iPad pretty frequently because I fly a lot. I don’t consider long OS startup time to be a problem on tablets, but I *DO* consider long app startup time to be a problem.

        • immovableobject

          Doesn’t the iPad have an “Airplane Mode” that turns off all the RF transmitters? I know my iPhone does. It’s a toggle that is the first thing you see in Settings. Much quicker than complete shutdown and startup.

          • Christoph Seufert

            Yes, but if you really do what they say, then you have to turn your device off for start and landing and are allowowed to use it in airplane mode during the flight.

        • John i

          please don’t brag about the original ipad. For the past year it crashes continuously when I am on the internet. Very slow slow slow. No one talks about in the press but check the forums about how wonderful it is…

          • Christoph Seufert

            Is it slow or does it crash? If it crashes it obviously needs repair?

  4. Sarah Strate


    Thanks for your write up!

    I admit, I fully expected a tablet version of my laptop. I wanted it to do everything my laptop could do, but with the added bonus of the touch screen, so I can play my games that make my phone freeze up while I’m sitting at my kids dance or karate classes.

    I tend to never get things when they first hit the market, because I always assume they are going to have bugs that need to be worked out. I am going shopping for a tablet today. I was considering trying the Surface (after all, it’s Microsoft). I think I will go ahead and get an android tablet for now, and when the bugs have been worked out in the Surface, then we will consider buying one.

    See you in about a week (without a Surface).

    • Sarah Strate

      BTW – I think I could live with the delay in Word (for my purposes), I would be willing to take the time to figure out the nuances of how to work the different programs, but the lack of being able to adjust the screen would be a deal breaker for me. I tend to adjust the screen on my laptop quite a bit (as lighting changes, etc). With a husband who is traveling a lot, skype has become our friend, I want to be able to actually talk face to face… anyway, just wanted to point out that that specifically is one thing that has me wanting to wait.

      • Your Husband

        I don’t mind staring at your chest when we skype…

        But that said, the lag of typing into a word processor… on a late 2012 device that is a make-or-break for Microsoft – incomprehensible. They’re pushing “It does Word” as their main gambit.

        It doesn’t do word. It doesn’t do email. It’s piece of hardware with a software complement.

        Let’s see the Pro, when they release a price for their touchscreen laptop without a keyboard.

    • Jwcorey

      “I fully expected a tablet version of my laptop. I wanted it to do everything my laptop could do”

      Microsoft also said that would be your experience, so it’s not unreasonable.

    • Hauke

      If you are planning on an android tablet, a few weeks to wait for the Nexus 10 are highly recommended. It will get updates soon and it seems like it will be the first highemd-device as a tablet from Google.

      I am fully aware that there is always something better if you wait, but in this case it would really make a huge difference…

    • sam

      Duh! If yo wanted a tablet version of your laptop you should’ve never considered the RT! Go for the pro !

  5. Pawan

    Howz your mail app working now?

    • Brent

      Slow, buggy, and unreliable. The Surface RT is back in the box.

      • Brandon

        I’m curious, did you install the update for Mail that’s available in the Store?

        You very clearly hit a bug (you should not see that blank screen and have to go to Settings, it should either have your mail already if you used a Hotmail/Outlook account to log into Windows, or it should show an intro screen telling you how to get set up). Hopefully it’s very rare bug and was fixed in that update.

        • Brent

          Brandon – yes, I had updated the Mail app.

          • c0mm3nt4tor

            Nice try Brent, tell us what kind of bugs? I have my Surface and have no problem with it.

      • Krisztián Gyuris

        The Mail app they shipped with Windows 8 is just bad bad bad! It is beyond words. I am not sure what they were thinking…

      • Mark

        Doesn’t Microsoft’s return policy essentially claim that once you open the box, it’s yours? Looks that way.


        • Jeff

          Are you sure you’re not looking at the Clearance section?

        • 2dollarb

          “Hardware, Including Computers and Xbox (excluding RAM)

          Returns and exchanges of computers, computer hardware items (including mice, keyboards, and printers), and other hardware items (including Xbox 360 consoles and controllers, Zune players, and accessories), will be honored for thirty (30) days from the date of purchase, provided the item has not been opened or altered from its original state and does not show wear or damage.”

          Direct quote from that same link. Microsoft certainly takes hardware returns. For 30 days from the date of purchase. Best to read a document fully before posting about said document.

          • MyCard

            “provided the item has not been opened ”

            He opened the box.

            Best to read a document fully before posting about said document

      • Bg

        I’m reading your tales of woe on my iPad. I hope you have better luck with the pro version.
        Gotta go…I got Mail!


  6. Jimit

    In your previous post you say, and I quote:
    “Stability – This is the one that scares me the most. Microsoft is shipping a tablet to me next week, and most tech journalists still haven’t put their hands on a working production model. I’m fully expecting a crashtastic, buggy mess that will be a big step backward from the stability of iOS. I just closed my eyes, crossed my fingers, and clicked Buy in the blind hope that Microsoft will get it right within a few software updates.”
    If those were your expectations then why has the experience of using Surface completely reversed that mindset?

    • Brent

      Jimit – great question. I was expecting crashes and bugs, but I wasn’t expecting the device to not be able to keep up with my keystrokes. I write a lot, and that’s such a basic, simple, showstopper problem that it’s a game-over for me. In 2012, a device – ANY device, from phone to tablet to computer – has to be able to keep up with a human being typing. If you can’t meet that standard, don’t ship the product, period.

      • Brandon

        After a couple days your machine should automatically update to the full (not “preview”) version of Office, which should fix the bug you were unfortunate enough to hit.

        • noraguta

          Then they ship tablet too fast. It is just moronic to ship such device. If they didn’t test typing, what we can expect in the terms of security?

          • Brandon

            “Didn’t test typing” is silly. Obviously this isn’t the normal experience, but a bug caused by a very specific usage pattern that caused excessive CPU usage. Also the Office version being used is clearly labeled “preview.” Since the final version is available, it is natural to expect bugs to be fixed by that update (which is applied completely automatically with zero user intervention).

          • JKT

            That is not “obvious” at all. Do you have any evidence to back up your claim that this slow typing is as rare as you imply?

      • Wibble

        To think that Word version 1 running on a 286 could keep up; this really is damning.

        Did anyone ever tell them that its the user experience stupid!

      • JerryW

        Actually, with iOS 6, my iPad 3 is pretty bad for typing too. It frequently hitches after typing only 10 to 15 characters, causing me to have to back up and type characters it just dropped altogether during the hitch. It didn’t do that with iOS 5.1, so maybe that is why Apple was so eager to get iPad 4 with a faster processor on the market? At least the Surface got all your keystrokes, even if it did have to catch up. I would never even try typing all of that on my iPad as it now stands.. Apple went backwards with this update. Let’s see if Microsoft goes forward instead. Btw, I don’t expect to see my problem addressed, since Apple has seen fit to completely drop the iPad 3 from their lineup now..

        • Ian Betteridge

          Hi Jerry – do you get that problem with one app, or with all of them?

          If it’s all of them, that sounds like a problem with your specific iPad – I have an iPad 3 and don’t see anything like that normally. If that’s the case, I’d book in with a Genius Bar asap.

          However, I do see it when developers have written their own text handling routines – for example, QuickOffice often fails to keep up with my typing.

          Hope that helps

          • JerryW

            The nearest Genius Bar to me is 3 hours away, so unfortunately that’s not an option. It happens with all apps using Apple’s standard on screen keyboard. No idea why either, because as I said, iOS 5.1 was fine. It would be more annoying, but I honestly use the iPad mostly for consumption. I can live with it, but it is a good contrast for the problems listed here with the Surface, which are evidently also rare. My point is silly that even the “best” tablet out there isn’t immune to having bugs pop up, do cut ME the same slack we cut any of the others.

          • JerryW

            Lol. Stupid auto correct (and me for missing it until the post was submitted). Silly =really

        • Jocca

          If you experienced a slow down in typing on your iPad, try to restart the machine. There is one game I play under iOS 6 and after the nth time of playing it, the game will suddenly slow down and become sticky. Restarting the iPad will just restore the game to its former speed. This may help with your typing woe.

          • JerryW

            That sounds like a good enough idea. I have rebooted it a few times since the update, but not specifically for the typing glitch- it has become unresponsive at times (iTunes was the last app to do that, on Friday). The next time I see the typing problem, I’ll try it. Speaking off reboot, why did Apple change the way it works? Used to be, holding down the Apple button and the power button would cause a complete reboot- mine just powers off. I have to power it back up the normal way now. Oh well, at least it works. Things could be worse.

      • c0mm3nt4tor

        You are a liar, there is no issue at all from other video posted in youtube.

  7. Pawan

    Do you type with same speed on ipad or on-device keyboard??? Maybe you should try a mechanical keyboard with surface via usb

    What you say?

    • Randolph

      Pawan, did you read the same thing I did? The Type Cover keyboard isn’t the problem, Word is. It’s just too slow for Brent’s typing speed. Showstopper for me too.

      • Pawan

        Hmmm.. Maybe Tegra 3 is lagging behind..

        • Darwin

          Paean your comments clearly show you either didn’t read the article or didn’t comprehend it. Try again.

    • Brent

      Pawan – I appreciate your enthusiasm, and you sound like a great candidate for Surface RT. I’d suggest you go ahead and pick one up and give it a shot. It sounds like you’re very interested in using one, and I bet with your enthusiasm, you’ll find it useful.

      Personally, I can’t justify carrying around a separate USB keyboard.

      • Pawan

        Hi Brent,
        Yes, Windows RT tablets can be a far better productivity tablet then ipad or android.. and Im looking to buy one with Windows RT.

        • aSystemOverload

          You’ve obviously not had a decent android tablet. The Nexus 7 (and coming soon the Nexus 10) is very slick and definitely very productive.

        • ?????

          > Yes, Windows RT tablets can be a far better productivity tablet then ipad or android..

          Says the guy who hasn’t used one? Get one, and post a video showing how great it is.

          • tgm1usa

            After trying Android for about a month, its just too damn convalutant to try and attempt bluethoothing a excel file from a windows laptop to the Android. And yes, I have tried 7 or 8 different apps to get it done, it just aint happening. I think I’ll just get a Asus w/ full Windows 8 and pay for MS office download, at leaste I know office will work with office…….

        • tomandyourmom

          Obvious astroturfer is obvious. You’re out of your mind, if you actually believe that.

      • Jeff LeBlanc

        Umm, seems like everyone is missing the fact that there are Windows 8 devices out there besides the Surface. This Apple where you only can use the hardware that Apple forces you to use. You can buy a Windows 8 device now that you can run legacy apps on, in fact I am using Windows 8 on an older HP Slate 500 and it works fine. Surface is not the only solution!

        • Brent

          Jeff – this post is about the Surface RT, which runs Windows RT. It’s a different OS that promises all-day battery life when running on an ARM processor. While Windows 8 can indeed run on other devices, those devices don’t compete with the sub-1-pound and all-day-battery-life promises of Windows RT.

          • tgm1usa

            You might want to research a little better, Asus has the Vivo 64GB with all your looking for, has a 9.5 hr battery, 1.3 pounds. Chances are, if you need more then it offers, just buy a “LAPTOP”….

          • Brent

            Thanks, but the Vivo runs Windows RT, and like I mentioned in the review, there’s no Dropbox app for that.

    • Grendel

      You sound like a Microsoft employee: try to pin the blame on everything but the software (including blaming the end user).

      The 90s called; Microsoft isn’t the behemoth anymore that can release a shitty product and the people will just lap it up. We have options now, you know.

    • JKT

      If you’re going to carry around a keyboard, then why have a tablet? At that point, an ultraportable would make more sense.

  8. Michael Bender

    Great write up.
    Since I have a Surface on order, I look forward to seeing how it does in my world.
    One thing that stood out is your last line and the use of the word ‘work’. I think MS has done a poor job of blurring the line between a consumer product & a commercial product. They put in office, but say it’s for non-commercial use. Sure, you can use commercially with a license, but I don’t believe it’s their intent. If it was designed for commercial use, I believe they would have allowed domain join and GP management.
    And speaking of office… If you are going to leave Outlook out, you need to put in a good mail client. The current iteration of the Mail app is kludgy and a pain to use.
    I think they should have gone ‘all in’ as a consumer and enterprise device. It would have been huge IMHO.

    Thanks for the honest insight!

  9. Pawan

    Thanks for your inputs, plz update if you go for any other windows RT tablet or full windows 8 tablet from other manufacturers.

    Thanks for your insight.

  10. Cameron

    I remember the iPhone OS when it first came out. (It wasn’t called iOS then). It was kind of cool, but it had problems.

    In fact, it still has problems if you are trying to use it for work. There isn’t a good alternative to MS Office on the iPad, and yes, I have tried them all. There are still a lot of things that just don’t work, for work, on the iPad and we are at version 6, right?

    I understand your frustration from seeing your video. What I think is going to make this more difficult for Microsoft is that they are competing with products from Apple and Google that are generations old. They are competing with products that have had years to work out the bugs and refine the user interface. Because of this, they are going to have to provide a product that is instantly “mature”. I am not sure a ‘pre-release’ of Word and the “don’t-call-it-metro” email app is that product.

    I do have to say that I am far more impressed by the Microsoft Surface than I thought I would be. After a few software updates, I think it will be an amazing product.

    • Brent

      Cameron – “They are competing with products that have had years to work out the bugs” – surely you’re not saying Microsoft Office is new, right? Or that Microsoft hasn’t been building email clients for decades?

    • Brent

      Cameron – and I hate to beat this dead horse, but these types of excuses just don’t stand coming from Microsoft. They didn’t have to make excuses for the hardware, and THAT is the version 1.0 part. Microsoft’s never delivered a tablet before, and they absolutely knocked it out of the park.

      Microsoft’s bread and butter is Windows, Office, email, etc – and that’s the part that’s just an absolute joke. I could let hardware problems slide, but not keeping up with a human typist in 2012 – no, that’s just not acceptable. We also can’t point at the iPad and say it has flaws, so it’s okay not to be able to keep up with a human typist.

      The WP7 crowd made all kinds of similar excuses when it came out, saying, “Hey, the iPhone wasn’t perfect when its v1 shipped, so isn’t it okay that ours doesn’t have copy/paste either?” I don’t know when Microsoft’s going to learn that lesson, but if it’s still learning today, that’s not a good sign.

      • manojlds

        Why do you think that Word not keeping up with you is a software problem? I bet it is because the device is underpowered. I am not saying it is OK if it were so. End of the day, you type and it can’t keep up with it. But you can’t say that it is the software that is lagging behind.

        • Bart Silverstrim

          It might be a combination of being underpowered and code logic in the preview release. But I agree with Brent. This was to be Microsoft’s showcasing of their iPad killer, and they put their *premier* product on it when it apparently can’t keep up with a decent typist’s speed. They should have been able to tweak the code in this area to a point where it’s usable.

          • Dan

            They never called it an iPad killer. Not once. I can’t even compare the Surface to an iPad since they really live in two different worlds. I always saw my iPad as more of a Console. Every app being a small stand-alone cartridge that never worked as an entire system.

            The Surface is really a hybrid Windows RT PC. If you’ve used Windows 8, then you’ll quickly understand that as you use Surface.

            I used mine all day yesterday and never had a problem with it.

            Did the author do a system update before he began? That actually improved the UI performance significantly. There was also an update to the Office Suite and they added additional codecs for video playback. So if you used it as-is out of the box without doing a software update, that could be the problem.

            Any early adopter of a 1.0 of a product should expect some growing pains. There wasn’t even an app store at all when the iPhone 1.0 came out.

          • Bart Silverstrim

            @Adn – they didn’t call it an iPad killer, but let’s be honest…that’s what this is gunning for. You don’t overhaul your prize desktop operating system in an almost pure touchscreen interface, which makes almost no sense for the desktop, and release a touch tablet in stores that are knockoffs of Apple Stores (opened in many cases in close proximity to Apple Stores for the reason of trying to lure their customers) and then pretend through semantics and technicalities that’s not what they’re doing. MS tried shooting the iPod with the Zune, and now they’re taking on the iPad with the tablet market. The only reason it’s not a pure tablet device is because they are trying to pull a market rooted in laptops and netbooks into the tablet arena rather than the Apple approach of creating a standalone tablet and scaling upwards in functionality (since the iPad was in their R&D department before the iPhone and iPod, but was shelved for a period of time.)

            See http://www.marco.org/2012/10/26/an-alternate-universe for the store comparison.

            And if you can’t find parallels between the intended Surface market and the iPad, I’m not sure we’re looking at the same products.

            I have used Windows 8, and quite frankly I don’t know what they were thinking when they decided it was a good thing to stick on the desktop. It’s obviously meant for a touch interface with little allowance for desktop use. I watched Brent’s videos and wonder why it’s better to have to keep touching the screen as a mouse gesture when trying to use it to type; under daily or prolonged use, my arm would get tired. To use a mouse with it, you emulate touch gestures by “swiping” with the mouse, and his videos also pointed out several usability issues that apologists are quick to downplay instead of acknowledging that MS *screwed this up.*

            And like many others in this comment stream, you question if he did updates. This was a product that was unveiled to be the Next Big Thing. Established lines coming out with revisions, I make allowances for; aw, time to update, even out of box. Fine. But this one is supposed to be coming out of the box shiny and laced with unicorn toots and you should hear a chorus of angels as it boots. This is their time to make the early adopters have reason to cheer and sing their praises as having released something that can smash the Kindle Fire and turn the tide against the giant market share of the iPad.

            Instead, it’s Brent’s fault that he doesn’t have the intuition to use all three update features to fix what was put on the device out of box, and that he’s using software that wasn’t stripped of debug code to the point where it’s usable as a platform to type reviews of their new hardware instead of being slow as molasses.

            No. It’s not Brent’s fault. I’ve reread his post and I still think he was extremely balanced and fair in his comparison. I believe he really wanted to like it, more than I would have. And reading his other work, this guy is no dummy. He even posted video showing exactly what issues he had with it, so it’s not a perception problem. His out of box experience sucked because there were flaws with the user experience from the get-go.

            Microsoft is a huge company with hugely talented people. There’s really no excuse for this product to be a poor performer with fundamental parts. Occasional crashes, sure. Bugs. Glitches. I can accept that on a 1.0 release.

            But email that pops up without any visual hint of what to do next?

            A word processor that STRUGGLES to keep up with your typing? For a work processor?!

            These. Suck. It would be akin to taking a new piece of hardware on stage where the rehearsed demos crash during presentation to the audience. The basics should have been polished. Early adopters can issue a pass to bugs when trying to push the hardware or exploring the extra features, but Brent is discussing very basic things for any user to use, and if HE had trouble with the things he documented here, I can’t imagine my parents trying to use it!

            Microsoft will no doubt get better, but this is a poor showing out of the gate.

        • Ian Betteridge

          Surface has a 1.4GHz quad core Tegra. That’s more than enough for a text handling routine (and unless MS is crazy — which they’re not — Word will be using the built-in text handling code)

      • c0mm3nt4tor

        For God sake, you are trying to play this nicely mr Bret, Apple/Google/Microsoft have it what they call as Update, given that it was an Office Preview and they have the final one on release you can download on day 1 that fixes everything. Get over it moron.

        • Brent

          Microsoft’s President of Windows, Steven Sinofsky, confirmed the bugs and said they’d be fixed in a future update. The first round of Office updates doesn’t fix it on all tablets. Or perhaps he’s a moron as well.

    • Jwcorey

      I don’t understand this comment. iOS had problems when it was first released. Android did as well. Some of them still do. Does that, for some reason, mean he has to use it? *Why* a product has problems or even if it’s reasonable to expect that at an early stage of its lifespan that it’ll have problems… but why does it have to be the consumer’s problem? It’s not as if Microsoft is taking *less* of his money until it’s ironed out.

  11. Tim

    Did you update MSWord/Office with the release version? I did not try before the update but after I can hold down a key and it keeps up. I am not a fast type but I just typed garbage as fast as I could and it kept up.

    I do have to agree about the kickstand angle – it sure seems to be for someone shorter than me.

    Overall I am very happy with my Surface RT – I am reading and posting this reply from it :)

    • SSShu

      Or get a taller table/shorter chair? 😀

  12. Garry Bargsley

    I am in agreement with Brent. My Surface is back in the box and I am heading to the Microsoft store to return it. Not three minutes out of the box I went to remove the type cover and the magnets that hold it came out of the surface still attached to the cover along with the flimsy plastic cover that I guess is supposed to hold them in. You don’t see that in a well designed piece of hardware like the iPad. Plus the fact that it took 4 minutes to boot the first time and another two just to get to the main screen. I was not impressed, guess I am spoiled by the ease of user experience I have come to appreciate from Apple.

    • Mike Burke

      I call BS. I have held my surface by the touch cover and shook it vigorously and it didn’t come loose. I suppose its possible that you got a defective keyboard but more likely you’re a defective troller.

  13. John

    I almost pulled the trigger on a surface this week. It seems like Vista 2.0 here but then we got Windows 7 which rocks. And yes, Microsoft needs a bit more work on this puppy. I am looking forward to the update and then I’ll take another look.

  14. Pingback: Why I’m returning my Microsoft Surface RT | My Daily Feeds

  15. Kevin Marquette

    Thanks for the write up. I had a lot of the same fears. I really want to see this work. RT has great potential if they could get it off the ground.

    The improvements they have made in RDP/RemoteApp from Win8 to Win8/2012 are what I am most excited for. They would not do much for a road warrior or presenters like yourself. But for users that are constantly on a work (or home) network it could be a blessing. You could RemoteApp full outlook or SSMS from another machine for example.

    I’m already planning out VDI scenarios that I hope RT could just plug into.

    But its all good in theory right. It would be ridiculous to RemoteApp word because the built in one is too slow. Like you just pointed out, they still have to deliver.

  16. pawan

    Howz the performance of the Office apps and other stuffs after update.
    Would like to see if any change in performance.

    • Brent

      Where’s the update? I already did Windows Updates and all the available updates in the Windows Store. Is there yet another place I have to check?

      • Brandon

        It will install automatically over night if the device is plugged in. You can also force it sooner if you plug in and go to Windows Update in PC Settings.

        • Bart Silverstrim

          This is another strike against them in user interface and user experience. Why is there a Windows Update that doesn’t update the device’s built in applications, instead updating those separately, quietly, overnight, if you knew to leave it plugged in and sitting somewhere? Are you sure there’s not a setting for this, that it doesn’t spontaneously decide when to do these updates without any notification or control of the user?

          • Brandon

            What do you mean? There is only one Windows Update. On Windows RT, it is always automatic. It strives to be a good citizen by only installing large / non-critical updates when it’s on AC power (and not being used). How is this a user experience problem? Everyone plugs in their device to charge it, and it magically keeps itself up-to-date without bothering you. It doesn’t get much easier than that :-)

          • Bart Silverstrim

            @Brandon – I mean that if you read through the thread, there are mention of 3 different, independent update systems that are apparently in the system. And at least once someone says you leave it plugged in overnight and it magically does its own thing for updates, which as a sysadmin is an irritating update feature when it sneaked into Windows Server.

            How is this a bad experience? When the magic box does things that appear to be magic, like installing things without your knowledge, not giving you some way of being notified of updates, etc. that’s poor experience. It should “just work” but it shouldn’t assume it always knows better than you. Also it could install things that end up breaking applications. That’s a great feature! Yesterday this worked, today it doesn’t. Yay.

            If it doesn’t give you some control over updates, it should give you logging. If it doesn’t log, it should notify you. If it doesn’t even notify you, I think that’s a negative user experience. Things should never be completely “magic.”

        • Brent

          Unfortunately I boxed it up and sent it back. I tried updating it through both the Metro UI and the Windows Store, and I had no idea I’d have to update through yet another mechanism. I don’t think users will know to look there – I certainly didn’t. I’d love to see similar demos from folks who have Surfaces though.

          • Brandon

            There is no place to look for updates other than the Store. All the other updates (i.e. firmware, drivers, and OS, including Office) are handled automatically without any user intervention. After a couple of days your device would’ve picked up the Office update automatically while charging.

          • Brent

            Brandon – you know, that’s what I thought too, but it turns out that’s not the case. If you want the Office RT update, you have to do something completely different described here:


          • Dan

            Actually that’s only partially true. If you went into Start -> Settings -> Change PC Settings -> Windows Update you could have forced it to find and install updates.

          • Matt

            There it is. Glad it’s just a software issue. You may need to update your article though.

  17. Frank B.

    Interesting write-up, Brent. Thanks for the details. I must admit, I tried replicating this on my Surface and didn’t have the same experience. Typing is zippy (in Word or other apps), the mail app pops up quickly. It’s been very smooth (I’m typing this on my Surface right now). Did you apply all the initial updates? Perhaps it’s related? If not, then I’d say bring it back to MS Store and you may want to try another one.

    • Brent

      Yep, I applied updates and left it plugged in overnight.

      • Frank B.

        One last suggestion (in case you haven’t tried it): update to the Office release version. The only way I could find to install it was to run Windows Update from the Control Panel since it was an optional update. Good luck!

        • Brent

          Yep, several people suggested that above. I’d already tried the Metro-based Windows Update *and* the Windows Store updates. Can’t believe there’s three separate places for Microsoft updates on one tablet. Unbelievable again…

          • c0mm3nt4tor

            That’s not entirely true, any location of update will do the same moron, from now on your blog post will lost its trustworthy, because first you are a liar and trying to play with your lie to persuade people to believe on wrong information. Secondly, it does not seem you are that smart technologically and more like a moron who do a nice try!

          • Dana

            You cant say that the surface is any different from the iPad in this. On iOS there is a place to update apps, and a completely different place under settings for the operating system updates. (though office updates should not be under the OS updates – but maybe because its still beta is the excuse)

  18. Kent

    I did pre-order the Surface but have not received it yet. I do think some of your concerns are valid but as we all know, software gets updated. I would be more concerned if the hardware was poor. I have had issues with the Mail app on a Windows 8 PC, it does need some work but I am confident Microsoft will provide updates to address the issue.

  19. Pingback: A simple illustration of what Microsoft doesn't get about hardware design | TechnoviaTechnovia

  20. Alexandre Jasmin

    Having to plug-in an USB receiver to use a clicker sounds awkward. Aren’t there bluetooth models?

    • Brent

      Alexandre – yep, but they tend to have poor range in noisy radio environments like big conferences.

  21. Dude

    This post has videos and great text showing why exactly the Surface isn’t ready. After going through this article and the videos, everyone should be able to realize that an RT tablet doesn’t look very productive and is being shipped out too soon.

    So, I wonder, why Pawan is so enthusiastic about it. Going as far as criticizing iOS and Android offerings.

    Maybe a Microsoft fanatic or even someone “from” Microsoft themselves? hmmm…

    • Pawan

      No, Im not from microsoft. Y im asking so much because I like the features that windows rt has that ios and android user can only dream of. You can say… Multi tasking, snap view, file management through desktop, Home group, USB support for millions of devices, full office suite, live tiles, DLNA compatibility, etc.
      Well thats what Im looking for in tablet and only Windows 8/RT provides that.

      Yes.. from above article the software is kinda broken but it can be fixed via update.

      • Grendel

        The ease with which you rattled off the features tells me you are indeed a MSFT employee or a contractor. Busted!

  22. nobody

    >> The iPad has a USB dongle available, but it was useless to me because I needed it for my presentation clicker at the same time I also needed video out, but I couldn’t use both simultaneously.

    fucking Keynote Remote
    how does it work???

    • Brent

      Hi, Nobody. It doesn’t work for me in noisy WiFi & BlueTooth environments like conferences with hundreds of attendees. I’ve tried it repeatedly in small rooms and that’s great, but I tend to present in larger ones.

  23. Ben

    “Once Upon A Time In Mexico?” Are you serious? That movie was terrible. I had to turn it off about 15 minutes in, which is something I do very rarely and only for the most unforgiveably terrible movies. I couldn’t get over how unreal the dialog or motivations of the characters were. The screenplay was totally ham fisted.

    • Tom Jones

      Now, this is the first useful comment I’ve seen in the replies.

  24. Christian Hasker

    Thanks for the write-up Brent. Bummer you are returning it but totally understand why. I do see positives in here though; I suspect that the RT is a bit of a boondoggle for MS and they will put their full software force behind Pro. For my use case I am waiting for the Pro; I want the full power of a laptop with the flexibility of a tablet. I am stoked to hear that the touch cover actually works. That’s pretty darn cool. I hate magnetic adapter thingies; wish Apple and everyone else who has copied them would do away with them.

  25. Jim Jeffers

    I was thinking of getting one of these as a development machine for testing but now I think I’m going to wait and see if it can first become relevant prior to supporting it.

    I have a question about your needs on the iPad. The dongle and the presentation clicker. Hasn’t apple blown past these issues already? Your describing a workflow that’s outdated today. Using keynote on your mac your iPad already has the latest presentation over iCloud. Clicker? Who needs a clicker these days? You can use our iPhone as a remote that also displays your next slide and a timer.

    I just want the software to work. Windows 8 looks cool except for merging metro with the desktop which makes no sense to me personally.

    • Brent

      Jim – great questions. The iMac/iPad combo with Keynote only works if I do my original presentation creation in Keynote. I don’t, because as a Microsoft MVP, I’m often called upon to present with LiveMeeting or to use a conference’s PowerPoint templates. PowerPoint makes that workflow easier.

      I do need a clicker these days. I’m consistently rated by attendees in the top 10 presentations given at each conference, and part of my presentation style is to walk around the stage and relate directly to attendees. When using an iPhone with Keynote Remote at large conferences, whether it’s with Bluetooth or WiFi, I usually find that I lose reception and I can’t advance my slides. That’s a dealbreaker for me if I want to keep my top presenter status.

      Thanks for the thoughts though!

      • John Wilson

        This is a bit off topic, but I’d appreciate if you’ll indulge me a bit. Why is it you think Apple doesn’t include USB? And do you think that lack of USB will continue to be a dealbreaker for some in enterprise?

        • Paul Johnson

          Apple doesn’t include USB because random USB flash drives are a major source of malware and other security problems. And enterprise is precisely the market that has been freaking out about USB security issues. It’s hard to understand how Microsoft doesn’t know what those issues are and how it expects to avoid them in the Surface.

          • Brent

            Paul – if that’s true, why does Apple sell a USB dock adapter? You can plug flash drives into it and access things like photos or keyboards.

  26. Jim Seth

    ” if there’s one significant compromise in the Surface RT, it’s the kickstand.”

    Sure that’s the *only* compromise?

    • Brent

      It’s the only one that feels really significant to me. There’s small compromises, but that’s any gadget.

      • tN0

        Did you ever thought of getting a wireless keyboard instead of the TouchCover? For example the Wedge Keyboard from MS. The case can even be used as a stand.

        Maybe you should try this with the Surface Pro in a Store. Maybe it does work better for you?


  27. Josh Watkins

    Thanks for the heads up on Surface issues. Word is hoggish enough on a full PC. It’s hard to imagine it being acceptable on a low-powered device. To other commenters: whether it’s a software or hardware problem is irrelevant. MS shouldn’t have put Word on the Surface by default if the device isn’t powerful enough to keep up with users’ typing.

    It seems a $300 netbook (which nowadays has 4GB of memory, 500GB disk and 1368×768 screen) blows away the Surface. Except the netbook lacks a touch screen, but after seeing your videos showing difficulty pressing itty bitty buttons in software not designed for touching, I’d rather skip this experience.

  28. peterart

    be happy with your fake electronic gods
    get a life dude

    • tomandyourmom

      Oh, the irony. A first-class loser attempting to call out people who have actually contributed something to the world.

  29. Jhkings

    So, did you return your iPhone 5 when the Map software wasn’t working as you expected?

    • Brent

      I never bought an iPhone 5, actually. Funny that you would assume that.

    • Bart Silverstrim

      The only thing that popped to mind after reading the review (which I thought sounded balanced and well written, by the way) was how well the Surface would have worked using Google Apps’ word processor. Would that have kept up?

      You documented the performance problems with video, so it can be clearly seen that this wasn’t a perception issue. It’s curious the number of people that have said they have no such issues. And it’s also curious that this is the release of the device and there is an update claimed to have been released the solves this performance issue; I know other products have had updates out of box, but this was their iPad competitor making its debut. I don’t know why they would have done this knowing the scrutiny the product would be under.

    • Bob Harvey


      Had I bought an iphone with the intention of navigating, yes I would have returned it. At least if I had bought it before Apple admitted to the problem.

      We have a law in the UK, the sale of goods act, that requires goods to be of merchantable quality, to work as described, and to be fit for the purpose proposed at point of sale.

      • Matt

        Bob, this was my first thought. Most people would be buying a Surface for Office. If you bought an iPhone 5 hoping for good maps software and you didn’t get, there’s nothing wrong with returning it.

  30. Pingback: robteix.com

  31. Dave

    If the office version is beta it might be worth trying the full release but that’s up to you. Hows apple
    With regards to the kickstand might I suggest that you hook up with a hardware designer and design a modification that lifts the screen or keyboard where the screen hinges onto the keyboard and make a fortune selling it to all the people of similar height to you :).
    I’m sure also that shorter than average adults and kids would lap up a hardware modification that gives more lift to the bottom of the kickstand giving a better viewing angle for their respective height. That’s a second fortune to make. :) :)

    My feeling is that the rt it for home use and Microsoft just threw in Office as its their software and Apple doesn’t have something like it on their home use tablet. The x84 version is probably geared to professionals like your self who want to get some paying work done on it rather than a house wife/husband student writing up a simple word doc.

    I’ll we looking forward to the review if you do return this and pick up the Pro version.

  32. NJ

    To me it looks more like a biased mindset. I hope that people go and check the device themselves first rather than believing what someone says here.
    Brent, if apple product doesn’t work for some reason I think you would go to store and get it replaced . You should have at least tried that with Surface too.
    My iPhone4 had button prob I went to store and they gave me new one. My wife’s iPhone5 had wifi problem I went to store and they fixed it . I didn’t have most of the prob you mentioned above with my Surface and I quite happy so far. I didn’t try word yet :-). I have all apple stuff iPhone all gen , iPad all gen except iPad 4 but I would give it fair amount of time before I rant it out online(If I m not happy)..

    • ERD

      He posted a video of the problems. How is that a “biased mindset?”

  33. Peter Shire

    I suggest Microsoft include a free “I <3 Surface" t-shirt for every person 6'2" or taller. They'll grab some free advertising on all those Skype calls. :)

    Thanks for your effort document this experience.

  34. Layne Heiny

    Did you run updates for the apps, windows updates, and install office update through optional updates? This should be done before doing anything with your Surface.

    • Brent

      Layne – I did two of the three, but I had no way of knowing there was yet ANOTHER place for updates hidden in the desktop UI. Three places to update one tablet? That’s not fair for users to know without instruction.

      • Bob Harvey

        Optional updates? multiple methods? User initiated? They don’t get it, do they.

        This is an appliance, it should work out of the box.

      • tN0

        Everything will update automatically. You don’t have to go anywhere. But OS updates and app updates are never at the same spot. That’s for every system.

        • boom

          tN0 – On a Mac they are in the same spot

          • maccouch

            “But OS updates and app updates are never at the same spot. That’s for every system.”

            tN0, actually it’s like that for every linux distro & Mac OS X mountain lion and forward.

        • Brent

          tN0 – actually, no. Here’s Microsoft’s official instructions for the Office RT update:

          “Head to the Control Panel version of Windows Update, not the Metro-accessible version that you use for more everyday settings changes.”

          I’m guessing you don’t have a Surface RT, but you’re here to give me advice anyway, right? Thanks for that.

          • tN0

            I don’t have a Surface, that’s right but I have read that while Office RT was released, the update will not roll out automatically yet. This is a common scenario for updates.

            I don’t say that this is fine. My point was that usually you never have to go there for updates.

      • haha

        You are a microsoft MVP and you didnt know about windows update from control panel?

        • Brent

          Not in Metro, no. And several of my MvP friends were surprised Control Panel even existed on RT.

  35. Grendel

    It’s funny to see all the Microsoft apologists asking “Did you run updates? Did you do this? Did you do that??” . The assumption: it’s the user’s fault. This, in a nutshell, is why Microsoft is failing. If you want your product to succeed, make it easy to use, and don’t assume that the user is an idiot when it fails; look at your product first. The day Ballmer starts to look critically at his offerings, is the day they’ll start turning around. As long as the “blame the user” culture continues, expect a continual decline….

    (PS: I didn’t mention Apple anywhere, so please don’t assume anything about my taste/distaste for Apple products)

    • tN0

      Well you are right. But to be fair the pre-installed Office is a beta version. Always was advertised as one.

      I also don’t know why these machines don’t come with the latest apps and OS updates pre-installed. Apps did start slow even on my quad-core Windows 8 workstation before that huge OS update.

      • SSShu

        There’s no to be fairs here. That’s what hes saying. We can make excuses for it – but really we shouldn’t need to. Devil in the details – you miss those little things and it will add up to the overall stress of using the product.

    • ERD


      Reading these comments is surreal – when a device is brand new, I expect it to work right out of the box. And some of these commenters are actually insinuating that it’s this user’s fault for not knowing he has to fix his brand new device so it can work, as though that’s his issue. The arrogance of that assumption is incredible.

      This is someone who is incredibly computer savvy. Can you imagine if this was an average consumer?

  36. Bob Duffy

    Looks like the pro is what we need to wait for. Unless someone else brings out a sexy tablet that runs Office properly and has VGA, USB and SD without too much messing.

  37. Arthur

    For the camera issues, was the surface on a table, or on your lap?

    • Brent

      Arthur – the Surface was on my desk.

  38. Bob Harvey

    Download the full version? Demo only?

    Sorry, Microsoft chose the release date and planned the manufacture of the hardware. The whole point of this product is to compete with a works-out-of-the-box. That’s what I would expect.

    If they could not manage it, there should have been a screen sticker telling you that the device wasn’t finished & what to do to make it work.

    In the absence of that, I’d have returned it for a refund too. You don’t expect to buy a ford and wait for the engine to turn up later.

  39. Rosaysh
  40. A different Brent

    I was hoping to replace my Gfs laptop with Surface RT but guess she’ll have to wait for the Pro like me :)

  41. Mike

    Thank you for the blog post, funny how rather than read your post objectively most of the people leaving comments assume you are doing something wrong, or not updating the deice etc, even people who dont have the device. I dont understand how people like Pawan can sit there and defend a device they dont even have yet, boggles the mind. But thank you for the objective review of your service it helped me out alot. Its all about the initial user experience and if an average person looking to pick up this device in a BestBuy runs into laggy typing or other issues do you really think they will choose this over an ipad or nexus tablet? I highly doubt it.

    • Brent

      Mike – hahaha, yeah, it takes a lot of patience as a writer to sit and smile through these comments. Somebody on Twitter called me effing retarded for showing Surface Pro videos instead of RT – but he didn’t understand that the RT shipped with the desktop interface for Office & Explorer. (sigh) Yet I’m the dummy.

      • Mike

        Lmao, that is pretty funny. I think confusion between RT and 8 is going to be a huge mountain for microsoft to tackle, as you said even their “fanboys” cant tell the difference very well. I’ve always tried to play it safe with tech, if a new piece of hardware or software needs that much defending and explaining from the community it probably sucks.

  42. Ameer Deen

    Thanks, I think you just saved me a bunch of cash. Really cool write up/videos. Nice work.

  43. Pingback: Brent Ozar tries to save a Word file on Microsoft Surface | Interchange Project

  44. Peter Cupit

    Good article and responses to comments. I must admit I really wanted Microsoft to succeed with this stuff (I own an LG E900 windows phone which I like). I love the automatic updates that occur in devices now, makes me feel like the manufacturer cares about the product even after they have been paid for it. However if there are 3 different types of updates and a requirement for user intervention to fully update then that is no good at all.
    Hopefully Microsoft people read all the commentary on Windows Rt (surely tech companies do this) and surface and do something quick. Could be too late however, ordinary users are possibly going to hate their first experiences with this thing.
    A colleague of mine ordered one on the Surface Rt tablets as soon as it became available to I’ll get to see for myself soon.
    At the moment I am just trying to decide between a Nexus 7 and a Kindle paper white so I can happily watch from afar.

    • tN0

      The apps update automatically from the Store app. The OS gets automatically updated from the PC settings. Like every other tablet OS.

      And while Office RT 2013 isn’t rolled out as automatic update yet, you *can* force to update it manually on the desktop.

    • JerryW

      I’ve got both an iPad 3 and a nexus 7. The iPad is kept around the house for multimedia stuff and web browsing, where tablets have nearly eliminated my use of a pc (except for sites still using flash), while I tend to carry the more easily portable nexus out with me, as well as use it like a regular e-reader at home, because it’s just the right size, like holding a paperback instead of a college textbook. I actually find the nexus easier than the iPad for long typing chores than the iPad too- a thumb friendly keyboard, and since the you-get-it-and-can’t-go-back upgrade from iOS 5.1 to iOS 6, with the new Apple-patented pause-to-drop-every-tenth-typed-character feature. This was entered on the nexus 7, btw. It would’ve taken too long on the iPad. Of course, my laptop is still better than either of the tablets for this, but this will do in a pinch.

      • JBDragon

        Have you tried the split keyboard. You can slide it up/down where you like and type with your thumbs.

  45. David Bailey

    I bought a MacBook AIR and added VMware. I have Win7, Win8, Umbuntu and OSX desktops. Has USB and boots in seconds. Best investment ever…

  46. veronica sanchez

    I got my surface yesterday less than 24 hrs magnet strip ripping off on.the way back to microsoft :/

  47. John Wilson

    One more thing. The dialog boxes seem so creepy. It’s like you’re using a computer and not a touch sensitive tablet.

    • aniym

      Yeah, I noticed that as well. With the modernity of Metro UI, it was a bit of shock to see the old file dialog box which has been in every Windows version since 3.1. It looks out of place on Win 8 and TOTALLY out of place on a tablet.

  48. Ken Rubenstein

    If Apple had let a preview unit like this out the door while Jobs was alive, there’d be semi-conscious bodies lying all over the Cupertino company’s parking lot.

    • aniym

      Well, knowing Ballmer’s management style, he is probably expressing his displeasure at this very moment by way of a sweaty interpretive dance routine.

  49. Ugly American

    Windows RT is the new Win CE.

    Home users can’t play their Windows games.

    Business users can’t connect to their Windows servers at work.

    Retailers and partners will be very angry with Microsoft as people start returning them.

    Surface Pro will fix it but by then Microsoft will have poisoned the market.

  50. Jwcorey

    One thing that I think is interesting is how this forum is full of answers on how to patch, update, fix or otherwise jury-rig the Microsoft Surface to work better. And I find this interesting because it’s very much a throwback to a time when Microsoft products were dominant on the market and it was an expectation that nothing out of the box would (maybe) work without a lot of fussing and fixing and reliance on patches from MS. One thing Apple has done for the market is get people used to devices that work right out of the box. Whether you are a fan of Apple products or not, it’s just a given now that if you take an iDevice out of the box that it’ll do what you expect it to do. Microsoft doesn’t need just to come up with a new product and the marketing to go with it. They need to give up their old expectation that people will be wiling to lay down their money while the product gradually gets hammered into something that resembles what was promised. They need to get things right the first time.

    • Doug

      Not sure how letting the device update itself (like all modern OS’s do is considered ‘hacking’. Even on the iPad/Mac, you check for updates. Sometimes the OS prompts you, sometimes you have to proactively ask it so update. Yet some other times, one can get a ‘hotfix’ directly from the OS vendor before it becomes part of an update. All of these are the case here.

      Incidentally, I type about 80 words per minute, and I had no trouble with typing in Word using the type keyboard. I am assuming the demo model I used was fully updated.

      • Brent

        Doug – I tried updating the Surface repeatedly and left it plugged in overnight. I’m not sure how much more ambitious I could have been. The update process required for Office RT (which has only today been blogged) is nowhere near intuitive, and it’s not just about asking for an update:


      • Jwcorey

        Anyone who has done the never-ending cycle of updates to make things work on Windows will tell you that the expectation of a Microsoft product working out of the box is a constantly vanishing chimera.

      • ERD

        Not right out of the box, for God’s sake. That’s the discussion here! Everyone knows one checks for updates.

    • JerryW

      True, Jwcorey. Until they give you an update that breaks something and you can’t go back or return the months old device.. see my posts above. So long as I don’t need to type on it much, my iPad is still pretty nice, though.

  51. Sam Wagner

    You’re an idiot and you need to stop spamming Cnet with your useless comments.

    • jtu

      I agree! This is an “Apple” lover sight! So much negativity with no honest constructive balance on opinion. So many other sights out there are giving the Surface a decent review. This sight is paid for and sponsered by APPL.

      • Brent

        HAHAHA, if only Apple paid me.

      • tomandyourmom

        You live on a fantasy planet. A planet where web “sights” exist. You’re definitely pretty up on tech, eh?

    • Al

      Give the guy a break, he can say what he wants – pretty decent review if you ask me. Sam, wheres you blog post on the surface tablet?

      • Sam Wagner

        My comments weren’t specifically on this article, although I think it’s somewhat dishonest. I have a problem with the fact that he’s spamming comment sections on popular technology news site with links to his blog. I hate it when people do that, hence the reason I will never post any links to my blog on here or any other news site.

        • Brent

          Sam – I’m definitely not posting links to this anywhere. Nobody was more surprised than me when this post got linked from everywhere. I don’t ever submit links to here, and you’ve got my word on that.

        • ERD

          Do you understand the concept of *other people* linking his blog to those blogs?

  52. Brian Ahier

    Danny DeVito NEVER travels coach! Otherwise a very good article…

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  54. paulann1

    Your article is intellectually dishonest.

    In the video where you try to prove that word is so slow while you type, apparently you are at the end of the document but you didn’t tell exactly how many pages do you have in the document. If you have a 1000 pages, any word program will be slow, even on a regular desktop/laptop. In your other video, where you try to prove a miserable experience while saving a word document, it is clearly seen that word is echoing as fast as you are typing.

    Regarding, retyping your password, I am not sure what exactly you are doing but based on your dishonest first test, I don’t trust your test.
    Good luck!

    • Brent

      Paulann – if you look at the 720p version of the video, it shows that I’m on page 1 of 2.

      It doesn’t get much more honest than capturing a high def video of that.

      • paulann1

        Thank you for pointing me to 720p version. I take my comment back. It is just unbelievable. I would definitely check this out myself before buying it. Only thing I can think of is that you may have something else running in the background and that is hogging the CPU.

        But again, there is got to be something that is causing this behavior otherwise, MS is in deep sh** right now.

        • aniym

          No offense, but you must be pretty paranoid to think that someone who is a Microsoft-certified professional would go out of his way to ding the Surface RT by showing typing lag on a 1000-page document.

          Props to you for conceding that you overreacted though, rare on the Internet.

        • tomandyourmom

          Agreeing on the props for admitting you were wrong — refreshing to see on the web!

  55. Bobby

    Here’s what i don’t understand. If you want the full version of windows 8 on a tablet/laptop, why not go for one of the other offerings from the other OEM’s? Microsoft isn’t the only one making Windows 8 tablets with the full version on it.

    • Brent

      Bobby – great question. Can you point me to an affordable (sub-$1k) one that’s available today in a tablet weighing under a couple of pounds? I haven’t been able to track one down, but I’d love to hear more about one.

      • Sam Wagner

        From what I’ve read there are some, especially clover trail tablets. I’ve look on a few site, but they all say out of stock. If you have ordered one soon enough you could probably have one though.

      • aniym

        According to Engadget, the Acer W510 running full Windows 8 on Clover Trail is launching on November 9 at $499.

        If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is, given Acer’s track record.


  56. Fucking Hilarious

    I love this story:

    I gots me a tablet. I took ten minutes to understand it, failed, and returned it. Then I learned how to fix it. Oops.


    • Jwcorey

      Actually the story is more like: I got a tablet, key elements didn’t work in an intelligent or satisfactory manner, I took video just to make sure nobody thought the problem was just me, posted a review, and I’m still being blamed.

      I dunno what kind of tech culture it is that Microsoft has us used to, but you shouldn’t have to “fix” every product they put out on day one.

    • aniym

      Video games are increasingly being released as buggy and being patched afterwards. This is annoying, but acceptable for something that costs $60.

      It’s less acceptable when the product costs $600 and runs the company’s own code on hardware it selected and assembled in-house.

    • tomandyourmom

      There’s one dumbshit here. And it’s not the author. Hugs and kisses, neckbeard!

    • Brent

      Ahmed – yep, the steps required are:

      For Windows RT Surface users, the update can be had by:

      Head to the Control Panel version of Windows Update, not the Metro-accessible version that you use for more everyday settings changes.
      Fire up a search for ‘Windows Update,’ and select ‘Install optional updates,’ instead of ‘Windows Update’ from the list of results.
      If no updates are available, have the device run a check. If there are, then get going right away. The update is titled “Update for Microsoft Office Home & Student 201[3] RT Preview.”
      Select it, and install.

      Obviously, this is nowhere near intuitive. It’s in a different place than Metro (but Metro’s supposed to be the main thing for us to use) and it requires going into optional updates. We can’t assume users are going to do both of these things – Lord knows I didn’t.

      • JBDragon

        I can’t believe MS is still doing the whole Reboot thing also! It’a a RT tablet, I mean really? So when the Pro version comes out, we can expect to do Windows Re-Installs when the Tablet gets slower and slower and slower and more and more buggy???

        As it is I’m not a fan at all of Windows 8. To me it’s turned into a tablet OS and forgot about the Desktop/laptop users. I’m sticking with Windows 7!

      • Edmund

        while I agree its not intuitive, its the same exact way you would update Office on a PC.

  57. Some guy

    I’m just curious as to whether or not it occurred to you that you might just have a rogue process or a bad unit or something. Having used one in the store and having read a ton of articles it would appear that your specific issues are in a very small minority if not yours alone. For example the mail app should have auto-populated with your information via your MS ID. Anyway, good luck!

    • Brent

      Some guy – yeah, I tried resetting it back to the defaults (reinstalls the OS) but no luck. I wouldn’t agree that my issues are in a small minority – I’ve heard other reviewers complain about the CPU use of Office, and I haven’t seen any other tall folks use the webcam while typing.

  58. chexter

    You are the very definition of the internet -> People that write poor, overly emotional biased articles that have no meaning or relevance in the world, badly written and edited with the whole purpose of inflaming the public in general.

    If you had taken a few minutes to actually understand what you are talking about. I have seen many MVPs that only abuse their status to tell everyone on the internet how cool they are, just like you, by not finding any other way to fix a problem other than returning a nice product to the store.

    Hope you are getting some few bucks from adSense.

    • Brent

      Chexter – heh, no, no AdSense here. I don’t run ads on my blog, and your comment is the very definition of Internet comments, too. 😉

      • JerryW

        Lol. Before you get the wrong idea, I do appreciate your review, and agree what you posted would be very annoying. My posts about the iPad are meant to balance the iSheepish posts that try to make out that MS is so bad because Apple’s products are flawless. None of them are- and they sometimes make things worse along the way..

    • tomandyourmom

      Not much of a reader, are you?

  59. Alva Robinett

    Hey Brent,
    Do you know if other users are experiencing the same thing?
    It’s sounds like you believe what you experienced is pretty much what everyone else out there that got one is also experiencing, because that’s just what MS shipped intentionally?

    Also , yould you care to comment on this video (someone that reviewed the product using Word, and not having the problem you describe at all?): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XbbuLEfzX7U

    • Sly_Ly

      hahaha… look at the video properly…

      First you can see that at some point the person is typing and has to slow down to backspace… And there is one type you just see the person typing typing typing… and the video switched you can’t tell if it’s lagging or not.

      At 2 other times I realized that there was something weird happening and it just SWITCHED exactly at that time

      At around 14 seconds you can see the person typing and nothing appears on the screen… Also when they switch to the real keyboard… You can actually see that they’re losing they’re “normal” speed cause something is wrong on the screen (I remember having the same kind of lag on a Netbook). It’s nothing as bad as Brent but still you can see it’s not clean speed.

      At around 2:39 … it seems to FREEZE and MAGIC it just change scenes…

      So look at a video you normal eyes… Not the fanboy eyes…

  60. Michael Steineke

    Brent, The 2 control panels is a Windows 8 ‘feature’ not just RT… I think it is horribly confusing, with different, yet similar functionality in each… I’m giving my Surface a bit longer… it may just end up a tool for qa testing

  61. Happy Surface Owner

    I’m not seeing the problems that you are with Word. And to really push the test on my end I connected a Bluetooth keyboard that I’m very familiar with when it comes to typing just so I could really give Word a workout. I’m a pretty fast typist, in the 60+ WPM range, often faster depending on the material. And I can type at full speed with my Surface RT and don’t see any problem with lags or pauses. And the CPU utilization seems to run around 15 – 20 % the majority of the time. Speaking of the CPU utilization, why is this significant? WinRT is essentially going to be running only a few applications at a time, so having one of them use 1/5 of the CPU capacity is fine with me, it’s there, I paid for it, nothing else is begin starved from running, so why does it matter?

    As for mail, I can’t comment to your specific problems as I have a Hotmail account I use to consolidate mail from multiple other accounts and it was automatically set up for my when I signed in the first time with my Live ID. And my mail app comes up in a few seconds every time. So while I see your problems in the video, all I can offer a counterpoint that this isn’t what everyone is seeing, at least one person isn’t and that’s me. My mail is quite acceptable and works just fine for what I need from it.

    Sorry to see that you were so quick to pull the trigger on returning your Surface. I don’t know if you had a bad unit, or if you just needed an update for Office, as I immediately updated mine when I got it after reading Paul T.’s article on the release of Office RT.

  62. newbie

    Hi Brent,

    I don’t think Surface RT is meant to be your primary laptop. MS is doing a poor job on setting expectations here. Some other users seem happy with the product – http://www.edandersen.com/2012/10/28/why-i-wont-be-returning-my-microsoft-surface-rt/

    • Brent

      Newbie – yes, I wasn’t replacing my MacBookPro with the Surface, only buying it as a replacement for my iPad.

  63. RSTexas

    Im enjoying my RT. I also have all versions of ipad except the gen4 and also a Toshiba Android 3.2 tablet. I think you may regret returning it. I would say for someone in your profession you would be more happy with a Windows 8 ultrabook if you can only swing one device. Were you planning to replace a full PC with the RT tablet? It seems your expectations where pretty high for a gen1 consumer tablet. I actually miss the live tiles when switching back to my ipad.

  64. NewSurfaceUser

    Hey man,
    I am going through your article using my new surface..infact writing this comment using the touch keyboard and I am able to reproduce any of the scenarios that you showed in the videos. I tried tying really fast and it did not lag….did you have many apps running in the background when you tried that out? also I then uploaded it to skydrive and it did not ask me for any login….it did hang for a sec when I pressed save but it recovered immediately….Also u need can create a PIN for your login so you would not have to enter the live id email every time….also I don’t know if you know but you can use any email as your liveid..does not have to be a Hotmail\outlook account…..if you signed in correctly your mail should have been there…mine was…so the mail scenario also did not happen for me…As for the restart I did not bother doing that becase I would never shutdown a tablet…so no point showing that…Surface is a tablet, when you are not using it..u would put it to sleep and not turn it off….
    To sum up I would say that this device is pretty awesome and you might have had a one off bad experience…

    • NewSurfaceUser

      *unable to reproduce any of the scenarios

  65. CuriousGuy

    This guy is scambug trying to find ways to dicredit Microsoft because he’s being paid by the competitor. I have no problem with mine. Made some updates and running fine. This guy returned right away and made negative article. Well, you have your freedom; it’s your blog.

    • tomandyourmom


      You don’t get it.

      The World

    • Ali Razeghi

      LOL what rock do some of these intrnet trolls crawl out of? Or I should say bridge. I hope you were just trolling but just in case you weren’t, Brent is a Microsoft MCM, Microsoft MVP, and has spent more time at Microsoft and pitching Microsoft than you and I have typed on a keyboard. Come on people, just because someone has a legit complaint about a product doesn’t make them OMG INTERNET SPIES BEING PAID BY THE GHOST OF STEVE JOBS!!11!

    • Mike

      I had the same disappointing results, and so did others who borrowed Surface RTs from people that bought them, and they are returning them and getting real Windows 8 tablets and convertibles running intel.

  66. Mark Rendle

    Hi Brent,

    I’m writing this on my Surface RT now. I did experience the lag in typing speeds that you report in MS Word, but having just applied the update to the final version, it appears to be fixed. Of course, it’s still doing that odd smooth-cursor-movement thing, which makes it always appear about half a character behind; I haven’t found a way to turn it off yet.

    I have not run into any of the other problems you described, but that may be because I’ve been using Windows 8 RTM since it was available on MSDN, so things like Mail and SkyDrive settings were already in my Microsoft Account, ready and waiting for me.

    I totally agree with you about the Update situation. The Office update should ideally have appeared in the Store, or at the very least in the Modern UI Windows Update. Or maybe in Office itself. Users shouldn’t have to go through that whole “Install Optional Updates” nonsense.

    I do think you’ve been a bit premature in giving up on the thing, though. You could have held onto it over the weekend at least, and taken it back on Monday if you really couldn’t live with it.

    I’ll be keeping mine regardless as I need it for testing both WinRT and web apps, but I plan on using it for a week instead of my iPad. I’ll post more about it on my blog soon.

    • tN0

      But did Microsoft announced the update already? I don’t think so. It usually does take some time until those updates are pushed out automatically. It’s like a SP for Office. They work the same.

      Microsoft should ship the device with those updates on it.

  67. Giovanni

    It’s Microsoft’s curse.

    Win 95 = bad
    Win 98 = good
    Win Me = bad
    Win XP = good
    Win Vista = bad
    Win 7 = good
    Win 8 = ?

    I installed Win8 on my main laptop and I’m enjoying it. There are lot of rough edges but I think those will be fixed soon (like Mail being a v0.1 app), etc.

    I think the whole Metro thing is a huge change and it will take time to get right (both by M$ and 3rd-party developers).

    • aniym

      The pattern doesn’t hold. Windows 98 was the Vista of the 90s, it came out while people were happy with Windows 95 and didn’t add much at all. Also, Windows 2000 came out before Windows ME, though it was targeted at enterprise users. It was high-quality, while Windows ME was anything but.

      • Giovanni

        Exactly, Win98 did not add much.. it fixed all the broken things in Win95. Much like Win7 is a proper Vista.

        Home users rarely installed Win2k or WinNT so I left those out of the picture.

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  70. Roc

    For all of you having performance issues with your new Surface, update and reboot before use.

  71. Dufus

    LOL there is so much bias from this “review” (if we can even call it that) It is oozing out of my speakers. The Drama in the reviewers voice is so unmistakable that it is almost sickening. Did he write a “B” script for this and rehearse too? I would not be surprised.

    Why would you return a device after 24 hours of owning it? Do you not expect any learning curve here? This is pretty much a Mac user attitude. Macs and IOS have very dumbed down interfaces. That works well for many people who want to check their email and surf the web without having to learn anything at all. The productivity that can be realized with a more complex (or one which requires more learning) interface can rarely be achieved following this mantra, but it is good for Grandma and aunt Hilda.

    The camera angle is off only if you put it way too close to yourself or are extraordinarily tall (the first clue of obvious sabotage and misinformation). I would have preferred a variable angled kickstand too, but then all I would hear is complaints about it not being strong enough.

    Your complaint about the word slowness WAS somewhat valid (has been fixed and updated now), but already knowing that this was a beta product before even buying the device – did you really not expect any problems with it? Your overly dramatic video is like pointing out that the sun is hot (beta software has bugs duh – thus the word beta). Anyway – how about updating to the final version that come out today (unless you already returned your tablet).

    Your complaint about *After waiting over a minute for the machine to boot and launch the mail app* is clearly grasping at anything to bash over the head of Microsoft. First off – how often do you reboot a tablet? For me it’s about once every two months so this is a really minor issue. Secondly, you are counting the time it takes you to slowly hunt and pack your password (REALLY?) thirdly – It is clear that either you did a factory restore of the device. (WinRT apps are very slow to open the first time. Mail opens up in about half a second for me after the first launch and configuration) or you have a lemon. BTW I just timed myself and I can boot up (yes from a powered off state), log in – and open Mail in 38 seconds on MY Surface tab.

    It is funny to read the YouTube comments of your videos and read things like “I have never experienced that problem” and “Like trying to access Google Docs with a Hotmail account. People need to start using their brains or stop trying to bash unnecessarily when we know the true problem.” and “Turn off smooth typing, stop using word beta, and use the tactile keyboard.” and “I played with one of these at Microsoft store and it worked much better than yours, did you mess something up on it already?”

    The most embarrassing part FOR YOU must have been when you made such drama over repeatedly not being able to log into SkyDrive with your non valid third-party email address (PEBKAT LOL). There are several commenter on that video saying that they never had the problem. BTW neither have I (We just use the proper Account and it works – you should try it). Do you try to log into Google docs with your Yahoo account also?

    There are clearly a few quirks that Microsoft will no doubt be putting out updates for in the near future, but really all this drama is clearly manufactured. The mail and word issued have already been addressed and updates have been made available for them.

    If the best that your nitpicking and dramatic expression could do is point out mostly user errors and bugs that have now been fixed. I would take this “review” as a good reason to buy this device.

    • tomandyourmom

      “Why would you return a device after 24 hours of owning it? Do you not expect any learning curve here? This is pretty much a Mac user attitude. ”

      This line shows just how accurate your username is. You’re a moron if you think the _correct_ attitude about tech is that it shouldn’t work out of the box. Some day you’ll venture out of your mom’s basement and understand how people in the _real_ world work.

    • Will Parker

      You misspelled ‘PEBKAC’.

    • ERD

      The creepy hostility of these commenters – as they talk about the competition being biased – is so unsettling.

  72. e2

    I don’t understand what’s happening here. You’ve used the product, you obviously don’t like it. Please return it and get your money back. Allow those of us that love it to enjoy it. It seems to me that some people bought the surface specifically to look for faults so they could share those with the world. Have you even considered the fact that the problems you’re having could be down specifically to that unit. I bought the Nexus 7 a couple of months ago and had issues with it. I didn’t return it, I replaced it with another unit, which works perfectly.

    • Giovanni

      I’m a Linux users (been since 1997) but I see the pattern you describe here when Linux or Mac people are talking about Microsoft: they ignore the flaws in their own OS but hold Microsoft to the highest standards.

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  74. Arthur

    Just use an iPad and throw this piece of shit in garbage.

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  76. Brent

    Hi folks. I don’t usually censor comments (people are welcome to call me a nutjob all day long), but I censored the ones insulting someone else’s ethnic group. If you want to insult an ethnic group, insult mine – I’m a white guy who can’t jump. Believe me, I won’t take offense. We ruin everything.

  77. Noob

    Yeah! Going by your logic, the Mail app should magically know the settings to sync your mail from a custom domain! What a noob!

    • Brent

      Errr, no, it should just ask. It shouldn’t lock up for several minutes trying to guess.

    • tomandyourmom

      @Noob: Are you really that stupid? Have you ever used a device before?

  78. Incredulous

    Reading all these posts, it’s like watching people deliberately jamming ice-picks in their eyes, and complaining that they’re now blinded. But like car accidents, MSFT and its sufferers will be cleaned up, triaged or buried, while the rest of the world moves on using well-designed products that work. Feel free to wallow in your self-inflicted misery, tho’…

  79. Will Parker

    I used to work as a software test engineer at Microsoft. There’s a ritual Microsoft PMs and testers used to respect: it’s called the Zero-Bug Bounce.

    Before you declare something Ready To Ship, the devs & testers log a lot of overtime finding and fixing bugs, while the PMs wait for a three-day period when *zero* non-trivial bugs are left at the end of the day. Then there’s the day-long ritual of formally collecting signoffs from the senior staff, and getting the blessing from the unit manager.

    Finally, white smoke is seen rising from the chimney of Building 8, and the product is Released To Manufacturing. (Release the doves!)

    I do not think Microsoft honors that process anymore.

    It’s theoretically impossible to catch *every* bug, but good GOD, I counted at least 20 bugs in Brent’s three videos, several of which would have been counted as Serious bugs blocking deeper testing.

    That’s what you should be seeing on THE FIRST WORKING PROTOTYPE, not on something that has been announced to the public, let alone SOLD to the public.

    Oh, well. I cashed in all my Microsoft stock as soon as I could, and the Apple stock I bought with the profit has been a great comfort to me ever since.

    So, y’all have fun paying for your time as amateur software testers. I’m sure you’ll hit the reality-show version of Zero-Bug Bounce sometime in Q1 2014.

  80. Will Parker

    By the way, before the usual trolls show up and ID me as a Mac guy, a few small factoids.

    In January, 2000, Steve Ballmer became CEO of Microsoft.

    In April 2000, I became a full-time employee at Microsoft.

    In June, 2000, MSFT stock last saw the top side of $40, and shows no sign of ever doing so again.

    My point?

    Somebody killed Microsoft’s growth.
    It was either me or Steve Ballmer.
    I’m happy with either choice.

  81. Sly_Ly

    Hi Brent,

    Nice review as Will Parker said… This looked more like a “beta” trial they sent you to test… But no it was the end product… I think a return is acceptable. You’re not happy with the product you received… You couldn’t find easily how to update it (since there was more than one possibility)… totally acceptable.

    Not acceptable, a product coming from MS… As you said before… They are supposed to be “masters” in OS… Office… And Mails… Failed…

  82. DHagler

    I bought the 32GB Surface on Friday. Turned it on for half an hour Friday night, put it on charge and went to bed. I played for maybe 1 or 2 hours on Saturday with no WI-FI connectivity, so basically, I just played with the functionality since I did not have any apps loaded and no content to manipulate. I returned home Saturday and the Surface will not power on. I plugged it in and went to bed, frustrated thinking I am not smart enough to even power on the device. Now after 12 hours of “charging”, I am still looking at a beautiful shiny black screen that will not power on. Is there a magical on/off switch or lock somewhere I am missing? Ugh! I really want my Microsoft Tablet to work as well, BUT, plan to return it tomorrow and find another alternative.

    • Veronica Sanchez

      You may have the charger on backwards a light should light up on top I did the same thing

  83. David Chartier

    In case it helps when you use “other” tablets, I’ve heard that Bluetooth presentation clicker thingies and cloud storage are great ways to get around needing USB ports.

  84. Review just not accurate

    Got my surface the other day and I have to say I like it very much. So much that my Ipad is sitting on a counter not being used any time real soon. Many of the things n his review are just ridiculous. Really if I set my stock IPad on my desk and attempted to IChat it would be facing the ceiling. I mean really try moving it back a couple inches and you’ll see a huge difference. Boot time is about as fast as my IPad. And its nice to actually have a real word processing program included with the Surface. What word processing program did you get with your IPad out of the box??

  85. Yamirokuai

    Good work giving the meat to the Macfags,
    but people who really knew what they were buying, (hint: it’s not a toy) already updated their devices and they are now very happy with their Surface.
    Next time instead of recording 2 videos you should google your problem before returning a 600$ device. It toke me 2 seconds to fix your problem.

    • Keith

      Shame your spell checker didn’t get fixed….

  86. ctitanic

    I had some issues posting in blogs using Word and these issues disappeared with the full version. My take about your post is that you forgot completely that a preview version is not even a beta version. It’s the version to become public. The full version has changed many things.

    Other problems like Mail, lack of Apps, all that will be history in few weeks.

    I’m fully enjoying my Surface.

  87. Scott


  88. Brice Le Blevennec

    The 4th generation iPad fits _all_ your requirements!

    Buy the $30 Lightning to VGA connector to output on VGA (or HDMI), while loading the battery : http://www.theverge.com/2012/10/24/3547754/apple-lightning-vga-hdmi-12w-usb-power-adapter

    Apple 10 bucks Keynote (https://itunes.apple.com/be/app/keynote/id361285480?mt=8) allow you to run your Powerpoint presentations and
    display next slides and counter on the iPad screen,

    In crowded events use Apple’ Keynote Remote app over Bluetooth (not over Wifi) on an iPod Touch or iPhone : https://itunes.apple.com/be/app/keynote-remote/id300719251?mt=8

    There are also some BT Remotes for iOS, but they currently do not control Keynote. A forthcoming Keynote may update that. http://www.tuaw.com/2012/05/24/satechi-bluetooth-multi-media-remote-for-iphone-ipad/

    You probably know about DropBox on iOS : https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dropbox/id327630330?mt=8

    But using iCloud to update your apps is way more practical. Try editing a presentation using Keynote on OS X and see it magically being updated on iOS when you hit save. Remember that you can read and write PPT from Keynote on OS X and iOS. Since the current version of Keynote is dated from 2009, there may be an update in the near future that will add more Apple magic.

    Voila. Have fun, enjoy your work, and forget about your Microsoft suffering experiences.

    • Brent

      Brice – in theory, yes. In practice, no – Keynote butchers the PowerPoint formatting required for many conferences. I appreciate the answer though.

      In crowded events, Keynote Remote on Bluetooth hasn’t worked for me, most recently about a month ago at a Chicago user group session. It loses connection too often, and the slide timing is critical for me with my style of presenting.

      Thanks though!

      • Marc


        To prove your point. Apple employees use a clicker for their presentations and not their in house solutions, too. Steve Jobs did. Tim Cook does. It is obvious watching any of their Keynote events.

        Great review and defending of your points,

  89. Rob Kerr

    How a consumer electronics device will be received by consumers is extremely important, and I think Brent’s initial experience will be shared by many buyers (especially the non geek ones who don’t “know” they need to update device drivers and replace beta software before using a ne product–I mean “hello!!!”, why should a consumer need to do that?

    Surface needs to be better than iPad, not just better than XP Tablet edition. Microsoft needs my Mom & Dad to be able to buy this product and us it with *no problems* out of the box.

    Brent’s experiences point out that the emperor may be missing a few garments, and needs to work harder (and quickly!) to sand those rough edges so average people will have the trouble-free experience they do when buying iPad devices. You don’t win the game merely by playing well, you have to score more points than the other team too.

  90. dc

    please, take that thing back so it will eventually be in the hands of a person with patients.

    • Brent

      A person with patients? You mean a doctor? Good Lord, that’s dangerous.

      OH, you meant a person with patience, like someone who puts up with commenters who don’t know grammar. Yes, that sounds like a good idea.

  91. Joe Clark

    Your “tablet” wishlist is actually the wishlist for a laptop computer running Windows.

    Also, now you know why blogs shouldn’t have comments.

    • Brent

      Joe – not laptop, *tablet*. I can’t use a permanently attached keyboard in coach class. That’s what makes this a little tougher.

      But yeah, blog comments are rough. 😀

  92. Zen

    I don’t blame you for returning the tablet if you don’t feel like waiting for software updates that may fix a lot of these problems. I myself looked at the Surface and was stoked at the thought of using OneNote remotely like I do with my phone. Once more details started coming out the lightbulb went off in my head that the Office for RT would be much like Office for Windows Phone7 where basic functionality is there but not everything. I think the sweet spot for me is to wait for an Atom based tablet so I can use real Office and OneNote with a Stylus.

  93. Sam

    Brent, I just want to say I found this to be a well presented experience. I like you want this to work and you did well in expressing what was well done with the hardware. I AM an MS fanboy. I worked there 15 years, but I suspect that this is like the first model year of a car. Don’t be the first because some gremlins need to be worked out. I will look at other reviews, but this certainly has me taking pause. Well done.

  94. Del Miller

    Brent, sorry you’re having trouble with your new tablet.
    But…If I was asked to give buying advice to someone with your list of requirements I would say, “You should get an ultrabook or a Macbook Air.”

    One of these new tiny laptops provides you with all the connectivity you ask, the power you need, a much better keyboard, full Office compatibility and you only lose maybe half a pound in weight once you combine a Surface with good keyboard. Size-wise it’s pretty much a wash.

    Trying to mash a tablet into a laptop role might be a case of misapplication.

    Just a thought.

    • Brent

      Del – those laptops don’t work for me in coach class on a plane. I’m 6’3″ tall, and I can’t fold out a keyboard and work in coach class without elbow-jabbing people next to me.

      • Win8User

        Look at the Lenovo Twist or Yoga. Both are full laptops, so they are heavier, but each has a full touchscreen and the ability to fold to either laptop style, tent style, or tablet style. Might be worth a look at these since they are more targeted at a full laptop replacement but tablet use as well scenario. Heavier, but much more capable. Or wait for Surface Pro…

  95. sys2064

    Unlike a lot of other readers, I actually found your post unbiased. Which lead me to read some of your other posts and I really like your blog.
    Have you tried the PlayBook? It seems to hit all your wants for a tablet. It has HDMI out instead of VGA out but HDMI-to-VGA connectors exist, and projectors take HDMI now. Box to sync instead of DropBox.
    It doesn’t fully support your ppt (2003), but modifications to the file, should pass through when you reopen the presentation in PPT2010. I checked PowerPoint2 and it seems identical to the PDF though.
    I would also like to read your opinion on the PlayBook, as judging from your post on cameras, it looks like you would give a thorough and unbiased review.

    • Brent

      Sys2064 – that’s an interesting thought, but I don’t trust Blackberry to be around in a year or two, so I wouldn’t invest in their devices right now.

  96. Jeff

    You really really really want a Surface Pro (which sadly isn’t available for another 3 months).

    • Win8User

      I played with a Samsung Ativ yesterday at the local Staples store. This one has the Cedar Trail Atom CPU, and 4GB of storage, and pretty much same ports as Surface (USB, MicroHDMI). Keyboard isn’t as compact, but the keyboard include additional battery. Larger screen at 11.6″, and it was a really nice unit as well overall . And on sale right now for $599 (without keyboard) I was actually tempted to return my Surface RT and get it. But the RT will work for the family room tablet, which it was purchased for, and I’ll look for a Surface Pro or another Intel Core series CPU system such as a Lenovo Twist or Yoga or one of the other converable Ultrabooks for my main system in the future. There are so many really nice ultrabook series systems coming out, and while you do trade off a lot more weight, they are also much more capable systems.

      • Mike

        The Ativ looks really good based on some of the reviews I’ve seen online. My local Staples is selling out of them … they have not gotten too many but when they do, they disappear.

  97. Andrea


    Excellent review of a product that should have worked out of the box. I have not had a chance to try a Surface but personally not something that interests me. I honestly have had quite enough of the service pack updates, buggy software and the fiddling needed to make a PC device work.

    Now if Microsoft allows me to buy office as individual programs on a tablet or PC that might peak my interest. But I bet the bugs that have been in office since it was first developed will still be there. Word is very unstable on a PC a beta on a tablet makes me shudder!

    Just to clear up a few myths, yes iPad does not come with Office but I can download what I want not what is forced on me. Pages and Numbers work perfectly and synch automatically to my iMac at home. Can start a doc on my mobile device and finish at home. With a wireless keyboard I have used pages to type out notes for meetings no problem.

    iPads also work out of the box, no fiddling, no updates nothing. My mom who is not a techie had hers running in seconds. Pretty sure she would have been pretty frustrated with the Surface. There is an option to update over wifi but you do get a chance to do it at your convenience.

    I think in this day and age there is no excuse for putting out products that are essentially not perfect then expect your core users to just figure it out. Samsung, Apple and Amazon managed to do it so why not Microsoft. These days to survive you have to go the extra mile and provide expectional products.

    Wonder how long it will be before Microsoft joins RIM in the “what not to do” club.


    • Win8User

      So Andrea, you are saying you don’t want service packs or patches, so what do you call Apple updates? They update their software as well, or is that “different” somehow” As for Office being unstable, I’m not sure what you are basing that on, but I use it quite often, i.e. daily and don’t find any problems with stability.

      As for “forcing” you to use Office, on Windows RT nobody is forcing you to use it. It’s included in the system, if you don’t like it, then don’t use it. As for staring a doc on your mobile device and finishing it at home, yes Skydrive supports this and has way before the iCloud, though Apple users wouldn’t know this because they believe Apple when they say, “Revolutionary” and clain it’s the first. It’s only the first in the Apple sense if it, not the first time ever done by any other product.

      If you want to compare Surface to iPad and it’s abilty to “run out of the box”, it works just as well if not better. One experience by a single user doesn’t make a product a bad one. I can dig up instances of where iPad users didn’t have a good out of box experience as well, does that mean the product is terrible?

      And yes, Microsoft does allow you to buy Offie on a tablet (full Windows baed) or PC, it’s a product called “Office”. Find it at any retailer. The only version ever included with an operating system is the version included in Windows RT.

      As for neat features, here’s one. Yes, I’ve been testing Windows 8 as a developer for some time now. I’ve had it on two systems, a laptop and a tablet system. I use my LiveID for both of these. Last night I went to a relative for the evening, and my Surface automatically logged into teh WiFi, not setup required. How did it do this? My WiFi settings are roaming across my different systems, so I only have to log in once on any one of them and the others will have that capability too if I ever use them. Not to mention when I logged into my surface my email was configured already based on my previous Windows 8 systems, my lock screen image was set, as well as many other settings, including things like web bookmarks.

  98. Kevin Marquette

    I wanted to toss out the Dell XPS 12 Ultrabook. Its a hybrid ultrabook/tablet running full version of Windows 8. It does weigh a little more than you wanted (3.35lbs) but I think its worth checking out.

    I was drawn to it because its got a 1080p display, its a tablet, a Core i7, with full windows 8.

    The bad news is I just ordered mine this week and it looks like I should not expect it until December.


  99. Tony Covarrubias

    Brent, I don’t have the “wanna” to keep up with these toys so I appreciate that those like you can do this for me (us).

  100. Dick Applebaum


    Enjoyed the article… And the comments.

    I am curious, under the TOS of RT Office aren’t you prevented from using any of the Office programs for any gainful [business] purposes?

    • Keith Martin

      Microsoft can, of course, choose the terms of their software licenses. But this absolute divide between ‘home’ and ‘business’ betrays a fairly 20th-century way of thinking.

  101. Andrea


    Been using computers for 30 years and I am not partial to either PC or Apple.

    Big issue with service packs is that they are frequent and can cause big issues. Reinstalled Win 7 on a PC and it took four days to update all the sevice packs. At work one service pack update took down almost all of our PCs and just about fried them. It was a long couple of days for our service crew to get everyone back up running.

    On my Mac an update is quick and painless. Yes I had one update clobber a Mac took a bit get back up and running but thats a first in many years.

    Word has regularly crashed for me for most of the 20 years I have been using it. Especially if you try to add graphics or go over a few pages of text. Excel has some pretty nasty bugs too including when handling very large files. Office also has had memory problems, its a hog and on the rare occassion to release memory you have to restart PC.

    You missed my point on Office. I would like to be able to buy the programs I want to use. If I only use Excel then I would like to buy it individually. Why do have to buy all four programs in this day an age.

    Unfortunately Brent is not the only user experiencing issues. Reviewers are agreeing hardware wise the Surface is brilliant but software & operating systems not so great.

    Yes there were a few people that had issues with their iPads but most were able to just pull out of the box and go. Why it has been heavily adopted in certain markets. I know people who use their iPad as their only computer.

    Not sure why we are still with the PC vs Mac war. Honestly you buy what works for you and fits your needs. My point is that you need to create products that exceed your customers expectations or you will not survive.


    • Dave

      Andrea: 4 days to reinstall all the service packs for windows 7? Well, there is only 1 and from a blank install it only takes me about 2 hrs to do a full setup with updates and i’m not even a proper sysadmin.

      Sounds like you guys need to do some proper testing at work before you start rolling out patches. We’ve been running windows 7 with no issues for awhile now.

      • JBDragon

        Like typical Windows, with Blue Screens, random crashing and a Windows 7 PC just getting slower and slower and slower, I decided it was time to do another complete Windows Re-Install. Something I’ve had to do a number of times over the years with my many Windows PC’s! I’m no Novice PC user. I generally fix Windows systems for a number of people. Do I want to deal with this on a tablet also? What’s with the Installing a program and have to do a Windows Reboot? I mean STILL?? On the RT version you STILL have to do Reboots after installing some software?!?! I don’t know how it’s going to be with Windows RT, but I’m going to assume it’ll be just like the Pro version, having to Re-Install Windows from scratch every once in a while.

        It’s also no 2 Hour process!!! It takes Hours, if not a few Days working on it also non-stop. Sure install Windows, takes a hour or so, but it’s the ton of Windows Updates you have to do after that. The Hours of downloading, installing, then seeing a bunch more updates to download, and then install those, then even more after that. When all that is FINALLY done, you can start to install all the other software, which takes even more time, much more time. I’m still not 100% back to what I was a few months ago. Who has time for all this crap?

        Being as this is Windows, at least with the Pro version, You need to be running Anti-Virus software, a Firewall, maybe Spyware software also before you even start doing anything. Who wants to deal with all this on a tablet? bad enough on a Desktop/laptop. I have my Windows 7 Desktop at home, and my Windows XP laptop at work. I cut the Cable TV, threw up a huge Antenna, got a second Dual HD Tuner, and use Media Center on my PC. That’s what it’s #1 job is these days. Media Center PC and running the Playon and PLEX software. With some minor Web browsing and other things on it. of course I have 3 Xbox 360 systems, one for each HDTV for use as Media Center Extenders. My Windows 7 PC and Xbox 360 setup is great for that. Lots of Flexibility there. I’m really surprised media center is not used more then it is. Screw cable, but my iPad 3 is what I use 95% of the time at home. Well I am using my PC to RIP my DVD’s, HDDVD’s, and Blu-Ray’s to a large HDD. My Dad has moved into my house. He has a Mac Mini, but he’s mostly on his iPad2. Good luck to MS, competition is a great thing, but the same old B.S. MS has been doing with tablets for the last 10+ years isn’t going to cut it! While the hardware may be nice?!?! Windows and Office is MS bread and butter, and the issues they have with those are not excusable! A tablet is suppose to be simple to use!!! I know what Windows is like on my Desktop. I’ve owned every version since 95. I don’t want that Windows experience on a Tablet!

        • Dave

          I’ve installed Windows 7 3 times in the past 2 weeks. It does not take days, sorry…

    • Win8User

      Your experiences are just that, your own, so again I can’t speak to them, only that I have been using these systems equally as long and I’d dare think a bit more rigorously than the average person and I don’t see the problems you mention.

      First point, you can buy individual components such as Word or Excel. Try someplace like Amazon, seach for Microsoft Excel, see what comes up :-).

      Mac updates are neither quick or painless based on what I’ve seen. Many are not only huge, as in hundreds of megabytes, they take substantial time to download and install. And there are many times they have broken things as well during an update. So let’s leave it at this, updates are a pain, but necessary.

      As for Word crashing with long documents, again all I can say is that often create documents of hundreds of pages without problems, and can’t say that I’ve ever had it crash. Now I am using a relatively modern system running Windows 7 and Office 2010, I can’t speak to older versions. And yes, these include many graphics, often hundreds of embedded graphics. If Office in general sucked as bad as you claim it does, I don’t think as many people (dare I say hundreds of millions or even a billion) would use it every day.

  102. Dave

    Andrea: I’m typing this on a Macbook Pro. Got it around 7 months ago. I honestly have to say that Mac is no better or worse when it comes to stability. From the OS to apps, i’ve had my share of problems on both. I would say that Windows 7 is pretty stable and I haven’t had that many issues with it. I think its on par with Mac OSX these days.

    Brent: Blackberry isn’t going to disappear next year. Saying that, I would also not buy a playbook right now. I have one sitting at home here for about a year.. Not even the kids will use it. I have a few friends that amazingly seem to love theirs tho.

    As for early adopters, I can understand their frustration when things don’t work 100% out of the box. The surface isn’t alone.. Apple, RIM and other vendors have all had their share of issues. From data usage issues, Wi-Fi, iOS Maps, etc. Do a google search and you’ll see that MS isn’t alone here.

    Given the complexity of hardware and software these days, early adopters should expect to encounter issues. I’m not saying thats ok but its a sad fact of life. Thats why I didn’t rush out and buy one the first day.

    Personally I have an iPad and a Macbook for work. But I also have a PC at work, one at home and an Xbox. I’m hoping the surface works out.

  103. Pingback: Microsoft Surface are probleme mari in a scrie text in Microsoft Word si nu numai (Video) | iDevice.ro

  104. Marcus


    Got here from the Loop. I really appreciated your thorough comments on the Surface. While I am one of the biggest Apple nerds/zealots on the planet, I can appreciate good design no matter who makes it. That’s why I am such an Apple nut – their designs are absolutely baffling to me and worth every penny, and for my work more than handle the tasks.

    While I haven’t seen a Surface in person, its hardware has intrigued me since I watched the video of their launch event, and I’m rooting for Microsoft to be able to create a truly competitive device to the iPad. I’m not optimistic after reading your great piece.

    But my biggest hang up IS the software, for all Microsoft products. I HATE Office on all OS’s. Especially Outlook… But that’s a whole other subject.

    Besides giving you some positive feedback, I’m writing to express that your “must haves” for a tablet for you are probably not ever going to be met in any device. I’m an A/V technician and have done many large corporate events and your presentation needs are not the needs of any presenter I’ve run into. I’m not saying they aren’t valid requests – I think they are. I just don’t see any hardware maker (Apple, Microsoft, or Android) creating such a device since they usually choose features based on the largest demographic, of which you are not. Sorry.

    The biggest stand-out of your requests is your PowerPoint slide decks issue. That’s a fairly advanced feature for any presentation device and requires a lot of computing power to do on the fly. If you came to me with that functionality request, I’d import your presentation into ProPresenter on my Mac. It’s much better at making changes on the fly and easier to use than PowerPoint (for me at least) and offers much more flexible multimedia options – which is my biggest issue with PowerPoint. Static text slides are very 1990’s…

    I’m sure we’ll get to a point where tablets can meet all advanced presentation needs, but that time is still a few years away I’d bet. Especially on the dual display video output option! I know you can appreciate what type of video card would be required to run both the tablet and an external display.

    As far as your power adapter with video output issue goes, Apple’s HDMI adapter does include a 30-pin connector so you can connect to a power source. The issue there of course is that practically all projector hookups for presentations are VGA only due to the limitation of digital video cable length without some sort of over-priced booster/extender (the cheap ones never work well in my experience). When the hell are we going to move away from VGA?!

    A cooler but much more labor intensive method to connect an iPad along with power would be to set up an Apple TV and connect to the projector wirelessly. I think ultimately that’s the direction Apple is going with all connections, right? This method would also allow you easily switch to your backup setup as long as it’s another Apple device. :) Still not a perfect solution. Of course the projector would have to have an HDMI or DVI input, which many installed projectors do not have.

    Thanks again for your review and congrats on all the traffic! I don’t envy all the comments you have to read! Sorry to add another long one. :)

  105. Disgusted

    Jesus. I wish everyone would just leave you the fuck alone. Your opinion. Who cares otherwise? You found the update. Hurray.

    If I were you I’d delete the post and move on. You’ll never please everyone. This is a life lesson. Remember that!

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  107. AndreaB

    I’ve heard from several people that updating Office 2013 RT to final version solves the typing issue. It’s that easy.

  108. majortom1981

    You seem like a perfect candidate for the latitude 10 that dell is shipping in December. Has a removable battery, sd card slot, usb slot and runs intel atom. Its tablet.

  109. Lisa

    I’m surprised at your comment on the camera as I am 6 feet tall and did a video conf and it showed my face just fine. But anyway, if there are things about the device that frustrate you, then return it. I don’t think any level oh explaining how you are wrong will “fix” your frustrations. I personally have been very pleased with my Surface, but my Office updated on my first boot. To each their own. I really can’t say enough good things about the device in my first few days with it, but if you are not happy with it, then don’t keep it.

  110. RealSQLGuy

    Thanks for the review Brent. I’ve been hoping to see a review of this gizmo from somebody in the SQL community. I’m just starting to seriously consider a tablet purchase, and the Surface caught my eye. Having been unimpressed with Windows 8, and having read your review, looks like I’ll be sticking with my original plan, which was to buy a Nexus…

  111. Paul

    RE: The tablet you want.

    I would take a look at the MSI Windpad 110W or Acer Iconia Tab W500, or one of the new windows 8 tablets coming out. Basically, any x86 Windows tablet pretty much fits your need.

    I own a 110w running Windows 8, it’s a 10.1″ tablet, has a usb port and charger port, wifi, is under 2 pounds, runs windows 8 well, gets roughly 5 hours of use, runs windows so it can sync and run all windows apps.

    The hard part is going to be VGA output. The 110w is marketed as a business tablet, yet doesn’t have that. There are powered HDMI to VGA converters available though, you could always get one of those.

    Alternatively, put Ubuntu on the Nexus 7 and run open office.

  112. Metzlekater

    Thanks for your article and videos. Even if the problems of word are due to its beta status, you show that word has unacceptable lags and that microsoft surface is not at all ready for shipping right now.

    Microsoft has a lot of manpower and may be able to solve this problems, remember windows vista, which has been almost unusable at launch time and got a quite decent operating system later.

    but right now it ist not a good idea to buy this as an early adopter.

  113. charles

    Wow. Your page froze on me twice before I got down here – only happens when I visit a site from an expert. Also, you type alot faster than me so I don’t envision a problem typing on an RT.

  114. billy

    Android 10″ tablet with a USB keyboard / case , might be a tiny bit heavier than the surface (maybe not) but its a gr8 grab n go option , where things work.

  115. mashtoe

    Thanks for having the courage to post such a detailed post. No good deed goes unpunished.

  116. Mike in SV

    Preach on, Brother!!!!

    Thank you for being honest and unbiased!!!!!

  117. aki009

    Thanks for the review. I suspected Microsoft wouldn’t be able to deliver something that works, but this appears worse than I expected.

  118. E. Anderson

    Obvuously you’ve had many more problems with Surface than just Microsoft Word but I’m curious if this is the same issue Paul Thurrott identified back in April [http://www.winsupersite.com/article/office/awful-typing-animation-word-15-video-142738] and if it’s fixable via the registry [http://coolthingoftheday.blogspot.com/2012/07/office-2013-cp-animations-turn-them-off.html]?

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  121. Mark

    Ignore the haters. As someone who has all the Apple gear, MacBook Pro, iPhone and iPad, I do think MS needs to be given some latitude. This is a huge step for them, and they’ve done better than most would have or have done at this stage. The Surface isn’t as mature as the iPad, it couldn’t possibly be at this stage, but it shows great promise for people who like or need Windows day to day.

    On the flip side, I wouldn’t like to navigate explorer using touch. That ‘save document’ clip was painful to watch.

  122. Mark

    Oh one other thing… On the iPad, OS updates and application updates are handled in different places. So in this respect, the Surface isn’t any worse off.

  123. TJ

    I have never commented on a blog before but I kind of feel a need to add my comments.

    In my opinion, Brent’s review is probably one of the most balanced and very fair reviews I have seen on the surface so far. He highlighted the pros (such as great hardware, compatibility with USB devices etc) and cons (including some “SW” related items).

    Yes, he might have spent more time with the device in order to learn more about getting around the issues he found or become accustomed to it but he has every right as a paying customer to return the device it doesn’t meet his expectations.

    The truth is most people including Apple product users like myself would kill to get a tablet that had the same ease of use of an IPad (in my opinion) and at the same time supported windows and office. That’s because despite having two macbook pros, a macbook air, an Iphone4/5 and an iPad, I still have to use Windows/Office apps at work and I am not always able to use my iPad2 to create content in the most comfortable manner for me.

    Unfortunately, people using different ecosystems might have different expectations. I even struggle with Android phones and the flexibility/options it can provide having using iPhones for a few years now. Maybe it means I am used to things being over-simplified/dummed down or not. But the truth is I will have a slightly different experience when I try the surface than some one else who lives in an Android or Windows Phone world.

    So it’s difficult to write an review without having some of the “baggage of whatever ecosystem” you already live in. However, one can still be honest about observations and annoyances. So, again, I believe this review is very fair and transparent.

    I am looking forward to an updated review once all the issues, non-issues or perceived issues are resolved, because in spite of my large investment (foolish or not) in the IOS ecosystem (hardware, apps and all), I might actually consider a RT tablet if it can provide a great user experience. While some argue that we are living in a post-pc world, unfortunately for me, I still need MS office especially for work. So I am glad Microsoft is trying hard and didn’t just release another “me-too” Android tablet (no slight on Android). But from the reviews I have seen so far, it still needs tweaking just like the first version of any product.

    Again, I commend Brent for his great review and even trying to respond to most of the comments, some of which seem a bit unfair given the effort taken to document/record the review.

    BTW, there will no doubt be spelling mistakes and other errors in my comment. Also, I haven’t tried the Surface myself and I am also not a big fan of Windows or Microsoft. But in the end, if they release a pretty compelling product that meets my needs, I will be probably get it when I look to replace my IPad2.

  124. Chris

    Hi Brent;

    Although I’m typing in this comment via my iPad3 and I love the Apple products and am a serious Windows c++/c# developer I must say that my son’s ASUS Transformer II is just awesome. Not only with its integrated keyboard, quad processors and amazing screen clarity plus HDMI / USB support … Just download the free Open Office and you have a much better tablet at a lower TCO than the iPad or Surface. If I were going to purchase a new tablet, I would be taking a serious look at the Android based ASUS!

    Regards … Chris

    • Brent

      Chris – thanks, but OpenOffice borks my slide decks. I’ve linked example slide decks in the post update if you’d like to see examples.

      • Pedro

        I’ve never tried, but did you give a go with Android tablet and Office 365? the Web apps feature is supposed to work over Internet Explorer, Safari and Firefox … With Wondefull Asus Transformer … and Office 365 it just might work …

        • Brent

          Pedro – unfortunately, you can’t guarantee internet connectivity at conferences.

          • Pedro

            Yeah. True … my first complaint to Microsoft was, what … no offline for webaps on Office 365 … that sucks … hope they review that one … I think Asus TF600 with Windows might also work for you … but I think that an ARM too … so if you have ipad 1 … I guess you can certanly wait … your requirements are similar to mine … but I have no tablet just yet … … I run with a ultrabook from my job .. the tablet will be more of a personal gadjet :)

  125. Engineer

    You make one error in your updates.

    The iPad has only one port, correct, but the video adapter has a vide out port, and a power in port both. So, you can drive video out, and be plugged into the wall.

    You’re right that you can’t use that port for your clicker too, but you can do 8-9 hour presentations using the ipad video out, because it can be plugged in as well.

    Personally, my ideal setup is to use the iPad as the remote, and thus I don’t need a clicker, but I can understand that isn’t your preference.

    • Brent

      Engineer – I haven’t been able to run an 8-9 hour presentation while driving video out and using a wireless remote. My iPad batteries have died before then. Thanks for the suggestion though.

  126. Yamirokuai

    Just saw your last update. Don’t worry, you have my pardon.

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  129. fredo

    i’m sure one of these will do just fine for you needs.

    • Brent

      And the bonus is that I can use it as a weapon when I get angry. Those things are heavy enough that they could be classified as a blunt object.

  130. Paul

    Thank you for this, much appreciated. I don’t have a lot of money to spend but really want a Surface (fed up with iPad 2, giving it to mum), but not after your review, not an RT anyway. I shall be suffering the iPad for a little longer and eagerly awaiting your Surface Pro review.

  131. Jw

    Well firstly, if you take the time to read my comment I hope you find it helpful and not a repeat of something someone else has already said. I also don’t want to come across as hostile. I mean no offense or to insult your intelligence.

    Secondly it honestly appears as if you’re reviewing a broken unit. My surface doesn’t act like the one in your video at all. Opening the mail app for the first time shouldn’t even yield a completely blank screen. I also am not sure why it took so long to boot. Mine did take a while the first time I turned it on in the Microsoft store, but afterwards it’s been around 30-40 seconds. Which is comparable to many other tablets.

    Also, while I have not tried saving a word document to the skydrive (which is what you were doing in the video). Word documents will save just fine onto the local storage. You just select documents. I was initially confused as to what the problem you were having was (I didn’t watch the video the first time I read the post). For reference, I have not performed the update procedure described by your site and others.

    I can understand being peeved that the cloud storage option wasn’t working right, and that it caused a problem with using the tablet as a result. However, you seem to represent it as a complete failure to store something on the tablet. Which doesn’t appear to be true.

    As far as word not keeping up with your typing. I can only speak from my experience, but pretty much every ARM powered mobile device I’ve owned has had this issue. My iphone 3g had it occasionally with texting and web sites. Both of my android phones and tablet (evo, razr, xoom 1) have done it as well. I haven’t typed enough in word, or fast enough apparently, to have this problem on my surface, but if it is a constant problem I understand your frustration and hope that Microsoft solves this issue soon.

    I’m not quite sure of everything you’re expecting from a tablet, but it seems to me that the only one that comes close to your requirements is the surface rt or perhaps an atom powered windows 8 tablet. The pro is probably going to be over 1000, and while many android tablets will allow you to connect to a display and still charge. The office applications for android are far more flawed then the office on the surface. Is the rt perfect? No, but quite frankly nothing is. Until God opens up a computer company we will settle for which item is the best at what we need done the most. The year 2012 is no computer utopia. Though I’m not suggesting you think it is.

    Regardless of what you do, I wish you luck. I myself am still deciding whether I want to keep my surface rt. I have doubts on whether the arm app market will take off and the surface’s usability is limited if apps don’t come to it. Adopting an ecosystem so early is a big gamble. I really like my surface but I don’t know whether it will pay off, and the two weeks I have to decide isn’t enough to figure out whether the apps will come.

    In the end I would suggest you exchange your surface for a new one if you can or at least talk to tech support about your problems. They’ve been very helpful in answering my questions about the tablet and getting it to do what I need to do and it’s limits.

    Anyway here’s to hoping. Written from my good but flawed and hopefully-not-a-piece-of unsupported-garbage surface.

    • Brent

      JW – whew, wordy comment! 😀

      Over the last several days, I’ve spoken to several Surface RT users who ran into similar problems. It appears that the Mail problems involve hosted GMail accounts – for example, BrentOzar.com runs on Gmail.

  132. mariusmuntean

    Ok. Stop saying nonsense. all of you. First of all, it’s MS’s fault that once again they have shipped a beta product, just like the Windows Phone 7.0, with problems. They are not in the position to make this kind of mistakes!! not at all, if they are trying to catch up with Apple and Google.
    Not being able to add a new email account?? not being able to save a document?? huge, but very huge!!! delay start of the email application, sorry but I do not remember to see this on an iPad or a Galaxy Tab tablet.
    And besides these issues which make the startup of this tablet’s life a complete failure, is the horrible Windows Store applications. The store simply does not have good applications. All the apps seems to be made for the 90’s generation pcs.

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  134. Atenz

    I’ll still call you incompetent for not figuring out how to update Office manually and just packing things up in a hissy fit.

    Also, other people have no issues with saving to SkyDrive – so I again believe the problem was you.
    However one thing I agree with: Software which locks you into an endless loop because of problems with the user credentials authentication is badly designed. This needs to be remedied.

    • Brent

      Atenz – you wouldn’t be the first person to call me incompetent.

    • Tony in UK

      “I’ll still call you incompetent for not figuring out how to update Office manually and just packing things up in a hissy fit.”

      This is a great example of someone just being nasty for the sake of it (see my post below).

      Where was this “hissy fit”? The videos didn’t contain any shouting, and the long article proves that he didn’t just throw his toys out of the pram.

      So why do you insist on calling it a “hissy fit”? You completely undermine any argument you had, by so completely misrepresenting what happened.

      And, do you even know what “incompetent” means? Is it _really_ “incompetence” if someone can’t figure something out? Or is it just that they lack a certain skill?

      What I’m seeing is, in your desire to sneer at Brent, you ramped up the language – “incompetent”, “hissy fit” – into something that just doesn’t even fit with reality.

      I’m sure you feel big and clever for pointing out this “incompetence”, but sadly you show only your lack of knowledge of what the word actually means. The worst he’s guilty of is, not knowing something. And Microsoft should’ve made it so easy, it was impossible for a user to get it wrong.

      • Atenz

        “Where was this “hissy fit”? The videos didn’t contain any shouting, and the long article proves that he didn’t just throw his toys out of the pram.”

        After 24 hours(!), instead of finding a solution online – be it user-to-user or even trying to contact Microsoft – he packed things up and returned it. I’d call that overreaction to 3 problems, which I’d categorize as a mixture of using outdated software, user fault and a minor part of it legitimate software faults which can be remedied.

    • Ali Razeghi

      Incompetence. What a funny word. It’s also funny how Brent Ozar is a Microsoft Certified Master and probably makes more money in 1 – 2 years than you might in 10 – 20 years. :)

      If calling others incompetent makes you feel better though, go for it!

      Oh and by the way, the update isn’t available right away. You have to wait for it to appear. OOPS!

      • Atenz

        “Incompetence. What a funny word. It’s also funny how Brent Ozar is a Microsoft Certified Master and probably makes more money in 1 – 2 years than you might in 10 – 20 years. :D”

        First of all, you don’t know how much I make or what I do for a living unless I’ll let you look into my bank account.
        I’ll give you a hint though: It’s enough for my money to be working autonomously for me. If I wanted to, I could stop working tomorrow and live off interest – but that would be kinda sad and pathetic as someone who tries to contribute to society.

        Second, while I highly regard anyone with proper certifications, apparently exploring a new OS and finding basic functions is not included in this particular skill set.

        “If calling others incompetent makes you feel better though, go for it!”

        It doesn’t make me feel better or worse to call things out as I see them – but it’s cute that you believe I’d be emotional about such things.

        “Oh and by the way, the update isn’t available right away. You have to wait for it to appear. OOPS!”

        You can start the update process manually, which is what many people have done on their own device.

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  138. Tablet-Neutral

    Thank you for your unbiased opinion on the new Surface RT. I was curious and excited for many of the same reasons you were and I appreciate your honesty on the matter, and having spent most of my adult life in the IT industry, I am with you in my desire for products that “just work”. I shouldn’t have to seek out arcane sage advice from the software elitists just to get a version of Word that can keep up with my pecking. Carry on!

  139. Tony in UK

    Hi – I really appreciate this article. The reason I’m commenting is, my despair at the downright arrogance and nastiness of so many people who can’t just assume good faith.

    I don’t know you, but I approached your article with an open mind. If you tell me you had problems, then I’ve got no reason to think it’s your fault – and indeed, as you point out several times, even if it *is* your fault, well Microsoft should’ve made it so you couldn’t get these things wrong. So, even if I’m un-generous and assume that you’re stupid, well you’ve highlighted a serious problem with Microsoft’s usability engineering – they don’t make it easy, they don’t make it “just work”.

    So, this is just me saying “thanks for spending so much time on this”, and to give you a bit of solidarity when dealing with a comments box that is full of people who, hiding behind their own keyboards, take out all their frustrations at their own lives on people over the net. That’s what this is really about – it’s so easy to be nice, so easy just to accept the words of someone who has taken the time to document their experiences – the only explanation for the arrogance and sneering is that these people feel quite inadequate in their own lives and want to make themselves feel better by making you feel smaller.

    I run blogs, and I regularly experience the sort of nonsense you’ve been subjected to. I’ve also made “plans” to prove myself to people – and, in the end, I’ve done what you’ve done: realised it’s not worth it.

    I took your words in good faith, and your article delivered on that good faith. From whatever angle, it was worth writing and reading – if you are 100% correct, then Microsoft really has a problem in how it designs its products. If you’re 100% wrong, then this shows that Microsoft hasn’t spent anywhere near the amount of time a true usability-inclined company should spend in making its products as simple to use as possible.

    The various bits that you filmed showed the problem clearly: When a login box won’t go away, you should be told why. When a screen is blank, you should be told what it’s doing or waiting for you to do. There should only be 1 single place for updating – perhaps with “advanced” or “apps” sections. It’s astonishing that anyone tries to defend it.

    Thanks for spending the time on this; sorry you’ve had to grind so much of your teeth down to dust :)

    All the best.

    • Brent

      Thanks for the kind words, Tony. It’s been a rough couple of days around here. I know Apple fanboys have quite a reputation, and I hadn’t expected this reaction from the Microsoft crowd.

  140. Petula

    Great post, it had lots of detail. I’m working on a list of devices that I plan to request for testing at work and this information will probably lead to me waiting for the pro unless the sales figures and analytics for traffic from this device have big numbers over the next couple of months.
    As for some of the other comments – I think the internet is kind of like the majestic honey badger, at times awesome but also vicious and it doesn’t care.

  141. Pander

    The least you could do to thanks to Sinofsky answering personally to your problem is getting another Surface RT and give it a second chance. You have 15 days to return it and It’s still the best device out there for your presentations.

    • Brent

      Hi, Pander. Yes, when Sinofsky tweeted me, I replied back that I’d be completely willing to meet a Microsoft employee to walk through the unboxing of a brand new Surface RT and step through the basic setup and out-of-box experience with them. Doesn’t have to be Sinofsky, obviously, but someone who’s going to take the feedback seriously. I haven’t heard a reply back.

      While I’d be willing to make that investment of my time, I’m not willing to go through the buying & documenting process by myself again. I’ve heard from multiple other sources that the email process is indeed broken, and Sinofsky himself wrote in HN that the Word typing problem will be fixed in a future update. With those two things, it doesn’t make sense for me to buy another Surface RT with my own money yet.

  142. maltesehamster

    Good article. I have an Asus Zenbook “ultrabook” that I updated to Windows 8 on Friday. Due to mixed reviews, I was prepared for the worst, but I actually like it so far. It boots up in about 5 seconds – shocking really. I like the gestures for accessing features, though every time I think of a feature I want to try, I have to go through the process of figuring out how to do it.

    Anyway, I’ve been thinking about moving to a tablet – I’m trying to decide what to do now. My wife has a MacBook Air, so I would still have an option for tasks not appropriate for a tablet.

    I’m not at all sure what to do now. I like small tablets – I find that they are particularly a good size for reading and gaming. I pre-ordered an iPad mini because it is extremely light and there are many games available (and it is slightly larger than the 7″, which I feel is really important – the 7’s are a touch too small). However, I cancelled my order after installing Windows 8 because I liked it so much. I don’t like having to push the iPad’s button to change apps (or for any purpose, really) – I really like gestures for this purpose. I have an Android phone, and I find the use of its buttons clumsy as well. The only two options I know of that support gestures in this manner are Windows 8 and the Playbook. Unfortunately, Windows 8 is not offering a small tablet… and the Playbook is, well, the Playbook – but damn it’s cheap. The iPad also bothers me in that I can’t connect a bluetooth mouse – which makes it hard to set up a workstation to get real work done (using a keyboard and a touch screen DOES NOT WORK). I’d love to be able to remote into my work machine from home with my tablet (connecting it to a monitor, keyboard, and mouse). If the iPad could only support this, it would be perfect.

    I felt refreshed running Windows 8 – it’s so nice to get away from the beat-to-death use of static icons… I’m not sure Windows 8 is the answer to getting rid of them, but I sure hope something comes along soon. I love being able to preview information without running the app. I suppose Android’s widgets solve this issue as well, if available.

    Anyway, it’s too bad the surface RT really isn’t an option for me, and that Microsoft will not be producing smaller tablets. It’s also too bad that the iPad doesn’t support a bluetooth mouse. I’m left with an Android tablet or a Playbook, neither of which have many tablet apps.

    So you can see why I am sticking to the ultrabook for now. Maybe I should just give up on a tablet to suit all needs for now.

    • Brent

      Yep, Windows 8 has been getting great reviews, but I haven’t seen an all-day Win8 tablet yet for under, say, $1k. I’m looking forward to seeing one though. Like you, I’d rather have one of those than a limited iPad Mini.

  143. Josh Newman

    With respect to your requirements at the bottom of your post, you should look into the Samsung Series 5 ATIV PC, ASUS Vivo Tab 810 or HP Envy X2. All are recently announced tablets with attachable keyboards and run the full version of Windows 8.

    • Brent

      Josh – yeah, I think a full-blown Windows 8 slate makes a lot more sense for my needs, and I look forward to the day when those products land in the hands of reviewers. But until they ship…

  144. Spinner_

    Great stuff, and honest!
    – Can you run SQL Server on it?

    • Brent

      Spinner – no, the ARM CPU doesn’t run legacy Windows apps.

  145. Eric

    I don’t have any issue with a MS Word on my surface nor email. Brent, you have opend many apps during your assessment on MS Word. iPad has the same problem when I have many apps running in the background. I recommend you to retry out before you come up with the bad conclusion.

    • Brent

      Eric – I rebooted the Surface before filming the videos. You can watch it happening in the email video, and if you look at the 720p version of the Word video, you’ll see no other apps running on the desktop either.

    • Brent

      Eric – also, can you elaborate on which problem the iPad has when many apps are open? I’ve been using the underpowered iPad 1 since it came out, and I don’t run into the typing problem in any app, but I’d love to hear instructions to reproduce it, or a video as I’ve shown here.

      • Edmund

        I have the iPad 1. And I think its since IOS 5 that typing in the address bar of Safari is ridiculous lagging. And no, it is no option to switch off the autofill. It was working with older IOS versions much better.

    • JBDragon

      See right there you don’t know what you’re talking about! The iPAD doesn’t run a bunch of programs in the background!!! Where are with all the trolls bitching that it doesn’t have so called true multi-tasking. Apple limits it. You can run a Music App in the background while doing something else, but generally the App is paused. Out of site, out of mind. In fact you have have a hundred Apps so called loaded up, and it just doesn’t matter. That’s the whole point. It’s iOS, not MacOSX or Windows!!! iPad doesn’t have this problem, from the sound of things you don’t own one or have ever used one. Just another Apple hater. Lets see a clear Video of this in action from you!

      • John i

        you are kidding yourself about the original Ipad. So slow slow… Please don’t tell me to reboot etc.. I was so glad to get rid of it. I do agree the Arm processors have me a little worried about how long my surface will stay quick..

  146. Weyon

    I agree with Brent. I would like to have a Windows Tablet which I can do the same things as with my Windows PC. But with that bugs, and with the RT Version it is not usable for me.
    And let’s face it, many people will buy Windows RT Tablets and they do not know that it is not a “real” Windows. So they can not use normal applications.
    The cheap tablets with Atom cpu, never. Too slow for everything. Had a Atom dual core netbook before, even a SSD don’t make that thing any faster. So i Cpu or nothing.

    I use Windows Clients and Server for over 15 years know, why am i using a Ipad3 ( dam, i hate Macs):
    Easy Mail App with full Exchange Support
    Fast and (almost) no bluescreens
    Build in 3G support (who needs LTE?)
    Retina Display (more then full HD), you look all the time into the display, so ist have to be perfect
    Missing USB? Never missed that With filebrowser and full network drive access
    iTap Rdp, much better then the Microsoft tool
    Airvideo, streaming videos from windows server to Ipad
    Word? With Rdp no problem

    YES, i want to have a Microsoft tablet, but only if all these works like a charm. So see you again in 1 year, Surface.

  147. Merlin Grim

    Wow, not very compelling…at least not for me anyway. It’s kind of a joke when you think about it. I mean seriously, having to reach out to get support because something that should be so simple is so unintuitive.

    It’s everything we have come to expect from Microsoft. More confusing, convoluted stuff. This is precisely why I abandoned the Microsoft platform for all of my personal and business needs about 18 months ago.

    I think I’ll keep using my apple family of devices rather than investing my time learning something that is DOA.

    Good luck Microsoft…and I really mean it.


    • JBDragon

      I’m all for Competition, and hope MS does well, but I’m not really seeing anything different that MS hasn’t done for that last 10+ years! My Windows 7 PC is mostly now used as a Media Center. I have 2 Dual HD Tuners connected to it, along with 3 Xbox 360 systems mainly used as Media Center Extenders. Most of the time I’m on my iPad at Home. Not on my Windows 7 PC with a 24″ Monitor!!! I like to relax on the Sofa or in Bed. not at my nice NEW Computer tablet.

      You have to Reboot your Windows RT tablet when installing a program? Really? Still? Even on the RT version? There’s no Rebooting on iOS. Install and it works.

      First time EVER I’m not upgrading my Windows OS to the latest great like I have every other time. Yes, even ME and Vista!! I have my issues with Apple also, in like they need to open up AppleTV to 3rd party Apps for one thing. Good luck MS. I bet well be seeing a Service Pack sooner then later, with the Ops, Metro(Not Metro) was a huge mistake on Desktop/laptop systems!!! Other then that, I really don’t see anything NEW in the tablet area that MS hasn’t already tried to do for that last 10+ years and failed at. I am getting quite sick of all the Ads for Windows 8 everywhere. It’s at least 10 times worse then with Apple.

      When you’re making such a big deal out of a Keyboard Cover for a tablet. I don’t think MS gets it. It’s a TABLET! if you really need a keyboard that bad, get a laptop of some type!!! Don’t care if it’s Windows, MAC, or Linux, whatever! MS is still trying to be all things to everyone and it’s just not working as always!

  148. Brian Sutherland

    Hi Brent,
    Hang in there, thanks for the heads up and honest review. There is no way a product should be shipping with issues out of the box!

  149. JoeBrockhaus

    I am curious if you would try this again with a more ‘standard’ Microsoft account — one that isn’t pulling mail from your own domain, running who knows what? (hosted, on-prem, etc)

    I have to imagine most users will be using Microsoft accounts using Outlook/Hotmail .. and won’t be using non-MS email addresses – and further less likely – email that Outlook is managing. I also have to imagine that most users won’t be using alternative password services. You didn’t go into a lot (or any) detail about the thing you’re using, but you mentioned that you have to use the same password with your account or something to that effect — did that have any affect on your saving-from-word problems?

    I’m not looking to come here and talk shit. It’s just that while you try to give credence to your bug-finding ability and general all-around geekiness, you demonstrated an inability to meet basic requirements for those monikers and instead sound like a kid who didn’t like his birthday present but also won’t let anyone else at the party play with it.

    Again, I’m sure I’m not alone in saying I’d generously welcome and applaud a redux with a more standard user account. I’m not saying your non-standard account setup & practices exonerates these observed issues. But, by the same token I don’t believe your issues incriminate the device for most users; I know a handful of people who have an RT and have none of these issues. (I want to follow up with them to compare their account setup. I know one of them has a gmail-based account and uses outlook to manage that mail and has no problems with the mail app). You’re also the only person who has seen these issues, sfaik. I cannot believe that these account-based options weren’t fleshed out as part of the Win8 development lifecycle, so the fact that you’re having issues leads me to believe it’s more about subtleties in your specific account setup than the OOB product.

    • Brent

      Joe – absolutely fair requests. I’ve put in a great deal of my own time trying to get the Surface to work for me. I’m on the road for the next couple of weeks presenting at conferences, and I can’t put more time into it right now.

      However, I’ve spoken to Microsoft employees who agree that there’s a setup issue with hosted Gmail accounts.

      Would I use a different email to make a tablet work? Absolutely not – I’ve been using BrentOzar.com for over a decade, and I’m not going to change emails just to get a mail program to work. Frankly, that’s a little ridiculous to even ask.

  150. Vincent Collogan (@orbhot)

    Ever think about just using one of those hybrid netbooks running full blown Win7 or 8, and a screen you can flip/swivel around?

  151. Tom

    So another half-assed Microsoft product. Got it.

    Kind of like not updating Notepad or the dialog boxes for selecting drivers for a device for 10 years.

  152. nb

    I use my laptop for mostly, word, powerpoint, outlook and excel (yes the office suite). In your opinion does the surface give you access to all that.

    • Brent

      No, the Surface RT doesn’t run Outlook.

  153. TehUser

    Excuse me, sir, but MS currently treats their users like retards and idiots. Especially when it comes to attempt to build closed ecosystem. Therefore you can’t be considered geek from my standpoint. True geek would never accept that any corporation could restrict him/her on what they can do and how. Just my humble opinion. I’m used their products for 12 years but now I’m fed up with their “secure boot” initiatives and other misfeatured intended to prevent users from taking control over their hardware. Apple does it? Okay, but apple users do not call themselves “geeks”. Because they aren’t.

  154. Ali Razeghi


    Apple users go as far as calling themselves geniuses, not geeks, so it’s even worse. :)

    Who wants to be a geek anyways? I’d rather be a functioning member of society.

  155. Hoon

    I love my surface, and I have no slowdown in Word and OneNote after installing the 600MB or so update. I have a touch keyboard.

    What I’m disappointed about is that the bottom edge of the glass near the Windows touch button is not completely flat. This shows poor quality control, and I expected at least Apple quality from this device. I also tried a second one, and it also has non flat glass on the bottom edge. All the demo units had this problem too. If you know how to check if a sunglass is a cheap quality optic, you can try similar thing. Try reflecting a straight line on that part of the screen and you will know what I mean. It does bug me a bit because I expect a high standard for a $600 ARM tablet. It would have been acceptable as a $200 tablet such as Nexus 7, but we are talking about the awesome Surface here.

  156. Hoon

    Pictures worth thousands words:

    I am more sensitive to this because it was a major headache for me with last year’s Samsung Series 7 Slate ($1300), which had the screen lifting problem. I heard that Asus’s Nexus 7 also had similar problem, but that’s a $200 device.

  157. ip401

    IMHO the best gadgets so far are android tablets. Many have USB host. Also wi-fi, and so on. And geeks could have root access to do what they want on system, up to attaching their Arduino board to usb host and communicating it, etc. Not something you can do with restricted kinds of windows.

    P.S. And if I would need word, I would rather stick to notebook which is better suited for that work than any tablets.

  158. Pingback: Microsoft Surface RT: How is it? | Kerry Tyler on BI, DBs, & General Geekery

  159. Chris Gonzales

    …And this is why I don’t allow comments on my blog. Sorry you had to put up with this shit all weekend, man.

  160. maltesehamster

    “Let’s fight.”
    “Them’s fightin’ words.”

  161. Colin B

    We must all surely agree that Beta means the software will work as expected except for the occasional issue.

    Not keeping up with each key press is surely more than an occasional issue. You can bet that some QA tester and his/her manager in MS reported the issue, but it was left on the TO-DO list because of the pressure to release the Surface.

  162. Pingback: Early Reviews - Thumbs Down to Microsoft Surface - Page 3

  163. Bill Gardner

    When the first iPad came out, it worked like a big iPhone. It was nice to be able to browse in larger web pages but beyond that, it didn’t wow us.

    We picked a new Surface up on Saturday. The experience with Surface was very different. My family is literally taking turns to explore what it can do. It is very well built and very intuitive. The iPad is already gathering dust.

    We’ve experenced no lags or errors. I’m very impressed and look forward to the Surface Pro which I’m viewing as both a notebook computer and a paper notebook replacement.

  164. Pingback: The scale for measuring credibility. | Entangled String

  165. Pingback: codegumbo » My reading list…

  166. Peter

    Love your post, funny and informative.

  167. Fritz

    Thank you for the time you invested in this review. God bless you.

  168. novreis

    You wanna publicity, you got it! I’m 60 years old (and a former CIO of an Utilities company) and I cannot see any other goal with your review! Not serious at all. Sorry to say this!

    • Brent

      Novrels – Ouch. You must be right, because if anyone can judge the goals of my blog, it’s someone who is 60 years old. No 60 year old person has ever been wrong through the history of time, and they are particularly well-known for their razor-sharp perceptions of strangers they’ve never met. Dang. You caught me and I am forever shamed. I should have known eventually a 60 year old person would read my blog and I’d get exposed for the fake that I am.

      Keep fighting the good fight, sir.

      • novreis

        You are ironic, but I tell you why my 60 means something. I was CIO of the Utility because an Head Hunter (or Executive Search) company got me. If in US these companies exist, so you understand what it means! Why I was referenced in these companies? For some reasons, but the one that interests it was beacause I was an “Early Adopter”, with all risks that this means. Technology not mature, bugs, and so on. But not one of this “early adopter” projects has failed. If I thought like you, at the 1rst day of my projects (these included hardware and software) I was “defeated” and had abandonned them! No, I was patient and I believed my partners till success. I could be more specific, but it is worthless! 24 hours to judge a product ( that is a dynamic thing!) is not serious! Sorry for my english!

        • Brent

          Novreis – there’s a big difference between managing a project and buying a piece of consumer electronics. When I manage a project, I see it through to completion. When I buy a gadget, I don’t owe something to the manufacturer – and in fact, it’s the reverse. The manufacturer owes a good, finished experience to me.

          Jeff Atwood’s blog this morning summed it up well: http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2012/11/do-you-wanna-touch.html

          One excerpt: “The default Surface mail application is an embarrassment and everyone associated with it should be fired.”

          • Luis Novais Reis

            Brent, I don’t know any OS that has no patches/updates. I have a Lumia 800 with 7.5 and I will have a bonus with the 7.8 upgrade. Kind of dynamic bundle, like the Surface Rt with the boundaries we know!
            Anyway, I can see a contradiction on your comment. You were looking for a tablet that allows you to use Powerpoint and so on, to use in your profession. This is not the definition of “gadget” in my opinion!
            I bought my Surface RT, because is more than a Gadget (Ipad, yes, is a very nice gadget!)! Why? Because I will have an Office Suite (without outlook, I know), after the final release (not the beta you tried), that will open the most of my documents. Excel does not have Macros? How many of our sheets have macros? I also will have a usb, a sdxc card and a keyboard ( I’ve choosen the typecover!). Everything about 630 usd (taxes included). Not to mention the great quality of hardware!
            Of course, when you introduce the “gadget” word here, the “Project” concept is more tenuous. I’ve just mentioned ICT Projects because hardware and software support them. I used mobile devices in my GIS, Field Service and Readings apps (how I loved to have a Surface Pro that time)! Anyway, I can imagine the Surface Rt in a Project with limited scope, in spite of not beeing a tech guy (I am economist that shifted to ICT very early!) in my former company! As some guys said, with your prerequisites, why did you bought the Win Rt? A tech guy had the obligation of knowing that … and you are a tech guy.
            Do you know another reason why your review shocked me? Because before the Surface Rt release, some “experts” have said that a lot of people would return this tablet, once they understand the Win RT limitations. I’m deeply convinced that did not happened, so you became (unfortunately) the Flag (the reference, the confirmation) to those experts. That’s why they have links to your blog and you have so many hits!
            Finally, as a CIO I also would fire a lot of guys that are posting in your blog! To you, I would advise to be more patient if you worked with me.
            Just by curiosity, have you already returned your Surface? After this “tsunami”, you are obliged to, in my opinion! I will look ,as you, for the Surface Pro, because I like to try new things, only possible out of the App store. Meanwhile, my Surface Rt will be enough for my needs. Only limitation I see will be the lack of 3G feature, when I’m out of free wireless range.

          • Brent

            Luis – whether we call it a gadget, tablet, or laptop, Microsoft sells the Surface RT as a no-compromises device that runs Office. It wasn’t for me.

            I did return it the same weekend. I had a 2-week road trip starting that Monday, and I only wanted to carry working gadgets. (I already travel with enough stuff – a laptop, tablet, camera, and phone – and I didn’t want to add another tablet if it wasn’t working well.)

  169. Tony Covarrubias

    Not sure what Novrels is talking about. Anyway Brent, when are you going to step up and do a FULL marathon? 😉

  170. Peter Cupit

    I’m glad I posted on this blog entry, I can say I was here! Perhaps we’re going for some kind of a record?! Meanwhile I purchased a Nexus 7 16GB when the price dropped. I think my Lenovo E320 is the the best option for real work and a tablet for consumption.

  171. Douche

    I’m 60 too!
    Apple IOS sucks, Google Android Sucks, Microsoft windows RT sucks, it’s one big triangle of suck. Don’t you know what you’re doing Ozar? Heck you must be anti-microsoft being a Microsoft MVP and all ;P

    • novreis

      Hi Douche, only four comments:
      1) as far I know, being MVP means earning money from Microsoft
      2) a saying in country “don’t bite the hand of the person that gives “food” to you (bad transaltion”)
      3) hope, in name of coherence that Brent returned his surface
      4) When I bougth my Surface, I knew exactly what I was buying. I seems some guys here, including Brent, did not know that!
      Good sixties!

      • Brent

        Novreis – hi there. Actually, being an MVP doesn’t give you any money from Microsoft. I’ve written about the MVP process here:


        Microsoft encourages open and honest feedback from their MVPs. It’s not about being a Microsoft cheerleader – it’s an award that’s granted to people who consistently help the community. Have a great day!

        • Luis Novais Reis

          English Language issues (I’m Portuguese) and a bit hurry.
          When I said “earning from Microsoft”, I did not want to mean “directly from Microsoft”. Certification meaned to me that you had the skills to provide services (with MS products) to customers. It was one, among other, criteria to select a Provider, so the importance to have those certifications inside. I did’t know other benefits (Technet), Licenses Prices? ). Anyway I will look at your link! I appreciate your patience!.

          • Luis Novais Reis

            big correction – “meant” instead “meaned”. I’m answering among other tasks I’m doing, so big mistake there!

  172. Eric Hill


    I found your review to be quite fair. I preordered a Surface as well and may keep mine, but I have had frustrations. There is a lot to like, but there are rough edges. I’ve had the (touch) keyboard just stop working (detach, reattach fixes), I’ve had onenote mx just go wonky on me. Use the device all day and odd things start happening. The built-in mail app should have been the Surface’s killer app, but it is extremely weak, even when it correctly gets your mail. And things like the difficulty updating office (I had no idea until I read your review) are things that Microsoft has to get better at to be a player in the consumer market. They need to read your review and take the many valid points to heart and make the product better. Fast.


  173. Tom Jenkinson

    Great article, I wanted a SRT too but decided to hold off as I want to run Steam on it (I assume the i5 will have a HD 3000 or whatever).

    Anyway, the point of my post, won’t something like a Nexus do most of what you need? I don’t have one of those either but your article didn’t consider Android so I wondered why?

    Great article none-the-less!

    • Brent

      Tom – I haven’t found an Android tablet that meets those specs, and I’ve had several hard core Android fans try to find one. The stumbling block appears to be the PowerPoint slides. I get PowerPoint templates from conferences that I have to use, then I edit my own slides together, then I give them the PowerPoint back for editing and approval, then I get the PowerPoint back. I don’t have the flexibility of using any software I want for presentations unless it can read and render PowerPoints perfectly. That’s why I put the PowerPoint demo files in the blog post.

  174. Jason

    Interesting post – I am glad there are people like yourself that truly dig into the testing. I did a comparison on your videos on my own surface and found several large differences in your experience to mine.

    1) if you are fortunate enough to have a Microsoft store in your area, the experience of getting a surface is excellent – they start it up with you / get your Microsoft account (live / Hotmail etc..) all setup or if existing ensure you are using it on the surface / ensure email etc.. is all setup. I got mine at a store but opted to do the install myself. connected to my home wireless network / signed on with my Hotmail account and everything worked – mail was already setup (unlike your experience above – don’t know what that issue was for you).

    2) sounds like you have been beat up enough on the update for office.. so I won’t go there. Where I will go is I typed really really fast and word kept up fine.. I also just clicked on save > picked skydrive > created a new folder on my skydrive > saved the word file (no signon prompt or anything..)

    3) I am with you on the 1 position of the stand it would be nice if there were 2-3 positions..

    Aside from 1 and 2 above – great post. I am keeping my surface RT and am using it more and more. I love the type pad. Personally have 2 Hotmail accounts (one personal one church) connected my corporate exchange account. Installed the new modern Lync client / OneNote MX and several games etc.. My 11 year old loves Adera (adventure game). Personally I am hoping a version of Myst will resurrect itself for windows 8 :)

  175. Cory

    Does anyone know the answer to these two questions:

    1. Can you use a wireless mouse with Surface?

    2. Can you use remote desktop from Surface to remote to either a Windows or Linux desktop?

    • Brent

      Cory – the Surface has Bluetooth and supports wireless mice. It also has an RDP client, although I didn’t get a chance to use it during my testing.

    • Justin

      Mouse-wise, you can use a Bluetooth mouse, or if you want to use up the USB port, you can use that too. My Arc Touch mouse worked immediately once I plugged in my micro-dongle.
      Windows RT also comes with the traditional MSTSC RDP client on the “desktop” mode, and has a RDP app from the store; both of which seem to work really well. Of course the store-app RDP is more touch oriented than the desktop-app.

  176. BobMihada

    It’s your thoughts, your blog, your party, you can cry if you want to. I think Google or Samsung should have a focus group for one, and you be invited.

  177. Pingback: Microsoft’s Sinofsky responds to complaint over Office 2013 on Surface RT – ZDNet

  178. dittos01

    Hey Brent (and all…),

    Just adding my two cents so here goes…

    Had a chance to read pretty much every comment posted before writing this one (the good, the bad, and yes some ugly) and I think something that everyone is overlooking is the whole atmosphere surrounding consumer electronics these days, something I’ve had to come to grips with long before now. I’ll start off simple:

    Corporate greed


    Very versatile “hardware”


    Many firmware updates (translated: unfinished products being released to the public)

    To explain a little more, it seems to me that in today’s technologically fueled society the pace of supply and demand has been tightened up to the point of supply actually preceding demand. To me this stems from overzealous CEOs demanding quarterly profits from regular ordinary people like you and me (whether on the supply side as programmers, developers and the like, or on the demand side as consumers). In the big picture it’s so stupidly backwards. Back in the day a company would pay you to test their stuff before it was released. Now, YOU pay to be apart of their product development AFTER production. And you guys call the Apple followers sheep…. This is the corporate greed side.

    As far as technology goes, nowadays it’s taken for granted by both sides of the table (corporations: whoops we screwed up, time to release another update, and consumers: yay added functionality or tweaks, time to load another update). The fact that there is such a thing as an EEPROM that doesn’t require high-intensity UV light to erase (anyone remember the chips with the windows in them?) has gotten industry comfortable with the fact that maybe they can sneak products out the door using the laws of probability and mathematics on their side (eg: if we ship 10000 units and only 25% of customers find the “bug” but only 10% of those people actually do something about it, that means only 250 out of the original 10000 actually have a “problem” we need to worry about). Just the fact that we can “flash” something has changed our views. A good example that pops in my mind is the original 8-bit Nintendo. Yes some games DID have bugs but that was it, companies lived and died right there in the open market, and it was obvious and non-reversible. When did the Nintendo have to have a firmware update? Never. Back in that day corporations were pretty good at pre-release testing because short of very expensive, product-wide hardware swaps, there was no other way of fixing it, and as a result was to be avoided at all costs.

    Another sign of the times is versions. Back then, releases for the most part came in proper decimal form (for example Windows 3.0, then 3.1 etc.) and not picking sides but I do remember a time of rolling my eyes when a new Mac OS came out with…. an extra decimal point (7.0.1 or something, don’t quote me, was a long time ago). Nowadays it’s common to see: ver. 6.30.765.673 build 2301 looks like a damn IP address… but at the same time people welcome it because it might be the promise of something new in the old box, or in other words more value for something you already paid for. I think google has taken this a step further by trying to give their new OSs cute names like Ice Cream Sandwich and Jellybean.

    Now if you grew up in the ’80s or earlier like I did, you know exactly the trend I’m referring to. Nowadays chances are pretty good that if it has a USB port on it, there’s probably a firmware update out there for it. My electric toothbrush (digitally equipped with a lithium ion battery and LCD screen) doesn’t have one so I think I can safely say it went through a good test phase before production. I consider myself an average-volumed consumer of gadgets, and if anything a little better self-informed than most.

    So here’s my point (as neutrally as I can portray it in relation to Brent’s article): What makes anyone think that the Surface RT would be different than anything else with a microprocessor in it sold in the last 20 or so years? What has anyone bought in the last 10 years even that never needed an update? I honestly can’t think of anything, but I can think of lots that have:

    – gaming: all brands console and handheld
    – computers: desktops, laptops, tablets, netbooks, any brand
    – GPS: any brand
    – vehicles: ecm, tcm, bcm and more, all makes
    – production equipment: CNC lathes, plasma tables, CNC laser cutting
    – cameras: compact and DSLR and video etc.
    – cell phones: smart and dumb, any brand
    – MP3 players: any brand
    – watches: some
    – and the list goes on and on and on….

    Now back to the article, I did buy a Surface RT, and it was a bit of an impulse buy (I like shiny things too…) but I went into it with a grain of salt, taking into account all that I mentioned above. Fortunately, as with some others, I didn’t see the issues Brent was talking about, and if anything I too believe maybe he got a bum unit. But at the same time, I definitely applaud Brent on his decision to take the RT back. It didn’t work for his needs so he did what so many here don’t: He put his money where his mouth is. I understand that while updates are hopefully coming (for anything for that matter) some people just aren’t patient enough to pay to be apart of some corporation’s way too-late (pre-)release test phase.

    So hey, don’t hate a guy because he’s a sheep that doesn’t follow as close as others do (or think he should).

    Keep your nose clean and stay between the lines….

  179. Pingback: Why Im returning my Microsoft Surface RT | In my Head

  180. Howard Abraham

    I didn’t know about the control panel Windows Update issue. Thanks!

    I’m keeping my Surface. I love it for what it is and what it will become with updates and apps.

    I was a launch day WP7 user. I immediately wanted Metro on a tablet. I’ve been waiting for Surface for the past two years. I don’t want a Surface Pro. All Metro, all the time… that’s the paradigm I’m voting for with my money. Sure, I need desktop mode on my desktop, but on my tablet I want Metro.

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  182. Pingback: The Geek’s Reading List – Week of November 2nd, 2012 | thegeeksreadinglist

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  184. Dave

    Thx for the review. I just received our Surface RT Tablet and I thought you were bang on with every point. Hopefully the Surface Pro or OEM machines will be more stable.

    Issues I had:

    – distorted sound if multiple apps were running
    – Start box also appeared and reappeared for me
    – Windows 8 Desktop isn’t touch ready…just like you said.
    – Underpowered speakers
    – Frame rate is terrible on some of the games. I’ll touch the screen and the response will show 2-3 sec later

    I was so excited to get the surface but that faded within 4 hours :-( Mind might be going back as well. It’s Surface Pro or Lenovo for me

  185. Pingback: Przeczytane/polecam: Why I?m Returning My Microsoft Surface RT | Muzungu.pl

  186. Cory


    I’ll preface this with the fact that I haven’t touched a Surface and I’m a big Apple fan…

    However, from what I’ve seen I applaud Microsoft for the ui-formerly-known-as-Metro. It was different, seemingly useful, and not a copy of what others had done.

    Overall I’d like to think I’m open minded and I would appreciate seeing multiple platforms succeed in the future. I think that’s what will be best for continued innovation and evolution – and consumers.

    Now that that’s out of the way, I loved your Surface review and I feel bad about any/all the negativity coming your way. Again, I haven’t touched a Surface but from what you present in your review it seems spot on.

    Keep up the good work. I would imagine those who disagree with you are far more vocal than those who agree. Remember that the sand people always walk single-file to hide their numbers…

  187. Nokuchikushi Tekukuno

    If you could move beyond your preconceptions, you’d realize that you could carry and Apple TV (about the size of a hockey puck) and use your iPad without the remote, which you wouldn’t need. A tablet should not need to be wired up to anything. It’s supposed to be mobile. What’s the point of having it tethered with wires to something. Kind of pointless. You think like a Windows person. That’s the problem.

    • Brent

      I do actually have an Apple TV, but I haven’t had good luck with it and conference projectors. I do appreciate your psychoanalysis though.

  188. Don

    Well, Brent, I understand your problem and I certainly feel for you. The PPT slides results in one of the most gaudy and archaic presentations I’ve ever seen. No wonder people refer to crap like that as “Death by PowerPoint” or “PowerPoint Hell.”

    So if you have to give a presentation using these slide, I do feel sorry for you.

    However, if you designed these slides and the presentation, I feel sorry for any poor slob who has to sit through that utter crap.

    I suggest studying books such as “Presentation Zen” and a movement away from the 1980s and into the 21st century.

    • Brent

      Don – as I wrote in the post, major conferences often require specific PowerPoint templates. I’m with you – I don’t like bullets, and I’m a fan of Tufte – but we don’t always get to make the rules.

  189. Ameya

    About your ideal device. Get a MacBook Air 11 or if you want a tablet an iPad should work just fine. Here is how:
    Keynote, Keynote remote on iPhone/touch for remote and presenter display. Keynote can export to PDF. You can upload to cloud services other than icloud. You can present via VGA dongle and charge the iPad at the same time. The only downside is SD card input.

    • Brent

      Keynote Remote doesn’t work well for me in noisy conference radio environments.

  190. Oliver

    Surely for your requirements an 11″macbook air would be perfect! Also you can get video out and charge your iPad. Just use the hdmi adaptor.

    • Brent

      Oliver – I can’t use an Air in coach on planes. I’m 6’3″ and my arms go out sideways too far. I need a tablet.

  191. Pingback: Microsoft Surface ain’t ready. | Synapses

  192. The Dictator

    I have the feeling that you’ve NEVER used an iPad before, because not only do you say this

    “The iPad only has one miserable dock connector or Lightning port, so it can either drive video OR be plugged in, but not both”

    which just ISN’T true! (the video cables have always had a passthrough for charging), but in your list of what you want in a device, an iPad/iPad mini + iPhone would fill ALL your requirements.

    Don’t act like you’ve used things before when you clearly haven’t!

  193. stojozano

    Surely someone has already said this (there is no frikin way I’m reading all theses posts) there is an update for office 2013 that released on the 26th that probably would have addressed your dramedy. I been using my Rt since the 26th. No issues except for one lockup and I don’t like the mail client. You might be jumping the gun on sending it back

  194. trigmo

    Brent — The “DockStubz+” looks like exactly what you were describing to be able power the iPad while using the VGA out thing. It is a little dongle with 30-pin passthru, and a micro USB plug on the side for powering/charging.


    • Brent

      Wow! That’s the first useful comment I’ve had, hahaha! This is slick. I’ll pick this up. Thanks!

  195. Christoph Seufert

    Hi, thanks for the nice review.

    I did the same: Send it back. Reasons partially the same.

    My major problems:
    – This is NOT a tablet you use holding in your hands. No Notebook. What is this? Could not figure it out. When would i use it between a tablet and a notebook?
    – I use Google Apps for most of my office needs. Only have some larger and more complicated Excel sheets. I did give up after 2 minutes loading time.
    – It’s complicated and often not intuitive.
    – The screen is small and Metro wasts very much of that rare screen estate (big title fonts, big spaces every where). Looks clean, but you less information on a a screen.

    I will give one the Intel-based machines a chance some time… Let’s see

  196. Sergei

    Hi Brent! I think the best solution would be Keynote for iOS ($10) + iPhone/iPad + Apple TV + HP NP031AA (HDMI to VGA adapter, $40). The iPhone/iPad should handle 8-hour sessions just fine and the Keynote app has all the necessary features for presenting (upcoming slides, presenter notes, virtual laser pointer). Hope the adapter tip helps. Have a nice day.

  197. Sergei

    P.S. If you don’t have an iPhone, you can buy an old iPod touch (second-gen or later supports AirPlay). Sure beats a clicker that doesn’t show anything.

  198. Sergei

    P.P.S. BTW, Keynote Remote supports both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections. Did you try the other one?

    • Brent


      • Sergei

        Well, if Wi-Fi is so bad for you that even Keynote Remote won’t work, I guess AirPlay is out of the question.

        Unless, of course, you set up your own 5 GHz network (802.11a), supported by all Apple TVs/iPads and now iPhone 5/fifth-gen iPod touch. That would solve Wi-Fi overcrowding problem, but also require you to travel with something like AirPort Express. Depending on your views, you may find this acceptable or totally ridiculous.

        Then again, if you ever do get a nice Wi-Fi, I just want to repeat that NP031AA works great with Apple TV and VGA projectors.

        Good luck.

        • Brent

          Hmm, no, I can’t see myself carrying an iPad, Apple TV, Airport Express, and iPhone all as a backup presentation device.

          • John

            If you want to be this top ten presenter and all, I think you better solve your darn wifi problem. These are all very small devices you can plug in and sign into. Set up your own network, it’s not a big deal. Stop whining and solve your issues. Or do what Jobs did, tell everyone to turn their crap off, you are presenting!

          • Brent

            John – unfortunately, wireless network connectivity is usually outside of the control of the presenter. Thanks for your feedback though!

  199. Daring FireBall reader

    You are absolutely wrong about the iPad not being able to do video out AND be charged at the same time. The video out cable does exactly this. I bought one for my 1st Gen iPod Touch and I still use it with my current iPad (3).

    As for “remote” usage, you could always setup your own private wifi so that your device has dedicated bandwidth to your “tablet”. :)

    • Brent

      Yes, but not also use USB. As I wrote repeatedly above, I haven’t been able to maintain a WiFi or Bluetooth session with Keynote Remote at large conferences. I present in front of hundreds of people all using their devices, so it’s a really noisy radio environment.

  200. Pingback: Why I’m Returning My Microsoft Surface RT | Brent Ozar « Explore Investing

  201. Michael Phelps

    You can do video out and charge your iPad at the same time. Check out this accessory – http://store.apple.com/us/product/MD826ZM/A/lightning-digital-av-adapter Notice the female lightning port on the same side as the hdmi port.

    • Brent

      That doesn’t cover the USB presenter remote problem.

  202. Alicia

    Adding my 2 cents here after reading the article, viewing all clips and browising the comments.

    1) Brent, you have great patience and self-restraint in dealing with the backlash/feedback on your original piece. Kudos!

    2) I resent and reject the assertion of many that we the consumers/professionals simply have to ‘live with’ bugs, lags, illogical or time-consuming ways of working.

    This applies to Apple, Google, Microsoft – anyone. We all work hard to earn or living and spend hard-earned cash on things for leisure time as well as tools for our work life. We have a right to expect things to perform at a high level when we spend hundreds of dollars/euros on a device. Lags and snags affect my productivity negatively, which is tantamount to a abuse of my time.

    I am so tired of the many things we have to ‘live with’ already with desktop windows (the company I work for is still on XP switching to 7 next year) it is simply disheartening for me to realize that some (including companies) expect us to go after solutions ourselves or simply grin and bear it.

  203. Aussie

    Wow… A very interesting Blog post with LOTS of comments. Couldn’t resist adding my $0.02 worth :-)

    1. I have been continuously in IT since the Mainframe days and still actively research technology ever day

    2. I think it is great that Microsoft are trying to be innovative but will be hard to play catch-up with Apple and Google in the consumer world (and increasingly the business world, especially Google)

    3. Microsoft still don’t “get it”. Amazing they would blend a beautiful new UI with the old kludgy Windows desktop behind the scenes.

    4. I hope that Microsoft do succeed with Windows 8 and the Tablet form factor because competition keeps everyone innovating but unfortunately I think they have left their run too late and will increasingly lose Market share to Apple and Google (and many others)….

    In terms of the article….

    1. While it should work “out of the box” I personally would have been more patient in terms of finding and installing an update for “preview” version software before making this a pivotal point of your complaint.

    2. Having “non-standard” email accounts, login accounts, etc from a Microsoft ecosystem perspective compounded your problems. As many others have said they did not have these problems when using the “standard” Microsoft ecosystem.

    3. You clearly purchased something that did not meet your very specific requirements. I would have returned it also. Better luck next time.

    These are my opinions only and your mileage may vary…

  204. Larry Fritzlan

    I can’t believe you guys spend so much time tinkering with MS stuff. Been an AAPL guy all my life. Their stuff just works. Makes me smile.

    • Mark Rendle

      Thanks for perpetuating that little myth. I’ve had iPhones, iPads, iPods and MacBooks, and not one of them has “just worked.”

      • Steve

        Apple’s gear is in general so polished it’s ridiculous. They’re fanatics of perfection. You simply cannot say this about the work MS has been doing for the past decade. Windows 7 wasn’t bad, but still totally hideous, convoluted, bloated and based on a bogus kernel. They would do themselves and the world a favour and do what apple did and build something on top of unix or Linux. Give us a real OS for god’s sake! Until then you will have this insecure piece of crap at the root of the problem. Bringing that crapware to a mobile device just brings the whole problem to a head.

        • Christoph Seufert

          Why is the kernel “bogus”?

          • Steve

            Some reasons http://aiju.de/rant/os/windows . It’s crap. After getting off the Microsoft tit the reasons become more apparent. No comparison to any *nix OS.

        • Christoph

          Do you know what an operating system kernel is?

          • Steve


  205. Pingback: Review of Microsoft’s Surface | Mind the Gapp

  206. Steve

    What I don’t get is all these people defending Microsoft! This Surace thing is the biggest piece of junk to hit the tech world since Vista. It’s ill conceived from the get go. It’s neither a good tablet nor a reasonable laptop. Indeed you can’t even use it on your lap. Mobile Internet Explorer is a non-starter. Microsoft can’t make software for full powered devices what makes anyone believe they could do it for a low powered device where resources are much tighter. If it wasn’t for our overwhelming tolerance for mediocrity and their huge user base this device never would have been worthy of mention. It’s just a very bad netbook that you can’t even put in your lap. What on earth are they drinking?

    • Mark Rendle

      You have obviously never used, touched or even seen one.

      • Steve

        I haven’t, but I’ve read a ton of reviews. The conclusion is pretty much unanimous. This is total junk. Ill conceived and poorly executed. Microsoft has no idea what a tablet even is. They think it’s a device for selling Office. Alas it is not. It’s a completely different device from a laptop or a netbook. The Surface is a very bad netbook. You have to pretty much sit at a desk to use it properly. Anyhow, Microsoft is completely out to lunch. To release this sort of device speaks volumes about just how bad a state they’re in. Why on earth is anyone even defending this crap? They are holding back real innovation by capturing so much of the market through back room deals with hardware makers. They tried their best to cripple the Internet with IE, and have to some extent succeeded in keeping the Internet from being everything it could be by thwarting standards whenever and wherever they can in order to try to preserve their monopoly on office crapware.

  207. William Tsai

    Why not get a 11″ MacBook Air? Seems to fit what you are looking for. Sorry I only glanced at your requirements for a few seconds so I couldn’t figure it out, other than its not a tablet. Are you sure it’s too cramped to use on the plane?

  208. Ray

    A co-worker stood online to get his Surface and brought it to work. He ended up spending right at $800 with accessories. So we are talking about a device that is equal to an iPad in price. When you command that type of money you would expect your own applications to just work. And by just work, I mean work typing in one of your flag ship apps shouldn’t do that. Email of all things should be flawless and saving to Sky Drive (that thing you have been pushing for months) a no brainer as well.

    I’m rooting for Microsoft but I really think at this point Balmer should go. They need a person with vision and not just a spreadsheet.

    Trust me I also worry that Apple may not have that visionary as well. Only time will tell with them.

  209. Pingback: The Macalope Weekly: CEO chatter | My Creative Directory

  210. soso

    your “review” is bad and you should feel bad.

    • Christoph Seufert

      What an intelligent comment. Wow, thanks for sharing!

  211. Matt

    I had a skim through this and I got me thinking to what I have previously read. Microsoft were pushing Office as a key feature of W8/RT…for them to release the product lacking a fully functional application that is meant to be a key feature is bad. Apple with Maps being another example…is anyone getting backlash for returning an iPhone because they need a good maps application?

    Also, props for sticking to your guns with your opinions and thoughts. If my tablet couldn’t run key software that was hyped as a big feature, I wouldn’t be happy. Luckily, I don’t use maps so I’m happy to get an iPhone 5.

  212. Omar Sierra

    what are you using to record your review?

  213. James

    Yikes! I’ve been running the Windows 8 release preview in a virtual machine on my MacBook, and the built-in apps were all very slow to start up – but I assumed that pre-release software running in a VM would naturally be a bit slower than the final product. Based on your video, though, it looks like Mail really IS that slow to start up on an actual Surface! Wow.

    I don’t get what anyone has to gain by making excuses for this. This isn’t some tech demo or something; it’s a shipping hardware product running “final” software that you’re PAYING at least $500 for. I’d expect to be able to do things like save a document and check my email reliably.

  214. chrstphr

    I’m here because John Gruber linked to your article and it sounded interesting. I read it, and then I read a lot of the comments. Jeez. I thought that after being horrendously berated and re-explaining yourself time and time again that you deserved some credit for a well written, well documented, and incredibly well justified article. Good job, Brent, and thank you.

    • Brent

      Thanks. It’s been pretty funny to see the flames coming in each time I get linked from somebody big.

  215. Mike Reed

    It almost sounds like you all could collaborate on a new, segment killing device. I will put up the first $$!!!

  216. jrock

    I went to my local mall and tried out a Surface for 15 minutes at a MS kiosk. I found many of the same issues as you Brent. If MS released this 2 years ago, then there wouldn’t be much of an issue with these 1.0 bugs. The problem is that MS is so far behind the iPad that any initial bugs (like setting up POP) is asking for a poor reaction from the public.

    The other problem I found is that the staff is woefully unprepared and instead of pushing the features of the Surface, they engaged in Apple bashing which I found hilarious:

    “I wouldn’t buy Apple stock. They’re going down”.

    “Apple ain’t got nothing on us”.

    “Ever been in an Apple store – no one helps you. In a MS store you’re one of us”.

    “I don’t understand an iPad Mini”.

    At least be honest about your biggest competition especially when you’re ripping off their retail concept.

  217. Si

    @Brent – I’ve been running win8 on a Samsung Slate 7 since the dev previews and I’m pretty sure this little setup meets 100% of your search criteria. It’s literally my desktop PC these days (when docked.) Check it out some time. I’m not sure why MS even bothered trying to go ARM, this x86 device runs 5hrs on battery just fine, with dock you also have 2x usb.

    • Brent

      Si – unfortunately, not the price and weight criteria (especially when you mention things like a dock). It’s over $1k and 2 pounds with the power & adapters, so I’ll hold off to see what the Surface Pro looks like. Thanks though.

  218. stojozano

    After the first day I personally was already thinking about returning the two Surface tablets that I bought so yesterday after I read your post I went back and looked at your particular issue on both devices and confirmed that the typing latency issues do exist in the Preview of Office for RT and if you apply the update (to install the full release version) the issue is resolved. I don’t know if that was your experience or not. At your level I would be surprised if you missed that or if you had any trouble installing the full product.
    After using the Surface since the 26th I agree with much of your assessment of the device but not with your final verdict. Just my notes for the sake of comparison….
    Surface the device is a beast, well-built and well-conceived tip to tip. I really like the hardware.
    Microsoft Surface RT on the other hand has shortcomings:
    The mail client for use with Exchange is pretty disappointing. I anticipated something along the lines of Outlook and MS actually managed to release a product with less email capability than competing devices.
    The modern interface is very cool and easy to use but the lack of apps is going to grate on me a lot as the wow factor diminishes. Hopefully RT development will get some traction.
    Surface RT has fits of personality disorders after long periods of use. A reboot usually addresses this and I am not super surprised… it is not a constant issue and I anticipate updates will wear away at this issue in due time.
    The keyboards with the cool Kung Fu snap-on action are going to have wear and tear problems over time. At $100 a pop that’s gonna be the subject of conversation at some point. That said, none of the negatives that I listed are deal breakers and can be addressed over time with updates.
    Office 2013 is a Godsend as is the whole desktop for that matter. Really sets this thing apart and the reason I have not touched my iPad in over a week.
    I have decided that I actually do like the device and its upside and capabilities still make it a much better choice for me personally my than iPad. I still think iPad is a better single-dimension device than Surface but I think Surface has more upside for what I want and even in its current “unfinished” state provides me with capabilities that I am not willing to trade for iPad’s more polished consumption prowess and 200K apps I have no use for.
    For a lot of people Surface RT is going to be fine and they will enjoy the increased scope of the device enough to work through the early kinks. However, if you’re the guy who struggles when your bank changes the ATM screens or if you’re a tech diva this is not the device for you.

    • Brent


  219. stojozano

    sorry man, one more note. from power up to open email client on my surface… 49.08 seconds.

    • Brent

      That’s fantastic. Within a few releases, hopefully it’ll have caught up with the iPad. I’m thankful for tolerant users like you who are willing to put up with the kinks, because it brings more competition to the market and drives manufacturers to keep improving their products. Keep us posted.

      A couple of clarifications, by the way – the full release of Office doesn’t resolve the typing issue for all users. Microsoft’s President of Windows, Steven Sinofsky, has acknowledged that it’ll be fully corrected in a future version. That and yes, I’m a tech diva.

      • stojozano

        Ha! I know where you’re coming from for sure. I’ve been in the industry for nearly thirty years and I can tell you it takes all kinds! Over the years of evaluating technology for clients or employers I have become accustomed to shielding others from painful shifts in technology or methods. I really like Surface RT but it currently has too much range for those accustomed to the safe confines of iPad. To introduce this much scope on a device in the consumer space requires a perfect presentation and spot documentation. Microsoft here has managed neither..
        If MS was going to mimic the Apple model on this they should have started by embracing the “less is more” paradigm.

  220. Ashish

    I think you have been paid by Apple for this kinda review.
    Everything has a first time and MS is much better at doing better things than apple.
    Also to add they have been the grand daddy of software development , hence they know what the user wants and will be comfortable with rather than any A,B or C company which re-prices the same item multiple time in its lifetime .

    Apologies for the frivolity !

  221. Arshard

    Hey guys, i bought one a few days ago and i am struggling to even use the windows store. Every time i click on it it says i am not connected to the internet when i clearly am. How do i do it? anyone knows?

    Hi Brent, thanks for the links on how to update…i had no clue and now i am getting the updates installed. Thank you.

  222. Arshard

    Also i want to add i have no clue how to set up my e-mail. I was told this was for office by the MS staff but after reading through doesn’t seem like it supports outlook.

    • stojozano

      @ahsard – Who is your email provider? if you’re using outlook.com/Hotmail.com or Exchange for email the device absolutely supports it.

  223. LostHoosier

    I’m a doctoral student in music (and a former MSSQL DBA myself) and decided to migrate to a tablet for all my school work. I thought seriously about waiting for one of the Win8 tablets, but the timing just wasn’t right for me. In the end, I went with the Asus Transformer Infinity. So far, I’ve had really good luck with it. I use QuickOfficePro for most of my document manipulation, and although it has some quirks, it’s seamless integration with Dropbox has proven invaluable. I’ve not yet tried a powerpoint presentation with it, but I’ve pretty much migrated to Prezi, only using ppt when required. You may have addressed Android already in the comments and I missed it, but I thought I’d share my take anyway.

    Thank you for you honest and thoughtful assessment regarding this tablet. Keep up the good work.

  224. Markian

    I don’t understand. While I don’t have an iPad solution for the presenter remote, I have recently purchased dongles for video output in our office, and they’ve all allowed charging and video output at the same time. You seem to be saying you don’t have this option?

    That said, we can run HD video in a kiosk all day from the iPads battery if we need to. We tried 2 netbooks, and they choked. Hooray hardware video decoding!

  225. Jack

    Please don’t unleash the blog update on me for suggesting something as a member of the unwashed masses, but it sure seems like you want a laptop without a virtual keyboard, not a tablet. I’m no Apple devout, but I like that the iPad was “hobbled”, because it’s supposed to be sleek and simple. My moped doesn’t include mounts for highway bars and a sissy bar (which some would argue are motorcycle necessities), but that’s okay, because it’s a moped, not a motorcycle.

  226. David Clegg

    Brent, please don’t let the fanboy commenters get to you. This was one of the best Surface blog posts I’ve seen. Not only did you outline your frustrations (in pretty core areas too, I might add), but you backed them up with evidence.

    You also show a genuine desire to want to see this technology succeed. I too have been excited about the prospect of the Surface, so its a shame to hear reports of such fundamental design and process flaws in the software. I still think that the Surface Pro would be the better of the two devices, but I fear that it will be an even more fractured experience. Time will tell, I guess.

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  231. T Wilson

    Nice review.

    All I am seeing so far is yet another rough-edged, incomplete device launched into the world on wave after wave of vitriol and mangled English from its supporters.

    Hopefully, this doesn’t follow the same trajectory their MP3 player did – Maturing just in time to be irrelevant.

  232. Peter Glasgow

    Appreciate your detailed analysis/feedback … I am in a similar situation with ‘travelling lecturing/training presentation needs’ that get technically challenging at times.

    Thanks … I’ll wait & look at the Surface Pro :)

  233. Arshard

    stojozano, I use Microsot Outlook for work and my IT guy says he can not configure it? i read online also that this is true? I hear the Pro version is going to have it. I guess i will have to use webmail which is a bummer.

    Hi Brent, thanks for showing how to get the updates done. Now the store works! Cheers.

    • stojozano

      @ashard I use exchange at work. As a matter of fact I’m an exchange administrator. If your exchange system is 2007 or newer this should work fine. I have two surface RT that worked out of the box with only my email address and password. I’m on exchange 2010 and my autodiscover is properly configured. I’m certain this can be resolved. You’re just getting some bad information.

    • stojozano

      @ashard there ARE problems for Exchange 2003. This apparently something MS is aware of. If you can get your exchange server version and post it here I would appreciate it.

  234. stojozano

    Have your IT guy check out the links below if you’re using Exchange 2003 and/or self-signed certs..

    The bottom link is a step by step that might help you address the issue on your own.
    Good luck



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  236. Dustin Hamilton

    Great article – really liked it!!!

  237. M.Usman Mubashir

    By the looks of it, I think I’m gonna wait for the pro version. If everything IS as you say Brent, I dunno what is Microsoft playing at? but they do have a history of doing such things don’t they?

  238. Les Posen

    Brent, I sympathize with your desire to present in your own way but become confounded by conference organizers who only want you to present their way. On one or two occasions, I’ve just refused.

    See if you can borrow a friend’s MacBook Air and take it to the Microsoft store and if possible compare its footprint to the Surface on display. I’m still waiting to see a Surface pictured on an Economy tray table with its type cover and kickstand. Laying flat, yes; but with kickstand I’ll be pleasantly surprised.

    Keynote on the iPad is OK, but it also scrunches up not just ppt but Keynote from my MacBook due to its limitations and my heavy use of animations. I annotate my slides on the fly in a presentation using my iPad 3 with Doceri software wirelessly hooked to the MacBook Pro either in wireless ad hoc mode, or my own wifi router. The MacBook connects to the VGA of the conference venue. If I know ahead of time it’s a small venue ill take my own Epson HDMI projector and AppleTV. Lotsa bits and pieces but the AV guys treat me like a pro when they see me come extra prepared, including my own extension cables. My first slide always contains a sound file for sound check, and I change my desktop background picture to be the same as my title page slide in case the presentation falls over. Eg., if I forget to power the MacBook and it gets into the very low, about to sleep zone, keynote momentarily pops out with a warning rather than the laptop just going to sleep. You then have a chance to power up and return to the show with be click. The audience just sees your first slide, not a desktop filled with apps, as long as you’re running presenter mode, as you can in ppt too, but I rarely see it at conferences.

  239. asdfa

    got a surface RT and love it…so went a ahead and bout an Acer Aspire to make my life complete…seriously windows 8 and RT are very impressive….surface RT has limitations and microsoft states what they are….windows 8 pro has no limitations whatsoever…..again love windows 8

  240. Arshard

    Hi stojozano, Thank you very much for following up. Works like a prayer! thanks a lot! We are using Windows 7. Much appreciated!

    • stojozano

      @ashard – So glad I could help and that things worked out. Surface is a great little device when properly configured.
      Shows a lot of promise.

      Take care.

  241. Arshard

    The links were very helpful!

  242. Bhargav Shukla

    My requirements are like yours, non-negotiable and while what I have fits most of your requirements, it doesn’t meet one: $1000 price tag. I own Sony VAIO Duo 11. Got it on launch day and have been using since. Love it so far. For $1199, you get a really decent setup, full Windows 8 experience (yes it’s not RT), has all ports and connectivity you need. I was running my 2 24″ monitors plus tablet screen all at the same time, try that on surface or any other tablet. Productivity and portability, can’t beat that.

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  244. Grossed out

    You’re in love with yourself.

    It’s embarassing to read this.

    • Ali Razeghi

      You’re right, it’s very embarrassing to read your silly comment. Jealous much? LOL Why you mad?

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  246. Fritiof Schiller

    I have been scrolling through the comment s to your review and I just cant believe that gadgets have become religion. Reading these comments is like watching the Israeli-Palestine conflict. Two sides so convinced that their view is the right one no matter what the actual facts say. If I were you the comments would be turned off by now.

    In my opinion your review is one of the more unbiased I have ever read.

    The bottom line is – as you show in your review – a device is chosen by the features it has. If said features fail to work as expected, the product is useless.

    If you want a device to have a complicated update system and have you working more with troubleshooting than actually being productive thats fine. I myself have enjoyed the troubleshooting as a pass-time in the past but as I have grown older, if not wiser, I have come to prefer things that work without tinkering. What I wont do however is to be rude to someone being objective and showing facts. I will instead inspect the facts and choose if I want to beta test another product or buy one that actually works. It might be either depending on my mood

    Thanks for the good work


    Errors in spelling and grammar are due to me being Swedish and can and will be used against me in future comments :)

  247. Surface tablet

    I agree, after using the surface RT for only a day and I can easily say I won’t be picking up my old ipad2 anytime soon

    I pretty much bought it to experiment on, and like the writer can see why he thought it was better than the ipad

    Only a noob would prefer an ipad

  248. Tablet

    Its a tablet by the way, not a laptop, doh!

  249. good for a uni student?

    need advice! out of the tablet/hybrid device to go for i plan to use it for studies in uni and casual media consumption on the go. While having a high-power desktop at home. So would you recommend the surface rt under these circumstances? if not what other devices would you recommend? The Pro is definitely appealing but seeing the rumoured price at 1k is a bit steep since that goes well into ultrabook territory. in the end don’t really see myself being required to use legacy apps as i’ll have another computer so rt doesn’t bother me too much but i’m just worried if it’ll get the job done over the next 3 years, and if the surface will get better over time with its software or will it be just forgotten over the next 6 months?

  250. Arshard

    Hi Stozano, I agree – i like it already, hopefully the next one will be a tad lighter. You too.

  251. Stephen Adams

    Using Chris Pirillo as evidence of anything tech related should be done under one assumption: he’s not a professional tech journalist. He’s merely a shock journalist masquerading as a professional for clicks. Just read his Twitter feed…and everything that he retweets. His vendors and supporters drive his opinion…not the other way around, unfortunately.

  252. mjscott

    Hey Brent – maybe your title should be: “Why a developer/PC Power User is returning my Microsoft Surface RT (not to be read by the average consumer” :)

    I enjoyed your article – and I do think you picked up on a lot of the same things that I saw (as a power user myself). However – I also have lots of friends that bought this thing as a consumer (my parents, my brother, my niece, and a handful of friends) – and they have been in love with the device. When I asked them about some of the stuff mentioned in your article – they shrugged it off saying that these weren’t an issue – or hadn’t hit them yet…

    I love mine – and agree that there are some issues – but it is still a great buy – and I won’t be returning mine…


  253. Mark

    I’m fairly disappointed with my Surface for the following reasons:

    1. The minute that I attempted to purchase this online in the Canadian store, the price was listed as $619 but soon as adding it to the cart price was $620.20. It’s not much of a difference but that’s still false advertisement and many shoppers wouldn’t even realize it.

    2. When I received this and started playing around it, the left side of the screen (about 1/4 of the screen), was darker then the rest. After spending hours with Microsoft Support, they finally advised that this is faulty.

    3. Many APPS from the Windows Store such as Microsoft Taptiles and Minesweeper did not support the ARM processor. Meaning, I can’t even install such basic games on the Surface versus my laptop which is x64.

    4. When unplugged and you are playing a game, there is no warning what-so-ever that the battery is getting low. It simply will turn off once it is empty!

    5. The touch keyboard is not very good. I can’t believe that you can not substitude it with the Type keyboard and pay the additional price. I am not willing to pay an additional $140 + Taxes just to get a new keyboard and to get rid of the other.

    All in all, Microsoft wanted to trade this Surface for a new one due to it being shipped faulty but I think I will just give this back and wait until the PRO version is released!

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  255. Sasha

    I bought my Surface. Loved it passionately. Am taking it back. It is driving me INSANE. Why three places to check for updates? Why Word that can’t save directly to Skydrive? Why have I spent more time trying to FIX one thing with Surface than I spent during the last 2 YEARS I had my iPad. Am returning, and purchasing new iPad.

  256. danny

    just typing this from my surface tablet…Best tablet EVER. nuff said.

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  258. Nigel T. Edwards

    I bought an Acer Iconia W500 tablet last year, which runs Windows 7 (full version).

    Seems to fit. I use it as a legitimate laptop replacement on the go, and nothing else has come close yet.

    But just to give you an idea of the device’s sheer bulk factor, well — it is actually a hair OVER 2 lbs (though under 1kg). But then add the dock if you want it (say you don’t have your own BT/wireless keyboard/etc) and you’re up another pound and a third.

    But hey — this is a legitimate tablet COMPUTER. Emphasis on computer. The dang thing can be tweaked to play Skyrim passably, which should speak volumes about its prowess (don’t expect 6 hour battery life doing that, though).

    [b] So now let’s see how it fits into your list! [/b]

    1. Tablet. Yes, it’s a tablet. Yes it can run Windows 8 touch (full version). I still run 7 (even on a touch-centric device), and I get by. Reports (forum goers) indicate significantly better battery life under 8, though (up to 8 hours, from 6 with W7).
    2. VGA output: HDMI slot built-in. Adapters exist for VGA out.
    3. Ability to charge the battery, show VGA out, and use the presenter mouse all at the same time: absolutely. And all without a dock, converters, or adapters!
    4. USB port or long-range Bluetooth (over 50 feet range) to work with a presenter mouse: yes. 2 USB slots on the device itself. Also, Bluetooth 3.0+HS.
    5. WiFi – yes, b/g/n
    6. Lightweight (under 2 pounds): NO, a hair OVER 2. One could say “just about 2 pounds”. Excluding the included dock (another pound and a third…)
    7. 5+hr battery life: rated 6, and I get at least that much with med-low brightness using full MS Office
    8. Cloud file sync app: Yes, it’s Windows x86 (processor actually does x64, go figure)
    9. Most importantly, present PowerPoint slide decks in the fonts & layout shown + live updates: Again, full Windows…

    Your nice-to-haves:

    10. While presenting, show the PowerPoint presenter view on the tablet monitor (shows presenter notes for each slide, plus the next slide): full Windows, friend.
    11. 3G radio – Yes, but only on the W501 (the “1” means 3G). It’s almost $200 pricier last I checked, though. Still in the $700-800 range.
    12. SD card input – Yes (no dongle or dock required).
    13. Keyboard case – Yes, comes with it. It’s magnetic and attaches, but you might as well use your existing BT keyboard/mouse and save some weight.
    14. Priced under $1000: You bet. I got mine around $550 last year. I just checked and it seems the price hasn’t dropped much at all, though…
    15 (mine, added). Geek points: This thing is a tweaker’s dream-come-true… it plays Skyrim.

    All points met or exceeded (even the optional ones) except #6, which scores a tentative “just about.”

    Not too shabby, eh? 😉

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  260. Tripp

    @ Brent

    I’m afraid I took away very little about the Surface from your well composed article because I’m really not in their target market. I did, however, very much enjoy the tutorial on blogger patience, etiquette, serenity and, perhaps, even endurance.

    Well done.

  261. Khurt L. Williams

    Except for the lack of touch interface and at 2.38lbs the MacBook Air with Windows 7 will meet your requirements.

  262. Rob White

    Don’t sweat it, your review was a fair representation of your experience with the tablet. It was a trueful representation, and from what I’ve seen off your other work done without malice or bias. It is what it is. Keep up the good work.

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  264. MichaelP

    I have had my Surface tablet for about a week now and have not had the problems shown in this review. It seems as though these issues were taken care of post launch.

    Using the built in mail app, I connected two Exchange accounts and my personal Gmail account. Exchange setup took an extra 5 minutes because the server certificate was not recognized and had to be installed into the certificate store.

    Office is working acceptably for me. I’ve used it primarily to review documents and take notes in meetings. SkyDrive integration seems to work just fine too – I have OneNote syncing with my desktop at work.

    My biggest gripe with Windows RT at this point is its lack of support for other browsers.

    As I’m sure you are aware, early adopters always have to put up with a few issues. IMO Microsoft produced a great device and I hope you consider updating your review in the future.

    • stojozano

      I’m not sure the author is even responding to this post anymore and who could blame him.. Having stated that.. although he seems like a bright guy, had he properly updated the device this gigantic blog-maggedon might not even exist. The device is not perfect but its certainly not accurately represented in Mr. Ozar’s post – misleading vides and all. As for the alternative browsers hang in there.. I don’t know how long it was before iPad finally got Chrome, which I am sure will be come to RT at some point. When it comes to invading privacy you can count on Google to leave no stone unturned.

      • Brent

        HA! Still here, just not bothering to respond to comments that don’t say anything new.

        • stojozano

          LOL – Hey Dude.. So what did you end up doing? I’m still plugging along with my RT, but I do feel that Microsoft blew an opportunity to do it better. If full Outlook functionality and full digital ink would have been deployed it would have made it at least a very interesting device instead of such an enigmatic (albeit lovable) device.. I think the Pro will have all the right stuff but with a full processor and a full version of Windows its kind of cheating.. like a really skinny touch laptop instead of a tablet that managed to be good in that arena. I can report that the with the recent firmware update and software/OS updates the RT is snappy and responsive and capable. But RT still requires a certain “acumen” where as iPad, although more limited in scope, is ergonomically such a downright set of nursery blocks to use! I don’t think Metro/Modern is a failure, but MS still has much learn from Apple.

          • Brent

            Like I wrote, I returned it. I’ve watched several of my friends keep theirs and struggle through problems, determined to make it work. That’s not how I like to buy gear – it shouldn’t be a struggle – but if it’s working for you, that’s great. Enjoy!

  265. stojozano

    I think “struggle” and “making it work” is probably over dramatizing – but to your point the process is not for everyone. I really enjoy using the device.. its a tablet for 100% of what I used to do with my iPad, which I have not even seen in over a month and its a little more when I want to flip the cover over and engage in lively debate with the people online, write documents for work or check my home budget spreadsheet. Its also become just an excellent companion piece for my Xbox360 for movies, music and home theater integration. I have not really “made” any of that work so much as I discovered it as I went along and its been fun. I also like the kickstand in the kitchen when I am cooking and reading recipes off of it.. its just a bunch of little things actually.. but struggling was never the verb I would have used.. I think from reading your stuff that you definitely have the chops to have gotten more out of the device if you had chosen to.. Either way I hope you find something that works for you.

  266. Gadgets 4 Guys

    Loved the in depth review of the Surface. It seems that people were not only underwhelmed with the product but even with how they were pushing it at the store. Maybe the Pro will be a little bit better.

  267. TDbronco


    Thanks for the insights in this review. I’m curious, are you planning on reviewing the Dell Latitude 10? Might meet some of the needs you’re looking for and there really aren’t many reviews of it currently. Seems intriguing.


  268. Poly Rollers

    Hi! Your blog is the most interesting one that I have read today and it was good to know about your experience. Thank you so much for sharing.

    • Stojozan

      From the article – “Window 8 – The Good, the not so good..)
      “Windows 8 adoption on the PC side of the business is not as rapid and dramatic as the industry expected”
      Who exactly was expecting a “rapid and dramatic” adoption of Windows 8 aside from Steve Sinofsky and maybe his mother? The incumbent OS, Windows 7 is a great OS with many more years of support on tap. As more and more vendors create touch capable systems the pace for adoption will pickup like it has again and again. Windows 8 PCs are not the only kind of systems that are experiencing slow trade these days – Try EVERY desktop and laptop platform including Apple..

  269. Pingback: Windows 8- The good, the not so good and the bad – Musings of a Technologist

  270. Damian

    if you’d have posted a blog stating that it was a great device that worked you wouldn’t have had even half as many posts and views.

    P.s. Mine works fine with Exchange, Outlook.com and F9 e-mail. yay. The Windows Update options are, as they always have been, in the exact same place as Windows 7/8. (Along with the easier to use RT interface update) I’m aware that you now know this.

    Good luck

    • Brent

      Damien – nice try, but no, the app updates are somewhere different – try the Microsoft Store first, which is where you’re supposed to get all your apps. I appreciate the snark though.

      • Stojozan

        Brent, Damien is correct (except for maybe the snark). Desktop and Desktop apps update on RT in the same place as WIN7/8. Metro apps update on the Store just as you stated. But Metro apps were not your issue. That is why your findings and your post were based on the preview of the Office app and therefore incomplete and inaccurate.
        I still get your point that MS should have been more clear on this matter at release time. Having used the device since it came out I can tell you that I really never use the desktop side but when I do its solid. That said, MS should have made office full metro app and abandoned the desktop on the RT device entirely. I love this device and its the best tablet I have owned without it.

      • Stojozan

        a little more food for the haters though.. The durability of the surface, at least in my personal experience, is overstated.. I dropped mine from chest height onto my drive way. I’m not tall guy at all so at 5′ 8″ I figure that was less than four feet. It totally destroyed it. The screen cracked all the way across and was not longer functional. More disturbing was the magnesium case which “broke” instead of just denting and bending like my iPad (dropped more than a few times). A big chunk of a corner just broke off. I was not impressed. Thankfully I have the accidental damage plan and MS did a good job of cross-shipping a replacement unit.

  271. melianband.com

    This particular post, “Why I

  272. Drew

    This blog is interesting because just about every item that anyone on this blog has listed as not working or not possible or not available on the surface tablet has been incorrect. I bought mine 2-3 weeks ago and the first thing I did was install windows update, which was very easy. I turned bluetooth off to save battery life, set my email up to sync with my work email (Exchange) and my gmail first try, synced it with my xbox first try. Within the first hour I was streaming movies to my tv through my xbox and remotely connecting to my work computer to use full version windows applications. Netflix works fine, everything works great? It’s $499 for 32-gig tablet when the iPad is $499 for a 16-gig tablet. The battery life is excellent after watching 3 movies and still having lots of batter left. The Surface Pro that is coming out soon is $899, and is said to have half the battery life.

    My biggest “complaint” so far is that websites that run flash won’t load using the browser on the surface RT. Also, there have been a couple times when the screen didn’t turn on so I had to hold the power button down and restart it, but it’s happened only a couple times so I don’t mind that.

  273. http://tinyurl.com/everydbloyd92

    “Why I

  274. joe lore

    Try a Twist! lenovo twist – win 8 – i5 or i7

  275. http://tinyurl.com/doyo-8153946750

    “Why I

  276. Erich

    I am with everyone else who knows this is a tablet on steroids. Not a laptop replacement nor was it ever meant to be. I think the real problem is that is what people are expecting tablet and laptop replacement. And in that case yes wait for the pro on FEB 9th. if you expect it to be a tablet well it almost all aspects it surpasses that. And as for you Danny Davido comment if you weren’t sitting so close to your screen like a grandmother drives her Buick there wouldn’t be an issue :)

  277. IC

    I think what I am seeing is that people are pissed with how Apple acted as a bully boy in the market that prompted them to start looking elsewhere. That is precisely why a lot of people (including me myself) wanted surface to work, not to mention that it runs office and will actually be somewhat useful – you can at least get some productivity out of it. That attracted a lot of attention and expectations.

    While it doesn’t make it acceptable, I think sofatware issues on the surface is predictable. MS was stressed by its investors to stop Apple and Google from eroding its profits, and the lack of sufficient time has resulted in a mediocre software due to inadequate testing at the end. Also, with Win7 being a very stable and powerful product, the bars are set high for Win8, and the discrepancy in expectations is reflected in a lot of bad reviews that is floating around. Another thing to note is that, we are so used to the good old windows, and with the new gui, there is a learning curve. That creates stress and frustration, which is understandable.

    While those bugs and issues will be fixed sooner or later, but the early launch created an “just-ok” impression among users, as reflected in the mediocre sales predictions from analysts. However, I think surface will fare well as it develops. I am very interested in the 2nd generation product and see how it will work out. Pro is a little too pricey though, I’d rather go for a full fledged ultrabook instead.

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  280. annyweb

    hey Moron..lol…were you using an iphone camera? the first recording where you’re bluffing about slow typing..you actually have a broken recording and you’re trying to fool rest of the ppl out here?

  281. Pingback: Microsoft Delivers A Lemon With Windows 8 « Daily Moral Volcano

  282. Brian

    Brent, don’t listen to these Windows sheep. They have no idea what good software looks like, so of course they’re defending the abysmal experience that is the Surface RT and Windows 8.

    It’s so hard to argue against video proof, but they’ll do it anyway and end up cutting of their nose to spite their face.

    I enjoyed the article and the videos were very illustrative… you even tried to defend that eMail client, valiant effort i might say, because it did take a Painfully long time to get going. I could have Hard-reset my iPad and gotten back in and authored 2 eMails by the time that thing figured out what was going on!

    Keep up the good work.

  283. Pingback: Top News Stories Microsoft Surface Pros Warranty Becomes A Target In China Slashgear | Top News Stories

  284. Ashard

    I bought one of the first one’s in San Fran, after a month i got so tired of it i sold it for $400. It wouldn’t even load pages to fit a screen. Probably the worst item i ever bought.

  285. Pingback: Twenty Four Hours with my Microsoft Surface Pro | Cranky DBA

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  287. Ben

    have you looked at the Surface 2? I think MS would have been better served advertising Surface 1 as what it ended up becoming in reality: a beta model. I was given one as a present (and started up a blog as I kept up with reviews and tips and tricks surrounding RT and the Surface) and noticed much of what you did. The team working on Surface 2 I think has taken much of that into account. I’m recommending the Surface 2 to people looking for what you indicated in your search requirements, as long as they can deal with the fact that they can only add new programs via the Windows Store. It wouldn’t hurt if MS took the price point down a bit, but it’s still well under $800 with the keyboard and 2 year protection (a must for surface owners)

    With 8.1 my Surface is actually cruising along quite nicely. I do notice a bit of lag every now and then (most annoyingly when Word autosaves), but I think 8.1 really smoothed out a lot of the wrinkles.

  288. jeff

    Brent, I got the surface 2. I wish I would have gotten the pro. It works nice but there is just is not enough adoption of software yet. No amazon video, so Sonos, flash video does not work great. I know these are my personal apps but it is what I use to relax. I am left going back to my iPad 2 that has all these apps. Remind me when that came out again.

  289. ramona

    Brent, so good to hear people like you speaking out. Any chance you can email me what I should do! I bought the surface rt for my mom and dad who do some Facebook and emails and games. My mom likes to write about the grandkids and such but… I have found this surface rt extremely hard to use after having an iPad. I want my parents experience to be good and not bad. They need simple, I think! What do you recommend? I thought I got a good deal for black Friday so I went with it. Now I am nervous. I am hoping I can take it back?

    • Brent

      If you don’t like it, take it back.

  290. Jamie

    The Surface was a complete buzz kill for me. I was so excited to get a nice tablet with all the benefits of a PC, but it just doesn’t work. I couldn’t download most of the programs I wanted and forget using any good apps. Not to mention security enforcements and updates galore. It was like trying to break into Fort Knox. Really disappointed. I’m returning it tomorrow for something I can actually use. I would never recommend the Surface to anyone that is serious about using a tablet on a daily basis.

  291. James

    Thanks for a useful and informative review, Brent! I am looking for something that I can word-process on (I type as fast as you do, am also quite tall) and play movies through the TV. So far, I have found nothing better than my decrepit old Samsung NC10 with XP and Word 2003. I’m ordering it a replacement keyboard…

  292. Bruce

    Fifty updates out of the box. Can’t keep pace with my typing. Not impressed.

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