Microsoft Surface: Real world impressions

There are hundreds of Microsoft Surface reviews out there, so if you
want a proper full review of a Microsoft Surface, I would probably
start somewhere else.  I am going to give my personal opinions and
reviews of the surface after having it for a few days.

Surface with Touch Cover

Ordering Process

I ordered my surface from the UK Microsoft Store.  The ordering process was relatively straightforward and worked well.  The **Order history** page leaves a bit to be desired.  My order still says "In Process" despite the fact I took delivery of the **Surface** 2 days ago.

 First Impressions

The first thing to note and this is being echoed in most reviews, the build quality is very high.  The unit itself feels very well made.  For a v1.0, this is a very well thought out piece of hardware.
The shape of the **Surface** is definitely different.  The 16:9 aspect ratio really gives it a different feel.  Currently, I am not decided whether this is a good or a bad thing.  When browsing the web, the lack of vertical height is somewhat apparent, but it's not a big issue.

 Touch Cover

I am very impressed with the touch cover.  It is very simple to type on, with hardly any learning curve.  **Microsoft** say that there is a 3-5 day learning curve for the touch cover, I don't agree.  I think it's almost instant.  It certainly isn't the same as when the first onscreen keyboards came out (think original iPhone), that was a true learning curve.
The best part about the touch cover is the trackpad.  This really sets it apart for all other devices, having the ability to use a mouse is definitely a selling point for me.  It really enables this device for business use.
Many reviews have covered the attachment of the **Touch Cover** to the **Surface**, but I can't really talk about my thoughts without mentioning how satisfying it is to hear that "click".  It really does give you real confidence in the device.

 Windows 8 RT

We all know that any review of the **Surface** is actually two reviews rolled into one.  You firstly have to review the surface, but then you have to review **Windows 8 RT.**
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In short, I really like both **Windows 8** and **Windows 8 RT.**  I think what **Microsoft** are doing across the entire ecosystem is very powerful and will eventually pay off.  It might take some time initially to gain traction and worst case scenario, it might take as long as **Windows 9**, but i'm sure it will work.
I find the gestures within the **Windows Store Apps** to be very natural.  They definitely compliment each other.  It does take some time to get used to it all, but once you realise how it's all put together, I'm sure most people will become fans.  For example, once you realise that the **Charms bar** (swipe in from the right) is context sensitive to the app you have loaded, things start to make a lot more sense.
The true power of the **Surface** to me is that it is running **Windows 8** (albeit a slimmer version).  For example, at work we have a 5 year old Dell network printer.  Installation of this printer on all previous **Windows** version (including Windows 7) was frankly, a big pain.  It involved specifying the IP address of the printer and then pointing windows to the drivers that were downloaded etc.  For the average user, this would prove to be too much.  On the surface, I simply did the following:
- Loaded Control Panel - Clicked "Devices and Printers" - Clicked "Add Printer" - Windows 8 automatically detected the printer and I just selected it. (this didn't happen in windows 7) - The printer installed. - Now from any app, I can load the C**harms bar** and print. - It works perfectly.
Ask yourself, what would that process be on an iPad.  It would probably invoice going to a shop and buying an **AirPrint** compatible printer.

One thing I am missing at the moment is the lack of an iCloud-esque backup service.  The warm feeling that iCloud gives you knowing that your device backed up overnight really is something I am seeking with the **Surface.**
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I don't think this is indicative of the devices in general, but my headphone jack does not work.  **Windows** notices I've plugged it in and even reports audio correctly in the mixer, but no sound actually comes out.  I have gone through the MS **Surface** support line (which was a very good service) and they are sending out a new one as I am typing.  I can't fault the support.  However, the lack of an iCloud-like backup service, does leave me feeling unsafe.  When they take the current surface away, how am I supposed to get my new one back to the way this one was?  On iOS, it would be simple, just restore the latest backup.
The other issue I have is that I feel the device is under powered in terms of CPU.  It definitely experiences slow down which can be detrimental to the overall experience.  I am assuming this will be resolved with successive versions of the **Surface** but currently it leaves a little to be desired.

 Wrap Up

Really happy with the surface.  The really exciting part is actually Windows 8.  We finally have access to a tablet that can be used realistically for both work and play.
The Surface is not without it's issues, it certainly isn't a perfect device, but Windows 8 really opens the doors to other hardware manufacturers to create great tablets.   The next few years is going to be very exciting and very competitive.
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