Beautiful Microsoft tablet let down by software gaps: reviewers

Wed Oct 24, 2012 10:48am EDT

The new Surface tablet computer by Microsoft is displayed at its unveiling in Los Angeles, California, in this June 18, 2012 file photo. REUTERS/David McNew/Files

The new Surface tablet computer by Microsoft is displayed at its unveiling in Los Angeles, California, in this June 18, 2012 file photo.

Credit: Reuters/David McNew/Files

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(Reuters) - Tech bloggers and other reviewers praised Microsoft Corp's new Surface RT tablet for beautiful design but said a shortage of applications and a slow operating system meant the result was heartbreak for users.

Microsoft begins selling the Surface on Friday, joining the fight in a tablet market dominated by Apple Inc's iPads and devices using Google Inc's Android system.

Reviewers given the product early to play with it said its first version paled in comparison with the iPad.

Matt Burns of TechCrunch said the tablet was great and the Windows RT operating system showed promise, but he still was not keen.

"There are simply more mature options available right now," he wrote. (r.reuters.com/tes53t)

Similarly, Sam Biddle of Gizmodo, a technology website, said Surface had fantastic potential but he was sharply critical of the operating system, Windows RT, saying it was underpowered, lacked functionality.

"While potential is worth your attention, it's not worth your paycheck. Surface RT gets so many things right, and pulls so many good things together into one package. But it is undercooked," he wrote. (r.reuters.com/xes53t)

Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system, also available on tablets, had the full range of Windows apps but Windows RT does not, and lacks compatibility with older software, Vincent Nguyen at Slashgear said. (r.reuters.com/pus53t)

"Microsoft hasn't done the best job explaining the differences, and many consumers are likely to buy RT only to find out they don't have the full functionality of Windows 8," added CNET's Shara Tibken. (r.reuters.com/nus53t)

Microsoft has said it expects to have 100,000 apps in place for the tablet by January, whereas Apple has 275,000 iPad apps available now and its tablet also runs many more iPhone apps.

"Microsoft says there will be thousands of apps at launch, with a constant stream of more coming, but its apps offerings pale next to the number Apple has made available for the iPad," Edward Baig at USA Today wrote. (r.reuters.com/kus53t)

Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg praised the availability of Microsoft Office apps and optional keyboards.

"If you can live with its tiny number of third-party apps, and somewhat disappointing battery life, it may give you the productivity some miss in other tablets," he said. (r.reuters.com/jus53t)

But Wired reviewer Mathew Honan warned that the tablet would not turn heads.

"Nobody asked me about my Surface. I tried flashing it all over the place. But despite my best efforts, no one seemed curious," Honan wrote. (r.reuters.com/ses53t)

"The only person to comment on it was a TSA agent at the Seattle airport, who told me I didn't need to take my iPad out of my bag."

(Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee; Editing by Rodney Joyce)

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Comments (11)
kiwikish wrote:
I would like to point out that people saying there is a lack of quality apps is incorrect because most apps haven’t even been released yet. In fact, some of the apps that have been released won’t be updated till the official launch of Windows 8. Also, when talking about the 275,000 ipad apps compared to the 100,000 potential windows 8 apps, how many do you actually use? I’ve yet to meet someone with over 100,000 apps on their ipad.

Oct 24, 2012 11:09am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Houdani wrote:
There seems to be this general view that WinRT is rubbish because it’s not the full Win8. As if it’s some sort of failing that the OS written for ARM processors is incapable of running legacy software that was written for x86 processors.

Of course, the same is true for the competition. But for whatever reason, they aren’t chastised for failing to be a universal OS.

Oct 24, 2012 11:24am EDT  --  Report as abuse
HiDesert wrote:
Its looking like no one will give Apple a run in the tablet market. Its bad enough the surface RT won’t support popular codecs like MKV, XVID AVI etc.. Now the OS is slow? Apple is just as bad with poor codec support. Only the Samsung provides decent codec support and flash. I really wanted surface to work but it seems too crippled out of the box. And if the OS is laggy that is is too much to bear. The surface Pro would no doubt work but IMO that will cost too much. I may have to re consider the galaxy 10.1 since I want a tablet to do what I WANT which includes supporting a variety of popular codecs and flash. I don’t want MS and Apple dictating that experience for me.

Oct 24, 2012 11:32am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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