Some Thoughts on the Microsoft Surface

When iPad was released, the mobile computing world took a hit as more and more people are getting a tablet as their daily driving machine instead of a full fledge laptop. Microsoft decided to release a hybrid device that was both laptop and tablet at the same time, and it’s the Surface and Surface Pro line.

The initial release was very much affected by the half-baked software of Windows 8, but soon with the release of Windows 10, Microsoft started to gain back the trust from users and subsequently boosting their sales by introducing other devices in the Surface line, such as the Surface Studio, Surface Book and Surface Laptop.

I purchased the Surface 3 for my wife last year when she was looking for a laptop for occasional use. As her iPad was aging as well, I thought the tablet style of the Surface 3 will be a good all purpose device for her to cover both entertainment and serious work. She never use it often, and so do I. However, as my master study started this year, I decided to give it a try and use the Surface 3 as my go-to device for studying.

After using it for awhile, I must say I really like the idea of Surface’s tablet/laptop hybrid form factor. For my study, couple it with the Surface Pen, I can scribble on pdf notes and slides, something conventional PC/laptop does not provide. Even though some laptop do provide touch screen, they are still not as intuitive and effective in taking notes with your fingers versus a pen input device. But sadly, that’s about it that I can compliment this device for. Don’t get me wrong, I do like the form factor, they keyboard cover, even the kickstand design of a Surface.

Seriously, what’s left behind is the software. Microsoft has done a good job getting the hardware right, there isn’t much to complaint about. I would prefer to see USB-C charging available in future models, this will open up possibility for you to charge the device on the go with your powerbank. I would like to see implementation of kickstand to use the device in portrait orientation too. Inclusion of discrete graphic GPU would be good to have, but I’m willing to sacrifice a bit of graphic performance in order to strike the balance on portability and form.

On the software side, Windows 10 is still far from being touch friendly. There’s a tablet mode on the Surface which turns it into iPad like interface, where you basically run the apps from Microsoft’s app store. My personal opinion is that the whole app store should be ditched all together. Instead, force the developer to design more touch friendly interface into their software. The same goes to Windows itself, it’s just a total mess when you want to touch something now. In this regards, I feel that the macOS is designed to be more “touch friendly” than Windows, it just doesn’t make sense.

Adobe softwares are yet to make full use of the potential of Surface form factor and ecosystem, so are other major software titles. Microsoft Office on the other hand, has made a pretty slick touch-base user interface. Perhaps they get all the experience while developing the Office Suite for mobile devices and baked them for touch enabled laptop/PC. With the support of major softwares over touch-friendly interface and improvements on Windows core interface itself, I believe the Surface product line will have a very bright future.

For now, I’ll still use the Surface 3 as my daily study device. Will it eventually grow so much in me that I will ditch my iPad mini and Macbook Pro for a single unified Surface Pro? We’ll see how things unfold in the future. Till then.

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