Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 23rd Sep 2013 16:53 UTC

While on stage, Microsoft Vice President of Surface Panos Panay explained how the teams have worked hard in making the next generation of Surface tablets cooler, lighter, quieter, more efficient and have longer lasting power reactors. The Surface Pro 2 was up first and is all about power, with new covers and better components to further improve the user experience. If you're after the premium Surface experience, this will be the correct choice.


The Surface 2 is lighter, has a faster CPU and now sports a 1080 display with ClearType. Powering Windows RT 8.1, the Surface 2 brings new exciting features to the table, without bumping the price above the competition.

Specification bumps all around, and thinner, lighter, and changes borne from customer feedback, such as the adjustable kickstand. I like the full HD display on the Surface 2 (the ARM version of Surface), and the Haswell improvements to power and battery life on the Surface Pro 2 are substantial.

Still, as a Surface RT owner, the hardware has never been the issue. My Surface RT is a very enjoyable piece of hardware to hold - well-built, sturdy, solid, and very well designed. Specification-wise, it packs more than enough power, too. Sadly, Surface was let down by software; Windows RT and the Metro interface are simply not of decent enough quality, and the applications for it are even worse - slow, jittery animations, crash-prone, rarely updated. All the hallmarks of side projects; things developers may work on when they're not working on Android or iOS applications.

Windows 8.1 seems to have fixed little of those issues (although Surface RT owners are still waiting for the final release), and with Microsoft's notoriously slow development pace, I hardly see that change any time soon.

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Windows 8.1 is a solid but incremental update; I've been fiddling with the final release and am itching to update my gaming PC to it. (Unfortunately no final version of RT on MSDN though, so my Surface RT is still on Preview...)

The biggest problems remain:

* Modern app ecosystem is both locked down AND relatively unpopular. People put up with iOS's code signing and review system because there's a huge market, but there's just not the same demand for 'Modern' Windows apps so devs don't put serious effort into it. The 'side project effect' is very real.

* The ARM desktop is totally locked down for NO APPARENT REASON. This hugely limits the appeal of Windows RT as a lightweight dockable laptop/desktop replacement unless Office is literally the *only thing you do* on a Windows machine.

Simply allowing cross-compiling of desktop apps to ARM would have made the Surface RT a useful work tool for me instead of a toy and testing machine...

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