Surface: Setup Is Bad, User Experience Stunning

Microsoft’s Surface computer is a revolutionary table-top multitouch computer that can do all sorts of fancy tricks. It makes use of a projector and five cameras to track hand movements, as well as read “Surface tags”, which are a sort of barcodes underneath objects. It’s a software+hardware package, and for 17000 USD, you’d think it’d be a treat to unbox and install one. Well, no. Near-instant update: Microsoft has replied to the blog post, and as it turns out, the unit delivered to Miller for one of his clients was scheduled to be setup by Microsoft – a service that comes standard with the device. More details inside.

Gordon Miller bought a Microsoft Surface Unit for one of his clients, and he and his team were all excited about the idea of unboxing the machine, setting it up, and playing with it. While the “playing with it” part was indeed very exciting (“a truly dynamic and stunning user experience”, see videos), the other two parts were a bit of a letdown.

For instance, it was completely unclear as to where you plug in the power cord; the documentation didn’t help, and the support centre didn’t have any idea either – they needed to check their own Surface unit. A bigger problem, however, was that the touch technology doesn’t work when setting it up – you need the included keyboard and mouse to go through the setup steps.

There were other problems as well, but once it was all setup and working, it does appear to be an amazing piece of technology, with slick software and a “stunning user experience”. Still, for such a landmark device, this simply shouldn’t happen. You should be able to just plug it in, and get going.

Let’s hope this article and the media attention it’s getting prompts the Surface team to improve their product, because I really want this to catch on, so that one day, I can have one of these things in my own living room.

And so do you.

Update: In a response to Miller, Microsoft has explained that the machine ordered by the client was supposed to be set up by Microsoft itself – a service that comes with the Surface computer. “We were delivered a unit designed to be set-up by someone else, in another time and place.”

Microsoft did say they are looking into the keyboard/mouse issue. “We want to add some goodness right there,” Microsoft said, “The user shouldn’t have to wait to be greeted with some of the excitement of the product”.


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