And there we are – the Surface Pro reviews are in. Reading through them all, there’s clearly a common theme, and it’s not particularly positive. We’re a few months in now, so I think we can finally call it: Windows 8 and Surface are the wrong way to go.
The Surface Pro reviews all share a common theme: for a machine that’s not supposed to have any compromises, it sure sports a lot of compromises. Battery life is atrocious, the split personality between Metro and the desktop is as jarring as ever, touch on the desktop is cumbersome, the desktop is set to 150% scaling which looks weird, it’s heavy, the kickstand only has one position so it’s not fun as a laptop, and so on, and so forth.
The end result is that it’s not a good laptop, and not a good tablet. In other words, the idea that Surface is a ‘no compromises’ device is a bunch of nonsense. If you want a laptop, you’re better off buying something like a MacBook Air or an Aspire S7, and if you want a tablet you’re better off with an iPad or a Nexus.
All this has solidified my belief that Windows 8, as it stands now, was the wrong way to go. Microsoft should have released Windows 8 without Metro, and used Windows Phone 8 for tablets and phones. Windows Phone 8 already has many decent applications, developers are familiar with it, and the interface was already there – and a far less confusing one, too. I see very little in Windows 8’s Metro that Windows Phone didn’t already have or that could not be added without breaking anything.
On top of that, it would’ve solved the 7″-problem. You may have noticed there’s no 7″ Windows 8 tablet, and there’s good reason for that: Metro is not suited for it, the desktop is not suited for it. It’s pretty clear the major design decisions for Windows 8 were finalised before the popularity of 7″ tablets became clear, and so Microsoft has to address it afterwards.
Microsoft could have entered the hardware space with a beautifully simple range of devices – Surface 4, Surface 7, Surface 10 (running Windows Metro, all ARM), and an ultrabook with a Surface-like design (Windows 8 without Metro, x86). Instead, we have lacklustre Surface tablets, a confusing operating system with split-personality disorder, and a development story that’s anything but consistent across devices.
With Nokia barely being able to sell any serious amount of Lumias and Surface’s lukewarm reception, Microsoft is certainly going through a tough time. I applaud Microsoft for trying to be different and having something resembling a vision, but its execution needs a lot of work.