After reading literally hundreds of blog posts and reviews of the Microsoft Surface (not the Surface Pro), I decided that it was time to review it fairly. All the reviews I have seen seem to be judging the Surface on its ability to BE a laptop.
Examples of its alleged shortcomings:
- It won’t run Microsoft Outlook!
- It cannot join a Microsoft domain!
- It’s not a full-blown desktop that I can carry around with me!
OK, I made up this last one… But still, you can see that the Surface is being judged unfairly. Judging a tablet by its ability to run Microsoft Outlook is a lot like judging a fish by its ability to climb a tree*.
“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
― Albert Einstein
So, I went out and purchased one. (A Surface, not a fish) Here is what I found…
The Surface was never meant to BE a laptop… it was meant to be a fully functional mobility platform. Microsoft Office documents? No problem; edit, create, print in native format. The folks you forward documents to never suspect they were not edited on a laptop or desktop.
And, would you really WANT to run a full version of Outlook on something that was designed to be a mobility platform? (Translation: Do you really want to have PST files on a device that you may forget in an airport?)
Were the early Android devices criticized for not having Microsoft Outlook? No. How about the Apple iPads? Again, no. Both families of devices have attracted a sizable following and have found their way into the New Mobile Workforce.
Why, then, do so many reviews grade the Surface as if it were the latest sub-notebook or NetBook? Blame Microsoft for that one, if blame we must. The device ACTS very laptop-like. The visual similarity to laptops running Microsoft Windows 8 makes one set loftier goals than one aught for a tablet.
So, how should we judge such a device? Here’s an idea… let’s judge it against what it was meant to be: A TABLET! Here’s what reviews SHOULD be talking about:
- Indecently long battery life. How can I bail out of long seminars claiming ‘low battery’ if the thing lasts all day? (Mine typically runs 11 hours of ordinary use.)
- Ability to connect to Microsoft Exchange servers, as well as most other mail services
- Ability to create/edit Microsoft Office files. I didn’t even need to purchase this separately!
- Present your documents! Relatively inexpensive attachments exist for output to monitor, TV or projector.
- Limited storage… OK, I’ll give you that… unless you plug in a MicroSD card or external hard drive! You can carry around (and lose in an airport) terabytes of your personal documents if you so desire!
So there you have it. We can either judge the Surface for its shortcomings as a laptop, which it isn’t, or by its myriad of superior feature as a tablet, which it actually IS.