Hands On: Surface 2

Microsoft is charging into the Windows RT waters again with the Surface 2, their ARM-based tablet that will be released on October 22nd. We got some hands-on time with the tablet today at Microsoft's press event in New York City.

One thing that's immediately visible is that the Surface 2 has a silver case on the back this time, instead of the black case like the Surface RT and both versions of the Surface Pro. Microsoft reps told us that they wanted consumers to not be as confused when they were buying the products.

Holding the Surface 2 in the hand makes it clear that this is supposed to be a media tablet rather than a notebook replacement like the Surface Pro 2. The Surface 2 is suppose to have 12 hours of battery life which should be plenty for anyone.

We are still not convinced that the Surface 2 will be a huge sales hit, simply because the tablet suffers from the biggest problem the Surface RT did; it can't run legacy desktop Windows programs. While the Surface 2 is certainly going to be more powerful, that lack of compatibly will remain a thorn in its side. Additionally, the price of the device is not much better than the original Surface which caused Microsoft to write-down $900 million.

We will have a full review of the Surface 2 in the coming weeks. Keep in mind that pre-orders start at 8 am Eastern Time Tuesday with the Surface 2 priced starting at $449.

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"..We are still not convinced that the Surface 2 will be a huge sales hit, simply because the tablet suffers from the biggest problem the Surface RT did; it can't run legacy desktop Windows programs...”

Really?? Why can't you use less harsh language like, "With a 100k apps in Windows Store, we'll wait to see how the market responds to the new Surface 2...” Sheesh..! It seems to be techies that kill the market for regular folks by using misguided language in mass media.

I want to hear from technicians who fix PCs for home and personal use to chime in and see how many people still use their PCs for anything more than MS Office, the web, a few offline games, watching Netflix & Hulu, and maybe some image manipulation using apps like PhotoFunia?

The majority of PC buyers don't use Photoshop, and most of the software they use on the desktop is probably already available on Mod UI or some alternative app is already available. Only thing I lark is the a video player that supports MKVs with separate subtitles for my Surface RT. Otherwise, when I'm on the road 90% of the time I'm using the RT & not my notebook which is only there just in case I need to do some diagnostics on customers PC or download some desktop utilities and drivers.

Lord Method Man said,
They need to kill RT and focus on the Pro. Windows RT is a failure.

You post this same crap on every article that has anything to do with Windows RT, we all get it you hate Windows RT so why bother commenting!!

I don't want Win32 apps on my tablet.
This is why I really like my Surface RT and why I will grab the new one.

You can't run OSX apps on iOS and no one whines about it.

This whole RT issue remains a marketing and naming problem.

Like I said above, TONS of apps & games are not available on RT but are there on iOS or Android. You may be able to replace apps by real Web site, but it's not always the case.

I don't want x86, but I want apps....

I don't know why many are saying that the average user expecting windows RT to run normal windows applications is like expecting ipad to run OSX apps or android running linux apps. They are ignoring the fact that both windows RT and full windows look and behave exactly the same unlike iOS and OSX for example.

I agree. I like the idea of having 'Explorer'. A proper means of copying files to and from other devices, network shares and the like. I'm going to pick up the Surface 2 or the Nokia 2520... Just waiting for Nokia's announcement.

The hardware was never a problem (Tegra 3 was good enough), but it's the software.

The selection of Apps for Modern UI is not as vast as Apple or Google.

TruckWEB said,
The hardware was never a problem (Tegra 3 was good enough), but it's the software.

The selection of Apps for Modern UI is not as vast as Apple or Google.


Here we go again, first of all apps are not important since you got the Fully Plugin support on browser, you can go to any site you want. anywhere. apps are not reliable anyway because there is not an app for every single website but you know at least you got a browser that got you covered for every single website with flash, Silverlight and java support.
secondly, If you ever had your hands on Original Surface RT you would have never say the software is problem because the software is great and optimized. I know there were gotchas on windows 8 which is not the case anymore with 8.1/ so here you have it. no more complain

I could think of a tons of apps that are not simple web site. Show me Need For Speed, or many other EA games. In fact, TONS of games from both iOS or Android are not available on RT.

And it's not just games, many other apps are not there.

It seems like the same crowd that moans about the lack of ability to run desktop applications the same crowd that wants to see this tablet remove the desktop altogether?

My wife has the RT and I have the Pro. Not once did she ask to run a desktop app on it. Heck even Word and Excel are barely opened by her. being an accountant I expected her to be more in those apps, but she already has a fullsize desktop with a mammoth screen for that. That's because all she want to do is available in the metro environment: IE, Yahoo Mail App, News readers, Wordfeud, Netflix and some small others. Everything else is in the browser.

having the desktop is complete necessary, For a few reason alone

File Management, NO WinRT app for file management is even close to being useful/productive.
Network Shares (access, modifying, adding, removing, ect)
File Transferring between devices, computers, drives, SD cards, ect.
Administrating the device it self (ie control panel, msconfig, services, anything under the administration tool set, run command, ect)

On my original Surface RT I spend 90% of my entire time on the desktop despite there being any desktop apps,

For Previewing files, to home networking, and even Remote Desktop from RT > MS Server 2008 R2 in this case *side note the remote desktop app (WinRT app is complete garbage compared to the built in RD that included in ever version of windows)

I hate to brake it to you people but desktop is completely finger friendly and works way better then the Modern UI.


----------------------------

On a side note the Surface RT makes a excellent windows server administration device for headless operations, I basically do all my RD to 2008 R2 via my surface, and I can do it any where as long as there a internet connection. inside and out side the office/house.

Edited by WolfSilverLone, Sep 23 2013, 7:08pm :

WolfSilverLone said,
having the desktop is complete necessary, For a few reason alone

File Management, NO WinRT app for file management is even close to being useful/productive.
Network Shares (access, modifying, adding, removing, ect)
File Transferring between devices, computers, drives, SD cards, ect.
Administrating the device it self (ie control panel, msconfig, services, anything under the administration tool set, run command, ect)

On my original Surface RT I spend 90% of my entire time on the desktop despite there being any desktop apps,

For Previewing files, to home networking, and even Remote Desktop from RT > MS Server 2008 R2 in this case *side note the remote desktop app (WinRT app is complete garbage compared to the built in RD that included in ever version of windows)

I hate to brake it to you people but desktop is completely finger friendly and works way better then the Modern UI.


----------------------------

On a side note the Surface RT makes a excellent windows server administration device for headless operations, I basically do all my RD to 2008 R2 via my surface, and I can do it any where as long as there a internet connection. inside and out side the office/house.

I agree why the desktop is needed but, spelling aside, I have to disagree with this:

"I hate to brake it to you people but desktop is completely finger friendly and works way better then the Modern UI."

The Modern UI is 110% more finger friendly than the desktop ever has been, even though the taskbar is more finger friendly the controls in those administrative tools are still very much reliant on the mouse and keyboard!!

WolfSilverLone said,
hate to brake it to you people but desktop is completely finger friendly and works way better then the Modern UI.

I agree with everything, wholeheartedly, but this. I love the desktop and hope it stays in even Windows RT till it's 100% time to move on, but I wouldn't say it's way better than Modern UI for touch. It certainly isn't as bad as people make it out to be. I've never had touch hit issues

Microsoft should completely do away with the desktop on Surface RT or now called Surface 2. Getting rid of the desktop on the Surface RT/2 will clear confusion up will make clear that this isn't the same as Windows 8 X64. The desktop on the Surface RT is kind of pointless as it cant run any other programs than what is installed.

Lone Wanderer Chicken said,
Microsoft should completely do away with the desktop on Surface RT or now called Surface 2. Getting rid of the desktop on the Surface RT/2 will clear confusion up will make clear that this isn't the same as Windows 8 X64. The desktop on the Surface RT is kind of pointless as it cant run any other programs than what is installed.

So how will users run Office on Surface without the desktop then, the Metro version of Office is in the works but hasn't been released yet?

All this legacy software crap would be fixed if Microsoft just let devs put desktop apps recompiled for ARM in the store. Everything else is there all winRT needs to be a complete system is openGL and I think the legacy versions of DX.

"We are still not convinced that the Surface 2 will be a huge sales hit, simply because the tablet suffers from the biggest problem the Surface RT did; it can't run legacy desktop Windows programs."

Great observation here and that will be the one point why this tablet will fail. MS did not learn from round 1 and maybe they will learn from round 2. Customers want to run all Windows apps, not just 10% of them.

I had an original Surface RT before I gave it to my mom. When I first got my ASUS Vivotab Smart, I thought it was a great addition to be able to run desktop apps. After months of real life usage, although I can run desktop apps, I don't actually do it, other than using Office. I'm kind of troubled by the reason though. I think, the reason I didn't use the desktop as often, is because of the lack of kick stand and touch cover as Surface, so it's hard to use it like a laptop, therefore making the desktop environment harder to access. It's true that I used my laptop a lot less when I had my Surface, then when I have my Vivotab Smart. Kind of counter intuitive but it's true.

We are still not convinced that the Surface 2 will be a huge sales hit, simply because the tablet suffers from the biggest problem the Surface RT did; it can't run legacy desktop Windows programs.

You mean the biggest problem is the Surface RT did; it doesn't have a great app selection.

The fact that it can't run legacy Windows apps is just as irrelevant as a Nexus 7 not running Linux apps, or an iPad not running OS X apps.

greenwizard88 said,

You mean the biggest problem is the Surface RT did; it doesn't have a great app selection.

The fact that it can't run legacy Windows apps is just as irrelevant as a Nexus 7 not running Linux apps, or an iPad not running OS X apps.

Very true, but the way Microsoft Marketed the Surface RT made it seem like it does. It confused almost every non techie user I have ever seen use it.

I think my biggest gripe still about "RT" is that the desktop is limited on legacy apps. For consumers that understand this, its a turn off. For consumers that don't its pretty confusing and not very well documented. I guess for me I don't understand the point of having the desktop if most legacy apps won't run on it. Yeah there is the full version of office, but to me it would make more sense to leave all the full desktop stuff to the pro version. Let the surface be the standard tablet sans desktop. Have the pro version be the one with the desktop option

wv@gt said,
I think my biggest gripe still about "RT" is that the desktop is limited on legacy apps. For consumers that understand this, its a turn off. For consumers that don't its pretty confusing and not very well documented. I guess for me I don't understand the point of having the desktop if most legacy apps won't run on it. Yeah there is the full version of office, but to me it would make more sense to leave all the full desktop stuff to the pro version. Let the surface be the standard tablet sans desktop. Have the pro version be the one with the desktop option

I believe that is the eventual goal.

Now that 8.1 is out, and all the settings are in the metro settings panel, desktop is just there for Office. They should find a way to wrap the office apps inside a metro wrapper like Chrome does in the latest releases, then just hide the desktop tile.

Exactly. Having the desktop just for full office doesn't make sense. A metro office similar to the one on WP would make more sense at least on the RT side.

"For consumers that don't its pretty confusing and not very well documented."

Actually it is very clearly and openly documented in the manual which comes with the device and by MSFT in numerous public statements. And no I do not agree with 'people do not read manuals' but I would agree with you basically showing you are just rambling.

TCLN Ryster said,
Now that 8.1 is out, and all the settings are in the metro settings panel, desktop is just there for Office. They should find a way to wrap the office apps inside a metro wrapper like Chrome does in the latest releases, then just hide the desktop tile.

I agree. For a tablet, who is going to use desktop apps?

wv@gt said,
Exactly. Having the desktop just for full office doesn't make sense. A metro office similar to the one on WP would make more sense at least on the RT side.

You are kidding right? Office on the phone is severely gimped; Office on Windows RT isn't at all. You can't run macros and a few other things, but other than that, it's Office.

Maybe if you can't actually use Office properly it's equivalent, but simplistic arguments such as this really shouldn't be made.

patseguin said,

I agree. For a tablet, who is going to use desktop apps?

On a tablet, maybe a very few to nobody. But the Surface isn't just a tablet, and never has been, RT or Pro. It's a convertible! It seems a lot of people can't grasp this idea. I have no interested in a true tablet, as I have no interest in poke-typing on a screen on anything bigger than a phone. And I not only want to keep the desktop in Windows on ARM, but I want to see it opened up for third party apps. I find modern ui lacking due to some poor design decisions, and find myself preferring the desktop on my Surface RT more and more (thank heavens for the 8.0 jailbreak). Surface RT is a really nice device, but the OS is unfortunately limited.

You will never see that because Apple never compared it with their Desktop OS i.e. OSX which MS did and still uses it to market it and show it how its superior to Android and iPad. This is fair when it comes to Pro but when it comes to RT, its not. OEM's have abandoned it. I don't see new apps coming out for RT but for iPad and Android it does.

Lets sum it up : Lack of Legacy apps (due to ARM) + Lack of multiplatform apps doesn't make the device desirable imo.

I expect the price couldn't go lower until the gen1 devices are all but gone from the supply channel. And as far as running legacy apps, with the improvements to the OS with 8.1 and the solid updates to the core apps, specially mail. Then the need for running legacy apps outside of Office is less and less. The apps overall should see a nice boost in ability once 8.1 works it's way out to people and with it all the new WinRT APIs.

I expect they're also not going to make as many Surface 2s this time, instead probably going to focus more on the Pro, which is why it has 4 different models with more storage and RAM etc. Selling in more markets from day 1 is also a big thing to.

GP007 said,
I expect the price couldn't go lower until the gen1 devices are all but gone from the supply channel. And as far as running legacy apps, with the improvements to the OS with 8.1 and the solid updates to the core apps, specially mail. Then the need for running legacy apps outside of Office is less and less. The apps overall should see a nice boost in ability once 8.1 works it's way out to people and with it all the new WinRT APIs.

I expect they're also not going to make as many Surface 2s this time, instead probably going to focus more on the Pro, which is why it has 4 different models with more storage and RAM etc. Selling in more markets from day 1 is also a big thing to.

Right, and the iPad (and Android for that matter) have such a stable of quality apps I can't see Surface every being a success.

patseguin said,

Right, and the iPad (and Android for that matter) have such a stable of quality apps I can't see Surface every being a success.

That's assuming that Windows Store apps don't get better, which I doubt. 8.1 is a solid update to 8.0 and it brings with it new abilities that developers can tap into and make their apps better.

From the start though it's about what comes on the device and the 8.1 updates to the core apps look way better than the original versions on the 1st gen devices. As long as you have a good OOTB experience and growing library of store apps it works out in the end. None of the others started with loads of quality apps, it's a process.

"We are still not convinced that the Surface 2 will be a huge sales hit, simply because the tablet suffers from the biggest problem the Surface RT did; it can't run legacy desktop Windows programs. While the Surface 2 is certainly going to be more powerful, that lack of compatibly will remain a thorn in its side."

Kinda shoddy to include that bit, eh? Compatibility is not what this tablet is meant for. Windows RT is meant as a competitor to the iPad, which *gasp* doesn't run Mac OSX software either.

It COULD be a huge sales hit if they included the backlit keyboard. That's too bad, but someone is doing telemetry somewhere and decided so.

So for $50 cheaper than last year, you get a year of international calling free, access to all Skype wifi hotspots free for a year, 200 GB of SkyDrive storage for 2 years free, 75% better battery life, and a much faster processor, and a higher resolution screen, a much better camera, a much better OS in Win 8.1, and Office 2013 with OUTLOOK.

It won't be a runaway hit, but I bet it sells better than V. 1

Dot Matrix said,
"We are still not convinced that the Surface 2 will be a huge sales hit, simply because the tablet suffers from the biggest problem the Surface RT did; it can't run legacy desktop Windows programs. While the Surface 2 is certainly going to be more powerful, that lack of compatibly will remain a thorn in its side."

Kinda shoddy to include that bit, eh? Compatibility is not what this tablet is meant for. Windows RT is meant as a competitor to the iPad, which *gasp* doesn't run Mac OSX software either.

I agree except it just can't compete with it. The only thing Surface 2 is worth getting for is Microsoft Office plus bunch of other devices that can connect to the device through the USB. Both iPad and Android have a ton of apps and new one's keep coming out where as this is not true for RT. Where Pro is compared, its not a big deal because it can run legacy apps which becomes a stop gap when comparing it with iPad and Android.

StandingInAlley said,
The only thing Surface 2 is worth getting for is Microsoft Office plus bunch of other devices that can connect to the device through the USB.

The only thing? What about the fact that it's a damned good tablet that has been dramatically improved from v1, that can do everything an iPad or Android tablet can do better?

StandingInAlley said,
Both iPad and Android have a ton of apps and new one's keep coming out where as this is not true for RT.

Absolute rubbish. There are over 100,000 apps in the Windows store now, including many many big names. It's a new ecosystem, sure it's not going to be AS populated as the Apple App store in only it's first year, but I'd be willing to bet that if you compared the two at the same point in their history (one year on), that they would compare pretty well. Most of the apps and games I used on my old iPad 2 have official apps or equivalent apps of high quality on the Windows store, sure there are a few exceptions. But then there are many apps I enjoy that the Apple App store doesn't have, that the Windows store does.

And new apps are not coming out for RT? Where did you dig this tripe up from?

TCLN Ryster said,

The only thing? What about the fact that it's a damned good tablet that has been dramatically improved from v1, that can do everything an iPad or Android tablet can do better?

Absolute rubbish. There are over 100,000 apps in the Windows store now, including many many big names. It's a new ecosystem, sure it's not going to be AS populated as the Apple App store in only it's first year, but I'd be willing to bet that if you compared the two at the same point in their history (one year on), that they would compare pretty well. Most of the apps and games I used on my old iPad 2 have official apps or equivalent apps of high quality on the Windows store, sure there are a few exceptions. But then there are many apps I enjoy that the Apple App store doesn't have, that the Windows store does.

And new apps are not coming out for RT? Where did you dig this tripe up from?

It's a good upgrade and there is no doubt. The only reason i would look at picking it would be for MS office and connecting my hardware devices. I see no reason as i really find Android tablets to be better for my needs for instance torrenting (in the background) and playing mkv files which RT cannot. Whether you like it or not, apps make tablets these days and MS really needs to step up not only with cost of the tablet but the platform in general. OEM's have abandoned RT and there is not much of incentive for people to stick with it.

If you are satisfied with Windows Store then good for you. I'm not. I have seen Windows Store and WP store as well and it sucks. App situation has gotten better but its no where near Android or iOS. Most latest games don't release or take a long time to be released and same goes with apps as well. Granted that equivalent apps have done a good job and sometimes even better (6Tag, Facebook etc.) but still.

StandingInAlley said,

It's a good upgrade and there is no doubt. The only reason i would look at picking it would be for MS office and connecting my hardware devices. I see no reason as i really find Android tablets to be better for my needs for instance torrenting (in the background) and playing mkv files which RT cannot. Whether you like it or not, apps make tablets these days and MS really needs to step up not only with cost of the tablet but the platform in general. OEM's have abandoned RT and there is not much of incentive for people to stick with it.

If you are satisfied with Windows Store then good for you. I'm not. I have seen Windows Store and WP store as well and it sucks. App situation has gotten better but its no where near Android or iOS. Most latest games don't release or take a long time to be released and same goes with apps as well. Granted that equivalent apps have done a good job and sometimes even better (6Tag, Facebook etc.) but still.

Pretty much what i was going to say. You can rinse the Windows app store for all it's worth within 5 minutes... it's complete rubbish compared to iOS (i've not used Android's) .. Anyone who thinks Windows app store is on par, or due to be on par is in complete denial, as you say, developers have abandoned RT.

It's not even seen as a mainstream option.. how many times do you see 'Now available on the Windows app store' .. never. The race is to get apps onto iOS and Android.

Uplift said,

Pretty much what i was going to say. You can rinse the Windows app store for all it's worth within 5 minutes... it's complete rubbish compared to iOS (i've not used Android's) .. Anyone who thinks Windows app store is on par, or due to be on par is in complete denial, as you say, developers have abandoned RT.

It's not even seen as a mainstream option.. how many times do you see 'Now available on the Windows app store' .. never. The race is to get apps onto iOS and Android.

Quality over quantity. The Windows Store has mainly all the first party apps people need for a tablet.

Dot Matrix said,

Quality over quantity. The Windows Store has mainly all the first party apps people need for a tablet.

The top & bottom of it is: iOS wins on apps in every way possible..

Uplift said,

The top & bottom of it is: iOS wins on apps in every way possible..

And survey says: BZZZZTTTT WRONG!

The fact that Office is on the surface tablets renders that point wrong.

Uplift said,
Anyone who thinks Windows app store is on par, or due to be on par is in complete denial, as you say, developers have abandoned RT.

Developers have most definitely not abandoned the Windows store, shed loads of apps are approved into the store on a daily basis, including a round of popular big name apps that will be added around the time of 8.1's official release.

And for the record, nobody is saying the Windows store is on a par with the Apple App Store as it stands now, but at the same point in their life cycles (just shy of 1 year after launch), I think you'll find they compare extremely well. Even by the time of the iPad 2 launch, the App Store was still full of relatively low quality apps. Only mid-way through the iPad 2's life did things start to pick up dramatically. I know because I had an iPad 2 before I got my Surface RT. I expect the Windows Store to pick up during "gen 2" in the same fashion now that Developers know that Microsoft is committed to the platform beyond the risky and experimental first model (they already announced they are committed to and working on at least another 3 generations).

We are still not convinced that the Surface 2 will be a huge sales hit, simply because the tablet suffers from the biggest problem the Surface RT did; it can't run legacy desktop Windows programs.

Neither can the iPad or Android tablets, are you not convinced about them either? This is a competitor to the iPad and Android tablets, not to laptops. Microsoft's only failing here is not making that clear to consumers.

Pretty much spot on. The average consumer sees 'windows' and thinks it'll run windows programs, if they made it clearer that it didn't then it'd be much better.

TCLN Ryster said,

Neither can the iPad or Android tablets, are you not convinced about them either? This is a competitor to the iPad and Android tablets, not to laptops. Microsoft's only failing here is not making that clear to consumers.

They've made that clear multiple times now already. The only ones not seeing this, are the ones not listening.

I'm also confused as to who sets out to run desktop junk on a tablet anyways.

TCLN Ryster said,
Neither can the iPad or Android tablets, are you not convinced about them either? This is a competitor to the iPad and Android tablets, not to laptops. Microsoft's only failing here is not making that clear to consumers.

Big difference is of course that the iPad isn't being passed off as a device running OS X. Nor does it contain the OS X desktop and a set of desktop apps. The whole Windows RT/Windows 8 thing is a mess the general public just isn't going to comprehend.

TCLN Ryster said,

Neither can the iPad or Android tablets, are you not convinced about them either? This is a competitor to the iPad and Android tablets, not to laptops. Microsoft's only failing here is not making that clear to consumers.

Personally I think the whole issue is microsofts strategy, they have promoted and during the launch said surface 2 is designed for productivity. The strong suites and power of android and ipad is they are consumer based tablets, yeah you can be productive with them with effort but most people are using them for consumption.

So on the one hand we're all saying this is an ipad competitor, yet MS is selling a different message, I think the hardware is slick and very nice but i'm not convinced Surface 2 is going to attract huge sales.

if anything its stuck between products because the 8" surface released later on will be targeted at the consumer market...so the question is, is there really a productive market for an RT environment?

On the other hand as some other commentators have pointed out, if you factor in 2 years of skydrive, sky, and office home and student...the actual cost of the device is pretty much zero.

I don't think the desktop applications argument is as valid as one might think. I've never really desired to use any desktop programs on my Surface RT. I don't even *want* to use my Pro as a tablet. It's just too damned bulky (and noisy, when the fans kick in) in comparison.