Microsoft promotes new Surface tablets as better for art than iPad

Microsoft may be selling out of some models of its new Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 tablets, ahead of its official Oct. 22 launch date, but that is not stopping the company from promoting the use of the tablets for various occupations. One of those uses is to create digital artwork of all styles and forms.

In a new post on the Surface blog, Microsoft gives examples of how Surface owners are creating artwork. One of them is U.K. artist Roz Hall, who has created digital paintings with the iPad but has now switch over to the Surface, using the free Fresh Paint app for Windows 8. Quite frankly, his work is pretty incredible and shows how true talent can use digital tools to create amazing artwork.

Another artist who has expressed his positive views on the original Surface Pro in the past is Mike Krahulik, who draws the popular web comic strip series Penny Arcade. In a recent post on the Penny Arcade site, he said that he was able to demo the new Surface Pro 2 at the recent Surface launch event in New York City and seemed pretty impressed. He also stated why he doesn't use an iPad to create his comic strips:

I had to explain the concept of pressure sensitivity, my need to run programs like Photoshop, Manga Studio and also the power of a real Stylus. I’ve pitched the device to all my artist friends so telling people about why it’s rad for drawing is pretty easy for me at this point. Huge parts of the Tithe have been drawn on my Surface and some pages have been made 100% from start to finish on it. It has literally changed how and where I work.

Microsoft promises to offer more testaments to the new Surface tablets from people working in other creative fields in the next few weeks.

Source: Microsoft | Image via Roz Hall

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Photoshop works wonders when you install Wacom's driver for it,

But using Paint Tool SAI on the device is bugged (Pen to screen position mismatch)

Why don't we have wireless streaming / mirroring of the Surface to the television yet? That's what many customers would like to see. You give them a device that is to be used for presentations and such, yet you're still stuck at the cord. Why?

Windows 8.1 (not just Surface) supports Miracast. So in a couple weeks many if not all Windows 8 devices will support this so long as the destination device does.

According to nvidia, the Tegra 3 supports Miracast, but requires a WDDM 1.3 driver (the version that ships with Windows RT on the original Surface RT is a WDDM 1.2 driver. I'm not sure if the 8.1 upgrade on an RT will bring a WDDM 1.3 driver for the Tegra 3 video driver or not - if not, then it won't. If so, then, according to specs, anyway, it should. Microsoft has mentioned the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 will support Miracast, and we already know the original Surface Pro supports it with 8.1, but I don't think we'll know for sure on RT until people have the final bits from the store with the driver upgrades available.

Great to know, I'll pass the information along! Dug on Google for a while, but apparently I didn't know what to look for. Thanks!

When will Microsoft learn that directly comparing it's products to Apples is not a good advertising strategy. For once they should directly copy Apple and hire their advertising company.

stevan said,
When will Microsoft learn that directly comparing it's products to Apples is not a good advertising strategy. For once they should directly copy Apple and hire their advertising company.
I doubt the company would do that - they're probably quite happy working for Apple (the prestige if nothing else). That said, I do agree that comparing themselves to Apple seldom works well. They should specifically target Android tablets, and preferably not the good ones

Another reason Surfaces are not, and haven't been suitable for the content-creation tasks of the business and consumer users.

I'm actually curious as to whether or not there's an app/program that'll turn a Surface Pro or other Windows 8 tablet into just a graphics tablet temporarily so you can use a full size monitor and computer with more RAM and such?

The Surface Pro handles Photoshop well. Just connect it to a full sized monitor and you've essentially done what you're asking.

willgill said,
The Surface Pro handles Photoshop well. Just connect it to a full sized monitor and you've essentially done what you're asking.

But that's not quite what he's asking, sounds like what he was asking is if the surface pro could be used in an accessory mode (with an existing computer that may have more ram etc and has photoshop on it) so the pro basically becomes a drawing tablet in this mode. I thought something like this was possible with the original.

Osiris said,

But that's not quite what he's asking, sounds like what he was asking is if the surface pro could be used in an accessory mode (with an existing computer that may have more ram etc and has photoshop on it) so the pro basically becomes a drawing tablet in this mode. I thought something like this was possible with the original.

Pretty much. It'd be cool to turn it into a temporary Cintique. And if it worked like a Cintiq, then it could be plugged into a Windows machine or a Mac. Given an entry level Cintiq costs $999 and can't be used for anything else...? Hey, it'd be nice for a hobbyist

wingliston said,
Doing anything productive on a ipad is automatically awful.

And yet the iPad continues to drastically outsell any sort of tablet Microsoft has to offer.

Order_66 said,

And yet the iPad continues to drastically outsell any sort of tablet Microsoft has to offer.

Purchased by unproductive masses.

Enron said,

Purchased by unproductive masses.

Surface is productive in comparison with ipad but is a toy in comparison with a real notebook.

Have you ever notice how pro-iPad people say the iPad is more popular, or Surface is a failure, but never give reasoning?
A year ago I loaded Win8 on a Samsung Series 7 slate (precursor to the Surface). Even though the touch and pressure sensitivity was sub-par, it beat the crap out of drawing on an iPad. Try resting your palm on an iPad and writing or drawing anything. Then try the same thing on a Surface. You'll experience the difference then.

Brony said,

Surface is productive in comparison with ipad but is a toy in comparison with a real notebook.

How exactly is it a toy? It's more powerful than 90% of the laptops in users hands today. It will run three screens at once, and any software you throw at it including the highest-end AutoCAD type programs.

It blows the doors off of LOTS of "real notebooks".

Brony said,

Surface is productive in comparison with ipad but is a toy in comparison with a real notebook.

Do this, go look up the CPU in the Surface Pro, it is faster per core than even desktop AMD CPUs. Performance is not something it has to apologize for, even in the class of notebooks.

The non-Pro Surface is not a full notebook, sure. But it runs the full version of Office rather well on a low end ARM processor. For the majority of consumers, it fills all their needs.

The other overlooked aspect of the non-Pro Surface, is its support for Web content, including Flash. This is why some sites that REQUIRE an App to run on an iPad or Android tablet, haven't worried about a dedicated Windows 8 App, as their website works just fine.

Brony said,

Surface is productive in comparison with ipad but is a toy in comparison with a real notebook.

That entirely depends on how you use a tablet. If you need to use a stylus on the go with Autodesk, Adobe, or Corel software, frankly no laptop is more productive than a Surface Pro or Wacom Companion that I've seen when it comes drawing.

Order_66 said,

And yet the iPad continues to drastically outsell any sort of tablet Microsoft has to offer.

Well yes, funny enough, the situation is now exactly the opposite from the PC and Mac where the masses go for one and the artists and people who need a productivity platform go for the other. I do not see the iPad catch up to the tech on the Surface Pro anytime soon though, they would end up with $2K + hardware.

Can you even use a pen stylus on an iPad? Pressure sensitivity is absolutely essential for any kind of drawing work. I had to search to find that in the convertible laptop I bought in 2008, and it was almost $2K.

No, but that isn't preventing people from making good art on it. Of course on a surface pro they could do it a lot better.

Yes. Wacom sells stylus pens for the iPad. They are not as good as a Bamboo series Wacom or the Surface Pro, but they work if you have no other choice in your price range.

problem with that one is that it's just another one of those horrible touch tip pens, with pressure sensitivity over BT. meaning it still has the horrible accurate of touch, and the horribly big tip that only exaggerates the accuracy issue.

sure, it's better than finger painting or the non pressure sensitive touch pens though...

So this is the cheap solution to not buying a tablet specifically for drawing. Forget what you think about an ipad being expensive a graphics tablet can easily go above $2000.

What are you talking about?

The surface pro is the same hardware as the cintiq tablet, only portable. A Wacom quality non cintiq tablet isn't even close to those prices. I have a large one myself don't remember the exact size but above A4 that can use all the advanced Wacom tools. Cost like 4000 NOK when I bought it years ago. If we correct for European higher prices and 25% VAT the price difference between Norway and US usually end up roughly on a multiply by 10, so it would probably have cost about 400 back then. Far less for a more manageable A5 or A6 size. And the A6 bamboo's are give away cheap.

HawkMan said,

The surface pro is the same hardware as the cintiq tablet.

No. The Surface Pro and Pro 2 are feature equivalent to a Bamboo series Wacom.

Only the Wacom Companion tablets are equal to the Cintiq or Intuos series, and those cost way more than a Surface Pro.

Lone Wanderer Chicken said,
The iPad is really a giant sized smart phone, in contrast to Windows 8/RT that offers a full PC experience along with modern apps as well.

I remember when people made that comparison when the iPad was announced..... oh how it annoyed the pro apple people..... it's not a larger version of the iPhone blah blah blah..... 90% of it's the same... it's just got a larger screen, a little more powerful, and more batter room...

We already knew this? The Surface Pro has a Wacom digitizer, the iPad doesn't. Artists have used Wacom pad's for ages for digital art... the iPad can not compete at all to a Wacom digitizer... only problem initially the Wacom drivers for the surface pro were a little bit quirky, but they've been updating them and making them better and better.

neufuse said,
We already knew this? The Surface Pro has a Wacom digitizer, the iPad doesn't. .

This point is not very advertised. I knew that the surface was praised for "drawing", but that it precisely contain a "Wacom digitizer" has more impact to me. I don't know how it would compete with a regular wacom tablet though.

bigmehdi said,

This point is not very advertised. I knew that the surface was praised for "drawing", but that it precisely contain a "Wacom digitizer" has more impact to me. I don't know how it would compete with a regular wacom tablet though.

There are non-Wacom brand digitizers used in other tablets as well. Don't get 'stuck' on Wacom, as other brands work just as well and sometime better than the known Wacom technology.

With that said, the Surface Pro/Pro2 do have a Wacom digitizer, the main difference is the level of technology.

A high end Wacom device will have 2048 levels of pressure, where the Surface Pro/Pro2 has 1024. Additionally, you don't get Tilt support, making it more like the consumer grade Wacom digitizers.

If you can afford a desktop Wacom device, have one. If you can't and want a true 'Tablet' that offers 99% of the functionality of the Wacom devices, get a Surface Pro or even try out other brands of Windows 8 Tablets with digitizer support.

To add on to what Mobius Enigma said...

The Surface Pro 1 and 2 are 100% equivalent to a Wacom Bamboo Series. If a Bamboo series is good enough for someone's needs, so is a Surface Pro 2. It can still be connected an Intuos or Cintiq when you need the features that are missing. For $1000, being able to get the equivalent of a Bamboo where you draw on the monitor and be mobile is worth it to someone on a budget who doesn't need the pro level features or simply can't afford them.

Now, if you need a mobile tablet that with a larger screen that is pro feature equivalent to an Intuos or Cintiq, then you have to buy a Wacom Companion 256gb or 512gb for $1,999 or $2,500 respectively. The two cheaper Companions run Android instead of Windows, so you cannot directly run Photoshop, Painter, or Sketchbook Pro on them, so I personally don't see much value in them at this time. The primary downside for the Companions is that they are only just about to be released, and will have a short battery life as they are not using the Haswell microarchitecture, and probably won't be for a long time seeing that these are new pre-order's.

Mobius Enigma said,

There are non-Wacom brand digitizers used in other tablets as well. Don't get 'stuck' on Wacom, as other brands work just as well and sometime better than the known Wacom technology.

Like which one? I tend to stick with Wacom simply because they work so much better than others I've tried.

Renvy said,
Don't they have wacom digitizer ? That would definately make,them better for art.

I'm sure these artist mentioned in this article used digitizers. However, why use a digitizer when a pressure sensitive screen can do the job as well, let alone, make allows you to be more portable.

I think you misunderstood him.

he meant "doesn't the surface pro tablets have a wacom digitizer in them".

and the answer would be yes.

Well the surface pro basically IS a cintiq. And yes. A cintiq is great for when drawing statically on front of your desktop. The surface pro, and the tablet PC's he used before this, allows him to draw a anywhere, it's like a sketch pad that you can also use as a full art studio and painting canvas.

Ezekiel Carsella said,
Cintiq a lot more tech into it. yeah they both have WACOM but WACOM puts a lot more into their native products than what they give to OEM's.

I don't believe that's true. What specifically are they not licensing?