The stakes for Microsoft’s Windows 8 and Surface launch just got a lot higher, at least in my house.

Here’s the story: My wife and I have been talking for a while about buying an iPad for the family, primarily for her to use for checking email, Twitter, Facebook and light web browsing.

Last night, I convinced her to put the money toward a Microsoft Surface instead. Our preorder is in, and there’s a 32GB Surface with black Touch Cover ($599 + tax) scheduled for delivery at our place by Oct. 26, a little more than a week from now.

Here’s hoping my marriage survives.

Why did I do this? As longtime readers know, I’ve been saying for years that Microsoft should be making its own computers, overseeing and integrating not only the operating system, services and applications, but also the hardware. My big beef with Windows PCs over the years is that they often feel disjointed, like the OS and the machine come from different places … which, of course, they normally do.

With Microsoft finally giving the integrated approach a shot, I felt like it was right to put my money (actually, our money) where my mouth is.

Yes, I know there are lots of inherent risks involved in putting down hundreds of dollars on a Version 1 product from an unproven PC maker. There will be benefits (Xbox integration is a big selling point in our house) and drawbacks (I’m not convinced that the Windows 8 app ecosystem will be strong enough out of the gate) and no doubt plenty of surprises once we start using the Surface every day.

Of course, the decision for me is a little bit different than it is for most everyone else out there, because I’ll be able to document the customer and user experience — good, bad or otherwise — here on GeekWire. So at the very least, we’ll get some posts out of it.

But as I told my wife, I’m sure this thing is going to be great … right Steve Ballmer?

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  • guest

    There’s a sucker born every minute :-)

    • uofaroadhogs

      At least this sucker is going to experience something better then the tied-down iPad suckers.

      • bingo

        Different maybe. Better remains to be seen.

        • bingo

          Funny that I get so many “down”s on this comment. So either it doesn’t remain to be seen, even though the product isn’t even out yet and in users’ hands, or geekwire is dominated by microsoft fanboys and paid commenters to bias the perception of new MS products. All we know from the promos is that the Surface appears different in some ways. The jury is still out whether this is a better tablet. Now go ahead and “down” this statement again, because you know the future; it just reflects badly on the geekwire community.

          • Oh poor baby

            Is this where you start crying?

          • Nathan O

            Or maybe its that MSFT is finally making good products

    • Guest

      Equal ups and downs? Behold the power of the emoticon!

  • Sebubs

    Please keep us up to date on how it goes!

    • Sebubs

      By the way, if all they want it for is browsing and social networking, I don’t think there is much risk.

  • Richard Hay

    Looking forward to you and your wife’s experience!

    • dorimonsonfan

      That sounds funny. Tehe.

  • guest

    You can always return it to the Microsoft Store for a full refund.

  • Robert Watson

    Since you’re referring to this tablet as a PC I’d have thought you’d wait on the version released the first quarter of 2013 that will actually be able to run windows software.

  • Peter

    I bought into it. They’ll make it work. They have to.

  • Guest

    I understand MSFT plans to spend $1.5 billion to market the surface. I’m no marketing genius and I’ve never had a rapper play my birthday party, so what do I know. But let me humbly suggest how they could better spend the money.

    First, give away two million surfaces. Yes, give them away. Two million devices at $600 each eats up $1.2 billion of your budget. Give them to early adopters, media, bloggers, tweeters, CIOs, college students, apple fan-boys, and the developers of the top 50,000 iOS and Android apps. Bootstrap the whole ecosystem from both the supply and demand side.

    Now you still have $300 million left to build a brilliant marketing campaign.

    And Todd would not have to get a divorce because he would surely be one of the lucky two million.

    • blackhawk556

      You’re wrong. Microsoft is spending $1.5b to market windows 8, not Surface

      • Guest

        So cut it to 1 million free. Now you still have almost a billion $ to waste on other marketing.

    • guest

      The Surface ad budget is rumored to be $400M. If true, it’s an astounding figure and yeah, you have wonder if maybe they should have just given that much product away to influentials, because it’s now unlikely they’ll make money on the product when everything is said and done.

  • justd80010

    Don’t take it from Steve, my wife really likes Win8, and that’s on an old Vista machine. I’m sure your wife will be impressed by Win8 on a Surface Tablet. Don’t know how much she uses Facebook, but FB integration in the People App is a better experience than any other app or even the actually site itself.

  • zato

    “Our preorder is in, and there’s a 32GB Surface with black Touch Cover ($599 + tax) scheduled for delivery at our place by Oct. 26, ”

    As if a Microsoft-Geekwire writer/propagandist paid even the shipping to get the Surface.

    • Todd Bishop

      Happy to show you the receipt. As I said, this was a significant budgetary decision for my family. I bought a Surface with my money, for personal use. We sometimes test review units at GeekWire, but only on loan, for purposes of the review and related coverage. Standard journalistic practice.

      I’ll ignore the rest of your comment and just assume you aren’t familiar with my coverage, or are experiencing selective memory.

      • zato

        This site is the most pro-Microsoft tech site on the internet, and it just seemed to come out of nowhere. There clearly is a lot of money behind it. The ads are few, and don’t look like they would pay 5% of the bills. Many are ads from PR firms, even though your audience is 95% PC gamers??? Who is paying the bills here?

      • anon

        @zato:disqus pwnt.

    • Truthhz

      Let me guess, Apple fan?
      (And people call those Samsung commercials *parodies* of Apple users?)

      The Surface is Microsoft’s apology for the 2002 XP Tablet PC.
      It only took 10 years! But Surface looks like a winner.

    • Xeno Returns

      Adjust the tension on your tinfoil hat. It’s cutting off circulation to what’s left of your brain.

      • zato

        Another Microsoft gamer creep.

        • Zato:STFU

          Hey, I’ll take a Microsoft gamer creep over you any day. You’re some piece of work. Go troll somewhere else: you’re not welcome here.

          • zato

            Get used to me, creep, I’m here to stay. You might not be bothered at some point in the future, when you become a real man (if that ever happens).

          • Chris Bordeman

            Better a real man than a real boy.

  • Christopher Budd

    I’ll be interested to hear what you think.

    Good on you for putting your (family’s) money where your mouth is. It’s good to see someone following through on their principles like this.

  • Isaac Roybal
  • Forrest Corbett

    You should have waited until a couple weeks after launch – they’ll be a ton of them slightly used on ebay ;)

    But more seriously, for “checking email, Twitter, Facebook and light web browsing” I don’t know why you’d consider an iPad. Pretty much all tablets can do this about the same, depending on available keyboards. Heck, I’ve got a 32GB TouchPad I paid $120 for that can do all that easily :)

    • Nathan O

      But its a crappy experience. I know because I have one. Can’t wait for my surface

      • Forrest Corbett

        Honestly, the W8 experience reminds me of the TouchPad.

  • A Former Microsoft Partner

    Quote: “I know there are lots of inherent risks involved in putting down hundreds of dollars on a Version 1 product from an unproven PC maker.”.
    Hmmmm – The problem with this statement is that you did not purchase a PC. This is a locked down platform which does NOT run off the shelf software so as far as we are concerned this is not a PC.

    • Pendantic azzhat

      Post PC maker then. Happy?

      • Mark Rowe

        Wait for anything over an arm table the pro version will allow for windows 7-like apps to be run.

  • Guest

    Congratulations and thank you, Todd! So many people have judged Surface sight-unseen, but it shows great virtue to buy one off the shelf and give it a proper run-through. Look forward to seeing your review!

    • Troy B

      By “sight-unseen” does having it freeze in front of the world in Sinofski’s hands during its introduction not count?

      • Guest

        Yes. I don’t judge a product based on a video produced by its creator. I use it for myself and I form my own opinion.

      • Chris Bordeman

        Like when the iPhone froze during Jobs’ presentation?


  • ron combs

    Me too, but I got the type pad.

  • Guest

    12 Gigs of your 32 gig Surface is already being used my msft for the OS and pre-installed items (iOS uses just 1 gig). I honestly cannot think of one thing it could do better or different than an iPad. Yet I could think of dozens of things an iPad can do better.

    What is amazing to me is that there is not a single article about Microsoft where they create something truly new. “This is our iPad compete” is what an employee says to me. It’s called copying and it’s shameless. I am amazed at the employees who have pride in just copying Apple products. There’s a reason the market values Apple at twice that of Microsoft and it is so obvious from outside the walls of Redmond.

    • dorimonsonfan

      I’ve never seen a tablet with a magnetic keypad.

      • Guest

        Dear God, pull your head out of the sand. There’s been magnetic thin keyboards for Apple since the launch of iPad2; they work wonderfully well. Look on; “logitech ultrathink keyboard for iPad”.

        • Chris Bordeman

          Everybody complains about those pieces of garbage.

    • lan

      They are all just copying Star Trek. Apple didn’t have a magical new idea for tablets, computer geeks have been thinking about them for a long time. The idea to integrate a computer and screen into one device isn’t new or magical.

      Not sure how Surface is a copy of Ipad, other than they are both rectangles… at least MS has a kickstand and a usb port built in.

      I imagine you used up at least 32 ‘gigs’ of space with your iTroll app to monitor anytime someone makes a decision different then yours.

      • Gary Gilbert

        Come on Ian; you can only see a rectangle as a common characteristic? At least call it for what it is, a copy of iPad to try and grab some of the market success that Apple has enjoyed. This video is very true;

        • Nathan O

          The OS’s are nothing alike. They both have touchscreens and are similar sizes and compute. Thats where the similarities end

      • Chris Bordeman

        Rectangles?!?!?! Someone call Apple!!! This is clear patent infringement!

        Seriously, even the Woz is disgusted by Apple’s ridiculous patent lawsuits.

      • Bluesdealer

        Funny, but there’s no shame in copying SciFi. The first iMac was billed as “What computer would the Jetsons own?” Apple under Jobs was pushing innovation boundaries while MS was copying answers over their shoulders.

    • Jeremy Schroder

      In your opinion, what are the dozen things an iPad can do better?

      • Guest

        1. PhotoStream is better and truly just works. Sky drive is there but not built in natively across all devices.
        2. Wirelessly printing just works.
        3. AirPlay of either video or mirroring to AppleTV is brilliant (I honestly use this daily in my home).
        4. Four finger pinching to close an app, and four finger swiping to switch apps is faster and more convenient.
        5. On/off times are instant (don’t know if surface will do this, but Win8 on traditional intel chips still takes a ridiculous amount of time).
        6. Access to iTunes Store for movie rentals and purchase. Please don’t counter this with Netflix or Amazon Prime as a comparable answer. The selection in those is still paltry for those with diverse tastes.
        7. iTunes Store for music. If a song exists, it seems to be in there and I can buy one track for a buck, no subscription needed. Been working perfect for 8+ years I believe. All my current iTunes music imports seamlessly. I’ve never met someone outside of Microsoft employees who doesn’t own an iPod and hasn’t purchased music in iTunes. So inherently with an iPad each consumer will have a better music experience out of the gates. Also easy to sling with AirPlay.
        8. FaceTime works without having to sign up for an account, if your friend has an iOS device I just ping either their phone number or email address and I’m video chatting. Yes msft has Skype and millions love it but I don’t have to explain to my mom or my daughter how to sign up. It just works perfectly.
        9. Without explanation a two year year old can seamlessly work (or I should say figure it out on their own). I have a two year old and that is a fact. Win8 out of the gates is confusing for every one of the eight or so folks who I showed a developer preview to with no guidance. Yes with some practice and instruction users will like using it, but there is a curve far beyond what iOS offers.
        10. Safari’s “reader” function is indispensable. I enjoy reading a lot of articles that come from google email alerts daily. The links often take me to various newspaper and publisher websites. When the page loads and I hit the reader button everything goes to the background except the core article which pops up in large easily readable black and white font. When going to sites with crappy popup ads like this feature makes the experience much better.
        11. “The little things”. If you text me a phone number of someone, when I click and hold the number the options are very practical such as would I like to call this number or would I lie
        like to add a new contact or would I like to copy it. If you send me an email and talk about dinner tomorrow night the words “tomorrow night” are hyperlinked with the suggestion of creating a calendar event. There are literally hundreds of these little gems throughout which one has to use a device to appreciate.
        12. The broad established ecosystem for accessories and compatibility is second to none. Would you like a designer case or a cheap case? There’s 1000s to choose from. Would you like a specialized app for checking your blood pressure that connects via Bluetooth to a machine? Would you like to charge your device while traveling? All major hotels have iOS chargers in the room. Want a app for literally hundreds of thousands of purposes? They have it.

        • Guest

          So you’re opinion is based on pre-release software, and how it works on a device you’ve never used. Which you back up with a list of features centering around mostly niche use cases and being fully contained to the Apple bubble. Apple TV and iPhone required by everyone you interact with. But it works for you, so great for you. But what’s ridiculous is the blatant exaggerations. Specifically…

          The 2 year old story is such bs. So you just left your iPad around, without her ever seeing you use it and she picked it up and downloaded the PBS kids app all by herself?

          That’s not a fact, that’s making things up to try and make a point.

          • Grant Goodale

            My two year old did the same with an iphone. Taught me both the power of suggested apps and the peril of giving a child your phone too soon after typing your password for a purchase. :)

          • harshalb

            My two and half year old (now) has been using Symbian OS (Nokia N8) for more than a year now. He plays his favorite songs (since a year), clicks picture (that he learned some 5 months back).

            BTW, he has also started using Windows 8 (on an old XP machine) to play his favorite movies. He attaches USB mouse to front panel of PC tower.

            The point is: kids learn things really fast given exposure, even as complicated UI paradigms as Symbian.

            What needs to be seen is how grown ups like them.

          • Chris Bordeman

            What’s crazy is how thoroughly he’s going to understand these devices as an adult.

        • Nathan O

          1. Skydrive is native in all MSFT products
          Can’t comment on 2 or 3 as I haven’t tested them yet, but of course neither have you.
          4. Drag you finger from the top of the screen to the bottom to close an app (better than the four finger pinch if you ask me)
          5. On and off times are instant like all tablets including the surface. (PS The RT tablet uses an ARM processor not Intel)
          6+7 Access to the Zune marketplace which is the same freakin thing. (I like it better but thats just an opinion)
          8. Skype works across all platforms not just iOS
          9. Win8 is confusing for anyone who has used an older version of Windows. A two year old could prob pick it up in no time.
          10. IE 10 is better than Safari but to each his own
          11. Win8 has the same thing
          12. Third party app support will come in time and the apps will work across the PC, tablet, and Windows Phone without having to be re-written.

          It seems to me that you don’t know anything about the surface tablet which makes you come across as an apple fanboy not a tech enthusiast.

          • Chris Bordeman

            I guess he doesn’t realize Microsoft owns Skype, and its deeply integrated into the Surface and Windows Phone.

    • Steve

      How about run more than 1 app on the screen at a time? How about running MS Office? I’d love to see an ipad do that?

    • ninjacut

      USB, touch keyboard cover, side by side applications, file system access, memory card extension, Office, better multi-tasking, family safety, multi-user access if shared in family, better UI, device support (connect your SLR to tablet, cant do that on iPad). Simply said, iPad is like a toy compared to full OS experience of Windows 8.

      • Guest

        • USB- Might be useful, but not sure why I would want to be tethered to something on a mobile device
        • Touch Keyboard cover– many already exist for iPad
        • Side by Side apps– why do I need this? How would I use this on a portable device?
        • File System Access– the market def. does NOT need this, only a handful of geeks
        • Memory Card Extension– might be useful, but would it be sticking out? Not portable if so.
        • Office– why do I need this? I have access to beautiful apps that provide the same function, more elegantly for touch, already
        • Better Multi-tasking– sounds subjective. How is it a better experience?
        • Family safety– parental controls are good, probably not far away on iPad
        • Multi-User– also good, wish iPad had it now
        • Better UI– very subjective, impossible to prove
        • Device Support– lots of things can be connected to iPad (health devices, etc). I can connect my SD card to my iPad from my SLR easily, which is more portable than tethering my camera (asst. can load images while camera continues to shoot)

        Like a toy? Really? The Market doesn’t think so. The Market doesn’t NEED a full OS experience. The Market is all that matters, not a handful of Win geeks. Check your stock price.

        • Nathan O

          The market does think so. Ipads are not productivity tools. The Surface just might be

        • Chris Bordeman

          “• USB- Might be useful, but not sure why I would want to be tethered to something on a mobile device”

          Then you have no imagination.

          • Touch Keyboard cover– many already exist for iPad

          Many that suck, and lack the well integrated experience. From the several reviews I’ve seen in the last 2 days from people that have used it, the Touch Cover is by far the best keyboard of its kind they’ve used.

          • Side by Side apps– why do I need this? How would I use this on a portable device?

          Seriously? You’ve never wanted to write an email while browsing the web? Or watch a video while playing a game? Seriously?

          • File System Access– the market def. does NOT need this, only a handful of geeks

          And people doing productive things, who like to organize their files (Word/Excel docs, videos, etc.). File access is for productivity and real work, so as an iPad user, I can see why that doesn’t compute. ;)

          • Memory Card Extension– might be useful, but would it be sticking out? Not portable if so.

          No, it’s well hidden under the kickstand.

          • Office– why do I need this? I have access to beautiful apps that provide the same function, more elegantly for touch, already

          If you’re doing actual work, you need full featured, compatible Office, imitators just aren’t good enough.

          • Better Multi-tasking– sounds subjective. How is it a better experience?

          That is subjective, but I imagine being able to run two apps side by side is vastly better to most people than look–>swap–>look–>swap–>look–>swap ad infinitum.

          • Family safety– parental controls are good, probably not far away on iPad
          • Multi-User– also good, wish iPad had it now

          This is incredibly well implemented. You’ll see when you secretly try out your neighbors’ Surface. ;)

          • Better UI– very subjective, impossible to prove

          Totally subjective. I personally LOVE way Metro (er, “Modern UI”) feels, especially the use of gestures instead of rather iPad’s non-intuitive (IMO) interface. Once you get going with Metro on a touch device, it’s crazy how nice and smooth it feels.

          • Device Support– lots of things can be connected to iPad (health devices, etc). I can connect my SD card to my iPad from my SLR easily, which is more portable than tethering my camera (asst. can load images while camera continues to shoot)

          Any USB or Bluetooth device works with Windows. And those devices’ price aren’t artificially hyper-inflated.

          • ms surface

            good reply dude kicked his butt

    • Nathan O

      MSFT had a tablet computer running windows long before Apple. It was crap but that doesn’t change the fact that they had one first. I don’t see how you could consider MSFT surface a copy the iPad. Other than a touchscreen they have nothing in common

      • Chris Bordeman

        Never underestimate the ignorance of an Apple sycophant.

      • Bluesdealer

        Do you really consider the old, clunky, stylus-based Windows machines in the same product category as iPads? Apple invented the post-PC market. That’s what this product is. Even the ad channels Apple’s style.
        Don’t get me wrong; surface looks like a solid product, but let’s not pretend this some MS innovation with no Apple influence.

    • Chris Bordeman

      Install MS Office on an iPad, and I guarantee you’ll see a similar reduction in free space.


      Stop spreading FUD.

  • Seth Thomas

    I’ll trade you my ipad 3 for your surface if you decide to change your mind.

  • Brian Jimdar

    I am in exactly the same boat, although I sprung for a Blue touch keyboard bringing my total up to $677 with tax and shipping. I’m also using it as an experiment to see how my family and friends like or dislike it.

  • Issieman

    Oh boy !! I will pray for you… :-)
    This is version one of the software and hardware, as a windows phone user that got burnt I would have waited for at least 1yr. Am off to sell my HTC Titan tomorrow and then get an iOS device (already have an iPad ) will move back to wp8 in two yrs time .

    • Chris Bordeman

      What was your experience?

  • guest

    I will also trade you a 3 month old “mint” ipad3 for the surface

  • Seattle Startup

    So I went in to pick up my pre-ordered Iphone 5 and, along with 5 others in the store who were there for the same reason, walked out with a Samsung Galaxy S3. Don’t count out MSFT on this one. Apple’s IPAD is good…but the folks in Redmond know it. They know they have to be better.

    Mossberg’s mom didn’t raise no dummy:

    • guest

      “walked out with a Samsung Galaxy S3”
      Seeing a lot of friends do the same. iPhone fever may have peaked. Samsung is making some great products and producing some great attack ads.

  • JimmyFal

    I just read this in the Bing news app on Win 8 RTM., then I right clicked on the article and chose the “view in browser option”, then I right clicked again and chose the “pin to start” option and typed in the label “check back on this after 26th”. Then I swept in from the left on my touchpad and went right back to the Bing app to continue reading. See? No touch screen and I still love it! Can’t wait for my toy.

  • guest

    It’ll be good to see some balance return to the mostly Mac-using GW staff ;-)

    • johnhcook

      Ha, ha!! Just for the record, Todd and I both use Macs and PCs in our jobs at GeekWire. (We do both have iPhones, though!)

  • Jason Farris


  • mark

    My wife was tearful when using Win 8 on our desktop – really lost and upset her win 7 had gone
    I’m getting a Surface from the online store here in the UK, but she reckons it’ll take a while for her to catch up.
    My 3 pre/teen kids love it.

    • Nathan O

      I’m a bit of a technophile so the learning curve for Win8 wasn’t too bad for me. Definitely took some getting used to for my GF but now that she knows it, she loves it

  • Megan Miller

    A confident Surface marketer should have gifted you one weeks ago!

  • ninjacut

    Good buy, especially for the family. It is the first tablet with multi-user support and family safety built-in. The specs are better than iPad (except maybe the resolution, if that is important) but then you get larger screen, side by side apps, USB, keyboard, file system access and what not.

  • barney_j_rubble

    Starting a pool to see how long it will be before your first BSOD experience…

    • Chris Bordeman

      That’s become a thing of the past with the new architecture.

  • Seattle Startup
    • Chris Bordeman

      Yeah WOW! Thanks for posting this!!!

  • Boonie K.

    Im not surprised why Ipad sell a lot. I am disappointed that Playbook couldn’t sell dispite its great multitasking function, it has no cool apps i guess. I am sure Surface will make impact in the tablet market although its more like a notebook than tablets and i have no idea why would you call it tablets when there are touch keyboard included. Its more like a real slim notebook with less storage and a kick stand.
    What i dont understand is why Android Tablets sells so good???? Its an open source, os is not even cool. Not all apps are compatible with each tablets screen sizes. I guess it is becuase people view it as a not so uptight version of IOS.

    • Nathan O

      Because they are either cheap or because they are not apple

      • Chris Bordeman

        Nailed it. Android’s competitive advantage has nothing to do with quality (which is freaking awful), it’s all about price.

    • Chris Bordeman

      So if you buy a keyboard for the Apple, it’s no longer a tablet??

    • jeapstop

      Android tablets are selling so good.

  • Nathan O

    Pre-ordered mine too Todd. I share you skepticism.

  • roys

    hey where can I get this thing for free? am not an apple revolutionary or whatever it is, I don’t need a bunchload of apps. I need something on which I can work with the MS office and on the go. but this thing’s price is too bad. $399-$499 with that cover thing would have been better. that too no 3g/4g?

    • Chris Bordeman

      Well, you can buy a 32GB Surface with a keyboard and Office for $599, or a smaller, 16GB iPad with a keyboard and no Office for a little more.

      Now which makes sense?

  • Drew Miller

    Yeah, it’s going to be so great that the ads so far show me the screen does the same thing an iPad does, the cover clicks into place using a magnet (iPad?), ooo, but it does have a built in stand… and it froze during the keynote. My iPad, well, just works. My wife, who is not a techie at all, even said to me when I showed her the ads and the keynote, “who would want to buy that over an iPad?” Good luck with the Surface, and your marriage, Todd.

    • Chris Bordeman

      The iPhone froze during Job’s keynote, too. Ever heard of pre-release software?

    • jeapstop

      I have been user of Ipad, Ipad2, Ipad3…. just because I have always wanted to use my laptop like a tablet. Now that I have had my Surface, my NEW IPAD hehe. I feel like I finally got my wish. It is smooth and fast, not like what you think. you should get to use it before you comment about it. Or you can go on Ebay and buy my cheap Ipad3 for sale as a back up… perhaps.

  • Michael Hazell

    I’m interested in what you think about the surface. I hope Microsoft sends you the surface pro, because I am more interested in that then Windows RT.

  • johndurbinn

    surface bloaze dickkkk

  • Bluesdealer

    If we’re throwing around Jobsian terms like “integrated,” don’t you remember that “Microsoft has no taste”?

  • Narcos

    “Last night, I convinced her to put the money toward a Microsoft Surface instead…..Here’s hoping my marriage survives.” . What a horrible, spineless. toadying, pathetic thing to say.

  • Mark Rowe

    Heh, just wait for the “There isn’t an app for that”. It will come.

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