Microsoft stacks up Surface vs. iPad with mixed results

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Let’s see, the Surface RT is slightly heavier than the iPad, the same thickness and gets two hours less battery life. Sign me up!

OK, so Microsoft’s new iPad vs. Windows tablet comparison site is more nuanced than that, pointing out the areas where Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets shine — including multitasking, printing, multiple user accounts, USB ports and lower prices in many cases.

But the comparison is no slam dunk for Windows, illustrating the challenge that Microsoft faces in going up against the Apple tablet.

Another problem: Microsoft’s comparison of the ASUS VivoTab to the iPad initially included misleading information about the Windows device’s screen size, which has since been corrected after it was pointed out by Elliot Temple yesterday morning.

On the subject of screens, the strong horizontal orientation of the Surface actually makes it unwieldy to use in portrait mode, something that wouldn’t be obvious by simply comparing the screen sizes of the two devices.

And there’s a bit of gamesmanship in Microsoft highlighting the fact that Office isn’t available on the iPad. Of course, Microsoft is ultimately in control of that situation, but has so far held off on releasing its flagship productivity suite for the Apple tablet.

The comparison site is part of a new effort by Microsoft to position Windows tablets more directly as alternatives to the iPad. Earlier this week the Redmond company released a new ad that uses Siri to ridicule the iPad’s shortcomings.

  • seth thomas

    Add 3 rows:
    Can Play Games X X
    Can Do Work – X
    Replaces Laptop – X

    • n8

      Legacy Apps: no – no/yes

  • Chris Daltas

    This is going to sound like a designer beef, but really its a users beef. Live tiles are a great consumptive concept but the execution is hardly beta worthy. As a user it appears as though every tile is calling out for my attention, even the non-live/non-active/unimportant ones. If MS was to be serious about their design revelation they need to understand their is more to design than bright colors, nice fonts and good spacing when the design is interactive.

    Solution: all the tiles are white or grey, they take on more color as they become active, have information, or updates. This is a simple solution, the problem is MS doesn’t see the problem. They don’t understand usability is about insights, not feedback. Feedback is the ultimate product killer, where the user becomes the creator, the engineers solution.

    If you ask the question, “should usability testers be driving product decisions” I’m sure everyone would say, “no.” Which makes me wonder of MS ever asks that question before adhering to feedback, “every section should have it’s own color” etc.

    • http://www.facebook.com/dschlicker Derek Schlicker

      Chris: you are spot on RE: the usability feedback vs driving innovation forward.

      Feedback is good when you’re finishing up a product. “Where would you expect this button to be?” is a great usability question to ask.

      But when designing a new product or new workflow, people automatically resort to what they’re used to which is why you don’t see dramatic improvement to MS products.

      They iterate extremely well but don’t drive innovation. That comes from the dreamers and I don’t think MS has a lot of those.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jasondouglasfarris Jason Farris

      I think I agree. I’m very happy with Windows8, but some of the color choices are off and a few tweaks like you describe will make it even better.

  • Chris Daltas

    Microsoft should build a search box right into the desktop and get rid of the Explorer icon, everyone hates Explorer anyway…

    They should really just hire me to fix these problems while Apple is still stuck in their 2008 design. I expect the next three versions of iOS to completely rip apart the very usable yet disconnected version we see today, and if you thought MS was behind now…

    • http://www.facebook.com/jasondouglasfarris Jason Farris

      Search is ubiquitous in the UI already.

  • BillyBilly

    The USB, printing and Office support were slam-dunks for our decision to purchase Surface RT for our teenage son for schoolwork. He loves it.

  • http://blog.nordquist.org Brett Nordquist

    Hold both tablets in your hand. This isn’t a PC that sits on a desk so how it feels in the hand is important. The iPad feels like a work of art. The Surface feels like a cheap tablet made by a no-name vender like you find at Frys.

    • guest

      I agree and disagree with you. The Surface hardware is solid and well-put together. It’s far from a cheap looking tablet. Where I agree with you is the comfort. The edges on the back of the Surface are a little sharp and can become uncomfortable after long periods of time. The curved corners on the iPad are nice.

      The nice thing about the Surface is that it can act like a PC and sit on a desk, thanks to the built in kickstand and type cover.

      Two real life stories where the Surface shinned:
      1). I was on vacation and needed to print off my boarding passes from my hotel room. I simply connected the hotel room printer to my Surface using the USB, the Surface recognized the printer immediately and I was able to print my passes.
      2). On another vacation, my friend had three movies on his PC. I was dreading my long flight home, until I realized I could easily transfer the movies to my Surface. Took a few minutes to transfer with a thumb drive and I was good to go.

      Try doing that with your piece of art. Oh, and btw, I didn’t have to hold the Surface my entire flight home. I placed it on the seat tray in front of me using the kickstand. But then again, some people might enjoy holding their devices for 5 straight hours.

      • http://www.facebook.com/jasondouglasfarris Jason Farris

        I prefer the Surface design, but like everyone, look forward to improvements. I just came off a 4 day business trip and used Surface the entire time.

        I agree it could lose a few ounces, but folks who think 16:9 1920×1080 is unusable are nuts! Taking notes in portrait mode with the pen is killer.

  • http://www.facebook.com/scottmoore.seattle Scott Moore

    Microsoft doing comparisons of the iPad to the Surface to convince consumers that its product is better is like Congress investigating itself for corruption. The study will find what it wants to find. It’s a forgone conclusion.

    The reality is in the sales figures and consumer reaction to the devices, and the reality is that more people prefer the iPad. MSFT is also stuck in the past, proclaiming that office works on the Surface but not the iPad. First, they created that scenario. Second, for many people it’s a non issue.

    And those tiles and Windows 8 are so horrible, to mention nothing of those horrible colors they chose. Esthetically the Surface is hideous, and was obviously designed by MSFT engineers who don’t know how to dress themselves. The lack of good taste and the amount of self delusion is astounding, as Ballmer plays the real life role of the emperor with no clothes.

    • EnlightenedSelfInterest

      And you are ugly and have bad breath. WAIT – that was a stupid comment. why? Because I’ve never met you. You’re a Microsoft hater, and have certainly not used a Surface for any period (if at all), and you probably use a Mac or a *nix variant.
      So why do you feel the need to comment on this? Is it just to make sure people know how ‘trendy and cool’ you are because you HATE Microsoft, I don’t see another purpose too your post.
      Your post here was a TROLL post.

      • panacheart

        I made a coherent posting and I signed my name to it. You insulted me, discredited me, and posted anonymously, and call me a troll, in caps. Try again.

        • EnlightenedSelfInterest

          You actually call that a coherent posting? You offered nothing but Microsoft hater talking points. And why do you think you are any less anonymous with your handle than I am with mine?
          My posting was intended to show the complete lack of context that you have for your comments, and I stand by my judgment. You added nothing to the conversation with the very obvious lack of a basis for your comments, other than being a Microsoft hater. You deserved to be insulted and discredited.
          You’re still a TROLL, but now you’re a JOKE as well.
          PS I’ll try not to insult or discredit you again, you seem to do a really good job on your own.
          ROFLMAO

          • panacheart

            You might want to address your anger management issues.