Yesterday, Microsoft announced a project that's been long in the making and even longer rumored: the Microsoft Surface. An iPad competitor that had the tech community buzzing, the tablet sports a 10.6-inch screen, a fancy VaporMG case and two OS versions, Windows RT (HD) and Windows 8 Pro (Full 1080p HD). The Surface also sports two keyboards: one with multitouch input, and one with three-dimensional keys (like a desktop). Most test runs with the new unit agree, it's a sleek piece of equipment, but without too much to test run on the machine, few are sure if it will effectively challenge the iPad.
Regardless of how great the Microsoft Surface is tech wise, it will have an uphill battle convincing hardcore Apple devotees — a must for survival. For the last decade, I've been a Mac user, drawn in by the simplicity and ease of the iOS and all the creative additions Apple has weaved into the systems over the years. That said, I have fond memories of my time spent with my Windows-enabled PC. So without knowing too much about the potential of the Microsoft Surface, I have a few prime questions that need answering before I even consider purchasing one:
Will I be able to waste days of my life playing Minesweeper on it?
The demonstrations of the actual Surface interface have been very brief, limited mostly to evaluations of the swiping controls. That's fine — but how will Microsoft's new product impact the future of Minesweeper? Will my fingers be too bulky to properly tap the hidden blocks, unintentionally revealing bombs that prematurely end my 100x100 game? My procrastination depends on this revelation.
Can I watch toasters fly by whenever the Surface falls asleep?
The actual workflow of the Microsoft Surface is all well and good, but I think any former PC user is wondering what it's going to be like when it's inactive. Apple has a handful of decent screensavers, but silly animations that remind a person of fever dreams could really help bring the Surface to the forefront of modern computer technology.
Will I be able to draw silly MS Paint pictures?
Great modern artists get their start in one place: MS Paint. If I'm going to invest in a Microsoft Surface, what can we expect from the upgraded drawing software? In fairness, Mac's don't offer much in the way of on-the-whim art programs, so an inclusion of the time-honored program is already a selling point. But while finger paints are fun, using a mouse to craft classic works of art feels natural after so many years. How will it compare?
Will AOL still tell me when I have mail?
One of my mother's biggest problems with switching from PC to Mac was the lack of AOL's savvy internal browser and easy mail client. When she had an e-mail, it told her so! If I tell my mother about Microsoft Surface, she's going to want old school AOL loaded on there. Will Surface support the program? Can my mother redeem the pile of "80 Free Hours" discs she still holds on to for safe keeping? Will it connect to AOL over wifi networks faster than her dial-up?
Will my old LucasArts Games load on the Surface?
No questions; this is a must. If I can't coop up for a weekend playing Day of the Tentacle or Monkey Island on my Microsoft Surface, then what's the point?
Will I be able to download Smashmouth tracks off Kazaa using it?
Back when I was using a PC, I found most of my music through the wonders of the Kazaa file sharing service. Legal shmeagal — will Surface support it?
Will I be able to Ctrl + Alt + Del whenever I become impatient?
Frozen or not, Ctrl + Alt + Del was always my simple escape route from whatever I was doing in Windows. Mac has its "Force Quit," but the shortkeys might as well be hieroglyphics. Microsoft/Windows kept it simple so I could bail from any sticky computer situation with the tap of three keys, clearly marked on my QWERTY board. How do I hightail it out of the inevitable broken Solitaire game or futzy Excel document on the Surface? If it's not easy, I may throw it at a wall, because it's a mobile device.
We'll learn the answers to these questions and more as Microsoft prepares to launch the Surface for a Fall 2012 release.
Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches
[Photo Credit: Microsoft]