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Microsoft Surface: Review of reviews

It may have taken more than a few years for the penny to drop, but finally Microsoft has released its own tablet contender to take on the more established iPad and Android heavyweights. Has Surface, running Windows 8 RT, got what it takes to compete? Many reviewers it seems, have their shovels poised for some serious digging.

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Luke Westaway from CNet UK  welcomes the addition of Office as standard but suggests there aremore than a few irritating features:

“There are thoughtless annoyances everywhere. If you try to edit a Google doc without the keyboard attached, for example, the software keyboard doesn’t pop up automatically, so you have to go hunting for it in settings. Install an app and you can’t open it from Marketplace — head out to the Start screen and open it there. There’s no battery indicator on the Start screen either — there’s a graphic on the lock screen if you have charms engaged, but to find a battery percentage you have to go to the crusty old desktop.”

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Joshua Topolski at The Verge is initially impressed with the hardware:

“The Surface hardware is handsome indeed. The rectangular slab is a magnesium alloy forged from what Microsoft calls VaporMg, though it feels like thin, stiff aluminum to the touch.”  Not a bad opener, but then thing begin to get ugly, “Overall, Microsoft has designed a beautiful tablet that’s unfortunately more functional as a laptop… on a desk.” And now he is throwing haymaker punches ” It does the job of a tablet and the job of a laptop half as well and it often makes that job harder, not easier. Instead of being a no-compromise device, it often feels like a more-compromise one. There may be a time in the future when all the bugs have been fixed and the third-party app support has arrived. But that time isn’t right now — and unfortunately for Microsoft, the clock is ticking.”

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Wired on the other hand gives it 8/10 and some comforting words from reviewer Mathew Honan

“This is a great device. It is a new thing, in a new space, and likely to confuse many of Microsoft’s longtime customers. People will have problems with applications — especially when they encounter them online and are given an option by Internet Explorer to run them, only to discover this won’t work. But overall it’s quite good; certainly better than any full-size Android tablet on the market. And once the application ecosystem fleshes out, it’s a viable alternative to the iPad as well.”

Critics are united about the Surface’s lack of apps and perhaps Microsoft’s misguided strategy of a tablet that doubles as a laptop. The fear is it could end up falling between both stools.