As of this weekend, Microsoft has a hot product on its hands.
Reviews notwithstanding (some have been pretty negative), on Friday my local Microsoft store in Century City (in Los Angeles) was buzzing with curious customers keen on trying the Surface RT tablet, as lines snaked outside. Other stores drew crowds too.
(And all three Surface models are back-ordered three weeks on Microsoft’s online store.)
I was surprised to see any line at all. After reading some reviews, you would have thought that the thing was DOA.
Fortunately, I had plenty of time to try out the tablet for myself. Ill-conceived, unusable keyboard? Nope. Yeah, it takes getting used to, but the 3mm-thick keyboard is far from unusable and beats a virtual keyboard any day.
And besides, for a few bucks more you can get the other Surface keyboard that Microsoft is selling, which is a real keyboard — responsive and easy to use.
And as I’ve been saying for a while now, as an interface, I like Windows 8 and its split personality.
For Microsoft, one of the more encouraging signs (I saw) was the intensity of interest. Customers had lots of questions about Surface and some sat there for 30 minutes or even an hour kicking the tires (or, in this case, pounding on the 3mm keyboard).
If Microsoft can maintain that kind of enthusiasm, it has a chance to make a run at the iPad and MacBook.
The other unmistakable change at the Microsoft store (which I visit often) was a crop of new Windows 8 laptops with touch screens.
There were new Asus, Acer, and Sony clamshell laptops — all touch capable. For me, this is a watershed feature and big leg up on Apple.
Some reviewers believe that touch screens and clamshells go together like oil and water. Not me. I want the option to use the touch screen. I mean, why not have a touch display? It’s there if you need it…
Read more: CNET