Apple isn’t the only tech company who can sell-out new products almost instantaneously or pack stores with rock star-like crowds; at the Windows 8 unveiling, crowds lined Times Square to take a peek at and try out the new devices, especially the new Surface tablet.
And who could blame them? Microsoft had single-handedly turned the lighted signs of Times Square into one giant launch pad for Windows 8. Onlookers couldn’t help but be curious, with Microsoft taking control of 39 digital billboards to create one massive ‘Start Screen’ for its new operating system.
Also on display were giant signs promoting Microsoft’s hardware partners- from Sony to HP to Lenovo, more than 1,000 PCs and tablets were on hand for the launch of Windows 8, allowing early adopters to get a hands-on look at the new OS in action.
Among the multitude of tablets and PCs was the highly anticipated Surface Tablet; demand for the new tablets have been so strong that all Surface tablets in the US are now officially on back-order. So what makes the Windows 8- and Microsoft’s first foray into hardware, the Surface Tablet- so appealing?
Windows 8 redefines the navigation experience for a PC or Tablet user, making it completely personalized and interactive. The start screen is the only screen a user needs to visit to get any information; users can customize the screen to include weather and social media updates, calendar appointments, and even photos- whatever is most important for them. The dynamic screen can be controlled via mouse or touch, and updates in real time with the latest information.
A user's personalized information is also available across any device the user owns that is running Windows 8. The cloud storage system SkyDrive syncs your information, apps, documents, and photos across any number of devices, streamlining everything into one simple, common, and easy to use navigate interface.
The flexibility of the new software is equally matched to the flexibility and capabilities of the new hardware that accompany the release. Take for example, the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11, a touchscreen PC that can do a literal downward dog, inverting 360˚. Or the Dell XPS Duo 12, an all-in-one ultrabook and tablet that allows for both touchscreen and keyboard input, flipping around on its hinges to adapt for style of use.
The Dell XPS Duo 12
And then there is the pièce de résistance- the Surface Tablet. Speaking at the Windows 8 launch, President Steven Sinofsky pointed out the game changing nature of the Surface, saying, “I’ve used a lot of tablets and this is not a tablet but it is the best tablet I’ve ever used. And I’ve used a lot of notebooks and laptops and this is not a notebook or a laptop but it is also the very best laptop I’ve ever used. It is a new kind of device.”
The Surface, along with the other convertible and multi-functional devices that accompany the Windows 8 launch, is attempting to redefine how we label devices. The surface isn’t just a tablet–it looks like a slim ultrabook, but can detach from the accompanying keyboard to become a mobile tablet. Microsoft has introduced the future of devices, multidimensional products that can take us from work to play, all on an integrated software system.
When the iPad was introduced 3 years ago, a new era of device classification was ushered in, creating a lot of discussion on whether or not the future of computing would be tablet-based. So far the major drawbacks to ditching a laptop and using a tablet as a primary computer have been the app-centric interface, virtual keyboard, and lack of USB. Even though these seem like obvious and simple issues for manufacturers to solve, nobody had yet come up with an elegant solution, until Microsoft stepped in with the Surface. The software giant saw an opportunity and responded directly to what it saw as the immediate needs of the consumer–a move that has the potential to completely change the marketplace.
Even Oprah is convinced, naming the Surface one of her ‘Favorite Things’ for Holiday 2012, saying:
The Surface, Microsoft's first tablet, feels like a Mercedes-Benz to me, people! The full-size keyboard built right into the cover makes work easy, the very smart kickstand makes watching a movie or Skyping a friend a delight, the less than a pound-and-a-half weight makes a great alternative to a laptop, and the many other features make it fun for work and play. Now, that's a wowser!
The Surface Pro, which will make its debut in January 2013, will run off an Intel processor, as do many of the newly introduced devices. The new Clover Trail processor for laptops and tablets will mean longer battery life, and desktops will run off the Intel Core i7 processor, which ‘include advanced technologies that deliver faster, smoother, and richer PC and visual experiences for all of your favorite, demanding activities—from editing film to mind-blowing gaming.’
The combination of the new capabilities of the Windows 8 software, flexibility and convergence of the new devices that will run the software, and the advanced computing power of the Intel processors promise to create an exciting new era in computing.