Why the Microsoft Surface exists


In case you have ever wondered why Microsoft created its own tablet computer called Surface, look no further than this Ars Technica review of the Acer Iconia W3. Peter Bright goes so far to call it “a device that shouldn’t exist”.

I hated every moment I used the Iconia W3, and I hated it because I hated the screen. … It’s hard to overstate just how poor this screen is. At any reasonable tablet viewing distance, the color of the screen is uneven. The viewing angle is so narrow that at typical hand-held distances, the colors change across the width of the screen.

That really sounds terrible. The screen is the one thing of a computing device we constantly stare at. Not a good idea to go too cheap there. Further he writes (emphasis mine):

This poor screen quality isn’t a question of resolution, either. 1280×800 is not a tremendously high resolution, but text looks crisp enough. At 186 pixels per inch, 1280×800 feels more or less OK for this size of device. The low resolution does, however, have one significant drawback: it disables Windows 8’s side-by-side Metro multitasking, which requires a resolution of at least 1366×768. The W3’s screen is 86 pixels too narrow, so the Metro environment is strictly one application at a time.

A very poor decision from Acer again. But I would also blame Microsoft here. Why is this side-by-side mode resolution dependent? And why is Microsoft not enforcing the minimal resolution to enable multitasking on every Windows 8 device out there? This is an actual advantages over the iPad. But sure, no compromises, right?

Unfortunate for Microsoft, the Surface RT is apparently not selling well. I hope they will do better with new Surface models and Windows 8.1.