Article first published as What's beneath the Surface on TechnoratiMicrosoft after talking about the much hyped Windows 8 for over a year, which lead to speculation around how the PC World and the world of lighter compact tablet computers will intersect, has finally announced Surface. An apparently well designed Microsoft tablet PC with design intricacies that are widely published. However the most interesting pitch is that the Surface will not only be your bed time read but also your Ultrabook. So in other words unlike Android that has to play catchup with the AppStore the Windows 8 platform would support the around 4 million applications already available for the Windows platform. So in other words you can enjoy the power of the Adobe Creative suite, Microsoft Office and Outlook, that forces me to switch back to my Ultrabook, available on my tablet. This is a compelling value proposition. This not only eliminates the need for me to purchase apps for previously desktop applications but will allow me to use everything I already own for Windows. Further that puts an end to the endless porting converting and switching back and forth between the PC and the tablet. Finally the browsing experience in an iPad minus flash support sends me back scampering back to my PC. With IE10 this will not be a problem.
While I have heaped praises, here comes the fine print. Windows 8 has inherently built two views the Metro mode and the Desktop mode. The Metro mode which is the tablet interface with the tiled views is a distinctly different environment from the more classic Windows Desktop. So applications that were developed for your Windows PC will function in your desktop mode as against your Metro or tablet mode, and they don't seamlessly transition when you switch modes. So you do get the power of the desktop in your tablet but only in your good old Desktop world. For applications to run effectively in a tablet environment you will have to depend on the Microsoft app store, which I would hazard a guess is still in its fledgeling state. Further the keyboard which looked like an ultra cool add-on, is a necessity in the Windows 8 world.
So yes you can own one single device, but you don't eliminate the Desktop PC. You do make a big save by not having to buy a separate Ultrabook, but in Surface you actually have a cool-compact Ultrabook with tablet functionality. While you do get to use your existing desktop apps, you don't get to use them with the tablet interface, so back to shopping in the app store. Finally not sure everyone would enjoy working on a 10.4 inch Windows Ultrabook as against the 13 inch or larger variety. For e.g a creative designer will any day like to use the larger screen in their laptops rather than hunching over a tablet.
While Surface is far from perfect, to their credit Microsoft has taken us one step closer to bidding goodbye to the PCs. By virtue of having come out with a powerful product, they will keep Apple and other tablet manufacturers on their toes. Surface will certainly force manufacturers back to the drawing boards to solve the rather challenging problem of merging the longstanding PCs and revolutionary Tablets. While we all eagerly await the next wave of Tablets, it will still be a while before we say "RIP PC".