Surface Pro could shine if Windows 8 had been better designed to take advantage of its touch capabilities.
Brooke CrothersFormer CNET contributor
Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.
I like the Surface Pro. It drips with potential. That's the good news.
The bad news is that Windows 8 touch doesn't do the Surface Pro justice.
Try this. Use an iPad for an hour; then jump to Windows 8 touch. It's a not an easy switch.
Windows 8, at times, strikes me as Windows 7 touch with a Metro splash-screen bolted on. (Yes, there were Windows 7 touch laptops -- I've used them).
Here's the short version of what I'll write below: Aside from the browser and some interesting touch-based transitions done from the sides of the screen, for me, Windows 8 is pretty much Windows 7 touch. (Albeit a Windows 7 with some useful stuff stripped out or unnecessarily rejiggered.)
Try this. Open Word; then try to do something with your fingertips. It requires unerring precision. Which means it's better done with a mouse and keyboard.
Metro needs more stickiness -- I spend almost no time there -- or Desktop needs better touch.
Which leads me to what's good about Surface. If you look at it as a thin, lightweight laptop that happens to have a touch screen, then it begins to make sense. And Panos Panay, the guy who heads Microsoft's Surface Pro business, said as much last month.
"This should be the fastest PC you pick up. Period.... It was designed as a PC," he said.
I certainly agree with that. Surface Pro is a good laptop waiting for a future version of Windows 8 to make it a great touch device.