Drawing a comparison: Surface RT and Galaxy Note (1st gen) reactions
The launch of Windows RT devices, being the Surface or those coming after it, made me somehow think about the Galaxy Note presentation last year and some of the reaction in tech world.
The Original Galaxy Note: Size and Stylus complexes
Just like happened with the original Note, I got the impression many just missed one of the focal reason why the device has been made as it is, a reason that seems to have solid ground in the real world, i.e. within consumers living outside the artificial tech world.
The original Note pushed two elements, the increased screen and the return of a pen/stylus to phones. A consistent voice in the tech world bashed and dismissed the device because of those very reason (Vlad's original review being an example), seeing no application for something like that in the actual smartphone market. Others, wisely, saw a potential there, saying it could have catered to a niche market interested in those features. Though it wasn't clear at all how big such market could have been.
As the time then showed, the Note had been quite a success, specially if we consider the size was somehow cumbersome for a highly portable device and some of those implementations weren't really perfect, showing typical shortcoming you see in 1.st gen devices, such as imperfect screen, or rough digitizer implementation. Nevertheless, it was successful because there was evidently a market for these kind of products, a market many so-called tech analyst completely missed or, even worse, totally dismissed
Windows RT devices: Office and the touchscreen complex
Welcome now Windows RT devices. Aside from some objective advantages RT has over other mobile tablets solutions (such as side-by-side app, better hardware support through usb port) and some objective disadvantages (such as a clearly inferior Store at the moment and a good-but-not-best screen), there's one element that has somehow divided again the tech world: Office 2013.
Some comments and reviews have downplayed the inclusion of Office in RT (Josh review being an example), because the package hasn't being optimized to death for a touch use and because using Office on a tablet isn't necessarily seen as a necessity, not even a useful option according to some. Other reviews have been more positive instead on the matter and has clearly stated (again, wisely in my opinion) how there's a potential market out there for such kind of features. A market that has no solution at the moment to satisfy its needs
Similar, but not the same
Where the situation in my opinion differs, compared to the first Note, is about the knowledge if such a potential market exists or not. Looking at some statistics came out in the last months, as well as going around and asking an opinion to iPad or Android tablet owners, appears that one of the most requested and missing feature is exactly what RT will offer: a familiar, almost-desktop-level version of Office.
Another difference is, while the Note implementation of the pen wasn't really perfect thus causing some difficulties to take the maximum advantage of it, Office implementation in devices such as RT is actually good *because* supported by additional hardware features such as the keyboard/mouse combo, thus eliminating the inherent difficulties to use a complex program like Office in touch-only environment. Sure there are still problems with RT devices, like performances to be still tuned, the aforementioned lack of applications in the store and others problem coming with another 1.gen device
That said, it will be interesting to see how things will evolve and in which direction, but my guess (and that's it, my opinion, not stating a fact) RT will just open the doors to highly potential market non yet explored, a market unfortunately some experts in the field could have missed to understand. Again.