An Open Letter To Josh, Tech Crunch, and Everyone Else Who "Doesn't Get" the Surface

Dear Josh, Tech Crunch, Gizmodo, ...... Everyone Else Who Doesn't Get the Surface,

I understand it has been a bumpy past few weeks for all of you - getting torn apart for writing your opinions on a Microsoft product. The MS fan-boys sure can be defensive, but I guess it's all good, because they seem to also bring in the ad revenue. I understand that some of you preach being brand agnostic, while others of you are very open with your strong beliefs in a brand. To that end it may be unfair to lump you all together into a single group, but all of you seem to have something in common (give peace a chance - it's a small World - everybody love their brother): This below paragraph, pulled from a most recent Tech Crunch "review" of the surface, I believe is indicative of sentiments echoed by so many of you reviewers who trashed the Surface against the iPad.

If the Touch Cover is the highlight of the Surface, desktop mode has to be the lowlight. It’s hard to put into words just how dumbfounding it is that Microsoft included this. The only answer I can come up with is that they could not get the Office apps ready for the “Metro” interface in time and had to — wait for it — compromise. If this was an actual roadmap decision made by someone at Microsoft, it’s one of the worst decisions ever made.

Now, don't get me wrong. As a Surface and iPad owner, I can find plenty to trash the Surface when compared to the iPad - namely app selection - but this one point about the desktop keeps coming up as a negative in so many of your reviews, which "I don't get". So while there is plenty to criticize in many reviews I read, I focus on this point because I think it shows a poor understanding, whether through lack of education from Microsoft through marketing, or a point of view that Apple has done so well of molding into the minds of its users; I don't know the cause for this misunderstanding, but the inclusion of desktop is no mistake. No, instead it makes the Surface one truly versatile machine. It can work great as a tablet, and also work well as a desktop PC. With attached cover, it can even pass as a laptop. It is arguably not the best of any, but very competent and in many ways excels at all.

So let's look at a few of these myths you reviewers seem to be preaching:

Myth #1: The desktop mode is part of Surface (Windows RT) because Microsoft didn't have time to metro-ize the Office apps. What I find dumbfounding is that this is the BEST reason y'all can find for the desktop inclusion. If you people were Windows users, you might appreciate the inclusion of a desktop, but none of you are. So I understand that you can't appreciate how when actually doing work, a desktop environment is preferred for multitasking. Perhaps as reviewers you might consider the other 90% of your audience that is a Windows user. BUT IT'S NOT TOUCH FRIENDLY!?!?!!? Correct! The desktop is not designed to be used as a touch interface - though MS has made some feeble attempts to make this more manageable. Desktop is for when I want to get real work done. In two seconds I can plug my surface into my larger monitor and keyboard, and start working away. Or if I'm truly on the go, I can use the surface like a laptop, even from my lap where I don't have to worry about sweaty palms or being sterilized due to CPU heat roasting my gentiles.

Myth #2: Somehow the inclusion of desktop is a negative or compromise. Despite plenty of pictures/videos in your reviews showing this world of Surface where the user is constantly forced into desktop to then navigate things with their fingers - it simply isn't true. I have yet to be forced into desktop. It is true that some more advanced settings may be hiding in desktop, but these don't need to be accessed or tweaked by the average user, and even a power user will only require access to these once a blue moon - something easily handled with an attached mouse, touch cover, or even with your greasy finger. My point is, that I keep seeing this come up as an issue - that somehow having additional layers for power users, or extra usage scenarios is a bad thing. It's not.

Myth #3: Metro Office apps. So this I actually think will happen at some point, and it may make sense at that time. At this time, the one app that makes a lot of sense in Metro, has been in Metro since before the Surface launched: One Note MX. This is an extremely powerful note taking app, and I use it for much more than that. Its seamless integration with the cloud makes it so I can pick up where I left off, whether on my phone, desktop, or Surface. I love it, and it makes a lot of sense in metro. Excel is another app I love - in desktop mode. I have no desire to work very heavily with Excel spreadsheets in a touch interface. It simply doesn't make sense. Will it make sense at some point in the future? Perhaps, but I don't think the modern UI design is there yet. It works well for both touch and mouse input for a lot of things, but I imagine in its current form that Excel would be about as useful as it is on my phone. Hint: I don't ever use it on my phone. I imagine when we finally do see metro versions of these other apps, they still won't be very touch friendly, but hopefully we will have more flexible multitasking to allow for what one can do in desktop. For now I don't see it making sense - they make more sense as desktop apps.

Josh, Tech Crunch, Gizmodo and everyone else who doesn't get the Surface: There has been plenty of fair points that you have made about the Surface; some have been ridiculous (re: "feels heavier", "much thicker"), but all that aside, one point has just been wrong - This point against the desktop feels more like a crusade against the idea that an tablet can be more than just a tablet. That somehow having that extra usage scenario as part of the product makes the Surface worse. The argument is ludicrous, and makes you all look really bad, and narrow minded.

Having a desktop and Office apps is not a negative. It is clearly something people have wanted, and have tried to bring to the iPad through various means (e.g. OnLive). I propose if you were Windows users, the concept would make more sense, but understand none of you regularly use Windows, and further propose for that reason you "don't get it". Feel free to attack the Surface for atrocious app selection, and sometimes spotty performance: These things need to be improved, but stop your crusade against the good things that the Surface has brought to the tablet world.

With love,

The Giving Tree