This week marked the moment Microsoft Fanboys have been waiting well over a decade for, twelve years to be exact. We’re talking about the the recent updates regarding Microsoft’s new Surface tablet. On a November Sunday in the year 2000, Bill Gates spoke to the fall COMDEX convention in Las Vegas, NV. During his keynote he introduced Microsoft’s first operating system designed for a tablet computer, Windows XP Tablet PC Edition.
After introducing the world to the OS, Microsoft wowed the crowd at COMDEX with the first Tablet PC demonstration. In the demonstration they showed off primarily business applications, as the first tablets were geared towards the enterprise. Applications like Visio and Microsoft Office were shown while features like pen to screen note taking were highlighted. Luckily, I stumbled on a very grainy video of the event so it shall never be forgotten.
That didn’t stop me from wanting a tablet PC, from the first time I laid eyes upon them I knew I must have one. However, over the years they were just too cost prohibitive for me to sell the bosses I worked for, and I certainly couldn’t shell $2,000+ for a sub par spec’d computer with a less than responsive touch screen. Microsoft left the hardware to their partners, and the partners blew it. After a few years, I gave up hope on a obtaining a worthy Windows XP powered tablet.
Of course Tablet PCs weren’t a failure. They’ve been a niche device with people in sales, marketing, healthcare or similar industries since their release. However, since they weren’t selling millions of units touch just didn’t seem like a priority to Microsoft for quite some time. They may have continued to improve tablets throughout the middle of the decade, but consumers simply weren’t buying what they were selling.
Around the same time several other promising Microsoft development projects caught the attention of enthusiasts. One of those developments first showed up in 2005, which were the original Origami Ultra-Mobile PC devices. Sadly, the UMPC projects never really took off due to the rise of the smart phone. However, yet another innovative and promising device was leaked in 2009, this device was of course the infamous Courier. Heartbreakingly, the Courier was canceled nearly as quickly as it was leaked.
I think losing the Courier hurt the most, because no one really knew why it had been canceled. How could Microsoft scrap a project that received so much critical acclaim even when it was still in early conceptual and prototype stages? The Courier was a beacon of hope for the fanboys who had been carrying the tablet PC flag for so long, but alas it wasn’t meant to be. The boys in Redmond evidently knew what they were doing all along, they had tricks up their sleeves and cards yet to play… but we didn’t know that at the time.
I should mention that before the Courier was scrapped Microsoft wowed us with yet another touch innovation, the original Surface (now PixelSense). Seeing Bill Gates introduce the first Surface left me speechless, as I was in complete awe (a recurring theme). My friends and I had grand plans of opening a sports bar full of Surfaces, where the patrons ordered their food and drinks via the touch tables. They could separate and pay their tabs, watch videos or play games to pass the time. Even then I hoped that I’d have a Surface one day, of course I never imagined it would actually happen.
I kept the iPad longer than I do most gadgets, even though I was never happy with it. Sure it worked well for many things, but it had a lot of faults I had trouble looking past. I of course was also frustrated by the fact that Bill Gates championed the tablet for years, but the iPad got the glory (which I ranted about in a blog post). After continually being unfulfilled by my iPad (especially not being able to write proper fractions and chemistry symbols) I sold it on Craigslist just days before they announced the iPad 2. I never looked back.
Luckily just three short months after selling my iPad the first news of Windows 8 hit the interwebs. In early June Microsoft’s Steven Sinofsky and Julie-Larson Green unveiled Windows 8 to the world at D8. I remember watching the stream wanting to strangle Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher through the screen for their inept and condescending tone throughout the demo. By this time I was completely in love with Windows Phone, so I was personally thrilled to see the direction of Windows 8.
After D8 I stayed glued to the tech news sites and waited patiently throughout the summer. In September of 2011 BUILD arrived, and for a solid two weeks I ate, slept and drank Windows 8. I was completely jealous of the free Samsung slates that were given out to the attendees of BUILD, and remember having serious envy when Paul Thurrott showed his off on Windows Weekly #226. I was so thrilled with all of the news about Windows 8 that week that I created a video showing how to install Windows 8 on a virtual machine.
From there things escalated quickly. I got a job as a Premier Field Engineer specializing in Active Directory. I bought an Acer W500 tablet and installed the Windows 8 Developer Preview on it, and I’ve been using Windows 8 every day since. I’ve had Windows 8 on my home desktop since the consumer preview, and on my work laptop since it released to manufacturing. I had come to love Windows 8 and had planned to pick up a launch day tablet from Samsung, ASUS or Lenovo – because certainly Microsoft wouldn’t be releasing a tablet all of their own.
I vividly recall that I was working from home the week that the mysterious Microsoft event was announced. It had been hinted that the event was about Windows RT tablets, so of course I was watching the live stream on multiple websites clamoring for information. Like the rest of the world, I had no idea Microsoft was working on a tablet of their own, and of course I was blown away by the product they unveiled. The most memorable moment of the event for me was the smoothness of Sinofsky when he hid the Touch Cover until the very last moment before surprising the world (17:00 minute mark).
Of course, being completely unlike Microsoft they were secretive and only showed us a glimpse of what the Surface was after the announcement. They left us all guessing on a plethora of details. How much would it be? When will it be available? Will it blend? As if twelve years weren’t enough they had us wait on baited breath for another four months as they polished both the operating system and hardware that make up the elegantly brilliant Microsoft Surface.
Okay, so maybe I was a little over the top, but like everyone else I wanted details. So of course I was ecstatic when they began releasing more information this week. When the Surface Twitter account came alive I giggled like a school girl, and you can easily deduce how ridiculously excited I’ve been throughout the week by reading my recent posts.
So here we sit, down to the final week. In just seven days (or earlier) my pre-ordered 64GB Microsoft Surface for Windows RT + Touch Cover will arrive on my doorstep. Will it be worth the wait? Will Microsoft reward myself and countless other fanboys by delivering a device that blows everyone away, including the competition?
I’m betting the Surface will be every bit as amazing as we all want it to be, and more. Some might say I am silly. Here I am, a man in my early thirties blabbering on for hours about a silly computer. Well they may be right, but I don’t care. All I have to say to those who don’t understand the excitement that I have for this silly gadget, “I’m finally getting my hands on my unicorn.”0