U.S. shoppers woke up with mild Surface fever on Friday, lining up in
moderate numbers to buy Microsoft's groundbreaking tablet computer
designed to challenge Apple's iPad.
The global debut of the Windows 8
operating system was greeted with pockets of enthusiasm, but not the
mania reserved for some previous Apple Inc launches.
positioning the slick new computing device, which runs a limited version
of Windows and Office with a thin, click-on keyboard cover, as a
perfect combination of PC and tablet that is good for work as well as
"I like the flexibility of having the keyboard and
the touch capability," said Mike Gipe, 50, who works in sales for bank
Barclays, and was planning to buy a Surface tablet at Microsoft's pop-up
store in Times Square in New York.
"It's the combination of
having the consumer stuff and the work stuff," he said, looking forward
to using Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations on the new
The Times Square store was the first to sell the Surface
Microsoft's first ever own-brand computer and other Windows 8 devices
late on Thursday and will be open through the holiday shopping season.
On Friday morning it was crowded with a mix of tourists and local office
workers, but the cash tills were not jammed.
"With the other
tablets you're a consumer. With this you can have input," said Peter
Townsend, on vacation in New York from Australia with his wife, who
bought a Surface tablet because he liked the keyboard.
Pauluch, 28, who works for a New York private equity firm, said he would
like a Surface because he does not want to take a laptop on a plane,
but was disappointed when the sales representative told him the
wifi-only Surface would not work with Cisco VPN networking.
"I can't use this to replace my work laptop unless it supports VPN," he said.
Midwest, west coast
Elsewhere in the United States, there was solid but not overwhelming interest for the Surface.
a good tablet. I am not a huge i-anything fan, I like Windows," said
Matt Shanahan, a software developer who drove four hours to the tiny
Michigan Avenue pop-up store in Chicago from Grand Rapids, Michigan to
buy a Surface. "My friend and I are software developers and this gives
us an opportunity to develop new apps," he said.
In a pop-up store at the San Francisco Centre mall about 50 people lined up to buy the new Surface.
an iPad you have to use half the screen for a keyboard, or buy an
accessory. I love that the Surface is so integrated, that you can type
and use Word and all my other programs," said Malte von Sehested, a
textbook creator who bought a Surface.
"With the Surface you get a
steeper learning curve I had to get someone to show me how to
side-swipe, swipe out to get the menus for instance," he said. "It may
take a week, before it all becomes natural. That could be a problem for
Microsoft. My old dad, he would get hit by that steeper learning curve."
Street and tech industry experts failed to show great enthusiasm for
Windows 8, but were prepared to give Microsoft time to succeed.
did not come out with Windows 8 thinking it will be an overnight
success," said Daniel Ives, an analyst at FBR Capital Markets. "But
there's hope that this could be the silver bullet of growth (for
Microsoft) as well as giving the PC industry some optimism that there's
better days ahead."
The next six to 12 months is a "crucial period" for Microsoft to get traction with consumers, added Ives.
Rotman Epps, an analyst at tech research firm Forrester, said consumers
may be best served waiting for tablets running the full Windows 8 Pro
and Intel Corp chips, which are due out early next year.
has a lot of great features, but RT has a long way to go," she said,
citing a lack of apps and poor video performance on the Surface.
"It's not really a PC. RT is too restricted. Some people will be happier with the full Windows 8," she said.
shares were up 33 cents at $28.21 on Nasdaq on Friday. Apple shares
were down slightly after disappointing earnings on Thursday.
© Thomson Reuters 2012