After trying it for a while, I found the home screen with its live tiles to be easy to understand. I could touch a tile and jump right into an app or other function. As with Windows Phone live tiles, it is a big achievement for Microsoft.
The only thing I found confusing with the interface was that I kept wanting to use the tablet like a laptop with the cover keyboard. Instead of touching the screen, I kept reverting to using the touch mouse on the cover keyboard or the directional keys. I would think using it as a standalone tablets device for work tasks might take a while to master.
Overall, the Surface RT looks like a solid machine. At $499 to start, it comes with a premium price compared to other tablets sell for as low as $199 (with less storage), but Microsoft is positioning Surface as a competitor to the iPad, albeit a more rugged one.
Potential buyers will want to spent a while trying out the touch commands after it goes on sale Friday at Microsoft stores and other retailers. Even though the tablet is obviously physically durable, the real question is whether users will adapt to the touch interface quickly. Some like me might just want to use it as a modified laptop with the Touch or Type cover in place.
Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His email address is email@example.com.
Read more about tablets in Computerworld's Tablets Topic Center.