November 14, 2012, 1:23 PM — After taking a look at Windows 8 last month, I spent a few weeks using it on a Microsoft Surface. Surface is one of the first Windows 8-optimized devices, one of the first Windows RT devices and the very first computer to come directly from Microsoft.
Surface is neither a traditional PC nor a traditional tablet. Microsoft sees the tablet and PC experience as something that can be embodied in one device, not two separate devices or platforms. So Surface was designed for more traditional PC tasks but with the ability to function as a tablet as well, meaning it works well for both content creation and consumption. It is a new category of device unto itself that embodies Microsoft's vision for the next generation of personal computing and one that leverages Microsoft's PC heritage.
Microsoft says Surface is meant as a "stage for Windows 8," and that's as good a way as any to describe what it has delivered. The hardware is a sleek metal tablet that's built with a material that Microsoft calls VaporMG. It's solid and feels good in the hand and very durable.
Surface starts to be differentiated from other tablets with its unique kickstand feature, which keeps the tablet propped up at a great angle for typing or viewing videos. Typing, you ask? Yes. It's another differentiator: Microsoft sells a cover for the Surface. It attaches to the device magnetically, and when you prop your Surface up on its kickstand so that the cover lies on the tabletop, it serves as a keyboard. The cover comes in two versions. The Touch cover is a thin membrane with flat keys that respond to pressure. The Type cover is a bit thicker and has mechanical keys. My preference is for the Type cover, which provides something akin to a traditional typing experience, but the Touch cover worked for me as well with a little practice. My advice is to try both before you buy. But my stronger advice if you buy a Surface is to spring for one of these two covers. They definitely set the Surface apart from other tablets.