My friend who works for the Emerging Markets Innovations Group, recently got access to a Microsoft Surface acquired by their team, and I had the previlidge to go use it a bit. I’ve created a few videos, but no time to edit them and post them online. If someone will volunteer to remind me in a couple of weeks, I’ll upload some cool personal demos. With any luck, you should be able to see the Surface in action at AT&T Store. I live in India, so I don’t know whether this is a reality yet.
Anyways, onto the review. The Surface is definately what it claims to be. Perhaps I was a bit disappointed because it was exactly what I saw in the videos (I was expecting to be blown off my feet with some juicy previews, but alas….)
I’m sure everyone reading this has at least a dozen ideas to use the Surface for, but I was impressed at the preview apps that the team has developed. You’ve all seen them – the picture viewer which allows you to flip pictures, and group them and categorize them, and so on. And then there’s the Virtual Earth app which I found to be lacking in thousands of features given the power of the surface (and I’m sure there’s some team hard at work in some deep basement making that a reality).
When you actually touch it, it just brings to light literally thousands of possibilities. You wanna do everything on the surface. Share pictures, play songs, play videos, play games, etc. It’s cool, and it makes you wanna keep on using it.
The one thing that really strikes you when you begin using it are the cool new gestures it supports. It’s not just about multitouch – anyone can write WM_* commands or whatever to give you multiple touch points. What’s really important is how apps leverage those gestures to do cool stuff. Moreover, some of the user semantics have also changed. Instead of files and folders, you deal with visual “bubbles” and “boxes” that you group objects into. You put a bunch of pictures into some kind of a bubble thing that you can move around the screen. You can then scroll through the pictures vertically, or horizontally, or by tag, and so on and so forth. Naturally, the power of WPF comes out when you play multiple videos oriented in arbitrary rotations and dimensions.
Overall, was a great experience. Everyone has to have played with a surface to really feel its power (and some of its limitations). When you check it out, you really understand how tough it must be to put all that in one simple-to-use packaging that you just open up, plug in, and use!