To use a Microsoft Surface computer is to feel a bit like a zoo animal. Set it up on an airplane tray table, and people will stare. Some of them will giggle at how funny you look, and others will ask you questions as if you were an exotic curiosity and even poke at you. If you’re lucky, a couple of kind souls will try to feed you or buy you a drink.
I’ve been using the Surface product line since the beginning, which means I’ve suffered a lot. The first Surface, shipped in October 2012, stood as Microsoft’s initial stab at making its own computer. The device looked pretty, with a fancy kickstand and a nifty keyboard. The bells and whistles, however, mostly stopped there. My computer suffered from periodic seizures, and the medicinal software updates needed to cure them sometimes took a while to arrive. Based on an ARM chip, the device lacked horsepower and couldn’t run typical Windows applications. It just wasn’t a terribly pleasant computer to use, and so, like any good son would do, I gave it to my mom. She actually seems to like the thing and chalks up the device’s quirks to user error—a worldview that Microsoft has championed for some time.