Zaprudering the Microsoft Surface intro

OK, I guess it might as well be me who nitpicks the Surface announcement.

The Verge has posted video of Monday’s Microsoft Surface announcement and I don’t want to make a big deal about this but I was surprised at the trouble Steven Sinofsky had with the Surface starting at about 13:30.

In Internet Explorer, Sinofsky says “I can browse smoothly.” and then taps three times at the top of the screen apparently trying to get the Surface to do something, but no soap. Nothing happened. Then he moves on nervously.

About 14:00 he says “Movies and entertainment look great as well.” Tap. Tap. “Hang on a sec.” Tap. Swipe. Tap. Tap. “Excuse me just a second.” Then he goes and gets another Surface from under a table.

Trotting back with the new one, he returns to his point. “Surface works great for movies and entertainment as well.”

No doubt.

Michael Angiulo was a much better presenter than Sinofsky, but at 24:00 he’s in the Windows Reader app and says he’s going to go back to the desktop to show people what he launched, but he apparently can’t find it so he swipes from the left (the Windows 8 touch version of alt-tabbing) to return to the app. Then when he goes to erase something he wrote on the page, he brings up a flaw that you wouldn’t realize unless you’re a jerk like me who slows down and backs up Microsoft videos looking for problems. The screen notices the proximity of the pen and turns off touch input so your hand doesn’t screw it up. That’s apparently great unless you need to move the pen away from the screen but keep your hand close, like when you flip the pen around to erase something.

Which is probably why you shouldn’t be using an eraser metaphor with electronic pen input.

Ponos Panay was also a pretty solid presenter — although I could do without all the pointing and the mug for the camera (they all did that and it’s really cheesy) — but after he talked about the Touch Cover he said he couldn’t wait for the gathered media to get their hands on it back stage. Yet, the media weren’t allowed to actually use the Touch Cover. No one outside Microsoft has and yet that’s what everyone’s touting as the Surface’s big advantage over the iPad.

The funny thing is that I was actually pretty impressed by the Surface when I saw the live blogs and post-event reports. And then I was less impressed after watching the video. It’s unreasonable to expect everything to come off perfectly when the product is months from shipping, but it was more uneven than I expected.