This isn't the hardware I was expecting to be reviewing. In the run-up to Microsoft's New York City event earlier this week, the working assumption was that the company would be unveiling an 8-inch Surface mini. But just days before the event, the mini's launch was put on hold. Instead, we got the Surface Pro 3.
Since the first iteration of the Surface range, the Surface RT, was released back in 2012, the biggest challenge has been categorization. The devices themselves have the form factor of a tablet, certainly. But since their onset, they've been paired with a range of keyboard covers that, combined with the integrated kickstand, make them in some ways comparable to laptops. And this comparison was invited. Steven Sinofsky, former president of the Windows Division, said at the Surface RT's launch event: "It's not a laptop, but it's the best laptop I've ever used."
However, these comparisons have been problematic. The ARM Surface RT and Surface 2 provide the Windows desktop, but the only software that can use it are the things built into Windows, such as Explorer and the preinstalled version of Office. Every other program those tablets run must come from the Windows Store and will be a touch-oriented Metro application.