I Am A: Microsoft Surface general manager does an ask-me-anything on Reddit

Have any questions about Microsoft Surface? You’re in luck — Microsoft’s general manager of the Surface team, Panos Panay, invited any and all questions just a few hours ago on Reddit in the “I am A” category.

Well, almost all.

The top-rated questions range from how fast you can you type on the Touch Cover (one team member replied 65 words per minute, another said an astonishing 86!) to why no 3G/4G option (Wi-Fi is used FAR more on tablets) to when will it be available in $country, where country is not USA (no announcements yet).

One of the most interesting responses is on the Touch Cover digitizer, which senses impact and profiles key presses an astonishing 1,000 times each second to detect and ignore spurious contact … meaning that yes, you can rest your fingers on the keys just like a normal keyboard without triggering uncontrollable key presses.

Another insight when the Surface team was asked about cellular connectivity revealed that of the 33 percent of tablets selling today with 3G or 4G capability, only half were actually activated. Which means, of course, that consumers are voting with their wallets and not paying for yet another connection toll to the internet.

Other questions include one on whether Microsoft was working on a docking station, to which the Surface team responded that the Kickstand and the Touch-Type Cover is your docking station, offering USB and HD connections, and saying that “we specifically thought of this scenario and optimized for it. It is a pretty cool experience.”

And another that I personally resonate with focuses on the design philosophy behind Surface, something that I’ve admired since seeing it unveiled for the very first time.

The questioner, anexahhume, calls Surface design “a refined industrial look. It’s like Motorola products if they weren’t cheesy or ’80s-inspired, or Apple products with a dose of testosterone and a dash of fighter jet inspiration.”

Microsoft’s creative director replied that:

We started at looking at the software and thought about how to extend it into a physical product. We tried to stay away from any classic design language stuff, we didn’t want to have a bunch of styling in the way, we wanted to build a bridge between you and your digital things.

We developed the idea that later turned into the keyboard covers and kickstand. Most of the time we spent on revealing the essence of this idea: How can we make it comfortable to hold? How do we fit our connectors, and so on.. Step by step we found the design. The language behind it is a point of view to make a very useful product. I don’t believe in defining a design language in shape. A design language should be a consistent approach to execute the vision you have.

Using magnesium allowed us to make our product thin, light and strong. The color we chose lets the physical product fade into the background and pronounces the screen as the main act … a stage for your software.

One question that so far has not been asked is about Microsoft’s biggest tablet competitor.

When will Apple do something like this?

0 comments