Another view of Windows 8, Surface ‘excitement’

A few days ago I shared a news story that I had read about Microsoft’s Surface and Windows 8 launch last Friday. The article was warmly positive in its analysis of the public’s acceptance of the two new products. Unfortunately, it was apparently based on that author’s firsthand experience at only one location–the Microsoft store in Century City, CA.

Here’s another view of the same event, perhaps with a bit better perspective in that it includes interviews with potential customers at several different Microsoft stores, and some  analysts’ comments:

SEATTLE (Reuters) – U.S. shoppers woke up with mild Surface fever on Friday, lining up in moderate numbers to buy Microsoft’s groundbreaking tablet computer designed to challenge Apple’s iPad.

The global debut of the Windows 8 operating system was greeted with pockets of enthusiasm, but not the mania reserved for some previous Apple Inc launches.

Microsoft is positioning the slick new computing device, which runs a limited version of Windows and Office with a thin, click-on keyboard cover, as a perfect combination of PC and tablet that is good for work as well as entertainment.

“I like the flexibility of having the keyboard and the touch capability,” said Mike Gipe, 50, who works in sales for bank Barclays, and was planning to buy a Surface tablet at Microsoft’s pop-up store in Times Square in New York.

“It’s the combination of having the consumer stuff and the work stuff,” he said, looking forward to using Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations on the new device.

The Times Square store was the first to sell the Surface — Microsoft’s first ever own-brand computer — and other Windows 8 devices late on Thursday and will be open through the holiday shopping season. On Friday morning it was crowded with a mix of tourists and local office workers, but the cash tills were not jammed.

“With the other tablets you’re a consumer. With this you can have input,” said Peter Townsend, on vacation in New York from Australia with his wife, who bought a Surface tablet because he liked the keyboard.

Mark Pauluch, 28, who works for a New York private equity firm, said he would like a Surface because he does not want to take a laptop on a plane, but was disappointed when the sales representative told him the wifi-only Surface would not work with Cisco VPN networking.

“I can’t use this to replace my work laptop unless it supports VPN,” he said.

Unless there was an overwhelming demand for Microsoft’s new offerings (like that found at Apple stores on new product launch day), it would be difficult to gauge how successful they really are.

After all, the next wave of Windows 8 tablets–running on Intel chips, and with the full version on Windows 8 Pro–won’t be released until early next year.

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