Surface tablet buzz starts, but Windows 8 excitement muted

Fri Oct 26, 2012 4:26pm EDT
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By Bill Rigby

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.   Continued...

Microsoft tablet PC Surface is shown at the launch event of Windows 8 operating system in New York, October 25, 2012. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson