Shortly after Microsoft unveiled their NYC Time Square retail store and started selling their brand new Surface tablet, we caught this “slice of life” moment between Mike Angiulo (VP of Windows Planning) and Panos Panay (GM of Microsoft Surface). Take a look:
A Windows fan had just got done requesting an autograph from Panos. The entire night, we saw people finally acquire their precious Surface, only to raise their hands, victoriouly shout “Surfacceeeee!” and run out of the store to a sea of high fives. This is something we haven’t really seen from a Microsoft product since the launch of the XBOX 360. And let me tell you: it was refreshing, exciting, and all around awesome.
Afterwards, we were able to spend a few minutes with Mike Angiulo and pick his brain about a few of the features as well as the development of the Surface. What stuck out MOST regarding the conversation were his excitement, intensity, and passion for the product and company.
When Angiulo first walked towards us, we were receiving a demo from one of the trained Surface reps. He hopped into the conversation and jumped in to answer someone’s question, to which the Surface rep exclaimed, “Oh, I see you must have already visited our store!”
Obviously, he didn’t know to whom he was talking. Angiulo was quick to inform him in a light hearted and sarcastic way, “Oh, no, I’m just one of the guys that created this. Mike Angiulo,” as he extends his hand for a shake. It was like watching a live episode of “Undercover Boss”.
With all the chaos, we knew we had only a short time to chat with the Surface savior, so we asked two questions that perhaps he didn’t get so often.
First question: We’re sure there are a lot of things you WANTED to put in the Surface that you couldn’t, and perhaps others you didn’t think you could include that you fit in. Can you explain that decision process?
Unfortunately we didn’t get the conversation on camera, so I’m paraphrasing a bit here, but Angiulo described it as a “give and take”. The key “take” was the Full USB port. They KNEW this was something they wanted and knew it was something Windows users would want to be able to use in a full productivity environment where they could easily print documents and do other things without the need for various adapters.
The USB port then determined the thickness of the Surface and everything sort of fell into place from there. They stuffed all they could into the Surface with the minimum thickness required by the USB port. They even tried many different types of paints, with some being a fraction of a mm thicker than they wanted, prompting them to move onto the next version to test. In the end, Angiulo said, the system was so compact that you couldn’t fit a piece of paper between all the elements they crammed in.
He noted that they’ll rework the Surface in the future to incorporate 3G and 4G radios, but that building this first iteration was a joy and he hopes/thinks a huge success. We have to agree.
The second question we asked was regarding the whole psychology of removing the typical “Start Menu”, which I felt would alienate the old school Windows user and confuse the 50+ crowd, but perhaps a required jump to move the tech forward. I posed this question to Russell Holly of Geek.com on G+ the previous day to which he said:
Since 99% of what I do is on the desktop, I don’t feel like Windows 8 affects my workflow in any meaningful way. I’ll likely not use the Start Menu any more or less than I do right now.
As for alienating users, I kind of feel like it is necessary in order to push the state of the art forward. We need to stop relying on these legacy expectations for how software is “supposed” to behave and allow the way we use computers to change a bit.
Well stated, and Angiulo echoed these same sentiments. However, he also said that old school Windows users WILL feel at home after learning a few VERY simple ways to get screen views that seem Start screenish. And the start screen is there, just redesigned. Personally, I think if users swipe open from the right and click “search” they’ll get the more structured experience they’re looking for, not to mention they can open a desktop view if they really wish. But we prefer the new Windows 8 style especially for the touch screen.
What a HUGE weekend for Microsoft. The launch of the Surface seems to have been a HUGE success although ultimately that will be determined by sales numbers over Q4. On Monday is a huge Windows Phone event in NYC that will continue the momentum. People are excited about Microsoft products again. Surface is sick. Windows Phone is on the way up. Windows 8 in general is innovative. XBOX continues to be the favorite console of a large quantity of gaming fans…
And we couldn’t be happier. Congrats to Mike Angiulo, Panos Panay, the Surface Team, and all of Microsoft!
Now go buy your Surface and join us in the Microsoft Surface Forums!