Much of the criticism of the new Microsoft Surface computing table is misguided, for one simple reason: It’s intended to be used in commercial settings, not at home. Why, after all, would you want one of these things in your living room?
Microsoft Surface looks like a run-of-the-mill coffee table, but in fact, it’s a sophisticated touch-screen computer that can recognize objects placed on its surface, and lets you move objects around on it, including digital photos, music and maps. It can function as all kinds of things, such as a kiosk or a virtual concierge.
But Microsoft has made clear that it is, above all, a product for use in restaurants, hotels, retail locations and casinos — not in your living room.
For public locations, it’s ideal, allowing for simple, sophisticated interaction and information-gathering. But for your living room? No thanks. This is not a warm-and-fuzzy device, and people have criticized it for that.
If Microsoft was pitching this for the home market, I’d agree that Microsoft had struck out. But for public uses, I think Microsoft has a winner on its hands.