by Shane O'Neill

Microsoft Surface TV Ad a Colorful Distraction

Oct 19, 20122 mins
Computers and PeripheralsMobileOperating Systems

The first TV commercial for Microsoft's Surface tablet hits some high notes but trivializes the serious challenge facing Windows 8 tablets.

If you haven’t experienced watching, I mean being hit over the head by, Microsoft’s new Windows RT Surface tablet TV ads, you’re in for quite a colorful, high-energy ride (see video below).

Clearly, Microsoft is not going for subtlety with Surface advertising. Less is not more here. It’s dance fever baby!

The ad is vibrant and fun, but I’m not sure a cotton candy approach was the best way to sell Microsoft’s first self-branded Windows tablet and first serious attempt to compete directly with the mighty iPad.

As for tablet details, I didn’t expect a 60-second TV ad to get in the weeds with Windows RT features and functions. I didn’t expect a tutorial on using Office 2013 or the steps to connect to a Wi-Fi network. However, we only see some swiping of screens; we never even see anyone tap open a tile from the Start screen. Maybe that will come in later ads, but it’s not entirely clear from this ad that Surface is even a tablet; it could be seen as a detachable ultrabook or a hybrid. The ad should have yelled out “Serious iPad competitor!” And it didn’t.

What it emphasizes most is the Touch Cover keyboard and the attached kickstand. And cute clicking sounds. And dancing. Lots of dancing.

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My gripe with spotlighting the Touch Cover keyboard is the assumption that it doesn’t cost extra. That’s the way Microsoft has implicitly marketed the Surface tablet: as one tidy little bundled tablet-cover-keyboard package. It turns out the Touch Cover keyboard costs $100 extra if you buy the base $499 32GB Surface, bringing the total to $599 for a tablet-cover-keyboard. The 64GB Surface for $699 includes the Touch Cover keyboard. The fact that the Surface devices are overpriced to begin with is another issue for another blog post.

I’ll admit it, the ad does put a little spring in your step and announces the Surface with gusto. But after all the bombast, these dancing fools just paid $600 or $700 for an unproven tablet in a market that offers many proven — albeit smaller — tablets for less money. That’s a realization that could stop the music at even the most giddy dance party.

What do you think of the first Surface TV ad?