A New Tablet Rises: Microsoft Surface Name Review


Hoping to take a bite out of Apple’s share of the exploding market for tablet computers, Microsoft recently announced that it would launch a Windows-powered tablet PC called Surface.  Not coincidentally, the device is expected to bow around the same time as Microsoft’s much-anticipated, touchscreen-optimized Windows 8 OS, which will be available to the public in late October.

Surface will feature a slightly larger screen than iPad (10.6” vs 9.7”), and there is speculation that the tablet will allow users to deploy Word and Excel. The cover will double as a full keyboard with track pad, and a built-in kickstand will come standard. The device will be encased in magnesium.

Interestingly, the name Surface was actually recycled from an earlier use for Microsoft’s large, multitouch platform (used, for example, on Samsung’s touch-screen LCD table), which has since been rebranded as PixelSense. Since few folks will be familiar with that earlier usage, the name retooling seems like fair game.

Especially since it works so well for a tablet. The two primary meanings for “surface” are both highly relevant: a plane or “two-dimensional locus of points” is clearly something thin, while “the upper boundary of an object or body” suggests being at the top or apex (a good thing).

With its mathematical connotations (e.g., the surface of a sphere), the name also has a futuristic, almost elemental feel that works with the lauded sleek design.

Surface might also take you to “surface area,” which nicely alludes to the larger screen versus its primary competition. Arguably, it could also reference the functional use of every surface, including its cover-slash-keyboard (pretty cool).

I’m definitely an Apple person, so I have to confess that I didn’t really want to like this name. But Surface rises to the top.

Overall Grade:  A

Final Grade:



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