A hybrid with potential for productivity types - "It's the ultimate expression of a Windows PC," says Windows chief Steven Sinofsky... or "a compromised, confusing product", according to Apple's Tim Cook, who has not used one. This is Surface RT, Microsoft's first own-brand tablet, which went on sale today.
Along with the fact that it runs Windows 8, there are two notable things about Surface RT. One is that it is designed and engineered with more attention to detail than is normal for a Windows PC. The other is that it runs Windows RT, the version compiled to run on ARM processors and locked down so that you cannot install new desktop apps even if you can find versions compiled for ARM. New apps can only be installed from the Windows Store, other than in an enterprise context where a special product key can be activated to enable "sideloading", the word Microsoft uses to describe apps installed outside the Windows Store.
There is a desktop in Windows RT, but it exists only to run Microsoft Office 2013, which is installed in a cut-down Home and Student edition, along with standard Windows accessories, including Internet Explorer, MS Paint and Notepad. No new desktop apps can be installed, though you can write your own utilities using PowerShell or the Windows Scripting Host.