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With Surface, Microsoft's Demo Gremlin Bites Again

Microsoft is famous for its demo failures (who can forget the Windows 98 beta crashing on Bill Gates during a Comdex demo?), and the Surface debut kept that tradition alive.

Surface is Microsoft's newly unveiled tablet designed in part to take on the Apple iPad with a single-vendor integration of hardware and software. The idea is to make the experience smooth and seamless and highlight what is possible with Windows 8 and Windows RT.

Of course, the timetables of the product marketing world require Microsoft to demonstrate that promise with prototype hardware running pre-release software. This time, the unlucky demonstrator was Steven Sinofsky, Microsoft president of Windows and Windows Live. He ran into serious problems during an Internet Explorer demo on the new device last night. Check out The Verge's video below; the demo failures start around 13:30.

"We can see here I'm running Internet Explorer. I can browse smoothly," Sinofsky began, swiping down repeatedly from the top of the screen with a finger to no visible effect. Continuing with the script, Sinofsky turned the Surface away from the audience and could be seen jabbing the screen and center button. Apparently the move wasn't working, because when he turned the device around briefly a few seconds later, the IE screen was still present.

Looking mortified, Sinofsky went on talking about games with a pause that suggested he was either skipping a demo or choosing where to pick up the transcript. Trying again, Sinofsky said, "Movies and entertainment look great as well," while fiddling with the device.

After a "hang on" under his breath, Sinofsky finally gave up. "Excuse me for just a second," he said and jogged to a lectern to grab a backup. New device in hand, he quickly launched into a smooth and fast demonstration of a Netflix app for Windows 8.

Sinofsky fully got his groove back a few minutes later when demonstrating the Touch Cover. The magnetic cover, which folds out to provide a touch-sensitive keyboard and mouse pad, was one of the biggest audience applause points of the event.

The Surface "Touch Cover," which doubles as a keyboard.

More Surface Coverage on

Posted by Scott Bekker on June 19, 2012


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