In the last few months I became interested in the idea of using a Tablet PC for drawing. It was sparked by the run up to the release of the Surface Pro from Microsoft. I was pretty excited that there would be a tablet PC with an embedded Wacom digitizer and stylus for under a $1000USD. Up to now, tablet PC's have been very expensive and lacked enough juice to really use as a graphics device. I have seen a few artists use them, but not many, and even fewer used them for pro work.
I thought it was odd that MS wasn't bragging about Wacom's hardware being a part of the Surface Pro, and the only mention of Wacom and Surface Pro together was only mentioned in an interview with Engadget at CES 2012 with a Wacom marketing person. I asked about the stylus to MS themselves over twitter, and they were unaware of what tablet/stylus was in the device. Ok, I figured it was a way to keep people asking questions about the Surface Pro. Who knows.
I tested out the Surface Pro at a MS Kiosk store at the nearby mall, and was surprised that it worked so well. Powerful little computer. However, there were no software demos of Adobe software, like the Apple store does on their laptops, and desktop computers.
After the actual release date of the device I learned why. Wacom or no, Surface Pro wouldn't be fully functional using any of the leading graphics software. MS decided that the go-to driver for Wacom hardware wasn't going to be part of the Surface Pro. Which is fine, it's not included in other Tablet PC devices by default either. BUT MS decided they would lock out the ability for users to install the drivers themselves.
So after following release many illustrators who had hopes to purchase the Surface Pro, raised the issue again and again. Usually getting a response that it was the individual software devs who needed to update, and it was not an issue for MS. Adobe responded to Photoshop customers stating that they used the best drivers available, and Microsofts drivers were too buggy to be bothered with.
Customers caught in the middle of a power struggle between MS and software devs, were left to beg for a fix, or return the device before the 14 day window on the return policy closed.
After a few days of bad press over this driver issue, MS now says it's working with Wacom to come up with a solution. They didn't say they are going to include the missing driver, or something else, just that they are working on it and it will be soon. Whatever that means to users of the Surface Pro.
What does it mean for me? I'm bowing out of buying into a tablet PC for the time being. I just don't know enough about other hardware/softare that's available, or which manufactures have the kind of customer support that I am looking for to risk a large purchase like this. There are new chips that are on the way in 2013 that will only make the experience of drawing on a tablet PC better, and for current manufacturers to solve some existing issue.
I am looking at Samsung, Lenovo and MS (If the surface ever gets things straightened out) in the next generation of devices for the ideal tablet pc device.
TLDR: Surface Pro doesn't do what it should. Going to wait to buy a Tablet PC later this year.