We here at IEEE Spectrum strive at all times for editorial objectivity. But we also reserve the right to gush about a product that seems extraordinarily useful or cool. Microsoft’s soon-to-be-introduced tabletop computer, which it calls Surface, is both. Inside the coffee table (or kiosk, or dining table, as the case may be) is a modified Windows Vista PC. But there ends the similarity to the tower on your desk or the slab in your lap.

The Surface is controlled solely by touch, making the most of the touch-screen technology Microsoft developed for its tablet PCs. Actually, ”touches” is more accurate, because the so-called natural user interface can simultaneously respond to multiple inputs from up to four users gathered around its 76-centimeter, 1024-by-768-pixel screen.

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Why Functional Programming Should Be the Future of Software Development

It’s hard to learn, but your code will produce fewer nasty surprises

11 min read
A plate of spaghetti made from code
Shira Inbar

You’d expectthe longest and most costly phase in the lifecycle of a software product to be the initial development of the system, when all those great features are first imagined and then created. In fact, the hardest part comes later, during the maintenance phase. That’s when programmers pay the price for the shortcuts they took during development.

So why did they take shortcuts? Maybe they didn’t realize that they were cutting any corners. Only when their code was deployed and exercised by a lot of users did its hidden flaws come to light. And maybe the developers were rushed. Time-to-market pressures would almost guarantee that their software will contain more bugs than it would otherwise.

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