Although the MS Surface appears to offer more storage, the ACTUAL storage of a 32GB Surface is actually LESS than that available on the 16GB iPad Air.
Vince Pack
Even with the somewhat big piece of the storage pie taken up by Windows, it offers a no-brainer solution in the form of a micro-sd slot. Add to that the ability to store your backups on a flash drive and you end up with tons of versatile storage.
I'm a Surface Pro user and I still want an iPad for stuff. The notion that they are competitors is more superficial than realistic - until you factor in budget. Most people can't, won't, or simply can't justify buying two devices with so much overlapping functionality. That's where, if/when MS' App Store begins to approach the diversity and size of Apple's, the competition will begin. There are obviously many variables (too many to realistically count), but if the development curves remain proportional to today's, MS will have an iPad beater in another two years or so. And by "beater" I mean a tablet that will exceed the iPad on all levels including app availability. That's my main draw to the iPad now - the apps I use on my iPhone on a daily basis are still missing in Win8. Hopefully that's a temporary problem.
I agree with Vince Pack. If the Surface is anything like desktop version I would prefer it simply because I would have - hopefully - control over the which and where from - of the applications I install. A quickly replaceable SD card would be an extra large bonus.
Mark Block
The implication here is that the battery life is similar, perhaps favoring the Surface 2. But that's just a lazy look at the specs, not an analysis based on real-life usage or a controlled test. Walt Mossberg used his standard torture test for battery life and found this: "The battery performance of the iPad Air simply blew me away.… The iPad has almost always met its claims and beat competitors by a wide margin…. This new iPad Air just kept going, clocking a battery life of 12 hours and 13 minutes, which exceeded Apple's claim by more than 20%."
Donald Burgres
I never played with Win Rt, but I believe iOS must be much more user friendlier. I also heard the surf2 lacks on quality on it's built.
I have both an iPad mini & Surface Pro. Both are excellent machines, but here's why I get very annoyed at the iPad: (1) No USB connectivity. I can send files by Dropbox when I'm around a wifi, but I'd like to just be able to plug in a thumb drive - as I can on the Surface. (2) The iPad app selection is enormous, but the Apps app doesn't provide enough information for you to make a meaningful comparison among similiarly-functional apps. Install and see? That OK for free apps, but I've wasted a lot of money on pay apps that didn't prove suitable. Apple should have a 48-hour wait period before pay apps are charged, allow you to delete them in that period if they don't work for you.
Dre' Reavis
Good article.
Question. Do you not see how someone might also prefer the user interaction of the Surface RT2 (windows tile 8.1) to the iPad (iOS)? I've used several tablets and Windows 8.1 on a tablet trumps anything on iOS or Android when it comes to user experience imo.
Yes, iOS ecosystem trumps 8.1 RT Yes, Android ecosystem trumps 8.1 RT
Using 8.1 RT is more enjoyable (snap windows, multitasking, swipping between open apps) than using an iPad or Nexus device.
Mark Binder
I would love to know why everytime someone does a comparison of iPad vs Surface they always want to compare the "best" iPad on the market against the lower rated Surface RT or Surface 2. The "best" Surface tablet is the Surface Pro 2 with decent battery life AND the ability to install decades of programs designed for Windows XP, Windows 7 and Windows 8, giving you 10 times the "apps" designed for the iPad vis a vis "programs". Who needs apps when I can have all the "programs" I want.
Size: I can agree with what is stated here.
Build: Yes, they are made of different material, however you should have let your readers know that the VaporMg (magnesium alloy) is a must stronger material able to withstand much more punishement than aluminum.
Weight: The reason the Surface 2 and the Surface Pro 2 is so much heavier is because of the battery Microsoft uses in the device to compete with the battery life of the iPads. The Surface Pro 2 is still under 2 lbs even with the extra sized battery. Light isn't always better.
Kickstand? Why would I have to add expense to purchase a kickstand for an iPad, when Surface 2 comes with one for free? In fairness, I will admit that the Surface Pro 2 does not come with a keyboard and would need to be purchased for that as well.
Keyboard: I prefer the keyboard with the trackpad because it means I have the ability to use my tablet as a laptop with my previous Windows software. Not to mention the multiple colors available, black, cyan, magenta, purple and they light up in the dark, and come with adapters for wireless connectivity. There is also a stylus, and mice that have bluetooth connectivity as well as a docking station to connect everything including an HDMI TV out.
Colors: Really?! Does anyone REALLY think there's that much difference in black, white and silver? Besides, the Surface Keyboards can add color to the tablet.
Display: I am honest enough to agree that the iPad's screen is vastly better in terms of sharpness, however, the Surface Pro HD screen for watching videos does beat the iPad in this area as there is no "black boxes" while watching the video, and the Intel HD Graphics 4400 graphics card with 1GHz processing allows for very smooth video playback. Also, Surface and Surface 2 need an adaptor like the iPad to connect to HDMI, however the Surface Pro and Surface Pro2 use microHDMI connections that don't require any special connector or adaptor, just use any microHDMI cable.
Processor: Once again comparing the "best" processor for Apple against the weakest processor on the Surface. The Surface Pro 2 has the new Intel Haswell i5-4200U processor 3M Cache 2.60 GHz which is much faster and more powerful than the 1.7 GHz A7 processor. The Intel processor is also designed by Intel to work flawlessly with their HD Graphics 4400 graphic card.
Storage: The Surface Pro 2 is available with up to 512 GBs on board storage with the ability to add up to another 128GB microSD card. Being honest, this configuration WOULD be extremely pricey, but nonetheless it IS available. Plus with any of the Surface tablets, you get USB 3.0 to add external storage capability. I personally have a USB 3.0 1.5 terabyte external HDD that only measure 3 X 3.5 X .5 inches. Easy to carry and connect.
Ports: Thanks to the author for being honest about the ports. Nothing to complain about here.
RAM: The Surface Pro 2 comes with 4 to 8 GBs of RAM.
Wireless: Yes, Surface Pro 2 and Surface 2 will be available in Wi-Fi and Cellular starting in 2014.
Battery: While both the iPad Air and the Surface 2 will get 10 hours of battery life, the Surface Pro 2 will get up to 7 hours even with the Intel Haswell i5 processor. Faster speed, more processing power, better graphics capability and laptop functionality is well worth the loss of 3 hours battery life in my opinion. Plus Microsoft is planning a battery keyboard that will extend the battery by another 5 to 6 hours. Granted all this extra battery weight will make the tablet a lot heavier.
Camera: Fair enough. Both seem to have good cameras.
Bundled Office Software: Outside of Apple's attempt to copy Office Suite, what else can you install on the iPad? Nothing but apps! Surface Pro 2 will allow me to install any program I have had since Windows XP alongside all the available and up and coming apps from the Microsoft Store. But like I said before, who really needs apps?
Price: Yes, the prices is cheaper for the iPad Air when compared to the Surface Pro 2, but for the extra money you get multiple times the functionality, storage and historical program usage. Besides, how often to you hear Apple buyers complaining about the price of Apple products?
Looking forward to the iPad Air vs Surface Pro 2 comparison articles soon.

Dre' Reavis
Two works Mark,
Malware, viruses. See as much as I love the Surface RT2, I DISLIKE Win32 code. I also hate being REQUIRED to install antivirus software on my tablet. That defeats the purpose of "my" tablet experience. Might a well bring in a Macbook Air... and compare it to the Surface Pro.
I can't believe you want to install a bunch of non-touch based apps and run them on a tablet with a 10" display. Window XP based apps on a touch device that you're spending that much money on?
If Microsoft would get on their game and get people to develop apps for their store the Surface would still be behind the iPad in my opinion. But I think "tablets" are a dying breed anyway. Ive seen the future and it's the Surface Pro model. It made all the craziness of windows 8 make sense. If you haven't seen an sp2 (or other full OS tablet) check it out. The SP2 is almost twice the money which is lame, but they're pretty freaking cool.