Edit2: The above is true for certain definitions of tutorial. You can go off the rails after the first 15 minutes, but there's still guided tutorial-esque quests after.
Turns out those expectations aren’t met, at least for the first 10 levels or so. Apparently the tutorial phase is pretty much like any other MMO on rails. If you’ve got a bunch of journalists who only have a few hours to dig into your content (or new players who are trying to make a value judgment on if they want to invest more time, for that matter), having your tutorial take a long time and not be representative of the rest of your game is a fatal mistake.
“The criticisms of TESO suggest that its initial experience is not trying to show you why this game is worth sticking with: it assumes that you are going to stick with it. It doesn’t try to earn your love and respect. It assumes it.”