My First 10 days with the Surface RT

I have had my Surface RT for about 10 days. I am on a train, my RT with a Touch Cover Keyboard on my Briefcase, which is on my lap. I am using Word 2013 to type this post. My typing accuracy is not perfect, I am making more mistakes than normal, but it is very workable. It is not something that I would have even attempted to do on my iPad.

What are my views about the Surface and RT?

The touch user interface is completely new, it will take time for me to learn it and to appreciate it. I have to learn new ways to do all the everyday things, this is both frustrating and gratifying. It is gratifying because you learn that there is a underlying logic to it and it will become intuitive. Microsoft has given an enormous amount of thought in developing the metro style interface (sorry Microsoft I refuse to call it Modern UI). I am becoming to appreciate its charms (excuse the pun).

The office programs, Word, Excel and One Note are excellent (I have not tried Power Point), but I miss Outlook even though the metro Mail App is adequate. It being able to connect to more than one exchange server is big advantage over Outlook. However, I am disappointed that the Desktop does not appear to be able to talk to the Mail App (e.g. You cannot email a file as an attachment from Desktop as the Desktop does not recognise the Mail app as being installed. Instead you have create a new email in the Mail App and then attach the file from that application).

The Calendar and Peoples App are also adequate. The Peoples App (i.e. contacts) takes a bit getting used to before you can appreciate it. I expect that the App will improve in future iterations. It does need to be a lot more configurable. The Calendar App does everything you would expect of it.

The Metro Internet Explorer App is also excellent. The Metro UI, is truly great. I prefer to use it instead of the Desktop version. Unfortunately both versions are presently suffering from compatibility issues as a lot of web-sites do not recognise it, and therefore downgrade the experience to a less capable default browsers. I am sure that this will quickly improve.

One of the main advantages of the RT in a business or corporate environment are the RT’s security policies. The RT will enforce a sub-set of security policies of the host exchange server. Windows RT is quite dictatorial in this regard (which means the IT Department will love it). The RT certainly does not like “self-signed certificates” (see my last post). Those securities measures initially caused me a quite a deal of frustration as I was not able to connect the Mail App to my office exchange until I worked out how to install the self signed certificate on the RT. What was particularly aggravating, was that it did not make any attempt explain l the reasons why it was refusing to connect.

The Remote Desktop App is a big surprise. It is fully functional and is just as easy to use as any Desktop version. As it incorporates touch, it may in fact be easier to use than the Desktop.

Yes there are an absence of quality Apps in the store. However, given that you have Microsoft Office installed there is less need. The Metro IE is very adequate for my browsing needs. Some of my earlier wishlist has been answered.

  • eWallet has just become available.
  • Kindle is available.
  • WordPress is available, but it is not very functional.

Given my experience with Metro IE, Chrome is no longer on my wish list. Notwithstanding,. the main Apps that I still miss and I am looking forward to becoming available are:

  • Adobe Reader or Goodreader. The Windows Reader App does not recognise contents pages, and while it recognises internal bookmarks, it does not handle them very well at all. While I have been told by Goodreader that they do not propose to venture from iOS, Adobe Reader when it arrives hopefully offer the same functionality particularly given that it will have access to file explorer and the Desktop.
  • Zite, my favourite News App on the iPad.
  • Dropbox, but only for convenience. Skydrive is a very adequate replacement.
  • The Fifth, a really neat RSS News Reader App that is being published “really soon now” by my son, Tim. Look out for it.

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