Monthly Archives: December 2012

My first two Months with a Windows Surface RT

I have had my RT now for about two months. It is meeting all my expectations, but I have not (yet) totally discarded my iPad (it is an iPad 2 with 3G).

Which tablet I use at any particular time is purely a matter of what is more convenient at the time for that task.

The iPad is more convenient for consuming news on a train, primarily because it has 3G, but also because I have Zite installed on it. Zite is my favourite News Aggregator.

When in a Wifi area, and if Zite was available on the RT I would exclusively use the RT for consuming all my news. The Modern UI Touch Interface (“Metro UI”) is just so much better than the iPad interface. The Metro UI gestures have quickly become second nature, I am having trouble going back to the iPad gestures and remembering that I need to use the home button. Microsoft has truly done a lot of good work in perfecting the interface. When using Metro Applications, I dispense with using the Touch cover Keyboard. The Metro Internet Explorer App is excellent. It is presently suffering from compatibility issues as a lot of sites do not recognise its functionality. I expect that this will improve.

If I have to do any real work, I always use the RT. There is simply no comparison when real work has to be done. This is where I use the touch cover keyboard. I predominantly use Word, Onenote and Excel desktop apps. However, I prefer to use the Metro Remote Desktop App to the Desktop version when I need to remote in to the office. It curiously gives remote desktop application “touch” functionality.

The additional functionaliy available merely be having a USB Port and the Windows Explorer File Storage cannot be underestimated.  It is now so easy to put 20,000 + page document briefs on a usb stick to review if needed while in court or in conferences away from the office.

I do miss Outlook. Microsoft should make outlook available so that it can be used in conjunction with the Metro Windows Mail Application, particularly as the Desktop does not talk to nor recognise the Metro mail app. I would also like to see Skydrive available on the desktop (even if only in a transient or cache mode). However I cannot dispense with the Metro Windows Mail App, as it allows connection to more than one exchange server and is  easier to use in touch mode. It is great being able to have access to multiple email accounts conveniently.

The Apps that I use on the Surface are

  • Remote Desktop (installed with Windows RT)
  • Skydrive (installed with Windows RT)
  • Kindle
  • Windows Reader (installed with Windows RT)
  • Mail, People, Calendar, Bing, Bing News, Messaging (installed with Windows RT)Skitch
  • PDF Reader
  • Skype (installed with Windows RT)
  • OneNote
  • Wikipeida
  • PDF Touch
  • Evernote

Yes, there is an absence of decent “Apps” in the Store, but in my view there is a less of a need for Apps on a Surface than there is on an iPad. A lot of iPad apps have been created to compensate for the limitations of the iPad UI. Those limitations are not present on the Surface. Internet Explorer 10 has been designed ground up for Web Apps. A truly remarkable example is www.pulse.me (this also works well in any browser).

The Apps that are missing (or I am looking forward to) are

  • Zite (I have mentioned this before)
  • A fully functional Adobe Reader. The current Windows Reader and the Metro Adobe Reader do not allow you to open multiple PDFs at the same time. Neither application will open a hyper link to external pdf file [that functionality is neither available in any iPad reader]
  • A WordPress App that is comparable in functionality to the iPad version.
  • An application so that you can share links to websites to “Buffer” or a similar service

The Windows Surfact RT and Windows 8 more generally does have two personalities. The Metro UI Appications (with the Start Menu) and the Desktop Appications. I beleive that to be a good thing. The Metro UI Inteface shines on a tablet. However, the Desktop still shines for real work.  What appears to be unappreciated by some commentators is that all your Tablet Metro Apps are also immediately available on a Wndows 8 PC and linked with Skydrive.

I very rarely store any documents to the C drive, i store eveything to the skydrive. so my documents are always avalable no matter what workstation or tablet that I am on.

I hope to see a lot of improvements in the New Year.

Adobe PDF Reader now available for Windows 8 RT

Available today (12 December) for download is the Adobe Reader App for Windows. The App appeared in the Store with apparently no publicity at all. I could not find any report of it from any other source. It was not given any precedence on the store. It’s only review and three star rating was given by me. It offers similar functionality as the Windows Reader App but does not offer any annotation. It handles Bookmarks better, but it does not link to external pdf files (neither does Windows Reader). It also does not provide any ability (as far as I can determine) to open multiple pdfs at the same time (neither does Window Reader). It is also not possible to have more than one instance of the reader open at any one time. I understand from my son, Tim, that is a restriction of Windows RT. As a work around it is of course possible to have one pdf open in Adobe Reader, and another open in Windows Reader.

JDC 13/12/2012

Update

I recently published the following blog Microsoft Reader App 8.1 Preview – the Hidden Gem that details the capabilities of the Microsoft Metro App Reader in Windows 8.1 Preview. This App is a lot more capable than any other PDF reader presently available.

JDC 18/7/2013

When a Software Update is a Retrograde Step

Generally, I normally welcome software and application upgrades, I am one of the first to download them pand I generally welcome the new features (I even updated to iOS6).

Unfortunately, in the last 24 hours I have received two updates that I have not welcomed.

Itunes 11

I have never found Windows Media Player or iTunes intuitive, when it comes to music syncing. I tolerated iTunes only for the purposes of backing up iPad and downloading applications. While iTunes 11 may still automatically backup the program has otherwise been totally changed. Even being able to locate how to download a application update, is not immediately obvious and takes a lot of menu searching. It is not even immediately obvious how to even see the connection to the iPhone or iPad.

Zite

Zite also introduced an major update yesterday. My favourite new aggregator has gone. It also has been totally changed. One feature that I often used was to open the web page in safari. Whilst you area still able to do that, it is now hidden in a sub menu to a sub menu [UPDATE: The feature  jumps to the top of the move option  after it first use]. I much preferred to look and feel of the old version.

Regretfully, as I do not have a comparable application to replace it. I will have to persevere, and I am still looking forward it being introduced as a Windows 8 Metro App. Its main competition in that environment is Bing News which only shares links to Bing News Website. To read that site you need Window 8. How dumb/conceited is that!!!

UPDATE 10 December 2012: The new Zite is growing on me slowly but I still prefer the look and fell of the old version.