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.

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