My First Three Months with a Windows Surface RT from a Lawyer’s Perspective

I have had my RT now for 3 months.

General Use
I hardly ever use the iPad now; I will soon donate it to my beloved wife.

In the three months I am pleased to confirm that:

  1. DropBox and Adobe Reader Apps are now available.
  2. A lot more websites have become IE10 compatible.

I now prefer to use the RT for web browsing. IE10 and the RT Touch UI once you get to know it is so much easier than Safari and iOS. Swipe down a little bit to change pages, swipe to the right from the close to centre of the screen to scroll back, swipe to the left from the left to bring up the charms become just second nature. I am now finding Safari primitive to use.

Whilst Microsoft has done an excellent job in designing the UI and the underlying operating system, I do not believe that they have done a great job in explaining the underlying beauty. Yes, beauty. I will give two examples:

  1. The Dropbox App:
    1. There are many iOS Apps that can communicate to your dropbox folder on the iPad. That functionality has to be built into each App. That App when it accesses the Dropbox folder stores and edits its copy of that file.
    2. The amazing thing is that once the Metro Drop Box app has been installed, all other Metro Apps (that use the file chooser API) inherit the ability to open, close and save to your drop box folder. It gives to all those Metro Apps the same functionality that they had with SkyDrive.
  2. Internet Explorer 10 and the Share Charm
    1. Microsoft went out on a limb when it decided to disable plug ins on IE10. Its reasons for doing so, were quite valid, the plug ins were causing a lot of instability and giving IE a bad reputation
    2. Granted Microsoft built into IE10:
      1. A Java Script
      2. Flash
      3. PDF Reader Support.

      but I was still quite concerned how I would do all the things that I used to be able to do, for example how would I send links to web pages to Twitter, OneNote, or Evernote? All those functions required plugins other extensibility.

      I needed not to worry; all those functions are easily achieved by the “share charm” in an elegant and simple way that is totally consistent over the entire Metro UI.

I use the RT primarily as a tablet and prefer to use the Metro Apps.

I do not bother with the Touchcover, unless I need to use the Desktop. I prefer the Metro UI to the Desktop UI (when using it as a tablet). Just yesterday, I had to remote into my wife’s office to restart Leap Office on a Windows 2003 Server. I was in and out within 60 seconds in which time I stopped and restarted the Leap Docs and Leap Accounting Services. I did not need to use the touch cover at any time. Given that the Windows Server 2003 could never be described as touch friendly it is truly amazing.

I found it interesting that I prefer to use the Metro Onenote App, and the Metro IE10 Apps to the Desktop versions.

Yes there is still a shortage of decent Metro Apps. As I stated previously there is a less need for the Apps on a RT than on the iPad. The RT is a lot more functional than an iPad.

From the Lawyer’s Perspective

As a Lawyer I primarily used my iPad to reduce the paper I had to carry. I could load into Goodreader, 20000 page briefs, which were fully hyperlinked. On the RT I have similar functionality, but with the added convenience of being able to access those documents from a USB Drive with no need to import.

I had Pages and Quickoffice installed on the iPad. The few times I tried to use those Apps to create or even amend a word document, I was left disappointed. It was never possible to preserve all the formatting (paragraph numbering was often a total disaster). I became frustrated when it was necessary to share or save that document back to the workstation. On the RT of course, I have access to full versions of Office 2013. They work excellently. I am able to amend, review documents. Returning a word document is a little inconvenient, in that you have to either:

  1. to save it first Send it as an attachment using the Mail App; or
  2. Share it using SkyDrive

I did not use any specific legal Apps on the iPad. Those that did exist were not really designed for the Australian Market. I am not aware of any specific Apps in the Window Store. In the office I use the following applications in my legal work:

  1. Casemap
  2. Open Practice (Practice Management)
  3. Worldox GX3
  4. ISys
  5. PDFDoc
  6. SmartDraw
  7. Winscribe
  8. Outlook 2010
  9. Office 2010

While I can very conveniently access most (and could have access to all) of those applications by Remote Desktop, I would like to see Metro versions of Casemap, and Worldox when internet is not available.

I have previously tried the Worldox iPad App, but I did not believe that it provided any worthwhile functionality. However, given the inherent extensibility of the Metro UI (as demonstrated by the DropBox Application), a Worldox Metro App could be very exciting. A Metro Casemap App could be extremely useful for offsite work.

Why did I buy the RT instead of waiting for the Pro?

The RT has one main advantage over the Pro; battery life. It is inherent in its design. The tasks that I needed to do on the RT I was wiling to sacrifice all the benefits of the Pro to obtain longer battery life in slightly thinner package.

The main thing missing from the RT is Outlook.

Mary Jo Foley has recently reported in Microsoft said to be testing an Outlook client for Windows RT that Microsoft is testing Outlook client for the Windows RT. I believe that this is essential for much wider acceptance of the Windows RT. Desktop RT has a great big hole; it does not recognise the Metro Mail App. If you try to send a file from desktop by mail, it says no mail application has been installed. I am hoping that Microsoft deliberately left the hole in desktop so that it can be filled by Outlook RT when it arrives.

I do not miss not having 3/4G. The personal hotspot on my phone is perfectly adequate.

Back in the Office

I am an advocate of the Metro UI, but in the office I am firmly a Desktop user. I am still using the Windows 7 Professional, and I did not take advantage of the reduced price to upgrade. I am a firm believer of Windows 8 and like its split personality, but I did not to conquer new frontiers in bringing Windows 8 to our corporate environment. I will leave that hurdle until the next computer upgrades. Without touch screens the main advantage to upgrade (which is real) is the convenience of having access to all your metro apps on the Desktop.

I am hoping that Microsoft has a lot of success with the Surface RT. For a lawyer, the advantages of an RT over an iPad are clear. I am still looking forward to many great things from Microsoft this year.

JDC 3 Feb 2013

6 thoughts on “My First Three Months with a Windows Surface RT from a Lawyer’s Perspective

  1. mike

    Well written review. I agree with your assessment of the RT tablet. I have both an ipad and a Windows RT tablet and they both have very different uses. I’m not ready to ditch my iPad just yet, I will wait until there is a way to open multiple PDFs simultaneously before I relinquish my iPad, and a reliable email client is developed.
    Surface is definitely the way to go.

    1. Jeffrey Chard Post author

      Thanks Mike. I am also looking forward to better PDF and Outlook.

      I think the Metro mail app has it’s uses, but it is not recognised in the desktop is a big draw back. I also wish it would bring in Suggested Outlook Contacts when suggesting email addresses.

      Thanks again for your comment. It was was the very first comment that I have received.


      1. Mingan Nguyen

        Thank Mister. I received an offer for Microsoft Surface RT at S$ 266 in my school. I was afraid of the limited apps. But after reading your post I will go for it. If things are hard, perhaps I will jailbreak it later.
        The only concern for me is whether I should get a touch cover, too. Microsoft office requires a lot typing and I wonder why you don’t need it.

      2. Jeffrey Chard Post author

        Thanks for your comment Mingan

        If you are to do any real typing, you will need either the Touch Cover or the Type Cover. I would go for the Type Cover instead of the Touch Cover as it is a lot easier to type on.

      3. Anso Fok

        Thanks Jeffrey! You are so kind to write such an informative comments. This RT attracts me a lot. And I am reading your post in Hong Kong right now to decide if I would buy it. In andriod, I can easily write things on my PDF. I still wonder how well the PDF reader in RT works.


  2. Jeffrey Chard Post author

    Anson, the Microsoft Reader App in 8.1 has been much improved. It can now open more than one PDF at a time and open side by side. It can also annotate PDFs, but sending a PDF to OneNote and annotating there is more functional.


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