Tag Archives: surface rt

Microsoft Wedge Touch Mouse and the Surface Pro, and reflections on the Surface RT

The Surface Pro
I have written several posts in the past about my Surface RT. I am still a strong advocate of that device but I recently relented and bought a 128GB Surface Pro (taking advantage of the Microsoft’s price reduction that eventually came to Australia). Many will comment that my timing was lousy. I bought it just before Microsoft announced the 23 September 2013 Launch Date. I had the belief (whether it is still right or wrong time will tell) that upgraded Surface devices would not be available until the New Year. Notwithstanding the upcoming launch date, I am not disappointed I bought it. I needed a new laptop at the time.

My last laptop was a Sony Vaio which I paid almost $4000 for several years ago. It unfortunately got slower over time, to the extent that was frustrating to use (i.e. unusable). I have often wondered how computers appear to slow down as they age. I am not sure whether my expectations change, or whether Intel is just evil.

The only programs that I have installed on the Pro are: 

  • Microsoft Home Premium 365 Subscription: This gives the full suite of the Office 2013 Products including OneNote, Publisher and Access. This is excellent value.
  • Reckon Accounts (which I believe to be expensive compared to Quicken in the US)
  • Adobe X1 Reader; and
  • Autodesk Sketch Pro 6.

Obviously I have available to me all the Metro Apps that I have on the RT. I have installed on the Pro those Apps that I actually use.

It is when you have more than one Windows 8 device that the full convenience of the Windows 8 operating system becomes apparent. Once the Pro was configured correctly, all my settings on the RT (contacts, most passwords, explorer favourites) sync and are continually updated between the RT and Pro. I have 8.1 Preview installed on the RT. I suspect syncing will further improve once both machines have the final version of 8.1 on 18 October 2013. I do not propose to install the 8.1 Preview on the Pro. I will wait until the full version is released. The syncing of data also works to lesser extend with my Windows Phone. My subscriptions in the Fifth App which (I discuss below) sync between all devices.

I use the Pro as a small workstation. It is has access to the Workplace Domain resources without being a Domain Computer. I did not want to give up my Microsoft Account Login to change to a Domain (Local) Login. I understand that Windows 8.1 has new abilities to connect to the Workplace, but I understand that you may also need Server 2012 R2 to use those new abilities. I am using Word 2013 on the Pro to compose this post because the Type Cover is attached to it. The RT has only the Touch Cover.

I also bought a Microsoft Wedge Touch Mouse to use with the Prol. I do not really need the Wedge Mouse when using the Office Programs; it was needed when using Reckon Accounts. Reckon Accounts was the Australian Version of Quicken and was known as Quicken until the beginning of this year. Fingers or even the Pro Stylus on a small screen was not just convenient.

The Microsoft Wedge Touch Mouse

The Wedge Touch Mouse Surface Edition is surprisingly small, particularly when it is compared to the box that it is packed in. The small size is a convenience, you would not get any increased functionality if it was larger (other than possibly making it easier to find on a cluttered desk).

What I found particularly surprising about the touch mouse, is how well I believe that it would work with Windows 8 on non-touch screen workstation. It allows you to use most of the touch gestures without the touch screen. I am not sure that I can explain this accurately. The Windows 8 Metro Touch gestures once you get to learn them (which is not hard) become second nature (so much so that when I have use an iPad I have difficulty). When using the touch mouse, most of those gestures just seem to automatically flow through subconsciously without having to touch the screen. I had to check when composing this, you cannot use Pinch and Expand on the mouse touch surface to expand or contract what is displayed.

Reflections on the Surface RT
I still use the RT for consuming information particularly when reading in bed or on a train. It is lighter and more convenient to hold. I cannot imagine using the Pro for reading when I am in bed. The RT is heavy enough. It is always on and updating in standby mode.

The improved Snap views in Windows 8.1 works marvellously with my favourite News reader app (The Fifth) which I use to do most of my news consumption.


When opening an article in the browser, it automatically goes in snap view, and opens the article in Explorer with a large window to the right.


I am still and advocate of the RT architecture. I expect that technology advances, and both ARM and Intel architectures become more powerful but less power hungry, the ARM architecture will always permit thinner and lighter products.

Jeffrey Chard
14 September 2013

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Mr Microsoft why did you ignore most of the English Speaking World when releasing Windows 8.1 RT Preview on 26 June? UPDATE 4 July 2013

Important Update 4 July 2013

On 27 June 2013 I wrote the blog below bitterly complaining about Microsoft’s apparent decision to ignore most of the English Speaking World (i.e. all those who did not live the US). At the time of that post, whilst Microsoft promised a fix for those who had language packs installed, it was not immediately clear to me whether that would also apply to those like me, who did not have a language pack installed, but merely the wrong OS Base Language.

My unhappiness may have been unwarranted.

I am pleased to report that Microsoft has made Windows 8.1 RT Preview for other languages. The Australian version can be downloaded from

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-au/windows-8/preview-download

I guessing the Great Britain English version can be downloaded from

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-gb/windows-8/preview-download

by clicking the “Get Update Link”, you down load an application/upgrade required to be installed from the desktop (you just need to follow the instructions). Upon installation of that application /upgrade the Surface reboots, and you are then taken to the Store and asked if you wan to install the Preview. The preview then appears installs like any normal application. As I write this, my RT is still downloading the 2.1G update files. It is doing it slowly (10:48 am 4 July) so I can not confirm final installation.

JDC 4 July 2013 10;50 pm One Possibly Happy Customer.

Further Important Update 4 July 2013

My installation of Windows 8.1 RT Preview completed its download at 1:10 pm (having commenced at say 10″10 am). The installation process involving various restarts took a further 40 minutes. I was able to login at about 10:50 pm.

One trick for the unwary is that the default Keyboard was the UK board after the install. You will need to log into your Microsoft Account. If your password contains characters that appear in a different location on a UK keyboard, you may first need to change the input method to select the correct keyboard layout.

The other surprise is that Microsoft has by default implemented a two factor authentication to log in your Microsoft Office Account. In addition to your password it also requires that you enter a PIN that is sent to you (to your previously notified mobile telephone) by SMS.

I have not yet tried any of the new features of 8.1.

JDC 4 July 2013 3:31 pm A Happy Customer.

MY Original BLOG 27 June 2013

I am writing this on my un-upgraded Windows Surface RT because I do not live in the US and I speak English.

I could not upgrade to Preview 8.1 because my original OS base language is Australian English. I quote you from your download site

Notes before you download: If you’re using an English version of Windows, you can only
install Windows 8.1 Preview from the Windows Store

if your OS base language is English (US).

If you’ve installed a language pack, please don’t install Windows RT 8.1 Preview at this time. A fix will be available soon, so please check back.

ISO files (.iso) are not available for the Windows RT operating system. You can only
update to Windows RT 8.1 Preview through Windows Store.
Windows RT 8.1 Preview is only available in the following languages: Arabic, English (US), Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), French, German, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese (Brazil), Russian, Spanish, Swedish, and Turkish. You can find system requirements, support options, and other additional information in the FAQ and in the links on this page.

I do not have additional language packs installed. It is not immediately clear whether the fix referred to in the second paragraph we will permit me to install the preview when it arrives. If it is only intended to apply where additional language packs installed:

  • I am very angry as it would appear you propose to totally ignore every English speaking person living outside of the United States.
  • I have shown loyalty to Microsoft in purchasing the Surface RT when it was first released in Australia, even though I recognised then that improvements and developments had to be made.
  • I wrongly believed that in supporting you, you would not let me down.
  • I was wrong and my patience has ended.
  • Unless the position is corrected quickly you have lost my support.

If the fix is proposed also to permit me to install the preview I hope that it will be released very soon.

JDC 27 June 2013 One Very Unhappy Customer

A commenter on Reddit asked why I could not just change to English (US). That is a good question and I in fact tried to change my Language and Regional Settings but it did not work In investigating further, Microsoft in fact says

Windows RT users

Please do not change your base language just to install the Preview.  If you do this and then update to the preview version, you will permanently change your base language on these devices.  This happens because we create a new restore image based on your selected 8.1 base language during install.

Also, as we noted on the download page, if you’ve installed a language pack on Windows RT, we ask you not to install Windows RT 8.1 Preview at this time. A fix will be available soon for updating through the store with a language pack installed, so please check back.

Charles [MSFT]

In either report there is no suggestion that Microsoft will make the Preview available to other English speaking RT owners outside of the US. It also appears that for RT owners the only way to upgrade is to wait for the correct OS base language to become available. Microsoft is not even suggesting that will occur.

JDC 27 June 2013, Still One Very Unhappy Customer

Some other commenters on Reddit question my concern it because it is only a pre-release preview version. Most of those commenters either live in the US or they do not have a RT version, others do not understand that even the US English version of the Preview is not available for use to even download. Previously I would not consider installing preview Versions of an operating system on production computer. However, as I discussed in previous blogs, Windows 8 RT does not have Outlook and that is a great big missing hole in the operating system. It is not possible to send my email any document from the Desktop. You cannot send from any word document by email from inside Word RT.

I was also looking forward to 8.1 Preview because I hoped it would provide a more capable PDF Reader. Microsoft’s reader, and all other available readers are limited. You cannot open more than one pdf in them. None of them cope with PDF packages (they open the first document but do not recognise the links other pdfs in the package). While I could not check myself, it would appear my wishes in that regard have not been answered.

JDC 28 June 2013, Remaining One Very Unhappy Customer

   

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

I have previously written about my experience using the RT in the following posts

My First Three Months with a Windows Surface RT from a Lawyer’s Perspective | Jeffrey Chard (my last post) and

My First 10 days with the Surface RT | Jeffrey Chard

I have had my RT now for about 6 months.

General Use

I donated my iPad to my beloved wife about 2 months ago.

I primarily use the RT as a tablet. When using it as a tablet I prefer to use the Metro OneNote and IE10 Apps to the desktop programs.

I no longer have any problems with website compatibility with IE10. The Metro IE10 is extremely easy to use. The Swipe action UI is truly excellent.

There are a lot more Apps now available for Windows 8. From my first post, Dropbox has been available for some time. I wrote about it in my first above mentioned post. I prefer to use Skydrive because it is more integrated.

Zite and a decent replacement for Goodreader are still not available. Adobe Reader (Touch) is available, but it has similar functionality as the Microsoft Reader. There are other apps that allow you to annotate PDF, but nothing with the same capabilities as Goodreader.

Whilst Zite has come to Windows Phone 8, it is still not available on Windows 8 (nor is it available as a website, a fact that I I find curious). I use the following news reader apps instead.

The Fifth.
This has very recently become available in the Windows Store. I have been using it, and beta testing it for several months. Even though I may be biased, it is my favourite New Reader App. Whilst it uses upon RSS feeds, it is very easy to search for RSS feeds and to subscribe to them. The are a host RSS feeds that are built in to browse. All your subscriptions and reading history are synced to the cloud so that your history follows you between devices. The App can be downloaded here.

The Fifth app for Windows in the Windows Store

http://apps.microsoft.com/webpdp/app/e741b66c-cb4c-4e64-9ed0-5e35267a377a

Learn more about The Fifth by Ardent Technology and download it from the Windows Store

The only difference between the Trial Version (which is really the Free Version) and the Paid Version is the absence of Advertisements in the Paid Version. As the Adds are not very intrusive in the trial version, I am not sure there is much incentive to buy the Paid Version, unless you want to support the poor author. As he is my son, I would encourage you to do so J.

Appy Geek

Pulse News

From the Lawyer’s Perspective

As I mentioned in my last post, as a Lawyer I used primarily used by 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.

Office RT is by far much easier to use the iPad equivalents when it is necessary to do work. Now that I have the Typecover, it is very convenient to take into the meeting room to take statements. I find it convenient to prepare witness statements and which I save to Skydrive. I eventually acquired a Typecover, and I use that when I have to do any creative work. The Typecover is much better than the Touchcover for doing work. I find that I can type more accurately on it than I was able to do on most of my earlier laptops when it is on a stable surface. I still use the Touchcover, as a cover and interestingly it is more accurate when it on my leather briefcase on my lap when I am on a train. The touchcover works better on a uneven surface.

If I need to use an desktop application I just use the Remote Desktop Application.

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 Surface Pro has only been available in Australia since the 30 May 2013. I have seen one in the shop and briefly paid with it. It works very well. I particularly like the stylus.

As I mentioned in my first mentioned post, the main thing missing from the RT is Outlook.

Microsoft has announced that Outlook will be available with RT 8.1 which is being released for Preview on 26 June 2013. This will be a great improvement. While I believe that I will continue to use the Metro Mail App, Outllook RT will fill the very big hole that existed when using the Desktop. The sooner Outlook RT is released the better. I am hoping that Microsoft will release it to RT8.0 for download at the same time as the 8.1Preview is released.

Back in the Office

In my last post I said

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 there is really little point to upgrade until you have touch screens. The only 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 thinks from Microsoft this year.

Not much has changed but I expect it will very soon. I have read a lot about Windows Blue/8.1. Microsoft have done a lot to address some of the concerns that I had with Windows 8 on the Desktop. Whilst I believe that the split personality is inevitable. There a lot of changes in 8.1 that will encourage it to be used in the enterprise. One of the main advantages of 8.1 will be that, each Desktop User, will be able to use his/hers Microsoft Account and still be able to connect to the enterprise domain.

I am still looking forward to many great thinks from Microsoft this year.

JDC 10 June 2013

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

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