Tag Archives: Windows 8

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

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 experience with Windows 8

Back in April, my wife and I were going overseas to New Zealand for a short holiday. I needed a new laptop in case my wife or I needed address some matter while we were away. My old Sony Vaio Laptop was nearing the end of its useful life. After a bit of a review, and relying almost entirely upon recommendations from Tim, my middle son, I selected the ASUS ZenBook UX21. I was sufficiently compact, light, and powerful enough for my needs, and I got it for the right price.

My only complaint was that it came installed only with Windows 7 Home Premium. I needed Professional to join it to the office domain.

Ever since purchasing it I have debated with myself whether I should:

  • upgrade to professional now;
  • wait for Windows 8 to come out; or
  • more recently, whether I should install the Preview Version of Windows 8;

Last weekend I chose the later.

The Installation was remarkably easy. All programs and settings (including WIFI access codes etc, user details for iCloud, dropbox, skydrive) were transferred automatically.

The new user interface takes a bit to get to use to. My first impression was, “what have I done, where is the control panel?, why doesn’t the right mouse click work?

However after the initial shock, once you find the Desktop, the Search and Setting options on the right side of the screen, things start to become a lot more familiar. You eventually learn that:

  • right clicking in Metro does not do anything;
  • there are hot zones in the screen corners, and to the left and right sides.
  • once you configure the “People, Messaging, Mail etc.” tiles, they become live…

Once you work out how to find things become a lot easier (Move the mouse to the top right had corner, and the settings and search menu displays down the right side).

Once you work out that you can add your favourite desktop programs as tiles to the home page you even start to appreciate the Metro UI.

I am really surprised how well the Metro UI works with a mouse without a touch screen. It is just as functional as Windows 7. For small screen computers like the UX21, the ability to switch between applications on the left hand side of the screen is a great convenience.

After I found out where “System” was in the Settings it was even easy to join the laptop to a SBS2011 domain.

While I am still new to Windows 8, I am already an advocate. I really like the live tiles.

As an added bonus I have now learned that I will be able to upgrade the old Windows 7 Home Premium to Windows 8 Professional for less than $40 when Windows 8 is released.

My only complaint so far is that Metro Internet Explorer 10 does not have book marks. Please Microsoft that has to change.