Tag Archives: Windows 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

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

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.