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Microsoft Surface – my first impressions

Having ordered a new Microsoft Surface a week ago, with anticipated delivery of 2-3 weeks, imagine my delight when it arrived last Friday within a week of placing the order.

Surface comes with pre-installed with Windows RT, Office Home and Student 2013 RT, Internet Explorer 10 and Skydrive. Surface is powered by a quad core Nvidia Tegra3 ARM processor with 2GB RAM and a choice of 32GB or 64GB storage.

Straight down to business, first let’s consider the super slim “Touch Cover” keyboard. Does it really just magically connect to the device, is it really suitable as a cover/case for the screen and most importantly does the keyboard actually work. The answer is a resounding yes to all three questions.

Onto the device itself, the screen is bright and although it’s 13×7 screen resolution is considerably lower than the ipad or nexus 10, it seems to work quite well. The battery looks like it’ll last a full day, yippee, and along with the touch cover feels incredibly small (and light) compared with my usual work Dell laptop. I spent the first couple of hours connecting our Exchange email and Lync from Office 365, pinned our key SharePoint 2010 sites (Cloudbase intranet, Hadron 8020 demo sites) to the start menu and favourites. I then went onto the Microsoft app store, downloaded Skype, Resco CRM for Microsoft CRM online and a BBC news app. The two apps that got my attention in particular so far are firstly, the difference in the interface of Windows Mail compared with Outlook and secondly, the Lync application is so cool visually, much better than the standard Lync on my laptop.     

Will the cut down version of Windows on the Surface, Window RT, have sufficient functionality for my work and home use needs, especially with our paperless world at Cloud2?  Well, I’d say mostly, it’s a Yes! Of course Windows RT only allows software to be downloaded from the Store. I made some progress with OneNote 2013 RT by synchronising our Sales & Marketing OneNote from our SharePoint Cloudbase intranet to my local OneNote. However, I got an error when trying to synchronise other OneNotes from Cloudbase so the jury’s out. Another major issue I haven’t been able to overcome is mapping my network drives and/or connecting Cloudbase document libraries to Office to enable simple saving of files into Cloudbase from attachments in emails or other documents. I had an issue connecting to our CRM, interestingly running on Office365 but was able to resolve this (with help from our internal support) by adding dynamics and live.com into trusted sites and unchecking the box that specifies https only. 

I’m yet to try out the other Office 2013 RT applications i.e. Word, Excel and PowerPoint so I’m looking forward to that. 

Overall, I like the device so far and if I can overcome the above issues (almost certainly with help from our internal IT support) the Surface will be a really effective device for work and home. Certainly, if it’s a choice of taking a Surface or my Dell laptop into a client meeting, Surface is a no-brainer. Until the Surface Pro arrives next year of course…

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