So as many of you will have seen, I waited in line at the
Eaton Center in Toronto to buy a Microsoft Surface RT on opening day.
What I expected was strictly a tablet device with only the
Windows Style UI as the interface. I
expected minimal hardware support and no functionality other than what the
competition offered stock.
Boy was I wrong and am I glad!
It’s what I wasn’t expecting that has me floored.
First off, the device’s primary interface is the Start
Screen. This is the home of your
apps. All of these applications can be
navigated with simple swipes of the finger or touch without a keyboard. A Touchscreen keyboard is stock for those
few times you might want to type something.
It connects to Wifi hotspots (whether coffee shop, Windows
Phone 7 or anything so far that offers up Wifi) connectivity without an issue. Internet sites seems to render without issue
and the inclusion of Microsoft Word, Excel, Powerpoint and One Note 2013 is a
There are comments on the Microsoft Web site about what
these applications lack, but it doesn’t seem to make a massive difference. Mostly it seems to be the lack of the VBA
engine and components surrounding that.
Now here’s where things get cool. They literally compiled Windows 8 ONTO an
ARM processor. So as far as I can tell,
everything is there!
It is a more stripped down version of Windows 8 and a bit
closer to Home/Starter edition (No Media Player, No Domain Join) but it WILL
allow you to join homegroups. If you
attempt to access a Domain resource it will allow you to authenticate (Just
like on Home/Premium).
I can access printers via TCP/IP and it appears the same
base drivers from Windows 8 exist in Microsoft Surface RT. This means as long as I can get connectivity
to the printer, I can print.
I have been picking up random USB devices (Keyboards, Mice, Memory
sticks, Bitlocker to Go drives and even Wireless keyboards) and so far they all
just “Plug and Play”. Presently I am
typing away on a very small but portable Logitech k360 wireless unit. The Microsoft “Fuzzy” is good as screen
protector and makes a decent keyboard, but this $20 special from the local
Factory Direct was too much to pass.
I have dropped in Dell Monitors, Hubs, memory cards from my
Blackberry and it’s all just working.
So is this an iPad replacement? For me it’s better. It’s everything I need for a portable device
and more as I can pull data easily off of it.
Where it feels particularly nice is that I am working with
the exact same interface for Word and Windows whether I use the Microsoft RT or
full Windows 8. I don’t have to “Rethink”
as I switch devices and environments and think “Oh, what am I missing if I use
The Powerpoint in Microsoft RT even does presenter
mode. Granted the CPU is a little less
powerful than a Full Intel I5, but I can edit, view revise and modify the
slides and they still end up in the same format. To boot the Office provides local as well as
Skydrive storage out of the box.
If I want to get really crazy, I can drop a 64gb MicroSD card
into the bottom to use it as alternate storage.
The only complaint I *DO* have is with the 32GB / Keyboard
combo package. It’s really not worth
buying. Just pick up the 32gb and buy a
raised touch keyboard separately, the price isn’t much different and it offers
a better keyboard.
If you really don’t think you’ll need a keyboard much, just
purchase a small portable one with a USB connector. The VGA/HDMI adapter is worth spending the
extra $45 on as it allows you to use the device as an almost PC replacement once
you drop in the Keyboard / Mouse / Monitor.
I would almost hesitate to suggest Microsoft sell a little
mini USB/VGA dock as an addon. But I’ll
dig about and see if there are any USB units from Kensington to provide this
All in all I mark the Microsoft Surface RT as a Major
Win. Can’t wait for the January release! FULL DOMAIN CONNECTIVITY and the ability to
run Intel apps too in the SAME FORM FACTOR.
To Microsoft and whomever is responsible for Microsoft Surface
Good job! THANKS!
The Energized Tech