A week with the Microsoft Surface

Ok, I’ve been using my Surface for week now and love it more today than I did when I unpacked it J. Granted I am an IT guy that has worked in the MS environment for many years, so sometimes I just know how some of this stuff works. I have lived through UNIX, Novell, OS/2 and early Apple offerings. I have worked with many different pieces of hardware and different network infrastructures. That being said, I read the early reviews of the Surface and took each with a grain of salt knowing they were done by people who had to produce content for the site they were writing for. Some bias (sponsorship) was evident and others a lack of experience showed. When all is said and done I am a user just like everyone else. I will post a bit about my experience over the past week, and touch on some the things the experts pointed out, positive and/or negative.

APPS

The number one complaint of reviewers is the lack of APPs in the Microsoft Store. To most it appears that quantity is better than quality. So be it. How many farting apps or news readers do I need? How many rewritten books in the form of an apps do I want?

No Facebook APP…really?

  1. The Surface has a 10″ display I can easily browse to Facebook.
  2. I prefer the People Hub. I have my Microsoft (live) Account connected to MSN, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn (could have Google+ if I wanted). All Wall Posts, Tweets and LinkedIn updates from any of my contacts is in that one place. I can click on one contact and see what they have done on FB, Twitter or LinkedIn…or I can click on “What’s new” to see all status updates and tweets.

Not enough Task apps for some…again how many do you need? It seems to be the ol’ “chip on one’s shoulder” syndrome…Microsoft did it so I’m not going to use it. Surface is preloaded with Office 2013 (mine was updated from Preview to full release version today by the way) which comes with OneNote. All my devices are set up to use my SkyDrive, to-dos, grocery lists and all that jazz in one place accessible by all devices that I have and shared with my wife. Speaking of to-dos, my Microsoft account has a calendar in the cloud, again accessible by all my devices and shareable. No need for a calendar, appointment or task list app.

Touch Cover/Kickstand

Many of the reviewers commented that the touch cover does not work on one’s lap. That’s funny, it works just fine for me. Kickstand out and across my legs and touch cover on my lap and I have no issues. It really works where it should for me, easy chair with leg rest up…now that’s the way to blog. A few others will point out that the kickstand has sharp corners…If that’s all they got take everything with pointy edges away from them. These people are probably the reason we have warning labels to not eat the desiccate that come in packages to absorb moisture.

Steep Learning Curve

Now, I have used Windows 8 since the developer preview so I may have a bit of an advantage here. My wife on the other hand had no interest in playing with the preview versions of the OS, so her Surface this was her first glimpse of the interface. She seemed to get it as soon as she turned her Surface on. Here you can either choose to be productive or make it hard on yourself because others said it is hard. To get the most out of it you will want to find the quick tips in a blog or a book. There is a learning curve going from Windows 7 to Windows 8 and that is primarily when switching from the Start Menu to Desktop. That really doesn’t apply to the Surface as you will spend most of your time accessing apps from the Start screen.

Battery Charging and Battery Life

This is my first device with a funky magnet that snaps the charger connector in place. I did have issues with this at first. The angle in which it goes in, the alignment would snap it to the wrong location. Either I have learned how to do it properly or maybe connector needed to have some of the edges wore down a bit. It seems to snaps into place now when I get the connector in the vicinity of the plug. Either way now that I have had it for a week it seems much better now.

As to battery life; some reviewers were negative here. I don’t know what they were after as my Surface goes all day off power. I have to assume they are talking shelf life. The Surface is an “Always On” device so when I wake it up all my social and other updates are there. When the Surface goes to sleep it is not totally asleep. It is using battery. If I let it set on the shelf it will drain the battery. So I’ve got this nifty device, it is far easier to research, read and do my social networking from my easy chair than a laptop or desktop. How often am I going to let it set for days and not charge it? I don’t see that happening much. This thing has quick charge so I am not sweating it too much.

IE10 and Flash

IE10 on the Surface is very cool and does some nifty things when it comes to navigation. The thing that confuses me is MSs Approach when it comes to Flash. I understand HTML 5 is coming and many want to rid the world of the evil Flash, but most of the old sites still use Flash to display media content. Microsoft’s approach to keep us safe is to White list sites that they deem safe. When I say deem safe I mean there are measures that site developers have to take that tells IE10 that it is safe. I don’t see developers running out and doing this right away.

Home Network

The Surface on the home network was a real trip. I have a home network with three Windows 7 pcs, 1 Windows 8 Pro, a MS Home Server, two Xbox 360s and Pioneer A/V receiver with DLNA. I have music and photos all over the place. When I turned my Surface on the first time on my home network everything was there. I went to print from the Surface and found that it just knew about my wireless Epson Artisan. It is probably not as easy as it sounds, but the way my network was set up, the Surface just picked it all up. So immediately, I’m streaming music (non drm kind) from my Home Server, doing slide shows with pics from 4 different computers…pretty cool if you ask me. I will do up a blog post on the Microsoft Account (formerly LiveID, MS Passport and sometimes just called Hotmail account) and how to trust pcs on a home network.

BTW: the Remote Desktop app works great when I want to actually log in to one of the other computers located somewhere in my house (sheesh I never have to leave the easy chair).

So after a week with the Surface I am even more enthused about what I can accomplish and do no matter what any of the reviewers say. Take this post how you see fit. Just sharing my thoughts after using it for a week. I’m actually doing this post in Word 2013 on the Surface with touch cover sitting on my lap in the easy chair…

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