Living with a Windows Surface tablet

Attending Build 2012 was an experience not to be forgotten. I, like probably all other attendees was wondering what surprise MS would bring out during the keynote. To our surprise there was no new surprises just a reinforcing of already announced/delivered technologies. That’s not to say that getting a Windows Surface, Nokia 920 Win 8 phone were not great to get, but they where already announced or already delivered to the public. Which brings me to the point of my post, living with a Surface tablet, note that I’m not going through this feature by feature but more random musings on it.

So far, so good, more or less. The hardware is well designed and at least for me is fairly durable. The touch keyboard while strange at first, is gradually growing on me. For a none touch typist I think it works well with my hunt and peck style. The finger, screen interface is a bit more challenging due to my fingers not liking any kind of touch interface.

Apps are constantly appearing in the store but I wish the store had a bit more info per item. An icon, one line of text and a price is not sufficient in my mind to attract any attention to any app and after the store fills with apps good luck on finding anything. Now there may be a mode that shows more information per tile but if there is it escapes me and with the lack of manuals in the packaging, who knows what lies in the depths.

Therein lies a problem. Perhaps I’ve been a developer to long, as it is taking me quite a long time to figure out how to use this device and all the touch gestures and features. Maybe and probably a 5 year old would find it much more intuitive than I do. I spent an hour at build with one of the MS staff members getting them to show me what to do, I have to apologize as I do not remember his name but he was helpful to this old developer in explaining what to do.

WiFi only, while there are plenty of free access points around including airports and the like, it would have been nice and probably helped with getting user buy in if the Surface had a cellular interface. I may be the only one but my office is not friendly to equipment that is not provided by them. In that case Connectify is your friend but don’t tell them I told you.

So I’m writing this blog post from my Surface using the keyboard and ‘mouse pad’ and it is all more or less familiar. The touch features I’m getting used to and as a tablet OS it seems to work. As a desktop, laptop OS it’s not optimal, ok, I think it’s garbage, I would have preferred to see the clean OS of the Win 7 Phone expanded to the tablet and the desktop/laptop Win 7 O/S continued. I’m a professional dev and I have to work with what my company wants me to use and that is Win 7 as we have just moved to it. All the touch fun is way beyond imagining in any of our software, and I frankly see no way to integrate it.

So my conclusion in a roundabout way is that I like my Surface as a portable, occasional use device but as a machine to do work with, I doubt it’s capabilities but I think that is more a failing of the O/S and not the hardware.

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About Colin Blakey

Way to many years (25+) working in the Financial software world.
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