Windows-RT

Watch the video at the bottom of the post. Just look at The Verge’s Ross Miller try to use that thing. Now imagine a normal, everyday consumer using it. Yes, this is the *final* build of Windows RT.

I’m believing more and more that we’re watching a total fucking nightmare for Microsoft unfold before our eyes.

Why all the hate around Surface RT and Windows RT?

Seems every day I read some industry analyst saying how bad Windows RT is, how much of a failure it is, how unrecoverable the product line is.   And my main question is… Why?  I know technology analysts get paid to really just be hyperbolic about companies to generate page clicks.    Today Microsoft is the whipping boy, and the focus has been RT lately.   It was a bad launch, and awful commercials.  But the hardware and the software are on-point.

I’ve been using a RT for months now (I have  Surface Pro, and 2 RTs),  my wife has even given up her Lenovo T520 laptop for a Surface RT for daily use as well.   For something light, small, and dynamic in what it can do, this thing blows away an iPad I had(and sold), is more portable and easy to carry than my Samsung Slate I had(sold), and is a perfect companion to my PC and Surface Pro. 

I’ve been using the RT daily when I am around the house or when I travel to the RC track to keep up to date with work, bring up OneNote to work on notes and setup sheets I need, bring up Excel spread sheets, update Power Point decks, work in Outlook.

One of the primary misconceptions is how “weak” the app store is.  I’ve found Windows 8 “Metro” Apps to do everything I ever wanted to do on the tablet.   “Metro” IE plays Flash websites just fine (something Apple cant do still), and the ability to work with any kind of data makes things just so simple.

With the Windows 8.1 update, I find these tablets to be the ultimate windows devices.   My surface pro is pretty much something I only use when I want to use a legacy piece of software like some old Garmin mapping tool, or play a PC game.   

I am wondering if the Surface RT will be “Betamax"ed.  A clearly superior product, tanked by improper marketing, and talking heads not understanding and not wanting differ from the "bash MS” party going on right now.

For the pricing the RT is going for these days… if I didn’t have 2, I’d buy another!

Fix Windows RT?

Windows RT hits a new low: just $300 for Dell’s XPS 10 convertible | The Verge

Microsoft’s Surface notwithstanding, Windows RT hasn’t yet been the success that Microsoft has hoped. Samsung seems to be distancing itself from the operating system, and many PC manufacturers have yet to bite at all. However, Dell has publicly committed to the OS, and this week it’s making Windows RT more accessible than ever before: it’s cutting the price of the Dell XPS 10 tablet to just $299

Today’s version of Windows RT and its accompanying devices are because of obvious reasons not flying off the shelves. Who are they for and why? What and what not are they capable of? What are they in relation to “full” Windows 8 devices? Why are they better than competing iOS and Android products? It’s all very unclear. RT may not seem to be worth saving but MS need a strong product in the ARM universe. And what if Windows RT was done right? What if the underlying idea with Windows RT isn’t totally bad, and would it really take very much to make Windows RT a much more attractive proposition? The original Surface RT was announced in June 2012 and a huge corporation such as Microsoft should be able to address all of the below points for the next iteration:

  • Faster next-gen ARM based hardware.

  • Better multiple windows/app management for increased productivity. The same goes for Windows 8 of course.

  • Include a super clean new native Modern UI styled Office suite instead of today’s bundled desktop styled version, which is only available in the quasi Windows RT desktop mode. If MS want other companies to build high quality Modern UI/Windows 8 apps, the company should of course lead the way.

  • Make RT devices Modern UI only and skip the old desktop mode entirely. Windows RT doesn’t support third party legacy apps anyway and the desktop mode makes the product unnecessary confusing.

  • Until hardware and software catches up and prices are lower, I believe MS can wait with retina screens for another year or so. But 1080p instead of 720p should  be a done deal. At least for the more premium offerings.

If addressed, these points would enable modern, fast, slim and affordable Windows RT machines with great battery lives. Products that can stand up against Windows 8 devices as well as iOS and Android tablets. To only use the Modern UI would make the user experience more cohesive and increase the differentiation from “full” Windows 8. A few hit Windows RT devices would also spur development of quality Windows 8/Modern UI apps, which would benefit both Windows RT and Windows 8. 

Tom Warren on Office 2013 RT for Windows RT (which sounds as ridiculous as “C++ for You++”):

To optimize for Windows RT, Microsoft has made the decision to remove a number of features from its Office 2013 RT release to ensure battery life and reliability are not impacted on tablet devices.

Windows chief Steven Sinofsky, a year ago talking about designing for Metro (a codename all along, we swear):

Our design goal was clear: no compromises.

He’s technically making the argument as to why Microsoft decided to include the don’t-call-it-Metro component alongside the more traditional desktop component in Windows 8. But isn’t it a little odd that Microsoft is so adamant about “no compromises” (he goes on to say it four more times, with exclamation marks!) and yet, with WIndows RT, it seems to be all about compromises? 

For good measure, Sinofsky further down:

Windows 8 brings together all the power and flexibility you have in your PC today with the ability to immerse yourself in a Metro style experience. You don’t have to compromise!

Right. Unless you buy a Surface or any of the other ARM-based tablets. Then you will have to compromise!

I continue to believe this is going to be a giant mindfuck of confusion for consumers.

Revisiting the Surface RT

Has the 8.1 update made any difference?

Let us deal with the Elephant in the room, yes I am referring to the much ridiculed Windows RT.  Windows RT is hated by the press, tech enthusiasts and lots of other people who haven’t actually used it. It certainly doesn’t help that Microsoft had to take an embarrassing 900 million dollar write down based a price adjustment in an effort to move unsold RT devices. It doesn’t help matters further that every other OEM have abandoned the fledging OS in favor of full Windows 8 powered by Intel’s low voltage atom chip.

Despite all this, I firmly believe in the Windows on ARM strategy but not necessarily in the way Microsoft and OEMs were pricing their RT devices. Look at Chrome OS – a simple lightweight OS that really is just a browser with limited native app support, no compatibility with any major x86 apps like iTunes or Spotify. These are the very same limiting factors of Windows RT yet for some strange reason Tech reviewers seem to love Chromebooks and forgive the Chrome OS shortcomings simply because Chromebooks are cheap.

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Surface Pro for the Gal On The Go

Yes I am gloating since I actually got my hands on a 128 GB version the day it was released. Actually, I’ll be honest – hubby and I were greedy and got two. In today’s world of technology sharing has nothing to do with caring. And no I am not at all guilty knowing there is a shortage.

To reiterate, the main reason I wanted a Surface is to have a full powerhouse PC in the portability of a tablet. Of course I wanted to keep an open mind and worried I only wanted the Surface Pro because it was the next “new” gadget. So I looked at some of the UltraBooks currently on the market as the issues of battery life were concerning. Realistically though I’m never out working somewhere totally unplugged for more than 4-5 hours (sorry kids, I’m not studying in a library fighting everyone else for a seat with a plug). And with almost any portable device, always buy a spare charger.

It really is so much sleeker and lighter than the UltraBooks and really the difference in weight and “sleekness” between the RT and the Pro are almost forgettable. Since I still have both, I do compare the two, often, but if I didn’t have the RT around, I would surely by now have forgotten.

The first feature I wanted to play with of course was the stylo. I am by nature a pen and paper type of gal. I have used it much more than I realized I would and it is much better than actually sketching on paper and scanning it. I have been better able to express my ideas or draw out little diagrams.

The specs say it all – it’s got more power than my laptop with an i5 Intel Core Processor and 4GB RAM. I’m gonna sound like a broken record, but it’s no iPad and yes the Apps available are still limited, but you don’t get an i5 processor with 4GB of RAM to play Words With Friends!! (Although if anyone out there is listening, this would be nice along with Instagram & Draw Something so I can really whoop some ass with this stylo).

So far I actually haven’t experienced issues with the battery life. I plug it into the charger overnight and bring it to “work” with me every day, granted that simply means going downstairs. Yeah I know I love my commute, too.

Actually “work” begins as soon as I’m awake and the Surface is a great way to read the news while I get ready in the morning. It really does eliminate a lot of the morning BS I used to do at my desk – what no one else likes to read the morning news while having breakfast at their desk? I’m even able to quickly shoot off a few emails or have my morning meetings before I’ve even made it down the stairs since my notes are easily accessible (ahh, the beauty of cloud computing). iPhones are great but really, nothing is faster than a REAL keyboard.

I bring it to my desk since I occasionally do need to sketch on plans or doodle on graphics to get my point across. Or if I want to work through lunch, I take my Surface out to the kitchen so I don’t spill soup all over my desktop keyboard. Or beer, like my husband did on his.

Personally I feel my productivity has increased, since I am starting my day off a little earlier and able to quickly accomplish tasks without having to go to my desk and start up my computer (if it’s already been shut down). However, I have also been on “hyper-production” mode and staying on top of my work like crazy so I can’t attribute it 100% to a new device!

And this is just how I’ve integrated the Surface Pro into my daily at-home work routine. It’s been amazing when I’m out and about. My number one pet peeve is trying to quickly view a spreadsheet on an iPhone. I just can’t. Maybe everyone else can, but for some reason I find it highly challenging to navigate.

 

I have used it for brainstorming and meetings for a good 6 hours straight. Ergonomically it wasn’t an issue since I wasn’t typing constantly - it was a mix of discussion, sketching and note-taking.

Again, these are my experiences and my work needs so it may not be everyone else’s. For me an iPad doesn’t cut it. Non-formatted emails that might come out in Times New Roman give me panic attacks. And I can’t type on a touch screen. Ever. I’m also sick and tired of keeping my nails “iPhone friendly” - seriously that’s no fun. Who cares if it has kazillion apps. I don’t use them!! And I may come off sounding like a workaholic, but I’m not.

The Surface has rekindled an old hobby: blogging. Something I don’t do at my desk since I feel like I should be working when I’m there, but the Surface allows me this work/play balance where if I blog I don’t feel guilty, but if I need to work, I can. It might be a mommy guilt thing: if I can make it to my desk in my “office” for some peace and quiet, then I better be answering emails or getting work done, but because my Surface travels so easily, I feel like I have the option to work OR play.

Some advice though to maximize your experience:

  • Check for updates and restart often – it’s a PC not an iPad. And for those who don’t do this on your PC, shame shame!
  • Set it up like you would any other desktop/laptop – my Pro has almost every program my desktop has EXCEPT for Photoshop (let’s be realistic, I’m not Photoshopping anything on the go. Ever.)
  • Get familiar with the new O/S environment (ie how to swipe and where)
  • Store ALL your files on a USB drive or in the “cloud” – then you really can just pick up and go. Regardless if you don’t have a Surface, this is just another good habit to get into.
  • Get a Bluetooth mouse. Wireless USB mice are like so 2012 anyway… Bonus points if it’s got bling.

Another great option to consider: for some the PRO is a powerhouse compared to the desktop they have at home. Plug it into your monitor at home, get a wireless keyboard and/or mouse as peripherals and voila – you have yourself a desktop, too! Provided you’re not planning to game on your Pro, why not? And when you need to work elsewhere, just unplug everything, pick it up and go!

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Unreal Engine 3 For Windows RT And Windows 8 Tablets. 

NVIDIA and Epic Games have demonstrated the full PC port of their Unreal Engine 3 for Windows 8 and RT tablets. This means that console games built on the engine (which include titles like Gears of War, Mass Effect and Batman: Arkham Asylum) could potentially appear on Windows tablets in the near future. The video above shows the ASUS Vivo Tab RT (a lower spec'ed Windows tablet), powered by a Tegra 3 processor running the video game Epic Citadel smoothly.   

Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets will be launched along with the Windows 8 OS on October 26, 2012.