Windows laptops, basic principles.
Hey Jess, just a heads up that almost all the information about PCs in the PC post is… well… wrong. Windows 8/8.1 Pro IS supported by Adobe / Autodesk - it’s Windows 8/8.1 RT that is not. This is due to the actual hardware being different, not a protest about Windows 8. Essentially ALL laptops run the “Pro” version of Windows8/8.1 and will run all the software Windows 7 does natively.

If you have a Windows 8/8.1 PC / Laptop and want to make your desktop a bit friendlier (IE, start menu) there are MANY start menu replacements; just have a Google. Also be sure you are running the most up to date software version (Windows 8.1 Update 1, it’s free) as there are many fixes that make Windows 8 much more mouse friendly!

Personally I use and enjoy using Windows 8.1, as once you get used to the new “modern” environment (or disable it…), it’s a functionally better OS, is more secure, as well as being less resource intensive. However, there is nothing wrong at all with Windows 7, should your machine be running that. Please bare in mind that Windows 8.1 vs Windows 7 vs OS X is for the most part a user preference - all have drawbacks, all have benefits. Pick the OS you like to use; a Mac is not going to make you a better designer, and a PC is not going to make you a worse one ;)

About actual machines, you have a few ’types’ of laptops… It’s perhaps easier to understand when compared to a more streamlined selection like Apples;


These are pretty much MacBook Airs. Don’t buy one and expect to get serious work done. Sure Photoshop, 2D CAD, a little SketchUp will be possible, but you’re going to hit a performance ceiling really fast. These machines are designed for everyday tasks, email, browsing, some light content creation - not professional architecture software.

Entry Level:

Smaller, cheaper, less powerful machines like the 13 inch MacBook Pros (both retina and normal) fall into this category. These run on Dual Core i5 or i7 Intel CPUs, have integrated GPUs and usually have about 8GB of RAM (although this will vary per model). There are other differences like SSD vs HDD, “retina” vs “normal” displays, etc but that’s another discussion. Broad strokes here!

This type of machine will do you fine but you’ll still want to use the computer suite in your university. Photoshop, AutoCAD, InDesign (anything 2D) and a little 3D modelling should be perfectly possible - but due to the dual core CPU and the weaker GPU things like heavy 3D models and rendering are not going to go smoothly.

High End:

These machines will be spec’d similarly to Apples 15 inch MacBooks. They have Quad Core Intel i7 CPUs, Intel Iris (Integrated) GPUs, maybe a discrete NVidia GPU, at least 8GB of RAM (up to 16GB common), a good quality 15+ inch screen, and maybe even a Solid State Drive.

This is about as powerful as ‘consumer’ grade laptops get. If you want a machine that will handle almost anything you throw at it then this is your best bet.

You will pay for this kind of machine though, and such a powerful machine goes well beyond the “I want to do work on this” attitude, with such a machine it’s possible you wont need to use any computer suites at all.


These guys are the real-deal-no-compromise laptops, and Apple don’t sell anything like them. They are generally big, heavy, powerful and very expensive. Quad Core Intel i7 CPUs are standard (even more powerful chips available…), discrete NVidia Quadro or AMD Firebird GPUs, between 8 and 32Gb of RAM, Full HD to “retina” displays, SSDs very common etc etc.

All I’m going to say if all of the above is jargon to you then this is not a machine I would recommend you spend your money on. If you know you will push your machine to the absolute limit of what is possible on a laptop; it’s your money, do your research and enjoy your monster. But the average student running out and spending $$$$ on such a device when there is a computer suite filled with machines purpose built to make sure you don’t need to spent that money… well, it’s worth thinking about.

That list is the broad strokes of what kinds of machines are out there, there’s obviously everything in between… and everything below. It’s important you do your own research, buy a computer that suits your budget and usage - don’t spend £2k on a laptop when a £850 laptop would do you fine because you ”want to do renders” once a semester.

A few tips:

-Be sure the laptop you are buying has the current or last generation Intel i5 or i7 CPU (don’t go older, it wont last as long, don’t go for i3 or Pentium they’re not powerful enough).

-Be sure you are buying a laptop with a CPU with an “M” at the end of it’s unique name not a “U” or worse, a “Y”. “M” denotes that it is what is called a ‘full voltage’ CPU, in other words, it’s built for performance; unlike the “U” and “Y” (or ULV - ultra low voltage) series chips that denote a preference for battery life at the expense of throughput. (Intel Core i5-4200M Processor (3MB Cache, up to 3.10GHz) vs Intel Core i3-4010U Processor (3 MB Cache, 1,70 GHz) - which one is the correct choice?)

-Don’t underestimate the benefits of a high quality screen (ALL laptops shipped these days have “HD” screens, you want HD+ or FHD, or better).

- Try get at least 8GB of RAM, but you can often upgrade this later, find out if the RAM is user replaceable (Apples Retina MacBook Pros are a notable exception).

-Business class machines are not as pretty but last longer, have better warranties, use better components and often have more customisation options and less bloatware installed out-of-the-box… You will pay for these benefits, but don’t dismiss them as valuable features.

-An SSD can be a huge performance boost, if you’re debating getting a dual core  i7 over a i5 you’ll probably see better real world performance from upgrading the HDD for an SSD - it’ll cost about the same too.

-Your typical big brand high-street store will often rip you off. Know what you need, do your research, don’t get tricked into getting deal that sounds too good to be true - don’t spend more than you need to because the sales rep showed you their gaming laptops etc. Be smart.

Sorry for the worlds longest and most jargon heavy submission, but it really bothers me seeing people spending $$$$ on stuff they either don’t need or got conned into thinking is more valuable than it actually is (or less valuable). Your laptop could well be the most expensive single item you buy before starting uni, it’s important to understand what you’re getting so you can feel confident about it.


Awesome information about computers from anon!

Thanks for the submission ;)

発売年 バージョン 製品名
1985年 1.01 Windows 1.01
1986年 1.03 Windows 1.03
1987年 2.03 Windows 2.03
1988年 2.1 Windows 2.1
1988年 2.0 Windows/286 2.0
1988年 2.1 Windows/386 2.1
1990年 3.0 Windows 3.0
1992年 3.1 Windows 3.1
1992年 3.11 Windows For Workgroups 3.1
1994年 NT 3.1 Windows NT 3.1
1994年 3.2 Windows 3.2 (中国語版のみ)
1994年 NT 3.5 Windows NT 3.5
1995年 NT 3.51 Windows NT 3.51
1995年 4.0 Windows 95
1996年 NT 4.0 Windows NT 4.0
1996年 CE 1.01 Windows CE 1.01
1997年 CE 2.0 Windows CE 2.0
1997年 CE 2.01 Windows CE 2.01
1998年 CE 2.10 Windows CE 2.10
1998年 CE 2.11 Windows CE 2.11
1998年 4.1 Windows 98
1999年 CE 2.12 Windows CE 2.12
1999年 4.1 Windows 98 Second Edition
2000年 NT 5.0 Windows 2000
2000年 4.9 Windows Millennium Edition
2000年 CE 3.0 Windows CE 3.0
2001年 NT 5.1 Windows XP
2002年 CE 4.1 Windows CE 4.1
2002年 NT 5.1 Windows XP TabletPC, Media Center Edition
2003年 NT 5.2 Windows Server 2003
2003年 NT 5.2 Windows XP 64-bit Edition
2004年 CE 5.0 Windows CE 5.0
2005年 NT 5.2 Windows XP Professional x64 Edition
2005年 NT 5.2 Windows Server 2003 x64 Editions
2006年 NT 5.1 Windows Fundamentals for Legacy PCs
2006年 CE 6.0 Windows Embedded CE 6.0
2007年 NT 6.0 Windows Vista
2007年 NT 6.0 Windows Home Server
2008年 NT 6.0 Windows Server 2008
2009年 NT 6.1 Windows 7
2009年 NT 6.1 Windows Server 2008 R2
2011年 CE 7.0 Windows Embedded Compact 7
2011年 NT 6.1 Windows Home Server 2011
2012年 NT 6.2 Windows 8
2012年 NT 6.2 Windows RT
2012年 NT 6.2 Windows Server 2012
2012年 NT 6.2 Windows Phone 8
2013年NT 6.3 Windows 8.1
2013年NT 6.3 Windows RT 8.1
2013年NT 6.3 Windows Server 2012 R2
Windows 8 para tablets terá outro nom—C-C-C-COMBO BREAKER!

Lembram da ridícula lista das versões do Windows 8 que serão lançadas? A versão exclusiva para tablets seria chamada Windows 8 ARM. Agora o nome mudou. Oficialmente será Windows RT.

Pensando no consumidor final, remover o 8 do nome passará a sensação de que os tablets não usarão o novo Windows de verdade (o que não deixa de ser um raro gesto de sinceridade por parte da Microsoft). O pior, no entanto é a sigla escolhida…

Windows Re-tweet? Windows Retarded Tablet?

O Windows tá de cara nova, mas ficou claro que essa é a mesma Microsoft do Windows XP, Windows CE e Windows NT.
For 2nd Generation of Surface, Tweaks From Microsoft

Nick Wingfield:

For its full fiscal year, which ended June 30, total Surface sales were only $853 million, Microsoft said in its annual report. By comparison, Apple’s iPad sales during roughly the same time frame were $33.2 billion.

Yikes. But:

As before, the new Surface family includes two products, Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2. The Surface 2, called the RT in the first version…

At least they got the name right this time.

I still do not understand why the Surface (RT) line exists. I get the Surface Pro somewhat (though still don’t love its prospects long-term), but the Surface (RT) is significantly more expensive than any Kindle Fire, has basically no ecosystem when compared to any other Android tablet, and, of course, is no iPad.

I understand the desire to compete on the ARM side of the field, but they’re not really competing. They’re continually putting out a product that’s built to lose.

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. 

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!

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.

Keep reading

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!

Apple vs Microsoft

I am thinking that Apple have royally F**ked themselves in their own bums here with the Tablet computer race. 

Apple have recently announced their Ipad mini which let’s face it, is a gadget which the technology is 2 generations old and doesn’t compare to it’s rivals products. I don’t think Apple’s great marketing abilities is going to save them this time.

It might sound like I am an Apple basher when that is hardly the case. I myself own an Iphone 4S, Ipad 3 and a Macbook Pro so Apple has a large chunk of my money. Which is why even they take my money they should be able to provide us all something different from the rest of the competition which it seems they haven’t.

Iphone 5 to me was a disappointment. Sure it’s faster and the screens bigger and the camera is better but so what? It looks the same as an iphone 4 or 4S just a bit longer. I have even played with one and I have to say I hated the feel of it in my hands.

Come on Apple, pull your thumbs out your asses!

Apple like to boast that they are leading the post PC revolution with the Ipad, but they aren’t, PCs are still going strong. Ipads are good for Games, video and pictures but not productivity which a lot of business owners would want on the go. On top of that Apple doesn’t allow flash on it’s Iphones or Ipads till this date which in itself is baffling because that is the main selling point of android products other than the customisation and the live on screen widgets.

This is where Microsoft is going to win over Apple and maybe android. It’s going to have all the live tiles, it’s going have near enough the same games as Android or Apple. Maybe not now but definitely later. It may actually be to play the games that one could only play on a desktop PC or a laptop. Imagine being able to carry a device that could play Call of Duty or World of Warcraft in your bag and only takes up a small fraction of bag space. On top of that, being able to run Microsoft office apps and having a keyboard to type out stuff with. 

I have tried the Windows 8 interface and from what I have seen, it’s a pleasurable experience even though I used a mouse and keyboard. But let me tell you I will be upgrading my monitor into a touchscreen one in near future.  

I am a little sceptical about the keyboard that’s coming out with the surface, the Microsoft tablet. I feel it’s something that’ll break easy BUT my friends and family seem to think that it’ll only cost the buyer £60 to replace. If that is the case then everything is going to fine for Microsoft. After checking now, it is gonna £99 to replace the keyboard should it screw up. Not bad in my opinion. 

Microsoft were the first to bring about the idea of tablet computing to the public way back in 1999. Tablet PCs were around even before that but I am not going into that. Apple took the idea of tablet computing and took it to new heights with the general public far more than what Microsoft ever did but that is due to the huge app catalogue that Apple has and the marketing strategy Apple employs as well as the Iphone’s success. In short, they did everything better than Microsoft back then.

NOW, Microsoft has had a big chance to review what it could bring to the table with Tablet PCs and I think that they have done it. What every Tech head wants is that their devices are integrated with one another. Example, if you are watching something on your tablet but suddenly have the urge to watch it on a bigger screen, with these tablets and windows 8, you can swipe it onto your PC OR if you are heading out and you don’t want to take the tablet with you, you can swipe it to your windows phone. This even works with Xbox 360. The platform allows a user to use their tablet along with their Xbox games in a similar way to the Nintendo WiiU THAT my friends, is cool and most likely going to give the Nintendo WiiU a run for it’s money.

Overall, this isn’t going to kill Apple that’s for sure. Hopefully though, this latest bit of tech development is gonna give them the right kick up the ass to make something new and innovative, something fresh. 

Right now, Microsoft looks very tempting and makes me want to sell my Iphone and Ipad and buy a windows Phone and Tablet.

In my opinion, Microsoft are gonna pull ahead of the competition in one foul swoop this time.

Surface First Impressions

I finally have a chance to sit down here and write about my first hand impressions with the Surface. I’ve been very interested if I can integrate this into my life. My overall plan (which will now be carried out after my experience this weekend) is to get the Surface Pro and replace my laptop and completely use it for work and play. I am 100% confident that I’ll be able to. This is just a brief summary of what I enjoy about this excellent product from the guys at Redmond.

For Work

For those that are unaware, I work in the IT industry as an IT Consultant and a Technical Trainer. I don’t need a massive amount of power on my actual laptop as I normally am jumping in and out of my clients’ servers and environments via RDP. I decided to take my Surface to work with me after picking it up Friday and leave my laptop (Sammy Series 9) at home. I’m telling you…I didn’t even miss it. And this is even before I had even set my Surface up completely at this point.

I was blown away that I could access the native RDP client from the desktop. I’m able to open a Command Prompt, access PowerShell, and open the Registry. VPN? No problem, I could easily access the networks I need to get to quickly. I’m able to do many of the items on my laptop that I’ve been used to for so long. One of the issues I had before getting the Surface was the resolution. My Series 9 has 1600 x 900. However, the 1366 x 768 on this tablet, looks great. The Surface Pro with the full HD screen is going to look absolutely amazing.

Nope, there isn’t Outlook on the RT, and you cannot install it. This is purely a consumer tablet. Great news is that Exchange works great with the Mail application.

Look, it’s been the entire weekend, and my love affair continues with this device. There are things I would change, no doubt, but this is an excellent stop gap for me until the Pro hits. 

For Play

I don’t need a tablet for bed. I have an excellent Nook with GlowLight that is perfect. I wanted something that I could kick it on the couch with while I’m watching my Giants beat up on dem Cowboys  :-)

This thing is great. It feels just perfect in the hands, and I’ve literally been messing with it all day (still have 65% battery) while hanging out watching football. Listening to music, playing some light games (Hydro Thunder is a good one!), surfing the web…see this thing can do all the stuff iPads can do, but it’s also so much more of a productivity device for me than when I had my iPad.

Should I buy this thing?

The negative reviews and some of the skepticism you see across the web, I encourage you to ignore it. Go into a Microsoft Store and see it for yourself. Play with it, do what you normally do on your computer at home (again with limitations, no x86 programs with this version). The staff at the stores that I’ve been to here in Colorado are excellent, and I’m sure they’re great all over. They will let you stand there for hours messing with it. I’m sure you will also enjoy it.

Business Pros should not even slightly worry. Pick up the Surface Pro and I can assure you of an incredibly thought out, well executed device. This thing just oozes sexiness, and with the Ivy Bridge proc, and 4GB of RAM, the performance will be there too. If you’re a student, the Surface RT is a no brainer. Many kids pick up iPads for college, but then see the shortcomings. Those don’t exist on the Surface. You can watch Netflix, but you can also write your papers in the newest version of Microsoft Word. Oh and there’s expandable storage. I have the 32GB Surface, but I just put in a 32GB MicroSD yesterday to double that.

Look! Even my daughter loves it! Thanks for reading!

Microsoft Surface RT is a fail. Part 2: Form

Let’s start with the SurfaceRT’s physical build first…this is the one area Microsoft got it right. The SurfaceRT is a sleek machine to behold; it’s heavy duty, feels like it will last a long time, and a device that you will be able to take anywhere and everywhere.

I personally love the kick stand on the back ,which was the focus of so much of the tablets’ marketing, and amazingly it truly works exactly like you hope.  It situates the tablet perfectly on a table or desk.  No it doesn’t work well in your lap but then again I don’t think any tablets stand works well in your lap.  I  also appreciate that the slot for the additional micro SD card is tucked underneath the kickstand flap and is covered by the kickstand when closed, allowing it to create a bit of protection for your expansion card.  Considering I lost a Micro SD card out of another tablet…literally just fell out or I bumped the tablet wrong.  That won’t happen with the Surface.

The battery charger connects magnetically with few metal prongs to get bent and out of shape.  My last tablet had to have it’s long metal prongs bent back into proper shape every couple of weeks to keep in good contact for charging, talk about a difference!  This feature may exist on other devices, but I haven’t experienced it before and I loved it immediately.  I know, a lot of praise for a power plug, but after “bending” plug prongs every two weeks, this is very nice indeed.  So far the battery itself lasts quite a while while in constant use.  The CPU and memory seem adequate to the everyday tasks.

Speakers on the SurfaceRT, while not high quality in an open room, are far better than any device I’ve owned.  Good enough to listen to music while working in the kitchen, or in a small office.  I have heard that some high-end headphone jacks don’t fit well; due to the “slant” of the exterior case.  I personally have a pair Bose noise canceling headphones and the jack fits perfectly on my tablet.  

I’m currently not using one of the Touch or Type covers so I can’t offer much of an opinion, but they do look snazzy and to offer a very flexible way of working with the device. The addition of a standard USB port is welcome in a sea of devices with few to no connections.  I know this is the “era of the cloud”, but that isn’t a reasonable or practical option for everyone.  The USB port is just what we need for good old flash-drives (did I just write that?  Wasn’t it only a couple of years ago a small 1GB flash drive was over $100…times change fast.) and the opportunity for additional devices and accessories.  Haven’t used the camera much either, so I’ll leave that for now.

The screen surface is almost completely Gorilla glass, and a molded magnesium casing that feels super durable.  It’s is a bit on the heavy side, but I work with it on a table, in my lap, or in two hands anyway, and it’s only a fraction larger or heavier than some of the Android tablets available.  Some critics complain about the design and have called the tablet a “big black slab akin to the monolith from ‘2001 A Space Odyssey”, and I laugh to myself every time I hear it.   It reminds me when I first purchased the original Motorola Droid way back when, which was also compared to the monolith…. and I loved that phone just as I like the Surface device.   The bold, black shape, the sharp angular sides…it knows exactly what it is and celebrates it. There’s something comforting in a well made, heavy duty piece of equipment that was meant to last.  

Only real issue with the hardware, although I’m not sure if it IS a hardware issue or the OS, is the wi-fi connection.  I and many SurfaceRT owners are having issues with WiFi connections;  it constantly seems to lose connection to your wi-fi network.  It says its connected and  it looks like its connected but no data is flowing… causing you to either reboot the device or switch off and on the wi-fi.  This occurs when I’m connected to different wi-fi hot spots, and my other devices don’t seem to suffer the same fairly sure it’s the tablet and not the connections.  So far there has been no “fix” that I’ve seen and it’s inconvenient to say the least.

Next I’d like to discuss a little bit about the overall user interface in the SurfaceRT, which I find perplexing to say the least. I was very prepared for the Metro interface and was looking forward to working with it, however that is not the only interface you experience.  As a bonus, in addition to Metro you also have  the traditional looking Windows Desktop to deal with and this is a complete mismatch.  

On the Metro side...
I realize I may be in the minority on this, but I really appreciate the Metro design language and concept.  The minimalism and focus on content as opposed to the chrome.  The clean lines, bold colors and plenty of “white space”.  My real complaint is that on the SurfaceRT and its’ built-in apps, Metro also seems to mean “stripped” of options and so over-simplified as to be beyond basic.  I’ll review the apps individually later, but when the “Settings” menu for Internet Explorer in Metro consists of a handful of items and is missing many preferences found in most mobile browsers today, it leaves you feeling like a child.

As for the Desktop…
I am wondering why the Windows designers felt the need to continue using the Windows legacy in the desktop.   All of the usual items you expect in a full blown Windows are there; a full Control Panel, Windows Explorer… the works but to make matters stranger, some of those items are not functional and others are functional but you don’t have access to the files nor the permissions needed for working with those areas of your system.  What makes this highly ironic is the fact that when consumers complain about the things that the RT is not capable of (full Windows apps, Outlook, Windows Media Player, etc)  we are constantly reminded that the RT is a mobile OS and designed to be lighter.  Yet we experience the tablet not as a mobile platform, but as a “dumbed” down version of full Windows 8.  In fact the device is called a PC internally… it’s no wonder that the average consumer is confused.  

Here’s my favorite little stumbler from this week.  Control Panel has the standard Programs and Features, usually used to uninstall applications and other assorted similar items.  However, when you open Programs and features, you will discover that the tablet says “There are no apps installed on this PC”.  Wait a minute…of course I do, many.  It’s just that you can’t see, or do anything with those…you can only install an app through the Windows Store and you’re not going to be able to install your own apps.  Why would the designers leave that in if there’s nothing for it to do.  Why confuse the user?  

What I find the most frustrating of all however is trying to work with the desktop applications and functions.  The SurfaceRT  screen is relatively small and thus the app windows and their “ribbons” are small…the buttons, the checkboxs and the options are very tiny and my fat little fingers are constantly missing the intended target. I keep getting things wrong because I can’t select what I need, making the entire experience in the desktop an infuriating one.  Doesn’t help that often you find yourself having to use these menus and functions when you are already having problems somewhere else on your device.  The entire Control Panel, admin and management apps are way to complicated and messy for a simple, lightweight “Mobile” platform…and I find myself wanting to ask Microsoft…where is that lighter, easy to use Windows platform you’ve been touting?  Rt isn’t what you’ve promised.

My impression overall is that RT is “half-finished” and rushed to market before completed.  The approach taken…starting with a PC system and adapting for a tablet, seemed novel and I thought maybe it could really work, especially when it came to syncing info from a PC to tablet.  However, I don’t have Windows 8 on the PC (can’t because several software packages I depend on professionally aren’t yet adapted for W8, and won’t be anytime soon.  Something W8 developers failed to contemplate apparently) and the Surface is actually more difficult to connect with the PC than other tablets.  What I keep hearing myself wanting to say to Microsoft is “It’s a MOBILE PLATFORM”.  The PC-like system just isn’t in keeping with what I need in a mobile device…to complicated in places where it should be simple, and WAY too simple in places where I need more control, options and productivity.  Unfortunately, like the WORST blending of Apple and Android…Not easy, yet no control…complex and yet no access or self-management.  

Another contributing factor to the potential demise of the platform (or success if solutions are pushed forward): is that Windows RT is a third iteration of the Windows 8 family and it keeps apps and developers efforts separated from PC and Phone development.  Apples iOS is the same on both iPads and iPhones, keeping the app development to just handle phone specs vs pad specs.  Android only has the one OS…although the vast number of devices and configurations hamper the development to a degree.  With three distinct and separate systems, Microsoft could find itself with a crippling lack of app options and interested developers, not to mentioned confusing the users with the jarring, yet sometimes hidden differences.

My advice to the Windows RT designers and engineers:  moving forward,  turn the entire tablet over to Metro and create an interface that is clearly and distinctly separate from Windows 8, potentially in line with Windows Phone. The SurfaceRT is not a PC;  it is a tablet and a mobile platform and should be designed much more in tune with Windows Phone. Remember:  MOBILE!

Next Chapter:  The “UGH” in UGLY….those built in apps.