EricHarlan

The Microsoft Surface Tested

The Microsoft Surface Tested
Eric approved.

So thankfully many see me as anything further to a yes man or a shill. If something is better I usually will say it. If I think something is terrible and you ask me off the record I’ll give you my honest feedback regardless of the technology or manufacturer.  Its not ground breaking news that a few months ago Microsoft put its money where its mouth is.
Announcing a free surface, a free windows phone 8 a new laptop and a turkey on every table for every employee, ok scratch the turkey.  I was pretty stoked about the laptop and the phone but not as much for the surface. Let me explain what I mean when I say I wasn’t excited for a free piece of technology.
My wife WAS an owner of a Ipad 3 or 7 or whatever I dunno they all look and do the same I can’t remember which is which (obligatory bash against Apple behind us).  The greatest purpose it ever had to me was that we used it to track when our daughter soiled her diaper when she was born. Get it, crap…. Apple…. Ok ok I said I was done.  Other than that one input function I always saw tablets as consumption devices. Tools to waste time or entertain oneself while indisposed to other forms of entertainment. Side note, she ditched the iPad for a Lenovo Yoga w/ Windows 8. I was so proud.
I always figured I had a phone, I had a laptop why do I need a tablet? For someone that travels this question of weight reduction is a constant balance.  When it was announced that we would receive these devices I almost immediately chalked up my device to sit on the couch and provide passing fun or possibly a replacement for vacation laptop travel. Wow was I wrong.
I put a lot of energy into picking a laptop that would give me a good balance of power, and travel-ability.  I can’t stress how crucial it is to have a light laptop in my job. If you know, you know.  So when I chose my laptop I assumed that to be my primary travel device for both work as well as conferences both nationally and internationally.
One day I got a note from my good buddy Mark Rackley (he paid me to say that) saying “holy crap you can RDP from the surface RT”. This was immediately lost on me until sometime later when I received my free device.  The moment I realized that essentially the same risk/rewards I took with a laptop I chose was basically available in my surface my head began to spin. You see a few weeks earlier I had been given a Windows Azure account through work. This gave me great flexibility and power all on a remote platform. The risk obviously is that it’s all cloud based with no connectivity I basically had no environment. I took a lot of soul searching to come to that acceptance for the sake of having a lighter load to carry.
This past week I spoke at the European SharePoint Conference in Copenhagen. I was in communications with the event coordinators to make sure there was in fact GOOD internet connectivity. I went out and bought a true type keyboard for the surface because honestly you cant type WELL with the touch type. I also bought a micro HDMI to VGA dongle to handle the output to a projector and lastly a RJ45 to Wi-Fi hotspot TP-Link gadget to give me wireless access for my surface when there was only wired access. Im also testing out a little usb to RJ45 I have the drivers for. Turns out it hasn’t been made so easy to deploy drivers to the RT with USB devices. So I’ll let you know how it goes.
I delivered a 1 hour session and an 8 hour workshop on SharePoint 2010-2013 upgrade and I’m glad to report the surface CRUSHED it.
I really don’t know what else to say there really isn’t much to say. I had all the tools I would normally have access to (except RDPMAN L ) on my surface RT for my session and never really felt as though I was limited. I really just felt like I was working right off my Hyper V lab as before. I even let the tablet run all day without any battery power and I had about 20% battery left after a 8:45 min session.  Also for those hard core travelers in the house. The tablet with the true type keyboard fully extended fits almost perfectly in even the smallest commuter jet tray tables. Score.
If you’re looking for a good substitute for just such a scenario or are want to get some work done on a plane etc etc. I actually (really didn’t think I’d say this so soon) recommend the surface RT for stuff like this. Should my little sister drop the 5 bills to let my nephews play games on it?  Well, no not yet possibly when the cost goes down some. Would I buy one knowing what it can do now? I would have initially said no to that question.  Now, I probably would.
Jury is still out on the pro.  If anyone wants to donate one I’ll give it a go.

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