My Experience with the Microsoft Surface RT

Microsoft Surface RT

The Microsoft Surface RT tablet was supposed to be the so-called “iPad Killer” (boy, haven’t we heard that many times?), but does it live up to its hype?

The tablet has a great feel to it. Microsoft said it’s made out of magnesium “VaporMG” which gives it a real solid feel. It is, however, quite heavy to hold single handedly for a long period of time. Additional purchases available to you are the Touch Cover ($119) and Type Cover ($129). Type Cover is what I used with tactile feedback and it was great. It felt like a real keyboard but it took a little time getting used to. The Touch Cover on the other-hand, feels and looks like crappy cardboard. Although the basic use as a keyboard is useful, it’s simply not worth the additional cost. Both feature a surprisingly, albeit small, trackpad that is rather useful in the legacy desktop environment.

Surface RT comes equipped with Windows 8. I must say, the new “Metro” UI is awesome! I really liked the whole concept of live tiles. It’s very simple and informative yet doesn’t feel like information overload. The OS is truly finger-friendly when immersed in the “Metro” UI. But things get very ugly once you exit that environment. Microsoft made the mistake of leaving the option to go back to the old Windows legacy desktop. This is particularly useless seeing that the RT model of the Surface has an ARM based processor. So none of your favorite Windows software will work because they’re designed for x86 architecture. And all new apps are designed for the “Metro” UI, so really, it’s like Microsoft is having trouble letting go of the past with that legacy Desktop interface. Speaking of apps, there’s a very limited selection in the Windows App Store, which Microsoft is in an uphill battle with Apple and Google’s Android. The OS is clunky leaving very little storage to work with because it takes up so much space. I also experienced sluggish behavior time to time.

I had a chance to use it primarily in an Enterprise environment and I can certainly say it’s terrible for business use being it an ARM based tablet. The RT version also lacks Outlook which is a big drawback in the eyes of businesses. Connecting the Surface to a WPA2 Enterprise encrypted WiFi was absolute hell. The process is complicated and needs to be repeated every time the device goes to sleep. This is stupid because Microsoft has a massive enterprise arm and they couldn’t get this right on the first shot. Lame…

Overall, this is a great start. If this is what Microsoft produces as their entrance to the tablet market, it’s definitely a fantastic 1.0 device. Would I buy the Surface RT? Probably not. But, Microsoft is releasing the Surface Pro which features an x86 based Intel processor which CAN run your current Windows software, along with other features. That Surface should correct the things that Microsoft got wrong in the RT model. Hopefully the near $1000 price tag doesn’t hurt them.

 

Malik is an all-round geek, enjoying everything ranging from games, gadgets and gizmos to detailed analysis of intellectual property trials (weird right?). He’s also a crazy tech news junkie. Malik used to work at Apple as mobile device technician, then attended Indiana University-Bloomington and studied Informatics with a minor in Human-Centered Computing. Currently he works in the Information Technology field at a highly admired Fortune 50 company.

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