Only Scratching the Surface (RT)

A few weeks ago I purchased a Surface RT at the University Village Microsoft Store in Seattle while attending the 2012 PASS Summit.

It was a great and busy Summit and it left me very little time to play with my newly acquired tablet. Now that I have been home for a couple of weeks I’ve had plenty of time to thoroughly check the device and here comes my impressions so far.

This post is delt up into 3 sections :

  1. Windows 8
  2. Using the RT
  3. The apps

Windows 8

I’ve had Windows 8 on my laptop since the late summer and I got used to missing my Windows button, the tiles and the Store.

A lot of people I spoke to told me that they didn’t like Windows 8 because it is so radically different and thy can’t make it to work like Windows 7.

Well, guess what folks. This is not Windows 7!! Did you try to make Windows 7 look like Windows XP o Windows XP work like Windows 98 ? (did I forget to mention Vista 🙂 )?

The great thing about Windows 8 is that we now have an United platform for developing and using apps. Being on a Windows Phone 8, a Surface or a

PC it should work exactly in the same way with the Metro (no, not the german supermarkets) UI helping us through this experience.

Using the RT

I’ve had an iPad since the first model was released and it has been a great companion for entertainment. Not for working but for entertainment.

So when I unpacked my bag after returning from Seattle I gave the Surface to my 7 years old son with no explanations whatsoever.

He had a few looks at the closed device, flipped it around a couple of times and opened it, revealing the keyboard hidden in the cover.

Once I told him what the password was he got started, finding YouTube right away as well as the Angry Birds game I’ve already installed. I was really amazed to see hpw naturally he got used to swipping for split screen or the current application menu. The only part I had to help him with was the right swipe for displaying the search and context menus. A great feature by the way.

So I’m not quite sure if it is because of the iPad already in our home or because of the Windows 8 being installed on the home PC but there was a very, very little learning curve involved. Keep also in mind that my son doesn’t speak English at all.

The apps

Or should I say the lack of apps. I remember for not so many year ago where all the iPads apps where iPhone apps which where magnified. Now there are at least 250.000 apps available out there and new coming everyday!!! So I believe it is only a matter of time before the situation is the same for the Surface.

I realized though that there were some apps missing that I missed:

Outlook being the most important of them. I don’t like the build in mail app. Even if it let me send and receive mails from several accounts I miss being able to flag mails.

Silverlight – I know that there are so many rumors about the upcoming death of Silverlight but until it is confirmed and announced I miss the newly acquired Power View add in to Excel 2013; one of the best self service BI initiative those last years. I really don’t understand why Silverlight is not shipped with the RT. So the Surface RT will NEVER become the tool of predilection of the self-service BI users on the run!!

You can do almost the same thing with Excel 2013 RT than you can do with Excel 2013 but why not including Power View? Power Pivot is also missing but that I can better understand.

Lync 2013 is available for download and works great.

OneNote is  – I believe – a great productivity tools which comes very handy with the surface. Letting you using drawing as an input … very natural for a tablet.

Using PressPlay or Netflix to play movies takes great advantage of the form factor of the Surface – the 16:9 screen is clear and bright just as expected.

Amongst other apps I also installed a calculator, Tweetro, YouTube, Netflix, All My Storage (until a DropBox) client is made available!!, WordPress – which I am using to write this blog post while stowed in a flight seat on my way to London Heathrow.


Despite the lack of apps right now and Silverlight, Surface is a great tool for enhancing your productivity. I am quiet happy for the keyboard cover, not the one with the push down buttons but the flat one. It demands a bit more discipline for typing thing the right way. And I guess I won’t use it to translate Marcel Proust’s complete work into Danish but it works great for writing smaller document. I am very happy that the Alt+tab made it’s way to the Surface keyboard.

This great to be able to switch between a keyboard and the touch screen as input devices.

The cameras are OK. I’ve only used them together with Skype…But I have to admit that I didn’t manage to insert an image with the WordPress writer even if the option is to be found on the menu.

Happy Surfacing !!!


  1. Nice summary. Thanks for sharing

    1. Thanks Simran

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