Microsoft Surface investigate

Five ways Surface RT beats Android tablets

Donovan Colbert highlights five reasons why he's increasingly been using Microsoft's Surface RT more than any of his Android devices.

Surface RT vs. Android

For the past several years, I chased after an Android future that never really materialized. I went through a number of Android convertible tablets (like the Transformer TF101 and TF300), and I tried Webtop on my Motorola phones as a full PC in a Lapdock. Android came very close, but I kept feeling like the devices were coming up just a bit short. When Microsoft's Surface RT came out, I watched closely but was turned off by the steep price. A year later, when prices finally started to come down, I bought one from Craigslist.

Android devices never gave me the confidence to travel without a laptop. They were inherently limited by the fact that they had evolved from a mobile OS that wasn’t designed to do heavy word processing or render web-based apps and sites in full desktop mode.

Apple's CEO, Tim Cook, famously said, “You can converge a toaster and a refrigerator, but those things are probably not gonna be pleasing to the user.” However, Surface RT was a different story. In fact, I've increasingly been using Surface RT more than any of my Android devices. Here are five reasons why.

1. Microsoft reimagined the OS

Windows 8 wasn’t a mature mobile OS, but the interface leverages mobile touch devices in a form that follows function. iOS and Android both took a classic icon-based desktop design, shrunk it down to smartphones, and then expanded it to run on larger tablets. Microsoft reimagined the OS to work around the device. Gestures take some practice to master, but they make navigation more intuitive. Windows 8 on a touch device gets out of your way. The actions become natural to interact with apps, to navigate through the OS, and to organize and customize the platform.

I recently talked to someone who said that when they go back to their non-touch Windows desktop, they find themselves reaching out to perform touch actions. I found the same thing when returning to Android tabs after using Surface RT. When you miss features that are absent, something is done right.

2. Surface RT has a native interface for productivity

The Classic desktop is powerful. You can’t run traditional x86 code, but that may not be such a disadvantage. With Office and a full desktop version of IE, plus all of the traditional apps, accessories, logs, control panels, and services as Windows, Surface RT becomes an ideal traveling companion for productivity. The ability to drop into a native interface that is keyboard- and mouse-oriented gives Surface RT a huge advantage over Android and iOS for basic, traditional productivity tasks. You don’t have to find touch-oriented workaround solutions to cut and paste, drag and drop, manipulate the file system, input text, mouseover, and point, because it's all natively supported.

3. The Modern experience is improved in Windows 8.1

Windows 8.1 has improved the Modern experience tremendously. Apple and Microsoft both played with gadgets and widgets that are designed to bring a mobile-like experience to the desktop. The reason smartphones and tablets are popular with business users is because of the excellent digital assistant utility of those devices. Notifications and alerts (for calendars and tasks), instant access to contacts, and the ability to call up maps and navigation utilities -- these and other features are a traditional strength of tablets and smartphones and a liability for PCs. Business users would love to have those features consolidated in one device, but to gain one, the sacrifices on the other have remained too great. Surface RT goes a long way to address that. With Windows 8, I complained that the Classic desktop was used as a crutch too often. However, Windows 8.1 starts to bring Modern into the foreground of the experience, with more time spent in full-featured mobile apps.

4. Refresh and restore with greater ease

Surface RT refresh and restore are like a reset on Android or iOS. Windows on Intel is still vulnerable to all classic Windows issues, meaning that you may find yourself far away from home with a crippled OS and no reinstall media, no keys, and unable to recover. If something goes wrong, recovering the exact state may be difficult or impossible on a traditional PC, but it's far easier on ARM-based devices, including Surface RT. On the other hand, with a full desktop browser, things that have to wait until you're back at a regular PC on other ARM devices can be done immediately in the Surface RT Classic desktop. Google Drive, Dropbox, social media sites, blogs, and many online apps work on Surface RT just like a regular Windows PC rather than as a crippled mobile site or by the unreliable method of rendering a “mouse and pointer”-oriented site in desktop mode on a mobile browser. 

5. The general freedom of an NT OS is baked into Surface RT

Surface RT offers the basic open freedoms of Windows. While you can’t install Classic apps, use alternate markets, or sideload apps, much of the general freedom of an NT OS is baked into Surface RT. You can browse networks and copy and manipulate files as much as you'd like. You can launch files or apps multiple ways and directed to multiple destinations. Peripheral support on Surface RT is also unmatched by Android or iOS, including keyboards, mice, joysticks, external drives, and (most significantly for me) printers. I’ve tried countless cloud printing solutions on iOS and Android, and they’ve all been unreliable and difficult to configure. Surface RT doesn’t support every Windows printer, but when it works, it's just like setting up one in Windows -- comfortable, familiar, and reliable. If you can’t print, you’ll probably find that your hotel’s business center or a Kinkos will take your SD card, load your document onto their PC, and print it out for you with very little hassle. Furthermore, the built-in USB will take a thumb drive or any size external hard drive. I’ve even hooked up an external USB DVD drive. 

It isn’t that Android can’t do some of these things, it's that it can’t deliver all of these things as consistently or as well. Android still has a tremendous advantage as a leisure content consumption platform, which is why it's so popular on the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire. If that's what you're looking for in a mobile device, Surface RT may disappoint you. But if you want a hybrid device that places an emphasis on productivity in a corporate environment, neither iOS or Android come close to the solution that Surface RT offers. 

Do you agree or disagree? Share your opinion in the discussion thread below.

 

About

Donovan Colbert has over 16 years of experience in the IT Industry. He's worked in help-desk, enterprise software support, systems administration and engineering, IT management, and is a regular contributor for TechRepublic. Currently, his profession...

63 comments
alexsander.antunes
alexsander.antunes

Win95 <=> OS/2  and the winner is Win95, same OS/2 are best!

Android <=> Windows RT and the winner is ...



suliworldcapital
suliworldcapital

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Regulus
Regulus

It's an Edlsel. 'Nuff said.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

I had a long, point-by-point response to this article written out, but for whatever reason the website kept insisting the response was "malformed" and refused to post it. However, the essential gist of the comment is that I agree in principal with what Donovan says, though I disagree with his reasoning. It has more to do with what Windows RT and Windows 8 are to each other as compared to the inabilities of Android itself.

Microsoft has leapfrogged Apple with its Surface concepts, but the tech community doesn't want to accept that simply because Windows 8's user interface is too different from Windows 7's.

kitekrazy
kitekrazy

RT is not Windows 8.  Most apps I would want to run would not work on RT.  More MS fail.  There's probably a good reason why these RT tablets are cheap.  It's a software lemon. Off free upgrade to W8, they'll sell to the non tech crowd. 

333239
333239

What he says about Windows RT may be true, but with a proper Windows 8.1 (non RT) tablet you get all that plus all your favourite existing Windows Apps. If you don't want to fork out for a Surface Pro, take a look at the new Asus Transformer T100 which gives you a real-work friendly laptop and tablet in one, for less than £350 ($379). That kind of makes the limited RT devices a bit pointless doesn't it?

mja
mja

Absolutely spot on!

scratchmb5
scratchmb5

Oh, and one more thing, I was just in the office of a top notch neurologist, who once shared an office in a building where I was in residence and we became friends. He's all Harvard, and has two son's following his path now attending the illustrious ivy league institute. He is just updating his office with the new medical information data system that will store everything in a cloud storage. What was amusing was he was sitting there struggling with this new laptop, sliding and tapping his fingers with an annoyed expression on his face. So, I said, "Why are you using Windows 8 and not a custom designed OS suited to the software provider putting the system on line with the rest of the office computers?" He said that he was told that they could join the systems together." Ah so dual platforming, which I didn't say since he was struggling already. I asked what he had at home for a computer. He didn't have a clue because one of his children bought the system a few years back and all he learned to do was use the messenger and emailing. He really was not happy. Me, I have a stack of laptops, I went home and pulled out a Toshiba Satellite that was about 3 years old took it back, hooked it up on his desk and fired it up with XP and asked if that looked familiar. He was overjoyed and asked if I would sell it. I just asked how much cash he wanted with my older laptop to take his new touch screen laptop off his hands. He insisted on a straight up trade. So I went and got him a fresh OEM XP set it up. modified it, threw in some handy utilities and insisted that he immediately purchase some antivirus software. He is a happy man, and is NOT one of the poor ignorant masses. He just wants simplicity. Not too much to ask.

ScratchMB

antonw
antonw

I've been working at a UK University and have to support just about anything students or staff bring in to connect. Android and iOS both have limited solutions but to be fair the Surface fits the enterprise environment best of all. Exchange, remote desktop  and VMware View all work perfectly on the Surface. If only Microsoft were the ball much sooner, most of our staff want iPad's because of their dominance in the tablet market even though they can't offer the best remote solution. In time I'm sure MS will catch up as Windows 8 fills the desktop, laptop & tablet market which will be inevitable! For now, I like my new Surface RT, more so after the painful upgrade to 8.1. It give me what I was looking for, a tablet that works well as a stand alone consumption device AND gives me practical access to work and home tools with a familiar interface. :)

scratchmb5
scratchmb5

I am going to input here because not only am I tech geek, but I am also a consumer advocate and study the impact technology has on the masses. My research is both deep and wide, but I do it completely independently without being influenced by any commercial interest or structure. I never use polls which are extremely biased because they predetermine the choices with limited multiple choice. I never use surveys either, although they are not as bad as polls, they still collect data instilling preconceptions of a desired demography.

 I spend more hours awake than I do sleeping communicating and talking to people all over the world, in all walks of life, in all social structures, in all cultural and economical nations and communities.

 Guess what? While you and I are having fun playing with all of the new technology and gadgets comparing and tossing our opinions about, the mass majority of consumers and end users are very upset and disenchanted with the whole process. 

 It is not that technology is advancing at a rapid pace, they realize this, what they don't like is that they are being told to jump on board or else. What are we doing? We are being exploited at both ends by strong corporate materialistic capitalistic dictators. Oh, no I am not pointing fingers at any government. They were the first victims. 

Let me explain it this way. Think of all the elderly, lower middle class, and the working drones of western society alone. These people can't afford to be tossing out things and jumping on the "got to have" wagon. They just keep quiet about it. They are embarrassed, they still sit around with their desktops running Windows 95, 2000, and XP. People with old Macs have just tossed them and look for second hand when they become available. Microsoft is dictating that you must update everything, they will no longer support older Microsoft Operating Systems. You equipment you just bought two years ago will be useless next year. You must accept Windows 8 and up and replace your equipment. Do not resist, you will assimilated. Alright, yes, that is a bit of a stretch and I do apologize to the Gene Roddenberry legacy. But then he sort of spoofed that from Adolf Hitler but not verbatim.

 My point is: Are we truly being fair? No, we aren't and we sit back and do nothing about it. Then on the other hand, as we are being herded like cattle there is so much technology that is beyond state of the art sitting in abeyance that is so utterly amazing. Inexpensive to manufacture, clean, no moving parts, but out of our hands because they can still milk us with marvels they have been sitting on for years. 

 Don't believe me? Ask yourself about solid state memory. We are really getting juiced on that one. 

 Yet, it is likely that most of you are assuming that I am some kind of raving ranting lunatic. I really have no idea, and to leave you to your toys. I already admitted I am just as addicted to them as you are, but I still have the weight of majority of the consumers and end users on my hands, and if they are constantly being told to jump on the wagon or be left behind, they will start to stir, and as history has a terrible habit of repeating itself. For those of you who suffer from historical apathy let me remind you of the anarchy that stirred up the industrial revolution. Go ahead and say, sure but that was just a bunch of poor ignorant people back then. So, how is that any different now?

ScratchMB





abakalidis
abakalidis

I would also like to express my excitement for the introduction of the "Open Windows" term. 

fairportfan
fairportfan

In one of the "Spenser" novels, someone askers Sgt Belkin if he HAS to smoke those nasty cigars.  Belkin answers "They're cheap, but they smell bad."

Well, the Surface RT is expensive, but it's neither a tablet nor a laptop. 

dogknees
dogknees

What about everyone else?

All the articles like this talk about mobility and travel. The vast majority of people NEVER travel for work. The vast majority of people don't need to work from home. How about some love for the majority?

Lets forget about the vocal minority and concentrate on the majority that have a basic job they do at a desk/bench/machine and do the same thing every day. They don't travel, they don't need to collaborate with people outside the business and location that work at.

ttsquare
ttsquare

Thanks for sharing your experience using RT.  I think some major struggles RT runs into are:

- People aren't sure what it will be like to use it as a business device

- Looking at the specs you can't necessarily get a feel for how it will be different from an iOS or Android tablet

- It's not full Windows, which just sounds scary

So, basic lack of knowledge and a dirth of information on use-case scenarios make it difficult for people to get their head around. 

I think the RT would excel in a virtual desktop/VM environment. 


daboochmeister
daboochmeister

"The basic open freedoms of Windows".  Thank you for my morning laugh.

zamos4
zamos4

Out of those 5 reasons, I don't see one that would actually make me want a Surface RT. Add in the horrible selection of apps to the mix as well. Surface Pro looks like it makes more sense, but at that price I'd opt for either a MacBook Air or a better, proper laptop/ultrabook.

mark
mark

The problem with Windows RT is that it doesn't only have to beat Android and iOS devices. It also has to beat real Windows on Bay Trail devices, which are now selling for about the same price as the RT-based models of Surface. The Surface is really well built but that doesn't make up for the fact that Bay Trail gives you 100% compatibility with ALL of Windows, not just a subset.

Drroogh
Drroogh

As lame as this comment is, I think you hit on the real problem. Having actually driven an Edsel it was a fantastic car for the times, it just didn't sell making it a failure. I think the biggest problem was the name, who would name a car Edsel let alone their son anyway?

My point is if the Surface RT had an Apple on the back the unknowing masses would be raving about it. Just because it came from Microsoft doesn't automatically make it bad.

dcolbert
dcolbert

@Vulpinemac "that I agree in principal with what Donovan says, though I disagree with his reasoning."

There you go... I found the malformed part of it. :D


gregnewm7
gregnewm7

@kitekrazy Why do People restrict Microsoft from making a touch screen  Apps only device like the Ipads and the Android tablets are. this is Unfair and just plain wrong. Another thing is That over 90 percent of Windows Desktop/server Programs were programmed to only work on X86 intel/AMD CPU's. It would take years for Microsoft and People who made Programs for X86 Intel/And CPU controlled devices to re write them for ARMS CPU controlled dev8ces. Microsoft and others will rewrite some but not all Windows  X86 desktop programs to work on ARMS CPU Tablets  but it will take time Folks be patient..   

FTAdmin
FTAdmin

@kitekrazy  

I'm not convinced that full Win 8 will appeal more to non-tech crowd, when it comes to tablets. After all, it's the limited iPad and Androids that the non-tech crowd has latched onto over the past several years.

Windows XP and CE were on tablets/pocket PCs for quite some time, and hardly anyone other than medical professionals, large warehouses and tech enthusiasts seemed to care about it. CE was indeed limited and simplistic compared to XP, but it wasn't made to be handled as easily as the current generation of mobile OSes. For some reason, MS thought that everyone enjoyed poking styli at tiny buttons, and squinting at tiny text. Unfortunately, the full Win 8 desktop is still very much that experience on portables.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

@kitekrazy : RT is Windows 8; the problem is that you insist that you need full desktop functionality on a mobility device--which is just plain inefficient. Why, when you're walking down the street, do you want to use complex software that requires pin-point mouse clicks on radio buttons that are much too small on a 10" screen? Save that work for the desktop or a full laptop. When you're mobile, you need focused applications that let you handle the basics of the task, not the detail work. 

What you're asking for has been around for over a decade and has FAILED for over a decade. That's why the iPad leapt so far ahead when it came out; it was enough for the task without being too much. Try re-thinking your workflow and see if mobility really is right for you.

matt
matt

@333239 I have the Asus Transformer T300 10" with keyboard dock. It's like having a netbook with a removable screen to use as a tablet. Although most people reported issues with the JB update, I haven't had any issues. (installed update, then factory reset) I paid $190 for the tablet and $85 for the dock, so $275 US total. I never really liked tablets in general but I'm actually surprised and very pleased with it. I wanted a Windows tablet w/keyboard dock but didn't want to pay the price.

"It isn’t that Android can’t do some of these things, it's that it can’t deliver all of these things as consistently or as well."

I used to think this as well (particularly with Honeycomb) but that depends on the user and the tablet specs. When you find the right app and know your way around Android, it delivers just as consistent and well- especially if you compare RT with current versions of Android on descent tablets.

Then again, we're comparing apples to oranges really.
(Or an apple to a grate of fruit.)
There are hundreds of Android devices (old/new, good/bad) to compare to a few RT devices.

This is not an advertisement, just my 2 cents. (and, I know, it's not even worth that)

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

@333239 : This is little more than an advertisement from you. While I agree that the full Windows experience is available on tablets, the concept has been a failure for well over a decade simply because the Windows desktop is inefficient on a tablet form factor. The necessity for pin-point mouse clicks, menu-driven operations overwhelms the needed simplicity of what a touch interface should be. Now, if that Transformer T100 could give full Windows 8 while docked and Windows RT when hand-held, THAT would almost be the ideal solution.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

@scratchmb5 : You really didn't help him, Scratch. What's he going to do next year when XP is effectively shut down? He's going to end up in worse shape than what you found him in. You should have at least set him up with Windows 7 to avoid that.

gke565
gke565

@scratchmb5 What you failed to tell him is that once Windows XP is retired next April, that dusty old laptop will no longer be HIPAA compliant if it used for any of his office duties or connects in anyway to a network.  HIPAA requires all software be supported by the manufacturer.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

@antonw : As long as you're seeing a tablet as merely a "consumption device", you're overlooking the real capabilities of a tablet as a Mobility device. Even your Surface RT can do more than you're apparently willing to accept.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

@scratchmb5 : Scratch, in many ways we are alike; we're both looking at the Big Picture as it comes to tech. And yes, as previous generations get older, they are becoming far more resistant to tech--well, some of them, anyway. For some it's all about the cost. For others, they just don't see the benefits. But then, everybody remembers the old argument of, "Get a horse!", even if they never experienced it for themselves. But this modern technology isn't the cause of their malaise, it's merely the result of corporations realizing that planned obsolescence makes them more money than making reliable products. Companies like Sears began on the concept of making reliable products, knowing that they would gain repeat customers through keeping them happy. Today, reliability is almost their last consideration--with certain exceptions.

On the other hand, the younger generations grew up using technology--well, except for certain groups where technology is strictly restricted. Even there, they're gradually adopting newer technologies simply because it is making them more money--as long as they keep it out of their personal lives. This group demands reliability because they recognize the need to make a product last as long as possible. To this point, some of the tools they use are well over 100 years old! If you buy a product made by this group, you can expect it to last a lifetime--as long as you take care of it. And that's the real problem with our younger generations; we've become a "throwaway" society. The corporate world recognizes this and caters to these 'throwaway' youngsters.

BUT, a lot of Change today is not just for Change's sake. When Change is ignored, the society starts to stagnate. Yes, Change does generate a lot of strong emotions. There are those who resist Change just as there are those who jump in as soon as the pool opens. On average, progress is made despite the resistance of the 'conservatives' based on the mistakes made by the First Adopters. To roughly quote a line in a well-known movie, "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few."


hawkeye96
hawkeye96

@abakalidis , OK.  But what the hell does "Open Windows" mean?  This article is so permanently forged in the jargon of the intense, obsessed, leading-edge user that I can't make any sense out of it.  Pissing all over Apple and Google may be justifiable, but it's senseless unless it's linked to simplified (I don't mean simplistic) understandings of what is going on in the compared OSs. 

Sejohannsen
Sejohannsen

Really? The Surface RT is expensive? A 32G model is $349. A 16G iPad 2 is $399 (Can't get a 32G). When Surface RT came out ot was $499 for a 32G and the current iPad was $599 for the same level.  Maybe we should actually compare current devices. A 32G Surface 2 is $449, and the 32G iPad Air is $599 (still). Even the 16G iPad Air is $499.  With the Surface I get an SD slot, full size USB3 socket, HDMI out, and Office. With the iPad I get the opportunity to buy some of those capabilities as adapters. So not only is the Surface considerably lees expensive than a comparable iPad, but it has significantly more built in capability.

We can certainly talk about ecosystem (which generally means the lack of some esoteric lifestyle app or game), but it might be hard to attach a value to that. We can throw up the red herring about Windows 8/RT needing a keyboard, but for real work people buy keyboard/covers for their iPads too, at about the same price for comparable products (see Logitech and Zagg options). If you are cheap you can pick up a BT keyboard for either, for less than a charge cable costs for an Air.

Lets get off the RT is expensive thing. 

tfbonline
tfbonline

@fairportfan 

I Totally agree here but would like to add that it's a tool that can at a push take the place of both/either.  Especially when many of us do a bit of WP & Spreadsheets, read emails and browse the web with maybe the odd Skype call.

My main gripe is I can't put a SIM card into it when I'm not at home but maybe there's a USB dongle about which could save me tethering it to my Android Galaxy Tab. (The European version that has a SIM card in it and can be used as a phone - yes a 3 year old phablet with a 7" screen ;o] )

Sejohannsen
Sejohannsen

@dogknees Well, what about those people? This article is about  Surface against Android/iOS. Maybe it should be more generically about the modern ui side of Windows 8 in the RT flavor on a tablet form factor device against Android and iOS tablets, but Surface RT sort of embodies the MS offering.  If this were an artical about the merits of Ford F150 against Dodge Ram, would you ask, what about those people who don't need a truck, who never haul anything, or get off the pavement? The premiss of this article is mobility, or tablets, at the very least. .

You can certainly start an argument about whether Win8 is suitable for your crowd of folks that have a basic job they do at a desk/bench/machine and do the same thing every day. I bet you could wonder if iOS /Android is right for them as well. Different discussion.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

So this shoe doesn't fit your foot or those you support.  It doesn't fit mine either.  I don't want to seem snotty, but I can't think of a non-snarky way to ask, "What's your point?"   Not every article is going to apply to every reader. 

theSuda
theSuda

@dogknees I thought the same thing. Then I realized, being one of those common people, I don't really need a tablet. A good laptop is enough for me. What do you think?

dcolbert
dcolbert

@ttsquare I'll give you a great example of where RT would probably be a great fit...

If you had a medical practice that had a hosted EHR solution that was accessed through a web based front end or via RDP - distributing RT tablets to your physicians and other providers would be a great way to supply them with an all day computing device that doesn't weigh much and most importantly, would make them focus on their productivity goals with those machines. Even if they were off doing things they shouldn't be, there isn't any way for Intel virus or malware code to run on RT. That alone could be a GREAT benefit to a hypothetical organization like I describe there. At the same time, if you're a windows based shop, which most EHR solutions are - you're going to have a familiar platform that integrates well into your already developed infrastructure, easy to support, troubleshoot and fix. You'll have access to Outlook, an entire Office Suite (you would have to upgrade the license for Office from Home/Student to Office Pro to be compliant)...

Now, if you were using a client connector like Citrix, you would want to be careful. The Citrix ICA for Intel isn't going to run on Windows RT, and I don't think there is a Modern Citrix interface available yet. Those are the gotchas you've got to watch out for, but there are creative ways to work around them - in the long run, I think making those changes would be easier than trying to shoehorn iOS or Android support into the scenario I describe above.  

I've seen so many docs struggle with MacBook Air and iPad solutions. Now, an Atom or IA64 Intel Core CPU system would also do the same trick, and might not be a bad choice in this example either...

But once you go to an Atom or Core i5 or i7, you're back into being able to run Intel legacy software... which means machines getting hosed by malware, spyware, virus and even just tons of silly legitimate software installs. You know what I'm talking about, custom cursor packs, codec packs, browser toolbars... all that garbage that a Windows XP or Windows 7 system gets bogged down with over time... that can happen to Windows 8...

But not Windows RT...

;)

dinomutt
dinomutt

@daboochmeister Indeed, in what situation does MS force you into using a MS only app or solution on their platform? 

Conversely, I can think of lots of scenarios where Apple and Google do on their respective platforms.

dcolbert
dcolbert

@daboochmeister Well, Windows RT is not as open as Windows, which is certainly not as open as Android.

But the walls to Microsoft's garden aren't nearly as bad as those around Apple's.

And Google has made the Nexus line of Android tablets far more restricted than RT. They lack HDMI out, they lack memory expansion, they lack USB Host ports...

So, you've got to be careful pointing at Microsoft and laughing about how open they are. In many ways, they're the MOST open platform at the moment.

dcolbert
dcolbert

@mark http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/tablets-in-the-enterprise/surface-rt-keeps-microsoft-in-the-game-for-mobile-devices/

I disagree that Atom Bay Trail devices make Windows on ARM obsolete - and I think Microsoft sticking with ARM for Surface 2 illustrates that they agree with me on this. 

Time will tell, but ARM has some significant advantages over full Intel architecture despite trading off the ability to load and run classic Intel x86 code. In fact, the inability to execute IA86 code is as much of an advantage for a light, reliable, portable device as it is a disadvantage. The Atom processor based Win 8 tablets are interesting and surprisingly inexpensive - but I think I'd rather have ARM for my truly *mobile* devices. 

Seriously, read the link, then read the reader comments on that post. It isn't just a bunch of Anti MS Linux fanboys spreading FUD about RT - there is a lot of value in the Windows on ARM architecture. 

wolters
wolters

@mark I have to agree. The Surface 2 should have been a Bay Trail device. I own a Surface Pro 2 (256GB) and my wife a Surface 2. I did see the ASUS Transformer book with keyboard on sale the other day for $350 and picked it up as a family "laptop." It is a good device and makes me wonder why Surface 2 didn't go with Bay Trail.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

@matt : You do make a valid point, but you did say it yourself, "It isn’t that Android can’t do some of these things, it's that it can’t deliver all of these things as consistently or as well."

Part of this problem is simply the fact that Android isn't fully compatible with any desktop OS environment. There will always be a compatibility issue that effectively requires a conversion matrix one way or another. With RT/Windows, the compatibility is already there--it's just making sure that the mobility version of a given app is reasonably compliant with the workstation version. With Office for instance, you wouldn't use the tablet to fully format a DTP page, though you may need to edit text within that page or add/remove/change an illustration/media on-site due to new information since the document was created. OR, you could use the tablet to rough a presentation, fine-tune it on a workstation, then modify it again with newer information immediately prior to displaying it on the tablet again. This isn't a seamless prospect on any Android device but both RT/Windows and iOS/OS X have this kind of capability built-in.

As I said before, if the device could truly know the difference between a workstation setting vs mobility setting, the Surface product and its equivalents would come close to reaching the ideal multi-use computing tool.

dcolbert
dcolbert

@Vulpinemac @333239 Here is something that is overlooked in this discussion... 

The Surface RT is a *companion* device, not a primary replacement. That is the thing that people seem to miss with Surface RT. 

They've got no problem with the idea that people have a Powerbook and an iPad - but they think that if you get Windows 8.1, you should have one master device. 

And you can DO that... but I find that I want my main Windows 8.1 ultrabook to be MOSTLY an ultrabook. Something I can use at a desktop, that can quickly create a VM, or compile a kernel, or hook up to a dock, external monitors, keyboards and mice. I want it to travel, even to turn into a hybrid tablet - but I want the emphasis to be toward the POWER user side of the equation. That is why I have a Lenovo Yoga 13 as my main Windows 8.1 device. 

Surface RT is an AWESOME companion device, and as a companion device I don't want INTEL LEGACY CODE HASSLES even being a possibility. Sure, I could get a Bay Trail Atom 7" tablet and then I could install and run legacy Windows apps... poorly... just like any classic Atom based netbook - and now I've introduced the possibility of Windows for Intel virus and malware infections in the bargain. So what have I really GAINED by going with an Atom processor? 

RT or Atom, these are *companion* devices. They're not going to replace your i3, i5 or i7 workhorse. So giving up the classic Windows legacy apps isn't really a problem at all. 

I can't believe I have this much trouble getting this concept across to so many other IT professionals. 

dcolbert
dcolbert

@hawkeye96 @abakalidis This term seems to be creating quite a bit of activity... 

Windows 8.1 is open in the sense that it is far less restricted than iOS or Google Nexus Android in how you can use the device without rooting or jail-breaking it. 

I'm glad this statement seems to have tweaked the nose of more than one FOSS advocate here. 

I mean exactly what I say about the open-ness of Windows RT in the article. You can't sideload, but you've got full access to the file system without needing to ROOT the device. Memory is user expandable by MicroSD card. I'm not sure what about point #5 is confusing readers - I just re-read it, and it seems pretty clear to me. I think that it just irks FOSS fanatics that Surface RT is headed in a more open direction from the user experience perspective than Google is headed with on Android.  

Hawkeye - this is Tech Republic, the #1 destination for technology professionals. This isn't an article for laymen who can't handle jargon intense, obsessed, leading-edge terminology. If you want consumer discussion that is simplified and assumes you don't understand the complexities involved - ZDNet is your destination. If I had been writing for that outlet, my tone would have been different.

 

dcolbert
dcolbert

@CharlieSpencer Well, I think the direction of the conversation is good. 

What ABOUT everyone else? People who don't travel or don't move around the office with their devices? 

The healthcare firm I worked for had 200+ employees, and only about 20 of those had laptops. The rest were all nose-down workers who sat at one cube and did one job. Those people don't need Surface RT, Surface Pro, iPad or Android. 

But that didn't stop some of them from showing up with them and asking if we would support them as BYOD solutions. Generally, we would. 

But Charlie is right... I'm not saying this is about the majority of users. It is about a very important minority of employees in the workforce. The more mobility in a position, generally the more contribution that employee is making and the better tools you want to ensure they have. 

WhoRUKiddin
WhoRUKiddin

@dcolbert @daboochmeister

I also was wondering what this was: "Surface RT offers the basic open freedoms of Windows"

Is the term "open freedoms of Windows" some new nonsensical Microsoft marketing term. They have had some duzies in the past, but Windows Open???? 


What about it is open, please explain more...

dcolbert
dcolbert

@Vulpinemac @matt I dumped my TF300 for the Surface RT. I bought the RT, played with it for a couple of weeks, and the TF300 was collecting dust, so I sold it. It never lived up to the promise that ASUS made with the Transformer series - and the Surface RT delivered that promise the minute I started using it. 

matt
matt

@Vulpinemac @matt It really depends on what you require the tablet or device to do. Technically, no device needs to be 100% compatible with any OS. It just needs to be compatible enough for the user to do what they need it to.

Bottomline though, you are definitely right about being seamless. RT/Windows and iOS/OS X beat Android.

xadow
xadow

@dcolbert  you could always enforce Code Integrity on windows on intel atom and won't catch any viruses, and intel atom is as good as any arm.

dcolbert
dcolbert

@WhoRUKiddin @dcolbert @daboochmeister 

Again, read point 5 again. I make it clear where I consider Windows 8.x more OPEN than iOS at the very least, and arguably more open than the purest direction of Google Android, as well. 

Google's direction is to lock Android down - to put up higher walls around their garden, to address their malware issues in part, and to encourage adoption of their cloud based solutions as well. They're turning Android into a curated consumer oriented experience designed to compete with the Kindle Fire and iPad.

Microsoft Windows traditionally appealed to people because of how open it was. Not open as in FOSS - open as in... build your machine how you want, what drive, what keyboard, what monitor, what video card, what motherboard, what chipset, what CPU... whatever you want... put Windows on it, and throw on whatever APPS you want, from whatever vendors... then put whatever peripherals you want in the mix... printers, scanners, webcams... whatever... mix and match, knock yourself out.

And then you can customize and tweak the OS however you like. You can get into the registry, you can get into the control panels, you can make your own custom MMC plugins, you can get into the DOS command line and execute a bunch of utilities and apps down there. You have the open power and flexibility to use the OS as little or as MUCH as you want, to get into the depths of it or just skim the surface - but there are not arbitrary boundaries telling you, "You can only access files on an SD Adapter if they are in a /dcim subdirectory..."

And that example - is an Apple directed observation. With the iPad and the USB adapter for SD card reading, that is how it works... you can access files, but only in a folder on the card called /dcim...

But the Nexus 7 1g introduced a similar restriction on Android. You can get an OTG cable and hook up a USB host memory device, microsd, thumbdrive, whatever external memory you want. But you need a special app, and you can only copy from the USB device onto the Nexus 7, not back out the other way.

That is an official Google NEXUS device... that is NOT as open as Surface RT. That is the direction Google wants Android to go. The *opposite* of the OPEN direction Windows is taking Surface RT. 

Because on Surface RT, I can hook up any device. A usb printer, a usb thumb drive, a usb external hard drive or optical drive, a microSD card... and then I can manipulate the ENTIRE file system, on the Surface RT and on the memory device... nothing is hidden from me. 

 This *is* part of the problem. You don't realize what you're giving up with Android and iOS devices that you GAIN with Surface RT. The idea that Microsoft is LESS open than Android or iOS is *FUD*...