Tablets

Surface RT: The first tablet that's ready for the enterprise

Surface RT lags behind iOS and Android for consumer consumption, but it could very well be the first tablet that's actually ready for the enterprise.

The ASUS TF101 Transformer Android tablet should be recognized as a trailblazer, because it delivered a vision of a lightweight ARM-based mobile device that bridged the tablet experience and promised on-the-go productivity. Unfortunately, the TF101 and its successors didn't ever really catch on with mainstream consumers. It wasn't until the 7" Kindle Fire and Nexus 7 that Android tablets became a viable iOS competitor, and they're largely not suitable as productivity platforms.

After trying to make a 10" Android tablet work in this hybrid capacity for over two years, I finally gave in and bought a Microsoft Surface RT. I suspected that it wasn't ARM devices that were the problem, it was OS limitations. Android is a great mobile OS for smartphones and consumption tablets, but it has serious design limitations for productivity use. My guess was that while Windows 8 and RT aren't the greatest platforms for mobile consumption, they would both be better at delivering mobile productivity. So far, I don't think I was wrong.

But there are challenges in adopting RT for a long-time and invested Android and Google services user like myself. Some of those issues may have solutions that actually work better, once you change how you approach the problem. Other issues can be worked around, but the solution isn't ideal. Still other issues are potential deal breakers. In this post, I'm going to discuss a few of my experiences and observations about the RT device.

Crippled Windows 8?

A claim I frequently hear is that Windows RT is confusing and limited. I think this is the wrong perspective. It isn't fair to compare RT to Windows on IA. Instead, RT should be compared to Android and iOS. Especially for professionals working in a Windows environment, RT offers the most seamless integration of any mobile OS.

With few exceptions, every shortcut or feature -- even my favorite Windows keyboard shortcuts, plus Windows Snapping and Resizing -- work the same in RT. While there isn't a keyboard shortcut to take a screenshot on Surface RT, holding down the tablet's Windows button and Volume down easily performs the same task.

Once you have a screenshot, you can open and edit it in Microsoft Paint, just like you would on a traditional PC. You can even copy and paste the image right into Word or PowerPoint. Honestly, the ability to open a file or image in the Classic desktop, left-click to highlight, right-click to copy, and then paste it into any other app, including a Modern UI app, is something that you have to experience to appreciate.

Windows RT can be easily joined to a Windows Workgroup, gaining access to all shared resource. With some simple and familiar administrative modifications to the services control panel, the RT device can share its resources on your Windows network as well. Android offers SMB support for sharing through 3rd-party file managers, but these are not an OS-level integrated solution.

Printing support for both Android and iOS has been consistently frustrating and complex. RT isn't perfect, but the printer support is still miles ahead of the competition. In my case, I have an OfficeJet 7310 All-in-One network printer. This printer isn't currently supported by HP, but I gave the included Windows "HP OfficeJet 7000 E809 series" driver a shot, and it seems to work fine. If you're familiar with a Windows environment, you'll find RT to be a more powerful and smoother process than any other mobile platform.

Inevitably, when I encounter shortcomings with RT, it's more about getting my mind around the issue than RT being inferior. For example, I took screenshots on my TF300 and my RT device to illustrate that the desktop IE browser on RT gave a full desktop experience when writing a blog in Google Docs and publishing it to my site on blogger.com.

On the Android TF300, I went into the Gallery, pressed on the images, tapped the Share icon, and selected Dropbox from the pull-down menu. On the native RT Modern UI Dropbox app, I couldn't find the method to upload a local file to Dropbox. A quick web search indicated that it isn't possible with the Modern UI app -- and of course, the Windows Classic Dropbox app is Intel-only. Then I realized I was missing the example I was trying to illustrate in the first place. I went to dropbox.com from the Classic IE, logged in, and uploaded the image from the web interface.

Surface RT is the only ARM-based platform that delivers a true desktop browser on a mobile device, and -- in many cases -- this opens a whole new world for ARM tablets. Not only is Microsoft Office included with RT, but RT also currently delivers a better experience in Google Docs than any Android tablet.

Figure A

Google Docs File and Folder view on my ASUS TF300 in Chrome for Android (Mobile view).
Figure B

Google Docs File and Folder view on my Surface RT in IE10 for Windows 8 (desktop mode).
Figure C

Google Docs in View mode on my ASUS TF300 in Chrome for Android.
Figure D

Google Docs in View/Edit mode on Surface RT in IE10 for Windows 8.

The FUDder becomes the FUDdee

For years, Microsoft has been accused of spreading fear, uncertainty, and denial (FUD) about competitive products. With the arrival of RT, Microsoft is now the victim of FUD. While some people may consider this "just desserts" for Redmond, many users could be missing out on a fantastic platform because they're listening to half-truths and outright lies.

The Modern UI portion of Windows 8 is not as mature of a mobile OS as Android or iOS. For achieving the goals of hybrid mobile devices though, RT is more like a real desktop than a mobile device trying to stretch and reach that goal.

Bottom line

When I try to use Surface RT as a classic mobile device, I'm less thrilled. For consumer consumption and non-business driven social media, RT lags behind iOS and Android. The app ecosystem is struggling, the Modern UI social media integration is not consistent or robust, and the media content is not as rich. I've asked before, "What good are tablets in the enterprise?" and I still wonder that when it comes to Android and iOS. To me, it seems like a way to justify consumer content consumption devices in the workplace. Surface RT, however, may be the first tablet that's actually ready for the enterprise.

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...

107 comments
Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

Your original argument made it sound as though the task bar had been arbitrarily moved and that you had no control over it. It sounds to me now as though they forgot to accommodate for someone moving the task bar when making the bottom-left corner the 'fixed' start-button location. That may be possible to change either in an upcoming update or perhaps through third-party software later on.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

vertically on the left side. Unfortunately, I can't put the Start screen hot spot where I think it belongs: at the top of the vertical task bar where I'm accustomed to having the Start Menu button. The Start hot spot is anchored in the bottom left regardless of the task bar's position. Putting the taskbar on the left side results in the hot spot overlapping the 'Show Desktop' button, making it tricky to get the one I want. In short, W8 doesn't give me the ability to put what I want where I'm accustomed to finding it. I'd like to use this the way MS intended, but I'm bringing too many ingrained habits and don't see enough payoff for changing them. Maybe in 8.1, but I'm not holding out much hope. If not, it's back to W7.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

DC, my only real argument with what you have described and how you explain it through many responses through this forum is the simple fact that RT is NOT the first. That doesn't mean it won't be the best--eventually. I will grant that the iPhone and iPad weren't any better when they first came out, but through improvements directly from Apple as well as a lot of third-party support the iPad has so far become the ultimate enterprise-ready tablet despite anti-Apple sentiment and Android proponents. Apple is already in the enterprise in a big way, covering almost all aspects of the enterprise as a mobility product, i.e. iOS in both smartphones and tablets. Android has simultaneously been an abject failure, more due to its very poor security perhaps due to its open platform than to any other reason. Even now we consistently read about how Android's security falls far short of most personal needs, much less enterprise, unless locked down to the point that most of its advantages are neutralized. For now, Windows 8RT is the baby of the bunch and one of its biggest drawbacks is its lack of legacy support DESPITE over a decade of Windows touch capability that was decidedly ignored by developers. Another drawback is the simple fact that the enterprise is highly unlikely to adopt Windows 8 because of its differences--especially after so recently adopting Windows 7. While RT does offer compatibility, it is different enough that users will constantly be trying to perform familiar tasks as though they were using Win7 and getting frustrated when it doesn't work as expected, then returning to their desktops trying to do that task the Win8 way and again getting frustrated. SMB enterprise may not see as much of an overall effect, but that again depends on how recently they have upgraded to a more current OS. When you consider some places have only recently (I'm talking within the last year) upgraded to Win7, they're not likely to upgrade again for at least 5 years. I expect the majority of major enterprise operations that have finally left W2K and XP have adopted Win7 and won't upgrade again until Win9 or 10. As such, WinRT needs to adapt to these older environments better than it currently does. My point is that RT is not the first and still has a few growing pains ahead of it. It's fighting the old WinMob/CE reputation as well as being the new kid on the block. RT needs time to mature and I personally believe we won't see serious progress for about another year to 18 months. I was right about the iPad originally, as you recall. I don't think I'm wrong here.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

then they "belong" in that place--to you. Windows still gives you the ability to adjust the UI, at least to that extent. I also never said you had to answer to me; I only pointed out that you have power over the computer, not the other way around. Your complaint made it sound like the computer had power over you.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

That's more because I am highly familiar with performing productivity tasks on an iPad and don't see a current need to use a Windows-based mobile OS even though I serve as private consultant to many Windows users (who have yet to migrate over to Windows 8). Should I ever go for an exclusively Windows machine, I will probably target the Surface Pro, but the need is unlikely since I can access all the information I need through my iPad. That doesn't mean I won't be putting Win8 into Bootcamp, though; I still need to stay ahead of my clients for troubleshooting and maintenance.

cbeckers
cbeckers

While this article focuses on tablets in a business environment, not all of us have those constraints. I've been working with Win7 on an Acer tablet for nearly two years. The fundamental reason for choosing it was compatibility with some legacy programs that I didn't want to fiddle with. Frankly, the only thing I see in Win8 that would move me to adopt it is the touchscreen-friendly "desktop". Even with all the adjustments I can find, the Win7 screen elements are just too small for my fat fingers. (I ended up buying a stylus.) Otherwise, Win7 works great on my tablet. Why would I go to all the effort of making yet another OS change?

LarsDennert
LarsDennert

RT IS more worthless than iOS or Android. There are no apps for it. Especially when you can now buy a fanless x86 tablet now. Why buy RT?

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

While I don't know the specifics, I do know iPads are in heavy use throughout the company and that they've written their own custom apps for both in-house and web-presence purposes. I'm talking about a company that currently owns over 10,000 iPads and uses them in daily business. I am NOT talking about Apple itself.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

I fully understand the desire AND the need to keep things consistent in the enterprise; change means a slow down in production until everybody gets used to those changes. This is also why the enterprise is always so slow to adopt new technology--usually. Some companies are just now adopting Windows 7 away from XP because XP simply isn't getting support any more (or Win2K in one case I know) and while they're experimenting with Win8, they have no plans to adopt it; they're instead trying to make sure that their online output remains compatible with the browsers.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

When Apple first introduced the iPad, they clearly stated that it was a supplemental device, designed to replace the netbook and even the laptop as a *Mobility* device. The problem is, most pundits ignored that qualifier and that's where some of the biggest arguments have held out for almost 5 years now. Tablets, whether they be the Surface, an Android or the iPad are not intended to replace a desktop with a full desktop OS. Honestly, I believe that putting full Windows on the Surface Pro is a big mistake because of it. However, RT on a tablet almost perfectly fills the need as a Supplemental or Companion device--handling basic functions while the user is standing up--a time when full keyboard access is a hindrance, not a help. Over time, I expect the tablet to *appear* more powerful as it gains relatively unrestricted access to applications and documents through the cloud, serving as a remote feed to the desktop machine through means other than VPN. To some extent that function is already in place because some enterprise operations have their own, private cloud to perform exactly that task. The problem is, too many users and even IT professionals simply don't understand the problems and thus don't understand why it isn't working the way they expect it to. Keeping VPN into an individual machine with apps like Parallels or VMWare (GoToMyMachine is another example) is following the wrong path, essentially trying to turn the tablet into a remote I/O device rather than simply feeding the data and documents straight into their respective desktop apps. You don't need a full-on desktop application to generate and edit documents on a tablet, you only need enough of that application to perform the basic tasks and have the product automatically available at the 'home' desktop for finalizing. Working in the other direction, the desktop can feed the desired documents to the tablet for presentation and data entry much in the way certain car dealerships are currently using the iPad. If you pay attention to the many iterations of Star Trek over the years, you can see that this latter concept is how their handheld devices are used while the desk or control panel in the various cabins carry the more extensive I/O operations. Science Fiction has pretty much managed to create the ideal concept over the years and technology has been attempting to keep up with the changes or exceed it. We've seen SF also changing to stay ahead of advancing technologies. ST-TNG's computer technologies are almost available today. The latest ST movie again shows where it can go, if we let it.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

or that I had to justify to you how I use my computer. If MS didn't want the task bar moved, why did they build in the capability?

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

You do know you have that capability, don't you? I'll admit the Control Panel functions may be a little more difficult to find (just as they were in Win7 vs XP/Vista) but they're still there. I used to intentionally put my task bar on the side because it was similar to the old Apple Menu on my MacOS machine sitting right beside my Windows PC. As for the shortcuts, I believe you still have the ability to display shortcuts in the various drop-down menus until you get used to them.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

Just because you don't like the Modern UI doesn't mean you can't use a conventional desktop behind it. I seem to remember that Windows 7 was significantly different from Vista and XP before it -- different enough that some users were switching over to OS X rather than try to learn the changes. Now you're complaining because Windows 8 is too different from Win7. You adapted to the Win7 changes, why can't you adapt to the Win8 changes?

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

because Android's shortcomings happen to coincide with RT's strengths. The only two reasons Android is even coming even with iOS is the price of the hardware and the anti-Apple bias of so many users. Apple effectively killed the first several Android tablets by pricing the original iPad far below the predicted price, forcing the OEMs to find ways to cut their costs even more if they wanted to undercut Apple's pricing--almost the only reason Android succeeded at all in the smartphone market until Samsung's Galaxy series. With RT offering Windows compatibility and potentially better security, RT will likely get that foot into the enterprise door AND satisfy home users who are otherwise disappointed with their Android tablets (which is why they sit on the coffee table rather than going online, where iOS still holds the lead in mobile internet hits.)

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

I understand your points about consumer vs enterprise apps, but I have to say that just because a device is considered a consumer device doesn't mean it can't have enterprise capability. You have to admit that at least for now the iPad is the most used tablet in the enterprise and likely to remain so until Win8RT tablets get some more productivity apps available. Quite honestly, RT is still the baby of the mobility apps and needs some time to mature. Give it about 18 months more and I believe it will be a solid competitor to both iOS and Android with Android taking the hit as users gain confidence in RT.

shane
shane

To share a picture in RT, select it in any app such as photos app, then select the share charm. If you have an app that can upload to Facebook it will appear and then it is a simple process. This simple feature of Windows 8 seems to be too easily forgotten!

TNT
TNT

My company only allows its own assets on the corporate network. You can attempt to VPN from a home PC, but you won't get past the front door unless your PC name is found in AD and it has the certificates required to be on the network. Most big companies have such a policy in place; to allow any device on your network invites corporate espionage and data theft.

TsarNikky
TsarNikky

It might work in an business setting, but only very selectively. If one's use and needs can be handled by "tap-n-thwak" data entry, fine. However, keyboard centric data entry still is not a very viable option with the teeny-tiny keyboards that are offered. If one decides to buy a larger sized remote keyboard--one now has a two-piece laptop, at the very least. Why not just buy a decent laptop instead? Or, if mobility is not important, as in most office settings, buy a desktop.

jelabarre
jelabarre

I'll admit the SurfaceRT is a nice bit of hardware; it could actually be *USABLE* if it were running Android or Ubuntu, though.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

even I will admit that. I have stated for over half a year now that Windows RT has one advantage over all the other mobile platforms, its compatibility with the Windows platform itself. However, having a factory-installed version of Office, even a mini version, doesn't make it the most enterprise-ready tablet, it only adds to its OS compatibility. IF you allow the two devices to carry similar software (i.e. iWorks for iOS) then suddenly the Surface RT loses its edge--for now. After that point, it really does matter what purpose the tablet is intended to serve and what software is available to serve it. Again, with its built-in compatibility will desktop Windows, the Surface retains an advantage but the current lack of other productivity apps for Point of Sale, engineering, education and medical tasks, if falls short of meeting the need.

zenmaster
zenmaster

This is what the Surface Pro is for. You aren't going to get those features on RT, which is why the entire premise of the article is deeply flawed. Surface Pro is sort of ready for the enterprise (it's still really slow in too many cases); RT is unapologetically not now, nor ever, going to be ready for the enterprise.

rhiers
rhiers

I just got an RT because I thought this would be the case. The first thing anyone does in the enterprise with a mobile device is set up email. We enforce password and encryption requirements from Exchange, and it works beautifully with iOS and android mobile devices. 2 minutes to set up. I spent a whole day trying to get it working on my Surface RT. When I finally did I was left with a system that requires me to type in a complex password to unlock the device. PINs are disabled on the RT by the Exchange policy (though it is not on iOS and android). These are potentially BYOD devices. An employee is not going to want to type in a complex password every time they want to check their email or browse a bit at home. And even worse, the only way to remove these password restrictions is to set the RT back to factory defaults. We are a windows shop, and I like Microsoft, but after this experience, I'll likely push people toward iOS over RT.

Virgil Tracy-Island
Virgil Tracy-Island

All previous attempts to create a business/enterprise-centric tablet have failed - for a reason: hardly anyone wants them. I remember Jason Hiner bemoaning the lack of business support (and a USB port!) when the first iPad launched, yet we see iPads in business everywhere. I'm not sure the Surface will succeed as a tablet device to rival iPad and Galaxy Tab. Maybe it has a future as touch-enabled laptop?

JohnOfStony
JohnOfStony

Considering the market share ARM has in the mobile/low power market, and looking at the increasing costs of energy, could it be that ARM is computing's future processor of choice? If so, Windows RT could be the first of Microsoft's future ARM Windows products and whereas the lack of backward compatibility is now an obstacle for many who might otherwise adopt Windows RT, as more and more of Microsoft's products get ported to the ARM, we could find ourselves in 5 years' time looking back at "those quaint Intel based energy guzzlers" of the late noughties and early teens. One definite but rarely mentioned benefit of low power processors (ARM or ATOM) is silence due to the lack of fans, no longer required because low power = cool running without fans,

JohnOfStony
JohnOfStony

... produce a tablet with both ARM and ATOM processors? I still have an ARM based desktop computer with an 80486 in it as well. I can run Windows on the '486 in a window on the ARM RISCOS desktop. This is on a machine designed back in the 1980s, so I'm sure it's not beyond the capabilities of today's electronic engineers to do a similar job in a tablet. That way you could run any OS and any App and with suitable power management features that put the processor you're not using into standby with consequent seriously reduced power consumption, such a product should be capable of extended battery life. Come on Samsung, HTC, LG, Apple, Sony, etc. - show us what you're capable of in a twin processor tablet and you could be on a winner.

info
info

How can you claim that surface RT is the first tablet that's ready for the enterprise? Have you looked at a Lenovo Thinkpad Tablet 2 with full blown windows 8? A real bluetooth dockable keyboard? It blows the surface out of the water!

Henry 3 Dogg
Henry 3 Dogg

"Surface RT: The first tablet thats ready for the enterprise" The take up of the iPad by large enterprises makes it clear that they consider it to have been ready for the enterprise for some time. Your title seems to ignore the facts.

joel.blazquez
joel.blazquez

Let me point out that Office is from MS so OF COURSE they will always win on that part until web offile-like packages are trusted and compatible enough. We (almost) all need Office for our work. That said, so a tablet can see your printer and use office and it is suitbale for enterprise? Come on. Let's not be so simplistic here. I am not talking about developers coding on a tablet, but a device certainly needs something more to be called enterprise-ready. Maybe office ready, business able, but enterprise is a big big word. Still I recognize that, from the article, it seems to have a good chance of becoming the business tablet of choice. Lastly, call me old fashioned. But I have seen people trying to do everything on their tablets and they are light years away from achieving the same productivity compared to using a laptop or workstation. Not talking about crazy stuff, just working with e-mails, documents, forget about composing presentations or moving things around. Let's be realistic and honest. It is not the same banging on a keyboard and usign a mouse than than. Can be efficient, yes but with anyone. Just the like working from home is not good for everyone

PFCNPFCN
PFCNPFCN

In 1994 fifty delegates attended a two-day conference at LM Ericsson in Stockholm co-Cjared by Jim Hobbs, VP Bell South and myself ..... at that time not yet knighted as Sir George the Dragon Slayer! Just read the link and read the next installment in a couple of days. http://www.w-w-w-w.org/videos/archive/1994EricssonConference.pdf In 1995 ALFACT (a customized version of MPS, Mobile Process Service, was commercialized by DeLaval, in six countries (Nordics and Netherlands) for six hundred Service Engineers of DeLaval the biggest Dairy Farm equipment company in the World (they still milk near a third of the World's cows!). It definitely did not require a Tablet! The devices, and such as bandwidth, are relatively insignificant as you would discover if you attended www.ICAD2013.org 26-28 June in Worcester, MA. It's all a matter of assuring PFCN, Profitable Fulfillment of Customer Needs (my nick.name require at least six characters). Next installment soon. Regards from Sweden Brian Alias Sir George the Dragon Slayer Knighted in Canadian Drgons' Den 2009

Robynsveil
Robynsveil

"Now I'm saying that Android has fallen behind Windows RT in some significant areas. If Microsoft continues to nurture RT, it has the potential to disrupt the tablet market once again." The kicker here is: "Now I'm saying"... interestingly, that is not what I'm seeing. I plan on following Microsoft's progress with this - and your comments - with considerable interest.

mick
mick

Mr. Colbert's article is well written, concise and I'm sure honest to his beliefs, however; I don't understand his problem with 'Enterprise ready tablets'. What does that mean? I write notes, sketch ideas, email and research using my both my iPad v.1 and my Retina iPad. I transfer the results via email and/or Box. I have almost stop using the laptop once I get home because I can do it on the tablet. Which part of 'Enterprise' am I missing?

trashmail
trashmail

Yesterday I used my Leatherman multi tool, a constant and faithful shop companion, as a hammer to start a deck screw. Worked just fine, though there is no hammer accessory, just mass. In a pinch, it did the job for me when and where I needed it. It's there if I need to skin a moose or work that urgent tracheotomy, too. Point is, that's kind of what I think the RT tablet is. Sufficient for limited and specific purposes, for certain users at certain times. The same may be true of ALL tablets. It's no reflection on the engineers or production or support, but marketing? They seem to have positioned this thing oddly. The ONLY question is whether there's enough activity on this and the Pro to warrant maintaining it as a design. It can't be supported lightly and expect to flourish heavily. MS self-fragments with this thing. IMO, the drawbacks are large. I am using a Win 7 box to type this and it's my work/home machine. It's not reflex negativity about MS, but my puzzle is why they continue this thing? By all accounts, it's not a success. The Pro? Another story. It's a laptop, albeit more expensive than an Apple and the rifle isn't quite sighted in yet, but it's in the ballpark. Might contend. Eventually. Now? No. MS will adjust it. I think it's too important a trend for them to sit outside and watch. They MUST be in and MUST be successful. Moreover, they need to be a little more pro-active and start leading the pack, not following it. Or at very least, leading a separate pack.

dcolbert
dcolbert

Doesn't mean you are right. In this case, all of your observations are pretty accurate on RT - and really *any* device is suitable for the enterprise if you understand the limitations of its capabilities. IOS (and Android) can both be used in the workplace, you just have to expect a very limited subset of roles for them. RT is already more powerful than either - and will likely only improve. Oddly enough, Motorola had finally gotten WebTop working well with the Lapdock concept when Google killed it. I think they realized it was another coffin in the nail of ChromeOS - which at this point is a future I hope we never see gain traction. Hopefully RT doesn't fold with RT in the same manner. If they stick with it, some form of RT will eventually be the default mobile OS for corporate enterprises.

dcolbert
dcolbert

My wife's new company gave her an iPad. Healthcare is the #1 early adopter of iPad support in the enterprise - and let's be clear here - by *enterprise* we don't mean IT (I wouldn't count application development as a true ENTERPRISE engineering group either, if we're going to be that pedantic about what enterprise role tablets have.) When we say enterprise, we mean a *business* role in a company with a strong information technology infrastructure. A role that IT groups are going to have to *support*. The reason Healthcare IT is so far ahead of the curve in supporting iPad based solutions is because status conscious physicians wanted a reason to show off their Apple tablets at the workplace. It *isn't* because the iPad is very well suited to professional use. The same ability to write and load custom in-house enterprise apps despite a non-open market exists for RT that exists for iOS. But in addition to that, RT has far more and far better tools and features to integrate into the typical Windows driven business environment than iOS does. What does iOS do better than RT? Sharing to Facebook and Twitter, playing Words with Friends, and reading Kindle by the pool after a tough day of doing physicals on patients. The business world is eventually going to catch on to this. The success of iOS illustrates that there is a *business model* for using ARM based tablets - a successful and proven one. Inevitably, business will catch on to the fact that for business productivity - RT has a serious advantage over iOS (and Android too), while offering all of the same *business* benefits. That being the case - the differentiator between RT and iOS/Android is their *non* business abilities. Rational businesses will realize that their staff can be more *productive* with RT devices than with other ARM based tablets - and those *leisure* activities won't matter when they're looking at the bottom line. The users may be upset - but logic says that sound business decision will come to the conclusion that RT is a better tool to achieve their goals. Won't all those physicians be upset when they're told they need to dump their iPads and get RT devices if they want full corporate tablet IT support. ;)

Slayer_
Slayer_

I really like my Android tablet.

dcolbert
dcolbert

"Try another option like sharing this via e-mail." The share charm is broken compared to iOS and Android sharing integration. I've got two of the most popular Facebook Modern apps installed on my RT and Yoga 13 devices - and Gallery still cannot share directly to Facebook. There is *no* G+ sharing integration. Android is WAY ahead of Microsoft on this, and so is Apple. The above example is frequently the result when the share destination appears in the share charm *at all*. Frequently, the option you want just isn't there at all. For example, the News tile - some articles will have a share option for a particular site, other articles will not. It is totally a shot in the dark - and too often, even when a share destination exists, it won't work with the error I mention above. I'm not giving RT any *breaks* where it is behind the curve.

dcolbert
dcolbert

And deliver solutions that allow safe external access within reasonable limits for non domain devices. I worked at a healthcare organization that offered revenue cycle management and EPM and EMR solutions to external practices for 6 years - all HIPAA regulated. We had lots of two way flow of traffic but none of those partners and business associates could be on our corporate domain. To offer a compelling hosted medical practice solution, we had to find creative but secure solutions to allow that data to flow. It can be done, affordable, and without barriers to worker productivity. Private clouds and self-hosted solutions are part of the reality of delivering what a modern workforce expects from an IT organization. Hearing other IT Pros say, "you can't do that, because..." always makes me feel better about my ability to go into their work place and take their jobs - because I'll say, "I can make that happen, and here is my roadmap on how I'd deliver that to you." That is what users and executive staff want to hear. An IT group that delivers choices, instead of dictating limits. Some may note that in *other* areas of this thread I've recommended RT as a *limitation* in enterprise orgs. For sure. The idea is to be able to say, "We can't deliver *this* that you want, but we've got an alternative that meets all of your major demands, without any deal breakers, that is *better* for the business." My guess is that all of the people complaining about the lack of AD domain support in RT already support iOS and Android mobile devices - both smartphones and tablets - in their current organizations. So - this class of device is *already* there, and already a risk. But if you can sell RT as a superior business platform and it is easier to support and integrate into your Windows environment - why would you resist RT and accept a bunch of devices that are even LESS of a fit for your organization? RT may not hit all of the points you would like to see it hit, but it is *better* than the solutions you're _probably already supporting_. That is the entire theme of this article. Tablets in the enterprise are inevitable. Pushing RT is the sound choice for Windows shop - not figuring out how to shoehorn iOS or Android tablets in.

dcolbert
dcolbert

Lots of companies are providing all levels of workers with tablets. My wife's provides iPads - I worked with a guy at my last job and his wife's employer uses Samsung tabs. I agree - tablets in the enterprise have limited roles on a case-by-case basis - depending on the company needs. I never said *everyone* should have RT. In fact, I think your 12 year old daughter is going to be happier with an iPad Mini or Kindle Fire. Those devices have a place. What would you say if I told you the entire blog above, including the screenshots, was composed on a Surface RT using Google Docs and that every response I've made in this thread so far was also done on the Surface? That isn't a "tap-and-thwak" device - that is a *laptop replacement*. If I had a pro license for Office, I could have skipped Google Docs and just wrote the whole blog in Word - for the record. As a writer, I'll probably upgrade to the pro license so I can do just that - then I won't even need a connection to write on the Surface RT. Surface RT is *not* a laptop replacement for most users - it is a companion device. But every tech blogger who lugs their iPad and an Apple BT keyboard to the coffee shop to write their articles could replace both their iPad and their Airbook with a single Surface RT. That is a *powerful* ARM tablet.

dcolbert
dcolbert

Although Office IS the *best* productivity suite on any ARM based tablet, and not *just* because of corporate compatibility, but because of features and performance - there are countless other reasons. It seems like a lot of readers are getting hung up on the *specific* example. One tweet asked, "is MS Paint *really* an ENTERPRISE app?" No. The *app* isn't the example - the way the app interacts with the OS and with *other* apps to make productivity apps more *productive* is the enterprise benefit. Android and iOS don't have this level of design focused toward *productivity* at this point. They do some impressive things, and they do some things *better* than RT, but they don't do *this*. It goes way deeper than this, too. There are too many things to go into in a single article about what features RT has that people don't understand. I hit the low hanging fruit in this piece. I expect to offer some "deeper dive" articles later. I want to talk about the MMCs, the control panels, the accessories, the full command prompt with standard MS DOS commands, powershell and some other things. People act as if the problem with RT is that it isn't *fully* Windows on Intel compatible - but the truth is - it is *more* like Windows on Intel than it isn't. The *only* thing it can't do that full Windows can is install Intel classic apps. Otherwise, it operates *just* like Windows.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

Windows apps are not -- as yet -- touch centric, forcing you to use desktop techniques at times when you simply cannot set the device down. This is why Windows tablets failed for over a decade and got blown away by iOS on the iPad. I'm not blaming Microsoft here, either; I'm blaming the developers who flat ignored the potential and to a great extent still are ignoring it. Again, it's not that Apple was first to do it, but rather first to do it right. I believe Microsoft has learned its lesson, but I'm not so sure the developers have.

dcolbert
dcolbert

It should really be, "First ARM tablet that is ready for the enterprise." But that is a little wordy - and I don't write the headlines... so... yeah, there is that. You did read in the article where I said the *problem* is that Surface RT is being compared to Windows on Intel and being found *crippled* - when it *should* be compared to Android and iOS, and found superior... Right? I'll keep saying that until it sinks in.

dcolbert
dcolbert

I wrote this entire article, sent it to my editor including the screen shots compressed into a zip file, on the Surface RT. Using Google Docs. I don't have an Office Pro license, so I can't use the included Office to write documents for publication or profit. But if I bought the pro license, I could have dispensed with Google Docs I then wrote every response in this entire thread, plus follow up posts on G+, Facebook and Twitter - using *solely* the RT. I also responded to several readers who didn't post here but contacted me via e-mail about this article. Using only the Surface RT. I'm writing this response to you now, using only Surface RT. That is *exactly* my point - people have been *trying* to achieve this with tablets for 3 or 4 years now. *I've* been trying to achieve that for 3 years myself, and not quite getting there, The Surface RT - delivers this. First tablet hybrid *ever* that I can make that claim about. What it *doesn't* do as well is the leisure/content consumption/non-biz social media part. It isn't as good for gaming. It isn't as good for posting pictures of your family on vacation right to Facebook. It isn't as good as Android or iOS for the things that have nothing to do with business. So the question is - do you want a LESIURE tablet that struggles to deliver business productivity - or do you want a BUSINESS tablet that struggles to deliver leisure computing? In either, case - the devices can make the STRETCH to do the things they're not BEST at. An Android or iOS tablet *can* write and publish an article - you CAN take pictures and publish them to Facebook using RT... But which aspect of tablet computing is most important to you? If reading Kindle and playing Temple Run is your priority - get an iPad or a Nexus 7. If creating professional content is your primary focus - get a Surface RT. It is about what you're willing to sacrifice. For me - I'll give up my free Google Play Magazine subscription to Wired Magazine for the superior mobile content creation features of RT.

dcolbert
dcolbert

Part of it is looking at it from the enterprise supportability perspective. Part of it is looking at it from the bottom-line business productivity perspective. If we're going to allow ARM based tablets in the business-place, and I'm the CIO, I've got to find the way to make you most productive and make my staff *best* able to provide you the highest quality of support. Having multiple OS platforms, multiple productivity tools, multiple hardware platforms... the more we stray from the heart of the ENTERPRISE platform, the further we get away from KISS philosophies (keep it simple, silly) - the more issues arise. Now I've got to provide training and documentation for two (or more) platforms. I've got to have staff that can help you with issues on different platforms, diluting their focus on one core technology. You may be productive on iOS - and you may be upset if I tell you, "we're no longer going to support iOS," because you may know it better, be more comfortable with it, and it may be the best productivity tool for you, personally. But an ENTERPRISE concern has to look beyond that - to say, "By standardizing on providing and supporting *this* platform, that has more in common with our business standard platforms - can I increase productivity and lower costs ACROSS the organization, even if it upsets a few users." That is the question - and my view is that from an IT decision maker's perspective, RT is a *better* choice for *enterprise* roles for ARM based tablets than either iOS or Android.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

Currently, Windows 8 is reviled by roughly 50% of the Windows market because of the "Modern UI". As such and adding to it the fact that very few enterprise operators have even considered upgrading to Win8 the RT tablets will be meeting the same kind of resistance that iOS and Android are facing. Time alone will tell how many places will adopt RT. Eventually, I believe they will agree with you, but I don't see them as willing to accept it as you have so far.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

with your conclusions. The medical field adopted iOS way back with the second-generation iPhone--Steve Jobs himself demonstrating several docking adaptors to access health-monitoring devices remotely and record them to the patients' charts. One of the biggest advantages of the iPad over any other computing product at the time is the fact that it was far easier to clean and sterilize than the typical roll-around laptop PC stand while also much more mobile and compact compared to that same stand. It put the record keeping back in the doctor's hands, where once he used to carry a conventional clipboard with paper and pen. If you've ever spent time in a hospital as a patient, you soon realize that not only is that PC stand clumsy to use, but takes up a lot of room, crowding a sometimes already crowded area. But medical isn't the only place where these devices have a lead at the moment, you'll find tablets in banking, legal, manufacturing, construction and engineering; there have been many examples of all of these. Two of the most noted are lawyers who have replaced their laptops in the courtroom with an iPad so they can reference their data even while cross-examining witnesses and new construction at Disney World where the iPad is used to reference and modify drawings during the design and construction of the area. As I said, the examples are many and it's NOT just because the user wants to "show off his toy". They are truly functional devices for the enterprise in almost all aspects of the business. RT, as yet, simply doesn't have the rest of the tools available, as yet. I've previously noted its advantages and quite honestly RT will eventually make those inroads that Android has failed to manage. It may even supplant SOME of the iPads in those businesses IF the proper software is made available. However, in many of those places where the iPad has already proven itself, convincing them to change to something they have no experience with will be like trying to put a Mac into an all-Windows environment; it can be done, but nobody will like it. That RT device will have to work so seamlessly with the existing environment that you essentially can't tell the difference and right now Windows 8 still depends far too strongly on keyboard and mouse input while the iPad is a successful touch-only device.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

However, I do expect to see it drop more into parity with both iOS and WindowsRT as a mobile OS--naturally some variance but not the 2:1 lead it currently holds on phones. As for tablets, they'll probably stabilize around the same ratios as the phones with a rough 1:1:1 ratio, plus or minus a few tenths.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

you would discover that the full Windows 8 is on that RT device. The problem is that Win8 itself runs poorly on the current processor because it demands so much overhead. As such, Win8 itself is locked away to free up resources for the RT Modern UI.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I'm a leading ranter about W8, but almost all of my objections apply to it on desktops and traditional laptops. I haven't see it on a tablet yet, but from the beginning it's struck me as very well suited for that platform. Microsoft acknowledges mobile and touch platforms took precedence over older form factors. Many of those objecting to W8 on the desktop have no problem with similar interfaces on phones and other geegaws. I don't see W8 as a stumbling block to RT adoption. Who knows; RT and Surface adoption may just drive W8 adoption on other platforms. Gods of us all...

dcolbert
dcolbert

I know the cheat code. Full Windows is no more appropriate for RT than full OS X is for an iPad. It is limited by design, intentionally, because an ARM processor shouldn't be running code designed for Intel processors. (neither should ATOM based devices either, for that matter.) Again, RT isn't *locked up* - it is MOSTLY unlocked. The things that make sense and add value are available. It is only the things that would result in a non satisfying experience that are restricted - and they should be. Apple knows that - Google is learning that, and Microsoft may understand the best balance in this segment of devices - at least, for enterprise use.

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