Microsoft Surface Pro – Update

I figured it was time I write an update on my Microsoft Surface Pro device and how it’s going as my only compute device*.  I put an asterisk because I still do use my Apple iPad from time to time, but mostly to complement where there are lacking apps (Example Flipboard…. *cough* *cough*, *hint* *hint*) and because there is no LTE/4G support.

SurfaceDesk

My setup is quite simple. A month ago I gave up my HP Desktop and Laptop for a Microsoft Surface Pro 128GB and so far I have little to complain about as in my position this device has been able to do whatever I’ve thrown at it.  I run all of the Office 2013 suite of products, Cisco Jabber as my soft phone/IM client, IE/Chrome, and a few other apps.  I’ve had no performance issues running any of these apps on their own or side by side with a handful of them open at once.  My favorite app has to be OneNote as I am in and out of meetings daily and the ability to utilize the stylus pen is 98% like writing in a physical notebook.  A great feature for someone always in meetings and wants to have them organized and always available via Skydrive.  I utilize my Windows Phone 8 to access OneNote while on the go or when I don’t want to pull out the Surface and the ability to see everything on the phone is perfect.

Now the Surface is a great compute device however I don’t think it’s geared towards uprooting the iPad or other RT style tablet devices.  It’s more meant for a computer/laptop replacement in my mind and does a great job at that market.  I think there is still a place for the supplemental tablet or eventually the perfect mix will be achieved in the years to come.  This is still quite a new market which is why there is little strategy around how to implement them into the Enterprise.  At least what I’ve seen.

Some areas of concern I’d like to see addressed by Microsoft are creating an OEM docking station for the device.  I’m currently using a Targus Universal USB 3.0 Docking Station that works well however not 100%.  The sound on the dock doesn’t work properly so I have to connect my external speakers directly to the tablet.  The connection of the USB cable to the docking station is not seamless like a true docking station should be.  So those two create for a cumbersome dock and undock process which needs to be addressed for future versions.  These little set backs are pretty minor when I’m able to dock into my two 23” LED monitors at full resolution however.

An area where I’d like to see Microsoft step up is with Direct Access and having the easy option of having that installed.  If this device, the Pro, is targeted at Enterprise customers and you want to have technology like Direct Access used, then you need to talk about and encourage it.  This could be a game changer if Direct Access is available to the Surface Pro and I think Microsoft needs to look further into this.

The last thing I’ll mention is apps.  We’ve heard it all before the apps for the Microsoft platforms including the Phone are lacking.  The big name apps that Android and iOS have are just not there and it’s taking a lot of time to get them out there.  I think Microsoft needs to do a better job at enticing developers to make good apps, better promotions, better incentives etc… Giving someone a $100 gift certificate to the Microsoft store (not positive that is or was a promotion) isn’t going to cut it.  Microsoft needs to put a bit more skin in the game to get this moving otherwise it will stall out and the uptake will slow down or just never get there. 

One final note, I’ll be interested to see what Microsoft’s next move is with the follow up device. No first device is ever perfect and that hold true for Apple and Android.  Its the version two device that will be the telltale sign if Microsoft listens and understands what people are after or if they ignore and follow their own agenda.  I have high hopes though…

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10 Responses to Microsoft Surface Pro – Update

  1. Robin says:

    Good write up.. i’ve been considering getting a surface pro, however as a coder i can’t justify going to such a smaller screen (and i have a 17.3″ laptop with windows 8 on it which i use when i’m not at the office).
    If you are looking at apps, if you already have a google account, try checking out “bluestacks”. Bluestacks is “android” on windows (basically you can run nearly any android app via Bluestacks on windows)…
    I have it installed on my computers and while i haven’t had the chance to REALLY try it out, it looks VERY promising…
    As a google/windows user, i like the idea of being able to access my apps from the play store on a windows 8 computer/tablet…

    • Shaun says:

      Yeah I mentioned this very thing on Twitter a few minutes ago. Not everyone can go to a tablet. If I coded (thank God I don’t) I’d want a larger screen too 😉

  2. Well done Shaun, and thanks.
    If I could guarantee that the performance was there, for what I do (yes, I code), then I’d be all-in.
    Interesting to see that you have the docking and dual monitors with your configuration.
    Cheers!

    • Shaun says:

      If I need the power and performance then I just Citrix into our environment, however in my position I rarely if at all need that kind of power. My criteria was to have dual monitor hook up, it’s a must have in my opinion. Working multiple spreadsheets like budgets etc… Need the big screen. Works well for sure. Just wish Microsoft had their own dock to make it a real slick experience instead of a hacked up one.

  3. Gerwin says:

    Hey Shaun,

    Thanx for writing this review. Was looking for a docking option for the surface pro to roll out in the company but I think I will try the Plugable Ud-3000.

    About direct access. It is possible to have this working on the surface pro.But you have to replace Windows 8 pro for Windows 8 enterprise. It is a bit of work but there are some good guides on the internet.

    Good luck and thanx for the Review.
    Gerwin

  4. Eric says:

    Flipboard is coming officially 🙂

    Install windows 8.1 preview it adds a lot of nifty refinements and any suggestions you have for the beta can be posted on the offical ms forums .

    And yeah blue stacks is coming along , should help us get a hackish fix for apps

  5. Pingback: Microsoft Surface Pro 2–Initial Thoughts | Strategic IT

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