Microsoft Surface Pro

In early February I found myself standing in line to pick up my new Surface Pro. I was excited.


I was again at the Microsoft Holiday Store (pop-up kiosk in a local mall), and I saw the same staff as I had met 90 days earlier when I got my Surface RT.

There was a lot of buzz there that day and I enjoyed chatting with some local press writers, and lots of potential customers who wanted to know more about the machine. I was fortunate to have had the Surface RT for 90 days and felt comfortable talking about the physical aspects and usability issues of both machines. It was disappointing that so much of the negative market-speak was being bandied about as fact.

Perhaps the most misunderstood value proposition is the active stylus. That’s not new … people have been missing that point for nearly 10 years. But I was surprised that this singularly defining aspect of Windows 8 on Surface Pro was not even on the radar for many people. It seems that it has been overshadowed by touch, but it seems as though people have resigned themselves to that horrific experience of typing on a virtual keyboard. Sure the touch pad keyboard is good, and the type pad keyboard is great, but nothing beats the pure analog experience of drawing a curve to illustrate a movement.

I’ve had the Surface Pro for going on 90 days now, and the Surface RT for 100 days before that.

Often, for presentations and lectures, I’ll carry both but that’s probably because I really like to have a backup, and in a pinch, the Surface RT can stand in for most of what I do in a presentation or lecture.

Microsoft Surface RT

When the Microsoft Surface RT became available – I was right there in line to buy it. I was excited. I was looking forward to a devices conceived, designed, executed, marketed and supported by the company that made the operating system, Windows 8. I knew that I would miss an active digitizer. This been a standard requirement for me for every portable computer that I’ve owned since 2003. But I was willing to give this a shot. I was also concerned, but aware that some of my mission critical applications would not run on Windows on ARM. But I was there in line, that first day.

And six months later I am still excited, using it daily and glad to own it even though I got the Surface Pro 90 three months later. and I use that too.

Now if it had an active digitizer (active stylus) this would in many respects be the perfect portable device for me. It turns out that the user experience using Remote Desktop is so good that I can use Visual Studio running on a virtual machine in Windows Azure, and not for a moment miss all of the running on my local device. For almost everything that I need to do, I can do it on the Surface RT.

So why did I get the Surface Pro? Well that was always the plan, to do that. And because, since 2003 I have been using portable computers with an active stylus. It turns out that for some things, nothing else will do.