|By Corey Roth||
|June 27, 2013 05:05 PM EDT||
For those that know me, I am a die hard supporter of my Surface RT. Back in February, I wrote a post about why I chose it over a Surface Pro. The device wasn’t perfect and there were a number of issues that people had with it. With Window RT 8.1, a lot of those issues have been put to rest and that’s pretty exciting.
This device isn’t for everyone, but if you have a similar use case to mine, you might find it a highly useful device. What is my use case? Well, first of all, I travel. A lot. I often find myself working from atypical office settings including the airport, airplanes, restaurants, and bars. As a SharePoint architect, I write very little code. That means having Visual Studio on the device is not a priority for me. If you write code every day, go buy a Surface Pro, or better yet stick with a laptop so you can have a bigger screen. Do I use my Surface RT as my primary machine? Only when I travel so that probably means a good 50% of the time. Do I play games on it? Nothing serious. If any of the above applies to you, read on and you might find that this could be the device for you.
When I am not working, I often find myself catching up on things with my Surface RT while listening to music on my Jambox. I use apps such as iHeartRadio, Vevo, and Nokia Music pretty often. With this much use, it’s not uncommon that I might use my Surface 8 – 10 hours in a day. Your Surface Pro isn’t going to do that.
Let’s take a look at a few of my new favorite things that make Surface RT even better.
As someone on the go. I rely on SkyDrive heavily. I expect my documents to be available wherever I go regardless of connectivity. Windows RT could access files in SkyDrive but only when connected. This was a real bummer when I got on a plane without Wi-Fi. Although more and more @SouthwestAir flights are connected, there are still a lot that aren’t. This meant if I wanted to work on a document on the plane, I had to open it up before hand to be sure I had a copy of it.
Now, the same functionality that we had in the SkyDrive desktop app is built into the Windows RT 8.1 app.
The default setting on whether files are synced or not varies depending on your past usage of SkyDrive. This can be controlled on a per file / folder level. You can sync your entire SkyDrive, by using the settings charm and choosing Access all files offline. SkyDrive will indicate whether the file is available offline right in the app.
Unfortunately, you can’t configure where the files themselves are synced. If that bugs you, reply to this thread and raise your concern. However, this isn’t a huge issue for me yet. I am definitely happy that I can access my files when I am offline.
When Surface RT came out, people raised a big stink about how Outlook wasn’t included. Ironic, since the iPad they were using previously ran Outlook so well…oh wait. Anyhow, Outlook RT will shut a lot of people up. I mean a lot. Honestly, I haven’t even used it yet though. I configured it, but since the February update to the mail app, it’s quite a bit more responsive and I can do most of what I need with the exception of managing tasks. For that, I will have to return to Outlook.
They also demoed a new and updated Mail app at Build but that is not included. That is “coming soon”.
I haven’t had anyone call me yet, but they added the ability to answer Skype calls from the lock screen. That is nice. I’m not sure if this functionality is included yet, or it is “coming soon”, but this will be a nice feature.
The app story is getting better. Facebook is finally coming to the Windows store. Does anyone on Surface care? Probably not because they have been using it in their web browser just as they would on their laptop. Remember, the reason web sites started making apps to begin with was because the browser experience sucked on that device. I truly believe the days of native apps as just as interface to a web site are coming to an end.
Does the Windows Store have a ways to go? Yes, but when I go back to my original use case above, I now find that I am only missing three apps that I use on a regular basis: Windows Live Writer, Visio, and Project. I am not holding my breathe on Live Writer because each time it gets an update, I am shocked. Honestly, I don’t use the last two all that much, but it would be nice.
One thing you’ll notice is that you’ll see your apps automatically synchronize across your Windows 8.1 devices. When you hit the start screen the first time, you’ll notice an arrow icon next to your apps. This means it hasn’t been downloaded yet. You can tap it to start the download or if you wait patiently, eventually Windows will go and grab it. As you might have heard, apps update automatically as well. I guess Apple will claim they invented that first though since they added that to IOS 7.
Supposedly the VPN experience is getting better and I really hope so. As business users, we have put up with crappy VPN clients for years. In my experience, most clients are buggy written using ActiveX or Java, are rarely updated, and don’t deal well with new browsers or operating systems. If Windows can start operating native support for these, sign me up. This was a major blocker for a lot of Surface RT users wanting to access corporate resources. Windows RT 8.1 brings hope for native VPN connections to F5, SonicWall, and CheckPoint. I tried it with our SonicWall VPN and it gave me an error. However, it’s not like I ever got the regular VPN client to work anyways. I really don’t expect these to work until RTM and chances are they will require an update to the VPN appliance, that your IT team will never get around to applying. If you are a VPN administrator, I am sorry, but you know your users don’t like these. :)
New Tile Sizes
This isn’t really specific to RT, but I do like the new tile sizes just as I like them on Windows Phone 8. It gives you a lot of flexibility on how you maximize your screen real estate. If the tile doesn’t actually update, there is no need for it to be huge.
I am kind of liking the new super tiles too. I can see those being useful for certain scenarios. You’ll also notice I have four rows of tiles. You can get this by swiping in from the right to go the Settings charm –> Tiles –> Show more tiles.
I gave the previous Music app several tries. All it did is success in frustrating me. It was just so slow an unresponsive. I haven’t used the new app a ton yet, but it already looks a lot better and feels faster. I think this might be an interface I can work with. As Scott Hanselman pointed out, you can even include your SD card in your music library without a bunch of hacks.
This is some of the pre-loaded music included. As we speak, it’s currently adding my library off the SD card so I didn’t have more songs to show.
Scott also pointed this out in his post. I work with a team in Dubai and this is huge for me. They come online 9 hours before I do. That means, when I am going to sleep, they are sending me E-mails. Sometimes, I forget to lower the sound volume and I have been woken up more than once because of it.
At one point it occurred to me after I bought my Surface RT, that there was no alarm feature. I am glad that they have taken the time to add this functionality. I haven’t tested it yet, but my assumption is that it should wake me up even when my device is running in connected standby mode. Will it work with a Surface Pro in regular standby mode? I’m curious to know the answer. Someone try it out and let me know. I’ll also be trying the alarm functionality tomorrow morning to see if I can rely on it some day to get me up to go to an airport.
As with any beta software, we expect issues. The device is stable. The main thing that is not working for me right now is the Pictures app. It simply doesn’t show anything from Skydrive, Facebook, etc. It also crashes quite often too. I’m sure we won’t have to wait for another build though. Since it’s an app, we’ll probably see an update before long at all.
I’ve been particularly excited about this update for my @Surface RT. It makes it an even better device. What do you think? For those considering a Surface Pro were any of these items a blocker before?
The cloud market growth today is largely in public clouds. While there is a lot of spend in IT departments in virtualization, these aren’t yet translating into a true “cloud” experience within the enterprise. What is stopping the growth of the “private cloud” market? In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Nara Rajagopalan, CEO of Accelerite, explored the challenges in deploying, managing, and getting adoption for a private cloud within an enterprise. What are the key differences between wh...
Jan. 17, 2017 12:45 AM EST Reads: 6,006
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017 at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with the 20th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. @ThingsExpo New York Call for Papers is now open.
Jan. 16, 2017 11:30 PM EST Reads: 3,516
WebRTC has had a real tough three or four years, and so have those working with it. Only a few short years ago, the development world were excited about WebRTC and proclaiming how awesome it was. You might have played with the technology a couple of years ago, only to find the extra infrastructure requirements were painful to implement and poorly documented. This probably left a bitter taste in your mouth, especially when things went wrong.
Jan. 16, 2017 09:00 PM EST Reads: 7,441
IoT is at the core or many Digital Transformation initiatives with the goal of re-inventing a company's business model. We all agree that collecting relevant IoT data will result in massive amounts of data needing to be stored. However, with the rapid development of IoT devices and ongoing business model transformation, we are not able to predict the volume and growth of IoT data. And with the lack of IoT history, traditional methods of IT and infrastructure planning based on the past do not app...
Jan. 16, 2017 03:15 PM EST Reads: 365
"LinearHub provides smart video conferencing, which is the Roundee service, and we archive all the video conferences and we also provide the transcript," stated Sunghyuk Kim, CEO of LinearHub, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Jan. 16, 2017 02:30 PM EST Reads: 1,551
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with 20th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry p...
Jan. 16, 2017 01:45 PM EST Reads: 3,599
"There's a growing demand from users for things to be faster. When you think about all the transactions or interactions users will have with your product and everything that is between those transactions and interactions - what drives us at Catchpoint Systems is the idea to measure that and to analyze it," explained Leo Vasiliou, Director of Web Performance Engineering at Catchpoint Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York Ci...
Jan. 16, 2017 12:30 PM EST Reads: 5,482
The 20th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal ...
Jan. 16, 2017 12:30 PM EST Reads: 5,021
Discover top technologies and tools all under one roof at April 24–28, 2017, at the Westin San Diego in San Diego, CA. Explore the Mobile Dev + Test and IoT Dev + Test Expo and enjoy all of these unique opportunities: The latest solutions, technologies, and tools in mobile or IoT software development and testing. Meet one-on-one with representatives from some of today's most innovative organizations
Jan. 16, 2017 12:00 PM EST Reads: 1,401
SYS-CON Events announced today that Super Micro Computer, Inc., a global leader in Embedded and IoT solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Supermicro (NASDAQ: SMCI), the leading innovator in high-performance, high-efficiency server technology, is a premier provider of advanced server Building Block Solutions® for Data Center, Cloud Computing, Enterprise IT, Hadoop/Big Data, HPC and E...
Jan. 16, 2017 11:30 AM EST Reads: 5,682
SYS-CON Events announced today that Linux Academy, the foremost online Linux and cloud training platform and community, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Linux Academy was founded on the belief that providing high-quality, in-depth training should be available at an affordable price. Industry leaders in quality training, provided services, and student certification passes, its goal is to c...
Jan. 16, 2017 11:30 AM EST Reads: 1,882
20th Cloud Expo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy.
Jan. 16, 2017 11:30 AM EST Reads: 4,147
WebRTC is the future of browser-to-browser communications, and continues to make inroads into the traditional, difficult, plug-in web communications world. The 6th WebRTC Summit continues our tradition of delivering the latest and greatest presentations within the world of WebRTC. Topics include voice calling, video chat, P2P file sharing, and use cases that have already leveraged the power and convenience of WebRTC.
Jan. 16, 2017 08:30 AM EST Reads: 3,041
WebRTC sits at the intersection between VoIP and the Web. As such, it poses some interesting challenges for those developing services on top of it, but also for those who need to test and monitor these services. In his session at WebRTC Summit, Tsahi Levent-Levi, co-founder of testRTC, reviewed the various challenges posed by WebRTC when it comes to testing and monitoring and on ways to overcome them.
Jan. 16, 2017 06:30 AM EST Reads: 5,867
"A lot of times people will come to us and have a very diverse set of requirements or very customized need and we'll help them to implement it in a fashion that you can't just buy off of the shelf," explained Nick Rose, CTO of Enzu, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Jan. 16, 2017 06:30 AM EST Reads: 4,516
Every successful software product evolves from an idea to an enterprise system. Notably, the same way is passed by the product owner's company. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Oleg Lola, CEO of MobiDev, will provide a generalized overview of the evolution of a software product, the product owner, the needs that arise at various stages of this process, and the value brought by a software development partner to the product owner as a response to these needs.
Jan. 16, 2017 05:30 AM EST Reads: 1,105
WebRTC services have already permeated corporate communications in the form of videoconferencing solutions. However, WebRTC has the potential of going beyond and catalyzing a new class of services providing more than calls with capabilities such as mass-scale real-time media broadcasting, enriched and augmented video, person-to-machine and machine-to-machine communications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Luis Lopez, CEO of Kurento, introduced the technologies required for implementing these idea...
Jan. 16, 2017 04:30 AM EST Reads: 4,536
The WebRTC Summit New York, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, announces that its Call for Papers is now open. Topics include all aspects of improving IT delivery by eliminating waste through automated business models leveraging cloud technologies. WebRTC Summit is co-located with 20th International Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo. WebRTC is the future of browser-to-browser communications, and continues to make inroads into the traditional, difficult, plug-in web co...
Jan. 16, 2017 03:30 AM EST Reads: 2,855
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, demonstrated how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and shared the must-have mindsets for removing complexity from the develop...
Jan. 16, 2017 03:30 AM EST Reads: 5,245
While not quite mainstream yet, WebRTC is starting to gain ground with Carriers, Enterprises and Independent Software Vendors (ISV’s) alike. WebRTC makes it easy for developers to add audio and video communications into their applications by using Web browsers as their platform. But like any market, every customer engagement has unique requirements, as well as constraints. And of course, one size does not fit all. In her session at WebRTC Summit, Dr. Natasha Tamaskar, Vice President, Head of C...
Jan. 16, 2017 03:15 AM EST Reads: 5,756