|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?
Fortunately, meaningful and tangible business cases for IoT are plentiful in a broad array of industries and vertical markets. These range from simple warranty cost reduction for capital intensive assets, to minimizing downtime for vital business tools, to creating feedback loops improving product design, to improving and enhancing enterprise customer experiences. All of these business cases, which will be briefly explored in this session, hinge on cost effectively extracting relevant data from ...
Feb. 14, 2016 11:45 AM EST Reads: 167
Companies can harness IoT and predictive analytics to sustain business continuity; predict and manage site performance during emergencies; minimize expensive reactive maintenance; and forecast equipment and maintenance budgets and expenditures. Providing cost-effective, uninterrupted service is challenging, particularly for organizations with geographically dispersed operations.
Feb. 14, 2016 10:00 AM EST Reads: 105
As enterprises work to take advantage of Big Data technologies, they frequently become distracted by product-level decisions. In most new Big Data builds this approach is completely counter-productive: it presupposes tools that may not be a fit for development teams, forces IT to take on the burden of evaluating and maintaining unfamiliar technology, and represents a major up-front expense. In his session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Warfield, CTO and Co-Founder of Coho Data, will dis...
Feb. 14, 2016 10:00 AM EST Reads: 238
The Quantified Economy represents the total global addressable market (TAM) for IoT that, according to a recent IDC report, will grow to an unprecedented $1.3 trillion by 2019. With this the third wave of the Internet-global proliferation of connected devices, appliances and sensors is poised to take off in 2016. In his session at @ThingsExpo, David McLauchlan, CEO and co-founder of Buddy Platform, will discuss how the ability to access and analyze the massive volume of streaming data from mil...
Feb. 14, 2016 09:00 AM EST Reads: 105
WebSocket is effectively a persistent and fat pipe that is compatible with a standard web infrastructure; a "TCP for the Web." If you think of WebSocket in this light, there are other more hugely interesting applications of WebSocket than just simply sending data to a browser. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Frank Greco, Director of Technology for Kaazing Corporation, will compare other modern web connectivity methods such as HTTP/2, HTTP Streaming, Server-Sent Events and new W3C event APIs ...
Feb. 14, 2016 08:30 AM EST
Join us at Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo 2016 – June 7-9 at the Javits Center in New York City and November 1-3 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA – and deliver your unique message in a way that is striking and unforgettable by taking advantage of SYS-CON's unmatched high-impact, result-driven event / media packages.
Feb. 14, 2016 08:30 AM EST Reads: 119
SYS-CON Events announced today that FalconStor Software® Inc., a 15-year innovator of software-defined storage solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. FalconStor Software®, Inc. (NASDAQ: FALC) is a leading software-defined storage company offering a converged, hardware-agnostic, software-defined storage and data services platform. Its flagship solution FreeStor®, utilizes a horizonta...
Feb. 14, 2016 07:30 AM EST
Silver Spring Networks, Inc. (NYSE: SSNI) extended its Internet of Things technology platform with performance enhancements to Gen5 – its fifth generation critical infrastructure networking platform. Already delivering nearly 23 million devices on five continents as one of the leading networking providers in the market, Silver Spring announced it is doubling the maximum speed of its Gen5 network to up to 2.4 Mbps, increasing computational performance by 10x, supporting simultaneous mesh communic...
Feb. 14, 2016 05:00 AM EST
The cloud promises new levels of agility and cost-savings for Big Data, data warehousing and analytics. But it’s challenging to understand all the options – from IaaS and PaaS to newer services like HaaS (Hadoop as a Service) and BDaaS (Big Data as a Service). In her session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Hannah Smalltree, a director at Cazena, will provide an educational overview of emerging “as-a-service” options for Big Data in the cloud. This is critical background for IT and data profes...
Feb. 14, 2016 04:00 AM EST Reads: 264
Eighty percent of a data scientist’s time is spent gathering and cleaning up data, and 80% of all data is unstructured and almost never analyzed. Cognitive computing, in combination with Big Data, is changing the equation by creating data reservoirs and using natural language processing to enable analysis of unstructured data sources. This is impacting every aspect of the analytics profession from how data is mined (and by whom) to how it is delivered. This is not some futuristic vision: it's ha...
Feb. 14, 2016 03:45 AM EST Reads: 484
With the Apple Watch making its way onto wrists all over the world, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a staple in the workplace. In fact, Forrester reported that 68 percent of technology and business decision-makers characterize wearables as a top priority for 2015. Recognizing their business value early on, FinancialForce.com was the first to bring ERP to wearables, helping streamline communication across front and back office functions. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Kevin Roberts...
Feb. 14, 2016 02:00 AM EST Reads: 446
Cognitive Computing is becoming the foundation for a new generation of solutions that have the potential to transform business. Unlike traditional approaches to building solutions, a cognitive computing approach allows the data to help determine the way applications are designed. This contrasts with conventional software development that begins with defining logic based on the current way a business operates. In her session at 18th Cloud Expo, Judith S. Hurwitz, President and CEO of Hurwitz & ...
Feb. 13, 2016 11:15 PM EST Reads: 319
One of the bewildering things about DevOps is integrating the massive toolchain including the dozens of new tools that seem to crop up every year. Part of DevOps is Continuous Delivery and having a complex toolchain can add additional integration and setup to your developer environment. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 18th Cloud Expo, Miko Matsumura, Chief Marketing Officer of Gradle Inc., will discuss which tools to use in a developer stack, how to provision the toolchain to minimize onboa...
Feb. 13, 2016 08:00 PM EST Reads: 159
With an estimated 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020, several industries will begin to expand their capabilities for retaining end point data at the edge to better utilize the range of data types and sheer volume of M2M data generated by the Internet of Things. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Don DeLoach, CEO and President of Infobright, will discuss the infrastructures businesses will need to implement to handle this explosion of data by providing specific use cases for filte...
Feb. 13, 2016 02:00 PM EST Reads: 266
SYS-CON Events announced today that Pythian, a global IT services company specializing in helping companies adopt disruptive technologies to optimize revenue-generating systems, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Founded in 1997, Pythian is a global IT services company that helps companies compete by adopting disruptive technologies such as cloud, Big Data, advanced analytics, and DevO...
Feb. 13, 2016 01:30 PM EST Reads: 296
SYS-CON Events announced today that Avere Systems, a leading provider of enterprise storage for the hybrid cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Avere delivers a more modern architectural approach to storage that doesn’t require the overprovisioning of storage capacity to achieve performance, overspending on expensive storage media for inactive data or the overbuilding of data centers ...
Feb. 13, 2016 01:30 PM EST Reads: 158
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management...
Feb. 13, 2016 12:45 PM EST Reads: 483
SYS-CON Events announced today that Alert Logic, Inc., the leading provider of Security-as-a-Service solutions for the cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Alert Logic, Inc., provides Security-as-a-Service for on-premises, cloud, and hybrid infrastructures, delivering deep security insight and continuous protection for customers at a lower cost than traditional security solutions. Ful...
Feb. 13, 2016 12:00 PM EST Reads: 481
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 ad...
Feb. 13, 2016 12:00 PM EST Reads: 462
SYS-CON Events announced today that Men & Mice, the leading global provider of DNS, DHCP and IP address management overlay solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. The Men & Mice Suite overlay solution is already known for its powerful application in heterogeneous operating environments, enabling enterprises to scale without fuss. Building on a solid range of diverse platform support,...
Feb. 13, 2016 11:45 AM EST Reads: 290