|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?
Scott Jenson leads a project called The Physical Web within the Chrome team at Google. Project members are working to take the scalability and openness of the web and use it to talk to the exponentially exploding range of smart devices. Nearly every company today working on the IoT comes up with the same basic solution: use my server and you'll be fine. But if we really believe there will be trillions of these devices, that just can't scale. We need a system that is open a scalable and by using the URL as a basic building block, we open this up and get the same resilience that the web enjoys.
Nov. 25, 2014 06:00 PM EST Reads: 1,021
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, discussed single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series data. By focusing on enterprise applications and the data center, he will use OpenTSDB as an example t...
Nov. 25, 2014 06:00 PM EST Reads: 995
P2P RTC will impact the landscape of communications, shifting from traditional telephony style communications models to OTT (Over-The-Top) cloud assisted & PaaS (Platform as a Service) communication services. The P2P shift will impact many areas of our lives, from mobile communication, human interactive web services, RTC and telephony infrastructure, user federation, security and privacy implications, business costs, and scalability. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robin Raymond, Chief Architect at Hookflash, will walk through the shifting landscape of traditional telephone and voice services ...
Nov. 25, 2014 06:00 PM EST Reads: 1,537
The Domain Name Service (DNS) is one of the most important components in networking infrastructure, enabling users and services to access applications by translating URLs (names) into IP addresses (numbers). Because every icon and URL and all embedded content on a website requires a DNS lookup loading complex sites necessitates hundreds of DNS queries. In addition, as more internet-enabled ‘Things' get connected, people will rely on DNS to name and find their fridges, toasters and toilets. According to a recent IDG Research Services Survey this rate of traffic will only grow. What's driving t...
Nov. 25, 2014 05:30 PM EST Reads: 1,344
Enthusiasm for the Internet of Things has reached an all-time high. In 2013 alone, venture capitalists spent more than $1 billion dollars investing in the IoT space. With "smart" appliances and devices, IoT covers wearable smart devices, cloud services to hardware companies. Nest, a Google company, detects temperatures inside homes and automatically adjusts it by tracking its user's habit. These technologies are quickly developing and with it come challenges such as bridging infrastructure gaps, abiding by privacy concerns and making the concept a reality. These challenges can't be addressed w...
Nov. 25, 2014 04:30 PM EST Reads: 1,404
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems at Red Hat, described how to revolutioniz...
Nov. 24, 2014 07:00 PM EST Reads: 1,971
Bit6 today issued a challenge to the technology community implementing Web Real Time Communication (WebRTC). To leap beyond WebRTC’s significant limitations and fully leverage its underlying value to accelerate innovation, application developers need to consider the entire communications ecosystem.
Nov. 24, 2014 12:00 PM EST Reads: 1,703
The definition of IoT is not new, in fact it’s been around for over a decade. What has changed is the public's awareness that the technology we use on a daily basis has caught up on the vision of an always on, always connected world. If you look into the details of what comprises the IoT, you’ll see that it includes everything from cloud computing, Big Data analytics, “Things,” Web communication, applications, network, storage, etc. It is essentially including everything connected online from hardware to software, or as we like to say, it’s an Internet of many different things. The difference ...
Nov. 24, 2014 11:00 AM EST Reads: 2,061
Cloud Expo 2014 TV commercials will feature @ThingsExpo, which was launched in June, 2014 at New York City's Javits Center as the largest 'Internet of Things' event in the world.
Nov. 24, 2014 09:00 AM EST Reads: 1,916
SYS-CON Events announced today that Windstream, a leading provider of advanced network and cloud communications, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Windstream (Nasdaq: WIN), a FORTUNE 500 and S&P 500 company, is a leading provider of advanced network communications, including cloud computing and managed services, to businesses nationwide. The company also offers broadband, phone and digital TV services to consumers primarily in rural areas.
Nov. 23, 2014 07:30 PM EST Reads: 2,099
"There is a natural synchronization between the business models, the IoT is there to support ,” explained Brendan O'Brien, Co-founder and Chief Architect of Aria Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at the 15th International Cloud Expo®, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Nov. 23, 2014 12:00 PM EST Reads: 2,042
The major cloud platforms defy a simple, side-by-side analysis. Each of the major IaaS public-cloud platforms offers their own unique strengths and functionality. Options for on-site private cloud are diverse as well, and must be designed and deployed while taking existing legacy architecture and infrastructure into account. Then the reality is that most enterprises are embarking on a hybrid cloud strategy and programs. In this Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo (http://www.CloudComputingExpo.com), moderated by Ashar Baig, Research Director, Cloud, at Gigaom Research, Nate Gordon, Director of T...
Nov. 23, 2014 07:45 AM EST Reads: 2,089
ARMONK, N.Y., Nov. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it is bringing a greater level of control, security and flexibility to cloud-based application development and delivery with a single-tenant version of Bluemix, IBM's platform-as-a-service. The new platform enables developers to build ap...
Nov. 22, 2014 05:30 PM EST Reads: 2,063
An entirely new security model is needed for the Internet of Things, or is it? Can we save some old and tested controls for this new and different environment? In his session at @ThingsExpo, New York's at the Javits Center, Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, reviewed hands-on lessons with IoT devices and reveal a new risk balance you might not expect. Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, has more than nineteen years' experience managing global security operations and assessments, including a decade of leading incident response and digital forensics. He is co-author of t...
Nov. 22, 2014 05:30 PM EST Reads: 1,795
Technology is enabling a new approach to collecting and using data. This approach, commonly referred to as the "Internet of Things" (IoT), enables businesses to use real-time data from all sorts of things including machines, devices and sensors to make better decisions, improve customer service, and lower the risk in the creation of new revenue opportunities. In his General Session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Dave Wagstaff, Vice President and Chief Architect at BSQUARE Corporation, discuss the real benefits to focus on, how to understand the requirements of a successful solution, the flow of ...
Nov. 21, 2014 08:00 PM EST Reads: 1,826
The security devil is always in the details of the attack: the ones you've endured, the ones you prepare yourself to fend off, and the ones that, you fear, will catch you completely unaware and defenseless. The Internet of Things (IoT) is nothing if not an endless proliferation of details. It's the vision of a world in which continuous Internet connectivity and addressability is embedded into a growing range of human artifacts, into the natural world, and even into our smartphones, appliances, and physical persons. In the IoT vision, every new "thing" - sensor, actuator, data source, data con...
Nov. 21, 2014 08:00 PM EST Reads: 1,747
"BSQUARE is in the business of selling software solutions for smart connected devices. It's obvious that IoT has moved from being a technology to being a fundamental part of business, and in the last 18 months people have said let's figure out how to do it and let's put some focus on it, " explained Dave Wagstaff, VP & Chief Architect, at BSQUARE Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Nov. 21, 2014 07:00 PM EST Reads: 1,689
Focused on this fast-growing market’s needs, Vitesse Semiconductor Corporation (Nasdaq: VTSS), a leading provider of IC solutions to advance "Ethernet Everywhere" in Carrier, Enterprise and Internet of Things (IoT) networks, introduced its IStaX™ software (VSC6815SDK), a robust protocol stack to simplify deployment and management of Industrial-IoT network applications such as Industrial Ethernet switching, surveillance, video distribution, LCD signage, intelligent sensors, and metering equipment. Leveraging technologies proven in the Carrier and Enterprise markets, IStaX is designed to work ac...
Nov. 20, 2014 09:15 PM EST Reads: 1,695
C-Labs LLC, a leading provider of remote and mobile access for the Internet of Things (IoT), announced the appointment of John Traynor to the position of chief operating officer. Previously a strategic advisor to the firm, Mr. Traynor will now oversee sales, marketing, finance, and operations. Mr. Traynor is based out of the C-Labs office in Redmond, Washington. He reports to Chris Muench, Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Traynor brings valuable business leadership and technology industry expertise to C-Labs. With over 30 years' experience in the high-tech sector, John Traynor has held numerous...
Nov. 20, 2014 06:00 PM EST Reads: 1,581
The 3rd International @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors - connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades.
Nov. 20, 2014 01:00 PM EST Reads: 2,120