|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?
Basho Technologies has announced the latest release of Basho Riak TS, version 1.3. Riak TS is an enterprise-grade NoSQL database optimized for Internet of Things (IoT). The open source version enables developers to download the software for free and use it in production as well as make contributions to the code and develop applications around Riak TS. Enhancements to Riak TS make it quick, easy and cost-effective to spin up an instance to test new ideas and build IoT applications. In addition to...
Jun. 27, 2016 05:15 PM EDT Reads: 272
When people aren’t talking about VMs and containers, they’re talking about serverless architecture. Serverless is about no maintenance. It means you are not worried about low-level infrastructural and operational details. An event-driven serverless platform is a great use case for IoT. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Animesh Singh, an STSM and Lead for IBM Cloud Platform and Infrastructure, will detail how to build a distributed serverless, polyglot, microservices framework using open source tec...
Jun. 27, 2016 04:39 PM EDT Reads: 175
IoT offers a value of almost $4 trillion to the manufacturing industry through platforms that can improve margins, optimize operations & drive high performance work teams. By using IoT technologies as a foundation, manufacturing customers are integrating worker safety with manufacturing systems, driving deep collaboration and utilizing analytics to exponentially increased per-unit margins. However, as Benoit Lheureux, the VP for Research at Gartner points out, “IoT project implementers often ...
Jun. 27, 2016 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 193
Presidio has received the 2015 EMC Partner Services Quality Award from EMC Corporation for achieving outstanding service excellence and customer satisfaction as measured by the EMC Partner Services Quality (PSQ) program. Presidio was also honored as the 2015 EMC Americas Marketing Excellence Partner of the Year and 2015 Mid-Market East Partner of the Year. The EMC PSQ program is a project-specific survey program designed for partners with Service Partner designations to solicit customer feedbac...
Jun. 27, 2016 03:15 PM EDT Reads: 273
Machine Learning helps make complex systems more efficient. By applying advanced Machine Learning techniques such as Cognitive Fingerprinting, wind project operators can utilize these tools to learn from collected data, detect regular patterns, and optimize their own operations. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Stuart Gillen, Director of Business Development at SparkCognition, discussed how research has demonstrated the value of Machine Learning in delivering next generation analytics to imp...
Jun. 27, 2016 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 716
In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Lee Atchison, Principal Cloud Architect and Advocate at New Relic, discussed cloud as a ‘better data center’ and how it adds new capacity (faster) and improves application availability (redundancy). The cloud is a ‘Dynamic Tool for Dynamic Apps’ and resource allocation is an integral part of your application architecture, so use only the resources you need and allocate /de-allocate resources on the fly.
Jun. 27, 2016 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,125
It is one thing to build single industrial IoT applications, but what will it take to build the Smart Cities and truly society changing applications of the future? The technology won’t be the problem, it will be the number of parties that need to work together and be aligned in their motivation to succeed. In his Day 2 Keynote at @ThingsExpo, Henrik Kenani Dahlgren, Portfolio Marketing Manager at Ericsson, discussed how to plan to cooperate, partner, and form lasting all-star teams to change t...
Jun. 27, 2016 02:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,197
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life sett...
Jun. 27, 2016 02:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,173
There are several IoTs: the Industrial Internet, Consumer Wearables, Wearables and Healthcare, Supply Chains, and the movement toward Smart Grids, Cities, Regions, and Nations. There are competing communications standards every step of the way, a bewildering array of sensors and devices, and an entire world of competing data analytics platforms. To some this appears to be chaos. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, Bradley Holt, Developer Advocate a...
Jun. 27, 2016 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 787
Connected devices and the industrial internet are growing exponentially every year with Cisco expecting 50 billion devices to be in operation by 2020. In this period of growth, location-based insights are becoming invaluable to many businesses as they adopt new connected technologies. Knowing when and where these devices connect from is critical for a number of scenarios in supply chain management, disaster management, emergency response, M2M, location marketing and more. In his session at @Th...
Jun. 27, 2016 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,033
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...
Jun. 27, 2016 09:30 AM EDT Reads: 871
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, wh...
Jun. 27, 2016 07:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,042
Cloud computing is being adopted in one form or another by 94% of enterprises today. Tens of billions of new devices are being connected to The Internet of Things. And Big Data is driving this bus. An exponential increase is expected in the amount of information being processed, managed, analyzed, and acted upon by enterprise IT. This amazing is not part of some distant future - it is happening today. One report shows a 650% increase in enterprise data by 2020. Other estimates are even higher....
Jun. 26, 2016 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,316
SYS-CON Events announced today that Bsquare has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For more than two decades, Bsquare has helped its customers extract business value from a broad array of physical assets by making them intelligent, connecting them, and using the data they generate to optimize business processes.
Jun. 26, 2016 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,229
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. 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 - comp...
Jun. 26, 2016 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,283
19th Cloud Expo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, 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. Meanwhile, 94% of enterpri...
Jun. 26, 2016 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,350
The 19th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Digital Transformation, 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 opportuni...
Jun. 26, 2016 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,306
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 19th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world and ThingsExpo Silicon Valley Call for Papers is now open.
Jun. 26, 2016 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,140
There is little doubt that Big Data solutions will have an increasing role in the Enterprise IT mainstream over time. Big Data at Cloud Expo - to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA - has announced its Call for Papers is open. Cloud computing is being adopted in one form or another by 94% of enterprises today. Tens of billions of new devices are being connected to The Internet of Things. And Big Data is driving this bus. An exponential increase is...
Jun. 26, 2016 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,362
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 & ...
Jun. 25, 2016 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,634