Here we are at the very start of 2014. The year is a blank slate. So, I'm looking forward to all things new again - new opportunities, new challenges, and most importantly - new toys!
With only four months left until the end of Windows XP, I've decided to take the leap. While it's certainly a leap of faith, it's actually more of a plunge - like the first swim in the Polar Bears Club! Here's what I mean...
I'm writing this blog entry today from my new Windows tablet. It's a Surface Pro 2 to be exact. Not only is it a tablet running Windows 8.1, but it runs the full-blown version of Windows 8 (not RT). What's the difference you might ask? Well, this machine is being heralded as a the first real tablet cross-over.
It's supposed to be a machine where it's more than just about experiencing content you digest, it's touted as a tool one can actually use to get work done (and from a business perspective, isn't that really what it's all about?). Not only am I writing this on my new Surface, but I'm entering it in our web site's CMS without a hitch!
I've been "playing" with it for only a couple of days now, and I'm starting to like it more and more. While I went into this journey "protected" by a 15 day return policy, this morning is when it hit me. I came to the point where I realized, I'm not going to return this thing.
To get there I had to come to the conclusion that this isn't a toy but something that really adds value to my quiver (of computing devices) and that I can't see NOT having it. To some degree, I will admit - this is a luxury. But as the leader of an IT services company, if anyone should have something that makes his life easier and more productive, I should take advantage of that.
So, what's so cool about this? Well, without going into too much detail, it really gives me all that a laptop does but in a tablet form factor and with the "speed of access" that I can't get with anything else. Because it's the full-blown version of Windows, I can install any program on it that I could on my laptop (you can't do this natively on any other tablet.
Sure you can setup a remote desktop session into a Citrix or RDS server, but that's not the same experience nor the same functionality). With MS-Office installed on it, I have the full featured functionality of Outlook AND the speed of accessibility of a tablet. What I mean by this is now I have the ability to just grab it anywhere at any time and run Outlook. Not some stripped down mail client, but the full version. In the position I'm in, and the industry I'm in, my work life revolves around Outlook.
So, the combination of this accessibility and functionality is something that I've been looking for for years. With the attached keyboard, I'm portably rocking work like never before. I have multiple windows open and Alt-Tabing between all my open programs - and between what you would think is the desktop side and on the tablet (ie: "App") side. Mix this in w/ the touch pen and you have a computing experience like never before.
Now to be honest, I went into this exercise somewhat pessimistically. I didn't like Windows 8 (and I'm still only warming up to it). I love the flexibility and stability of Windows 7. I live and die with my iPhone. And my iPad experience has been nothing less than stellar. It's significantly more pricey than anything else out there (in the tablet world). It's heavier than all of the others. The App community is weak to say the least (there's not even a Pandora or Instagram App!) And it hasn't gotten the best of reviews.
That said, and after only two days, it's hard to deny that now there really is a new kid on the block. From a productivity standpoint, this is going to be hard to beat. The response is incredibly snappy and the touchscreen and pen combination is awesome.
There's certainly more to investigate, but so far so good. Now if only Microsoft could get out of their own way and market this thing better and price it appropriately, they could have a winner on their hands. At least for those of us who need a tablet that's a full, fledged business machine (and not a consumer gadget).
If you have a Surface or are thinking of getting one, please let me know. I'd love to share more of my experience with you...