That said, there is a lot that you can do immediately with Windows RT. Microsoft’s mail and calendar apps are not wonderful, but do the job. You have maps, you have a web browser, you have a PDF reader, you have music and video. I was able to write this review in Word, take screenshots and crop photos in Paint. I was also able to VPN and remote desktop from a hotel room to my office network. In this context, PowerShell could be particularly useful for remote administration - though if your particular VPN is not supported, it will be a difficult problem to fix.
Surface RT has security advantages. The inability to install desktop apps will protect users from many threats, and Windows Store apps are sandboxed from each other and from the operating system.
On the hardware side, Surface is impressive. There are two optional clip-on keyboard covers, one called the Touch keyboard which is thin and almost flat, but responsive for typing, and one called the Type keyboard which is a little thicker and has keys which actually depress, for more comfortable typing.
The elegance of these keyboards is that they give Surface the flexibility of a hybrid with touch or keyboard/trackpad input, but without the bulk and fiddly complexity that often goes with it. The touch keyboard is particularly impressive, taking hardly any space but allowing typing almost as rapid as what you can achieve with the Type version. When out of use, you fold the keyboard over the screen. You can also fold the keyboard back when using the Surface as a tablet. It detects that it is folded back and stops responding to touch.
The Surface kickstand is well-made and clicks easily in and out. The front camera is designed to view straight ahead even when the screen is angled back by the kickstand.
Drop it, prop it, view it: The unbreakable Surface with kickstand deployed and camera angled to look ahead
The case is made from VaporMg, moulded magnesium made by a process developed by Microsoft for strength and lightness. According to Microsoft, Surface is laden with custom components, in order to achieve a refined and compact design that would not otherwise be possible. Microsoft claims it is also a robust design, following multiple drop tests; Sinofksy has even attached wheels and used Surface as a skateboard.
Whether Surface is really more robust than competing tablets is not yet possible to say, though it is plausible. It also seems that the devices will be hard to repair, and that the battery is non-replaceable though it is supposed to last five years, following which you are meant to buy a new Surface.
Surface RT is not for everyone. Users who want the freedom and massive app availability of desktop Windows should not consider it. There is another category of users who might like to use Surface, but the lack of some essential Windows desktop apps will make it impossible. If your requirements fit with what Surface offers though, it is a device that is a pleasure to use. Apple’s Cook is correct, Surface is something of a hybrid, but makes that into a positive quality through careful design. ®
Find out how real-world users fared in The Reg’s lab test of Windows 8 on different age groups and computer users. Do Windows 8 keyboards avoid the fiasco of Microsoft’s early 2000s tablet foray or do they need Windows 8 survival guide?
Surface RT: Freedom luvin' app-huggers beware
"The inability to install desktop apps will protect users from many threats,"
Threats such as people using their own machine with software of their own choice.
I suspect the only reason RT even has a desktop is because Office is such a large, complex piece of code filled with thousands of dialogs and legacy components that Microsoft was unable to port it to WinRT in time. So they shipped a stripped down, locked down desktop as a workaround hack.
Re: Software costs?
This non-commercial use of Office seems the craziest part of the whole concept, presumably the result of some internal turf war in Redmond. Nowadays we use our personal devices for all sorts and to have to consider whether a given document has commercial value or not is sheer madness. Something Microsoft need to be pressed on. Hard.
Re: Software costs?
All my macros have to work throughout the staffs PC's & whatever they send me for approval has to "just work" as well . All the formatting must be according to a standard we decide and control. It has to be managable on a distributed network
That list doesn't contain anything OO or LO cannot handle, with added benefit that you can leave users on any platform and your format will *STILL* look the same. Granted, the macro language needs learning, but at least it works consistently across versions and languages.
It's a waste of time and money to give users too many options. They are there to work
Although you don't exactly sound like fun to work for, I actually agree. But then ask yourself: are you prepared to have them fight with every new version that MS rams down your neck, the main change usually being enough to totally destroy productivity for months? The only bit in OO/LO that could really, really do with a change is the insane colour management. I don't want to have to name a colour for the 3 times in a month I use it. But at 130x nada for license costs I think it's something you may want to reconsider - you save enough money to pay for someone converting your macros.
Having said that - get decent software for that. Office macros are not exactly the most stable platform to base an organisation on..
Re: I didn't think she could switch a machine on without assistance...
The target market, right there.
"The inclusion of Office is not quite the bargain it first appears, since it is restricted to non-commercial use unless covered by an additional licence."
"I was able to write this review in Word..."
So could we have some details of the commercial usage licence costs? Presumably Libre Office will never get a place in the Windows store, so the cost to use this thing legally for business purposes may be a lot higher than the price tag on the box.