An iPad lover’s new Surface romance


blog Local Office 365 MVP Loryan Strant is well-known in the Australian tech community for his professional focus on all things Microsoft. But what not everyone would know is that Strant has also been a pretty big fan of Apple’s iPad. And who isn’t? In a world of largely mediocre rivals, the iPad has dominated its field for so long that it’s come to seem an institution. However, in the latest post on his blog this morning, Strant reveals the iPad may be on the way out for him, and Microsoft’s Surface tablet on the way in. The post outlining his rationale is detailed and worth reading. Some sample paragraphs:

“I was curious to see how long it would take until I went back to the iPad because it could do something the Surface couldn’t. So far it’s been 3 days and my iPad has not been touched once (it’s literally in the same spot I left it when the courier rang the doorbell).

Would a Surface RT replace a desktop computer or laptop? Would an iPad or Android tablet? The answer is that the Surface RT is less than a PC, but far more than a tablet. In a world where we no longer need as much local processing power or storage, where connectivity and cloud are ubiquitous – the Surface brings the best of both worlds.”

I haven’t gotten my hands on a Surface yet, but by all accounts (I paid particular attention to The Verge’s review) it’s a very promising machine; bridging the gap somewhat between the laptop and tablet worlds. It’s not perfect yet, but it’s definitely heading in the right direction. I’ve personally been pretty hard on Microsoft over Windows 8’s new user interface, but it also appears as though (this is one of the issues mentioned in Strant’s blog post) not everyone is finding it as hard to use as some of the initial reviews would suggest. I’d be interested to hear further feedback from those that have bought a Surface already or played with one — how are you finding the device?

Image credit: Microsoft


  1. We’ve got one on loan from Microsoft. It’s a bit terrible in that RT is pretty much a giant phone.

    The keyboard is made of some spongey material – not sure how well that will last (ie get dirty).

    Can’t join a Windows domain. Can’t join enterprise grade wireless.

    Bit annoying having to switch from keyboard to touchscreen all the time.

    • The Surface RT doesnt belong in Enteprise environments… but that wont stop anyone. Hell, the iPad has Zero enterprise management features but they are still widely used.

        • Yeah next year it is supposed to be available. Apparently it’ll be terrible – as within Microsoft noone knows whose product it is (ie Windows team vs Mobile team etc).

          • Considering how well all Microsoft product integrate with each other im pretty sure the teams are more than capable of effectively collaborating with each other.

            May i ask your source for this info?

          • The source is the Microsoft engineers themselves (i’m guessing they don’t want to be named).

            Everyone will be relieved to know I figured out the wireless – you can’t configure it via the UI – you have to go deeper into the Desktop and thrash around in it a bit until you find the settings that lets you do the enterprise wifi stuff.

            Also another bit of day one win is that just about every app on the system wants to update itself.

    • It’s a bit terrible in that RT is pretty much a giant phone

      annoying having to switch from keyboard to touchscreen all the time.

      It’s a tablet. Tablet’s primary input device is its touchscreen… keyboard is there for added convenience only, when entering text; most people will use the touch interface most of the time.

      I really don’t understand people who are whinging about Surface (or Windows 8 in general) because they were expecting just another version of a mouse-driven Windows XP-derivative to run on a fixed desktop box or a laptop without a touchscreen. Why would you get a tablet or a new operating system designed specifically for touchscreen tablets if you don’t want a tablet…?!

      • keyboard is there for added convenience only, when entering text; most people will use the touch interface most of the time.

        God I hope not. I HATE touchscreen typing. I’d much rather use a keyboard, even a squishy one….

        • Well you have a choice, unlike most tablets. if you dont want a squishy keyboard you can always get the Type cover.

          • Agree.
            I’m very good at touchscreen typing, but nothing will ever beat my mechanical keyboard :3

        • I agree that typing on touchscreen sucks, big time. What I wanted to say is that most people don’t do much typing on their tablets; most of the time, touchscreen is quite satisfactory.

          For those moments when you do need to enter a large amount of text, the physical keyboard is there. You don’t have to “switch from keyboard to touchscreen all the time”.

          • You’d be surprised how many people use Bluetooth keyboards and/or keyboard cases for the iPad. I certainly couldn’t get by without mine. Not for a second pretending an iPad + keyboard comes anywhere near the functionality of RT, but getting half your screen real estate back and typing on physical keys is an improvement to any tablet if you need to type more than a quick email. And there are plenty of good productivity apps on iPad now to make use of one.

            Apps if the one big area where RT has a lot of catching up to do, but now that Metro is baked into Win8, I expect the situation to be very different in one year’s time. Hopefully about the same time you can get a high resolution Surface, which is about the time I’d feel tempted to purchase one.

    • I’ve been using one for two days. The key feature is that you can use a mouse – something you can’t do on an iPad. Therefore, I can connect to my corporate virtual desktop, and I have my full corp desktop experience from a tablet. This makes it a true laptop replacement for me.

      Doesn’t have 3G though. Usability here and there is less resolved that iOS. The Citrix receiver app also is missing a few bits too. So I’m back to the iPad+MacBook Air 11″ until a that’s sorted…

  2. I wish i had one but i am scared it wont do something i need it to… so holding out for the Surface pro.

    it is incredibly tempting though… besides games like Skyrim, MW3 etc I’m just looking at what i do on my Desktop PC that i wouldn’t be able to do on the surface and the list is shorter than i thought… basically i wouldn’t be able to run my Games, VM’s with virtualbox/VMWare workstation, the Sky Wallet desktop app doesn’t have a Windows RT app yet but I’m crossing my fingers it’ll be updated for Windows Phone 8 and RT and have a metro app… I will have all the office apps i need on RT, and ill have teamviewer which i need for work.

    My god, i think I’m gonna buy a surface RT.

    • Hmm, i hope Canon write an app for windows RT for their EOS utility so i can use it with my 7D, but not a dealbreaker. Also i think it would be cool if Storagecraft wrote an RT app for ShadowProtect but again not a dealbreaker, I can live with windows backup.

  3. Why am I not surprised this Microsoft professional likes the Surface more than the iPad? The dude thinks the way Microsoft thinks and has been using Microsoft products for, I assume, a very long time – the Surface is *made* for him.

    And that’s awesome. It’s not a failing of the iPad, it’s just that Loryan’s mindset and approach to computing has been moulded by Microsoft for decades – just like mine has been moulded by Apple. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just what it is and how people become comfortable and familiar with the things they use and the environment they reside in.

    • Windows 8 RT’s “look and feel” is such a huge departure from Microsoft’s past GUI designs (as you can see by the amount of complaining about how “everything has changed” and how “Windows is no longer usable”) that this just doesn’t hold water. Current iOS on iPad looks more like traditional “Windows” than Windows 8 does, with its tiles and chromeless, content-first fullscreen apps.

  4. I don’t have a Surface but I’ve been running Windows 8 on a Samsung 700T slate for the last couple of months. So far I’m enjoying using the device quite a lot and it didn’t take me long at all to get used to the Metro interface. With a touchscreen it makes a lot of sense, and after a short while I found myself touching the screen even when I had the device docked with a mouse plugged in. It’s becoming clear to me that touch-capable PCs are the future of computing, and I can even see the mouse being reduced to a niche product in a few years (a bit like trackballs or digitisers today).

    I have an iPad 2 and I’m not quite ready to say this device could be a replacement, but that’s mostly because it’s considerably bigger and heavier than an iPad (it has an i5 and a huge battery to run it so this is inevitable). A smaller, lighter ARM-based device like the Surface RT might very well change my mind, but I do worry slightly that a Tegra 3 will struggle sometimes, especially compared with an i5. I guess it’s one of those things you’d have to try for yourself.

    Like a lot of people I’m looking forward to the release of the Surface Pro. I’m guessing it will address a lot of the problems people have had with the RT.

    • Thanks to Metro/Modern/Whateverthefuckthey’recallingit, I’ve got all of my applications now pinned to the UI.

      I dont even need the desktop, unless I launch Vuze. I’ve swapped away from Chrome totally (since it seems to be a buggy PoS on W8) and I’ve swapped back to IE10.

      I’ve got almost no need for the desktop and it becomes less and less by the week. I’m honestly impressed with the UI, most people that were a bit ‘cautious’ I think need to put more than their toes in the water ;)

      There is some stuff thats still clunky, mouse movement in Modern seems odd, charms could do with a better interface because outside of the initial setup – you’ll never be prompted and theres no visual indicator they’re even there. I’ve noticed Tabbing in some programs results in multiple instances of Modern (multiple threads that do nothing) or Modern stays on its background when you swap to it and it doesnt refresh – but its just mostly buggy stuff.

      On a whole, I like it.

      • I agree. I just upgraded my desktop to Windows 8 and sure it was different at first but after the second day of use I’m sold. I love the interface and all this talk about how its a tablet only OS and it’ll be useless with a keyboard and mouse is IMO totally unfair and completely wrong. What is so difficult about right clicking or moving the mouse cursor to the corners? It all flows quite well for me and I don’t find myself going to the desktop all that often and when I do it doesn’t feel too cumbersome although I’ll agree its not quite as tightly integrated as I’d like. One thing is for sure though, when I do go to the desktop it feels old and antiquated compared to metro. I think that once developers release metro replacements for their apps a lot of the issues will be resolved… eg. I can’t wait for the metro firefox & thunderbird . My only real gripe at the moment is not getting notifications from desktop apps in metro… hopefully MS fixes this or someone writes a service or something to intercept desktop notifications and display them in metro. Oh and why won’t MS let us put our own background image on metro??

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