Surface-y

I wanna talk for a little bit about the Microsoft Surface Pro 3, and also the lack of the Surface Mini that we all thought was going to be unveiled a very short while ago.

First off, the Surface Mini. I welcome the idea of Windows RT dominating the 8.9-inches-and-smaller field, as below 8.9 inches, the desktop is just hard to use, even with some serious scaling involved. RT, which does it’s best to keep you in TIFKAM (“the-interface-formerly-known-as-metro”, or what Microsoft annoyingly refers to as the yawningly named “Modern UI”), which also does much better than the desktop in a smaller screen space, would be an inspired choice on small Windows devices.

Recently, I’ve launched an experiment. Do I need the desktop AT ALL? As it happens, no. Not really. Using exclsuively free apps from all over the Windows Store, it turns out that TIFKAM is finally robust enough to meet all my daily needs… except for some hardcore office software, which I hear tell from my favorite reliable news outlets is already well into development. In the meantime, I venture into the Desktop only to boot up Kingsoft Office once in a blue moon, and always at work. As an AUTHOR, TIFKAM supports everything else. “Poe” meets my writing needs, “File Brick” gets me to and from my files about as well as the desktop file explorer. “Xbox Music” is a worthy music player, “StormPlay RT” does a pretty good job of keeping my videos humming along, “Freda”, “Kindle”, and “Kobo” apps let me keep up with my voracious reading habits, “OneNote” and the default Mail app are finally both superb, and blah blah blah. I don’t need to enumerate every app I have for free to be able to tell you that the Windows Store landscape is finally big enough and complete enough to provide you your daily drivers, if you’re willing to look for them.

Knowing this, I believe RT has finally found a home in the 9 inch and smaller territory. Mixing it in with 11 inch and bigger tablets was always a mistake due to confusion with regular Windows 8. On a Surface Mini, Microsoft would have had a superb chance to play to RT’s strengths as a “Windows-Lite” OS.

“A Not-Very-Heavy OS for a Not-Very-Heavy Device.”
There you go Microsoft. A marketing line for you, free of charge.

Keep in mind, the desktop is still convenient to have for full Windows users. But below 10 inches, it’s finnicky and hard to use with touch input. IMVU and iTunes (kind of my make-it-or-break-it apps) live on the desktop still. Apple probably won’t make a TIFKAM app, but IMVU might (given how long it took them to adapt it for OSX though, we should expect this around Windows 11’s launch window). Both are virtually unusable in tablet form factors, though iTunes is a little more cooperative.

When my Sony Vaio Duo 13 is in tablet mode? I don’t use the desktop much. I avoid it. There’s little point. All it results in is me poking and prodding at a 13 inch HD screen until if the computer could talk, I’m sure it would be screaming “rape” to passers-by to end the pain. TIFKAM is much more productive. A few simple desktop apps aside, all your daily NEEDS can be handled by RT-compatible apps.

RT’s got a place, and the Surface Mini might be the only thing that could prove it. Here’s hoping we see an RT powered Mini sometime soon.

As for the thing that WAS announced: the Surface Pro 3?

I like it. A lot actually. It had me looking at my Vaio Duo with a bit of disdain, honestly. Where when my Vaio Duo came out, it shared a single screen angle with the original Surface Pro, and the Vaio held the battery advantage, the Surface Pro has moved on.

It’s thinner, lighter, with a more (realistically) spacious screen. The 12 inch, 2560 x 1440, 3:2 ratio screen on the Pro 3 has me constantly viewing my Vaio’s 13 inch, 1920×1080 , 16:9 screen with dagger glares, and now it looks like a narrow landing strip by comparison. The Kickstand supports all angles. My Vaio Duo supports ONE. The Surface Pro 3 is 1.76 pounds. My Vaio Duo is 3.1 pounds.

And both have N-Trig pens, so neither can claim advantage in the pen input field.

Maybe my Vaio has some superior battery life. I do appreciate a long lasting battery, but the Surface Pro 3 doesn’t look to be a slacker in that department either. 7 or more hours is generally good enough for me.

As an author, I feel I could get mondo work done on this (taller screen means I can fit more lines of text on the page before scrolling down), and so the ball is now in Apple’s court to put out something that might drag me away from this. As it is, this is in many ways an upgrade from my Vaio, which despite my occasional spats, I still love.

Microsoft has made a strong case for my money, Apple. Now let’s see what you’ve got!

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