Review of Microsoft’s Tablet PC – The Surface Pro

Microsoft has recently released two Surface Pro Screen Replacement called Surface RT and Surface Pro. Given our focus in business computing, the Surface RT does not provide enough features for our liking but The Surface Pro does, and as a result we wanted to see if it could in fact, be a viable laptop replacement.

The Surface is Microsoft’s newest line of touch-screen tablet PCs and was specifically designed to work with Microsoft’s newest Windows operating system, Windows 8. The beauty of the Surface Pro is that it offers powerful hardware matching business class laptops but in a much smaller, travel friendly size. This is a rare combination in today’s market. In looking at some of the specs, the Surface Pro weighs 2 pounds configured with a solid-state hard drive and comes equipped with wireless connectivity and ports for external USB-3, mini-HDMI video and a slot for a SD memory card. There are third party docking stations which connect to the USB port allowing you to attach a mouse, keyboard, Ethernet, video and additional USB ports when working in the office. Most likely, all you would need.

Set up is the same as any other Windows device. The Surface asks you to choose your language, accept the Microsoft Terms of Service, apply a few settings, and it’s ready for use. Windows 8 also has the ability to allow the user to log in with a Windows Live ID, rather than a standard local profile. This provides cloud services and allows the user to store the profile of the Windows 8 device in the cloud so it’s available, along with specific settings, to any other Windows 8 device when logged into the Windows Live ID.

Windows 8 provides two separate desktop environments for ease of use. Upon login, the Surface desktop defaults to the ‘Tiles’ environment. This environment is suited to touch screens like smart phones, allowing you to swipe and click to access programs pinned to this screen. On this layout, there is a main tiled screen where the programs and shortcuts can be customized. By swiping the screen (again, in a similar manner to a smart phone), access to other screens and menus is available.

There is also a ‘Tile for Desktop’, which accesses the traditional Windows desktop look. Programs and documents can be saved to the desktop for quick access, just like in past versions of Windows. The missing Start menu and various other bug fixes are expected to be added in Windows 8.1, a free service pack from Microsoft due out in October.