Should I buy Microsoft Surface now, or wait?

When rumors leaked of the prices for the Microsoft Surface around October 18th, I wasn’t thrilled. It was a little higher priced than I had originally hoped, but I had been setting aside cash with every intention of getting one “no matter what.” The thing is, I’ve known what I was getting in to. So here is what you need to know.

If it looks like Windows 8, and moves like Windows 8… it may not be Windows 8. Microsoft’s Surface that was made available in October is technically called “Microsoft Surface with Windows RT.” This device, while touting a full desktop-like experience, is limited to running apps from the Microsoft Store, found on the Start Screen. While I have no doubt that an eventual “Jailbreak” will be developed, there will still be problems with application compatibility. It is important to understand that the Microsoft Surface, and, in fact, any Windows RT tablet, can not run your traditional 32 or 64-bit Windows applications. The ARM processor requires software developers to do things differently than they would on traditional x86 architecture. Just the way your PC and your Mac can’t run the exact same programs, the same holds true for Mac OSX and iOS, Android, and even ChromeOS… each one requires special attention. Windows RT is no different.

What does this mean for you? A lot of applications you know and love aren’t going to be available. Are you a business person who needs Quickbooks? Too bad. Are you a gamer wanting to play some Diablo III? Outta luck. Need to Sync with iTunes? You’re out of luck.

This is where Microsoft has failed, this time around. While Windows RT shines with hardware compatibility, the software is clearly lacking. So eager to get people to buy their products, they haven’t made clear the distinction between Windows RT and Windows 8. And I don’t anticipate your normal big-box retail sales-person to be the one correcting you. What I describe above? Knowing that a lot of familiar programs just won’t run on Windows RT? THIS is the crux of the problem. No, don’t ask. Don’t even give me, “yeah, but what about… Outlook, Publisher, VPN Clients, Peachtree, Firefox, WinRAR, ĀµTorrentNO. They just don’t run. You need to know, without a doubt, that the Surface RT is designed to compete with the iPad and Android tablets – it is built new from the ground up. As such, it’s going to take time to get good applications, and that time is something many people don’t want to give up, waiting.

Surface Pro – a Microsoft made Windows 8 Tablet, NOT a Windows RT tablet, is supposed to be released this January or February. As of right now, there’s no such thing, especially not one directly from Microsoft. So if you’re looking to replace your laptop? Hold on. If you’re looking to have a nice portable and well-rounded alternative to an iPad? Look no further. If you’re hesitant, you should be. I would wait for the Surface Pro in the Spring – but start saving now, it will undoubtedly carry a 4 figure price tag.

Microsoft Surface with Windows RT: A Huge List of Impressions

When I unboxed the Surface RT, it was a thing of beauty. I clicked my Touch Cover on and away I went. I was surprised at how quickly I was able to adjust to typing on it. So let’s start there.

Touch Cover – within minutes I was tapping away, nearly full speed. Now, I will admit I have already acclimated myself to the smaller typing space of a netbook, but it wasn’t the space I had been worried about, it was the lack of a spring-feedback key-press. It turned out, I was ready for the change. Continue reading “Microsoft Surface with Windows RT: A Huge List of Impressions”

App of the week: Barcode Generator for Windows 8

This week’s app is from the Windows 8 Store. I can’t link to it because Microsoft has, as of yet anyway, not placed the Windows 8 store online, as it has with the Windows Phone and Xbox Live marketplaces. Still, search for it, and download it – because it is a handy program to have.

Developed by the Advanced Technology Division of Vevy Europe (uh… ‘kay), Barcode Generator allows you to make a QR Code for any occasion. Many of us make QR codes for one reason or another. You know what they are by now – little barcodes you scan with your smartphone that can take you to a website, splash up some text, save a contact, or do many, many more things. Most people generate those codes using a few familiar websites. But with Barcode Generator on Windows 8 (also in Windows RT’s Store), you can quickly and easily create and save QR codes for various use cases, including advanced scenarios like having an Android phone auto-join a wireless network, or sending an SMS. It uses a few basic templates to help you get started, and allows you to save your favorites.

For people who consider themselves completely technically illiterate, Barcode Generator still keeps it simple. Do you know what your Twitter name is? Just type that in and it will handle the rest – you don’t need to know your specific URL or anything like that. Barcode Generator is the easiest and simultaneously most thorough QR Code Generator I have used to date.

How to clean that cluttered Windows 8 Start Screen

So you just got a new Windows 8 PC, and you installed a few programs. For instance, Office 2010 was just installed to your new computer. Now your Windows 8 Start Screen has a ton of icons on it that you don’t want to see or use. How do you clean the clutter? Here’s the quick, easy way to do it:

Hold CONTROL and click on the icons you want to get rid of. This will allow you to click multiple icons, one at a time. As you do, you’ll see a checkmark appear in the upper left hand corner. Once you have the items you want to remove selected, simply click Unpin from Start in the bottom left corner of the screen. Poof. The icons disappear. Another option is to browse to the Start Menu Folder, where you can easily manage the items on the Start Screen as if it were a folder.

Also, don’t forget that you can right click on an icon and click the smaller or larger button to make it a single square or a wider icon, which can help you truly customize your Start Screen and make it your own.