Windows RT seem like a very polished and innovative operating system which works well with devices that have a touchscreen, including the Microsoft Surface. It is confusing that Microsoft has included the option of entering desktop mode on this version of Windows as well as the one created specially for tablets, as classic desktop applications written for Windows 7 and before will not run on the Surface. I predict users will rarely be using this mode.
Instead, users will work in the so-called Microsoft Design Style, which is the official term for what we call the Metro mode. In the end, this is a positive feature on this device because such a user interface is drastically better adjusted to the touchscreen.
The one shortcoming is this: there is little third-party software currently available, but this is something that is ‘fixed’ day by day as many new applications arrive at the Windows Store. Microsoft has clearly been very motivating for developers, which is evident in the rapid rise of available applications.
For the time being, there are no full-blooded Metro applications for Facebook, Twitter and many more; however, pre-installed Office applications come with the tablet (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote), all with integrated support for SkyDrive, as well as a fantastically optimized and fast Internet Explorer 10. Anyone who is skeptical about working with these applications on this device will soon have no doubts after trying them out.
Working with Office and full-blooded Metro applications is very practical and provides an excellent experience on the Surface RT and this is, again, one of the features making it seem more like a small notebook rather than a large smartphone. It is also one of the features making it different from the iPad and tablets with Android. For purchasers who require such functionality, this should be the deciding factor while choosing a tablet.
Windows RT come with certain flaws as well, of course. It offers so many gestures that can be created with finger movements across the screen that it is almost impossible to master them all in a reasonable time-frame. This is too much and surely, not everyone will be using them all.
In a similar fashion, the Windows Mail application has been poorly built — it is slow while synchronizing with any type of server and is slower and unstable in general than other key software components this device offers. I did not like the fact that Office comes in the Preview version as well, even though the full version is free. The user needs to upgrade it for free and exclusively through the Control Panel while in desktop mode, which is a useless complication. Such annoying trifles are Windows RT’s biggest flaw.
A 1.2-megapixel camera that can record 720p video clips is located on the upper back of the Surface. Be aware, it is directed upward in relation to the back of the tablet, in order to record ‘straight ahead’ at times when the tablet is set up on its kickstand. This is one of the details which proves Microsoft has anticipated that Surface would be used far more often when docked than when held in the hand, which adds to the case that the experience it provides is similar to that we have with notebooks.
Of course, many will love this camera, but one should keep in mind that this is an exceptionally small, almost disappointing resolution for a rear-facing camera, which will demotivate most purchasers from using it for taking photos. Many other tablets, including Surface itself, use low resolution for front-facing cameras that are normally used for making video calls.
On the right side of the Microsoft Surface you’ll find the charging slot, which is unfortunately a proprietary power connector. Still, this isn’t too bad, given that a magnet holds the connector on the charger linked with the tablet, irrelevant of the side it is facing. Battery charging takes place exceptionally fast, and a single charge provides almost identical battery life as the iPad. This means that with average everyday use, Surface can be used for several days without the need to recharge.