30 Days with Windows RT on a Surface RT, 90 Days Later

So after I started my 30 days with Windows RT on a Surface RT challenge I had a few issues with the site and was distracted, however I continued the challenge and have been for a while.  Now some 90 days later I have to give you my conclusions.

For those of you not familiar with it, Windows RT is an ARM based version of Microsoft Windows 8.X that powers the Microsoft Surface RT, Surface 2 and other tablets.  Unlike the X86 and X64 based traditional Windows versions you can not use any desktop software other than what is already on the tablet.

So after using the Surface RT for over 90 days as my main computing device I have made a conclusion I never thought I would…I do not need my laptop anymore!  Yeah I was shocked.  There are a few reasons why that I think set Windows RT apart from Windows Phone (which I also use)

So why was I so able to get comfortable with Windows RT, simple, because it really is Windows.  As much as some people say it is not, it is Windows and is very feature complete.  A lot of tricks work as they would on any version of Windows.  That being said even thought there are a lot of great apps in the Windows Store you do find yourself wanting to be able to do or use something that there is no app for and on Windows RT this is not really a problem as almost every website out there works just as well on Windows RT as it does in Windows.  This is fine on a tablet where you have a full size screen and is just as familiar as a laptop because of the software it runs, but on Windows Phone I have not found the web to be much of a help simply because most mobile sites are terrible and full desktop sites can be hard to use on such a small screen.

There is another strong point that helps Windows RT.  Full Remote Desktop support from both a Windows Store app and mstsc.exe just like in any Windows version.  I have often used Remote Desktop to connect to my desktop computer to use software on there that I can not on in Windows RT.

At this point I have no intention of using my laptop again and I would say that a Surface RT or other tablet running Windows RT will work better than any other tablet on the market the only exception being ones that actually run traditional Windows.  I will also say that Windows RT tablets will work perfect for most computer users out there today because lets face it, we check out Facebook, email, and play flash games online till we get tired of bored and start watching Netflix.  You do not need a computer to do this, and maybe you can’t do it all on an iPad or Android tablet (flash support is not always there) but in Windows RT, you have flash support, you can install printers and print with your tablet, connect thousands of accessories through USB, and the Surface RT and Surface 2 both have micro HDMI out so you can connect to a TV or projector.

So if you are willing to learn and figure it out you will find a Windows RT device to be a great mobile computing solution and may find that like me you do not need a laptop anymore especially if you have a desktop computer at home or work.  I will be posting some articles with tips and tricks for Windows RT in the coming weeks that will help people out and the best thing, they all work on any Windows 8.X machine out there.  I really do love using this device.

Microsoft Windows RT – The Change That a Year Makes

As I am going through my 30 days with Windows RT on a Microsoft Surface RT I had to stop and realize something.  Windows RT 8.1 is a lot different then the shipping version of Windows RT over a year ago.

First is obvious the update to Windows RT 8.1 itself has a lot of improvements and I feel make Windows RT a little easier to use.  However there has also been a years worth of new apps or updates to apps in the Microsoft App Store that helps to make the Surface RT feel a little more mature than when it was first released a year ago.

I really feel it has been this passage of time that helps to make the Microsoft Surface RT a more practical computing device.  I have turned to the Microsoft App Store many times in the past few days and have found many options to help get work done.

Lets see how the rest of the month goes.  Wish me luck.

30 Days With Windows RT on a Microsoft Surface RT

This past Black Friday there were many great deals out there including some on the Microsoft Surface RT.  Both Best Buy and Microsoft had the 32Gb Surface RT on sale for around $200. No to mention I also saw it being sold with a touch cover for around $230 to $250 at other stores.  Well I had to jump on the chance to get one of these devices for many reasons if not for the fact that they are kind of a unique computing device.  So I picked one up from a Best Buy in Las Vegas and got a Type 2 Cover with it.  I know, I spent more than half of the total cost of the Surface RT on that Type 2 Cover but I think it was worth it.

After using this for a few days though I have to admit, I think this could replace my laptop almost full time.  Windows RT is just that good enough.  Of course it is also a year later so much has changed from a year ago and it does not hurt that Windows RT looks and works almost exactly like Windows 8, which I have used for over a year so I know a thing or two about it.  When I installed Windows 8 on my laptop it took me all of 10 minuets to know I could use that Windows operating system full-time, but without support for any desktop applications on windows RT can I really use the Surface RT like I use Windows 8 on my desktop and laptop?

So for the next 30 days I will only use the Microsoft Surface RT for my computing needs.  I will write many articles to help some of you out there that also picked up one of these devices and I will write about my usage every so often.  I think this will be an interesting month.

So for my first note about the Surface RT, I wrote this whole article on it using only the default touch on-screen keyboard.  Yeah its going to be an interesting month.  So make sure to subscribe to the blog, or follow Useful Windows on Facebook or Twitter and see how I do this month.

Microsoft Releases Windows RT Recovery Image For Surface RT

With some of the issues that people are having updating their Surface RT devices to Windows 8.1 RT, Microsoft has released an image of Windows RT (8.0) to restore non-functioning devices back to factory settings.  Microsoft has also taken the Windows 8.1 RT update offline till they can figure out the issue.  If you want to grab the image you can download the Surface RT recovery image from the Microsoft Download Center.  You will need to have a USB flash drive with about 4 GB of space.  I suggest if you own a Surface RT to grab a copy of the recovery image in case anything happens in the future. This Windows RT recovery image should prove helpful in the future.

Slow Windows 8 Sales, is Microsoft to blame…I think not

Many people out there including the computer manufactures are blaming Microsoft for slow Windows 8 computer sales.  When I look at everything I can not believe Microsoft is to blame and if anything it is the manufactures that are at fault.

There have been many speculating that tablets were going to kill the PC industry or at least make it very small.  So far this has not happened because people need to get real work done and most tablet today are not that great at getting real work done but awesome if you just want to check email, read a book, or watch a movie.  Nevertheless people are wanting more tablets and pressure was put on Microsoft to respond.  Well they did, with Windows 8 and Windows RT.  So where are the Windows based tablets?

Go to your local Best Buy or other computer electronics store (if your lucky to have anything other than Best Buy) or heck go to Wal-Mart and see how many Windows based tablets there are.  At Best Buy when I went recently I could only find two, a Surface RT and a Surface Pro, and when I inquired about them I was told that they were selling the Surface Pro pretty well, of course this was not too long after the Surface Pro came out.  Granted there were plenty of Andriod and iPads there.

I also looked at other Windows 8 machines there and I noticed something that concerned me.  First I did not see keyboards optimized for Windows 8 with specific buttons for the charms bar.  Microsoft has done this to many of its keyboards which I think is a nice touch and their lead should be copied.  Second I noticed just how many computers are still not touch screen.  Let me make something extremely clear, I have wanted to touch the screen on my computer for over 12 years now, and I still have issues when buying a computer to get this option.  I know I am not alone and I think more people would rather have a touch screen so what is the issue and hold up?

Clearly if anyone is to blame it is the computer manufactures and the retailers for slow Windows 8 sales.  If you are seeing commercials about Windows 8 and you get all excited about using a touch screen only to go to your local computer outlet to find non touch screen computers, well I would be disappointed.  What are computer manufactures doing to make Windows 8 computers different from the ones that had Windows 7 on them?  The reason tablets sell well is because they are new and cool, so if we did something new and different with computers don’t you think they would sell better?  If everyone at a coffee shop is touching their laptop screen, or folding it into a tablet, I think even some Mac users are going to have envy.  The retailers need to get what is different and new (like Lenovo’s lineup) out in stores and get rid of the junk they sell currently.  I know that cheap laptops sell but I am sure there are some manufactures making cheaper touchscreen devices, give them a chance instead of the main manufactures.

So far I am disappointed with the industry’s response to Windows 8, it is a great OS and has potential to do amazing, but until we get better hardware I am going to keep my current desktop and laptop because they run Windows 8 extremely well and I can not justify buying a machine that does exactly what my current machine does now.  Granted there are a few machines out there that are embracing the future but I want choice, that is why I am not a Mac user.

Can Microsoft Save Windows RT Sales if it opened up the Windows RT Desktop?

Something you hear less and less about lately is Windows RT.  In fact I have heard less ever since the Windows 8 launch and I know why.  Windows RT does not allow you to install software into the Desktop environment.  I was at a Microsoft Store in Scottsdale, Arizona on launch day and I can not count how many people were checking out the Surface RT to see what Windows RT could run.  I bumped into a few software and web developers who were interested in this new platform, and after finding out that the desktop is locked they left disappointed, some choosing to focus on Windows 8 while others taking in interested in creating Metro / Modern apps instead.

Now at launch there was the Surface RT as well as an Asus tablet that ran Windows RT, it was small and light and really I liked it a lot.  I can not find the Asus tablet today at Best Buy though. (it was there on launch day)  In fact there are no Windows RT tablets at Best Buy at all other than the Surface RT.  I think this tells us something, Windows RT is in trouble.

Lets face it Windows RT does not really offer anything new that Windows 8 doesnt and in fact is a compromise.  The only thing Windows RT does that Windows 8 doesnt is run on ARM processors. However Windows 8 runs desktop applications, and right now which is more useful to people today.  Granted Microsoft may be playing a long-term game with Windows RT betting on ARM becoming a real competitor to the Intel / AMD world we know today.

I would say with the interest on launch day about running applications in the desktop in Windows RT, Microsoft has two choices that would spur the demand for it.  Either Microsoft needs to offer some kind of compatibility or virtualization to run the current X86 desktop applications in the desktop in Windows RT or just open the Desktop up and give documentation so developers can create desktop applications if they choose to do so.  I really feel this would just be the push that Windows RT needs.  It could push Windows RT to be just as good of an option as Windows 8.  You may even see ARM based all in one, laptop, or desktop computers.  And from what I have read online those that have found ways of installing desktop applications in Windows RT have reported that if an application works with .NET 4 or above it does not need any if little change to run.  This is a huge win for .NET if it was officially supported.

Is there hope for Windows RT…Yes! however I think it will be these enthusiasts that are interested in it now that could save it.

Microsoft Releases Windows 8 to Much Fanfare, Other Retailers, Not So Much

Today I went to my local Microsoft Store in the Phoenix Metro area.  It was my first time being in a Microsoft Store and I was impressed.  Microsoft made sure their employees were knowledgeable on the products including the limitations of Windows RT and the Surface RT.  I would have liked to see more tablets, they had the Surface RT and an Asus tablet that also ran Windows RT.  There were many Laptops, ultrabooks, all in ones, and even a few desktops.  They also had a Perceptive Pixel display outside the door running Windows 8.  That was a lot of fun to play with.  There were lots of people in the store and many waiting in line to buy a Surface RT.

So after that, I went over to the nearest Best Buy.  They had a great choice of laptops and ultrabooks, and the did have the Lenovo Yoga which is impressive I have to admit,  As an update a different Best Buy I went to had many all in ones and desktops running Windows 8.  They did have the same Asus tablet running Windows RT as the Microsoft Store.  We really had the place to ourselves.  I talked to a sales associate and asked them if that Windows RT Asus tablet could run traditional Windows apps.  He responded with it depends on the application.  I let him know that Windows RT could not run any traditional Windows applications only the ones in the Windows Store.  It seems like Best Buy is going all out with Windows 8 for computers but not so much with tablets.  I was told that there will be more coming in the next month or so.

After that, we went to the other big box electronics store in the Valley of the Sun, Fry’s Electronics.  They had maybe 4 Windows 8 machines in the store. The best Windows 8 machine there was a Sony convertible tablet / laptop.  What I did find interesting they had a live demo of Windows 8 with live Q and A every few hours.  I kind of felt like we were asking questions to candidates, instead of seeing about a new operating system.  There was a lot of good info there, though.

I was really hoping to see more tablets and convertible laptops and ultrabooks at the launch but I have been told every store I went to that they are coming.  We will see but as far as the retailers they seem a little apprehensive about Windows 8 and I can understand.