Surface Prep and My First Impressions

So most of you know that it was announced earlier this year that all Microsoft Employees would be receiving a Microsoft Surface in addition to a Windows Phone 8 device and a new laptop with Windows 8.  To start the gadget upgrades, I went out and purchased a Nokia Lumia 920 about a month ago and I will blog about my experiences with it and Windows Phone 8 for the IT Pro in the New Year.  I’ve also begun to evaluate the Windows 8 laptops in market today, but have decided to delay that purchase until after some of the new corporate-focused devices arrive after the New Year.  The other device, the Microsoft Surface, was available to be picked up by folks in the New York office earlier this week, so I swung by and picked mine up as a nice Christmas present from Microsoft.  I’ve finally gotten around to spending some time with the device and wanted to share my first impressions from an IT Pro’s perspective, as I’m sure it may be on the Christmas list for you or that IT Pro you love and you wanted to make sure it was worth the price.  Well, here are my first impressions.

First off, so you know which device I have, all Microsoft employees received a 32 GB Microsoft Surface RT with a Black touch cover.  OK, I know what you’re thinking, I’m an IT Pro, why not the Surface with Windows 8 Pro? When Microsoft announced that all employees were getting a Surface, sure many of us thought about the benefits of the Pro version versus the RT, but the Pro isn’t out until early 2013 (after I‘m writing this post) and its great to have this device over the holidaze to show family and friends. 


When we received the device in the NYC office, they had us all take it out of the box, power up, and make sure it was in full working order so any issues could be addressed.  I had no issues there and was soon on my way back to my desk and starting to get it set up and personalized to my liking.  After I put it on Wifi, Windows Update had a number of updates including firmware that it wanted to apply, so I went ahead and did that before I got to setting up the device too much.  While this was downloading and installing, I started to re-familiarize myself with the Surface hardware.  This is just first class hardware all around.  Gorilla Glass 2 for the screen means it won’t break when it takes a hard fall, the USB 2.0 port means I can use my Arc Touch Mouse just as I do with my laptop (or connect any other USB Devices I see fit), the kickstand just has an awesome feel to it, the Micro SD slot gives me the ability to add more memory, and the touch cover is just modern engineering at its finest as I’m able to type on this keyboard with no moving parts almost as easily as a chicklet keyboard on a laptop. 

Once the OS and firmware updates were done, I went to the store and started to download the apps I need to survive, like Lync, Skype, MetroTWIT, Remote Desktop, Xbox SmartGlass (oops, did I really write that?), and a few other personal favorites.  While I was in the store and installing these apps, many of the pre-installed apps showed that they had updates, so I took them down as well.  I installed and configured the apps, and configured Windows Mail for both my work Exchange account and my personal Exchange account.  After I got through with this, I went into the settings on the charms bar, chose “Change PC Settings” and under the Users tab, added accounts for the two of my kids who I know won’t be able to keep their hands off of it. 

The next few hours kind of flew by as I familiarized myself with the Windows Mail app (email never stops flowing in) and keeping up with the goings on with the people/companies I follow on Twitter, etc., etc.  Essentially, I hit this machine HARD from a power users perspective being on multiple websites, replying to emails, setting up my printer (it found my Epson Artisan 837 automatically on my network), and much, much more.  After all this was done, I was scared to see how much space was left and much to my surprise there was 13.4 GB of storage left (I believe it started with ~16.4 GB available out of the box, but don’t quote me on that.)  Well, time for a break, and I probably need to plug this thing in as I’ve been at it for hours and hours.  What!?!?!  The battery says 77% available after hours and hours of use!!  As Phil Rizzuto would say “HOLY COW!”  I could certainly get used to that battery life!

The next few days, I saw very little of the surface as my kids got their hands on it and the battle for “Surface time” has begun.  Me thinks Santa needs to bring another to the Hunt household, and after living with the Surface RT for less than a week, I’d recommend you do the same.