I bought an original Surface RT back when it launched, about a year ago: http://robaker.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/surface.html.
I’ve got a desktop for real work and can check emails on my Windows 8 Phone when I’m on the move, but the Surface fits right in the middle: It’s useful for meetings where I might want to make some notes, or for travelling, or for browsing the internet and reading news via RSS from the couch at home. I played a few games from the store, but they’re pretty lame if you’re used to something like the Xbox.
I’ve used Handbrake to rip a few DVDs to MP4 so I’ve got stuff to watch on the handful of occasions I’m away from home.
Surface RT 2 and Surface Pro 2 have just come out, but I’m not sure what benefits, if any, these bring over the originals.
Windows 8.1 was released and was a free upgrade, so I’m now running that. Microsoft continue to fail to talk to their customers so I’ve no idea what benefits I should expect, but here’s a few things I’ve found since the upgrade.
The big news, for me, is that the SkyDrive client is built in to Windows 8.1 and it works on Surface RT so I now have all my files automatically synched to the Surface! The control interface is now through the Windows Store app which is built-in to Windows 8 & 8.1. Note that the earlier client will just vanish from a Windows 8 laptop when you upgrade to 8.1 as the upgrade tidies it away, which is nice, but a little heads-up would have been good. Given that email is a well-understood communications tool, and Windows has a client built-in, it could have sent me a little email or something to let me know.
The start button is back and appears bottom-left of the desktop, in the usual place. This button just brings up the start page, so isn’t useful to me as I’m now used to hitting the Windows key or whatever. I can see how it would have helped Windows 7 users transition though and I’m amazed it took this long for it to arrive.
Searching is slightly different. You can still just start typing on the start page and it flicks into search mode, but the categories are gone now. Instead it searches “everywhere” and gives a you results page which you can switch back to if you want to try different results without having to rekey your search. Handy. Also, when at the start screen you can now swipe down (or click the little down arrow) to find your list of all app that are installed – previously I was searching and clicking the Apps category.
Food and Health & Fitness apps have appeared. These are just additions to the existing built in news apps, such as the Sport and Finance apps. Not useful to me.
A Reading List app has also appeared. This lets you bookmark web pages to remind you to read them later. You do this via the Share charm, so from within IE you share to the Reading List app. Seems like they broke their own metaphor here, but not tried it enough to judge whether it works or not. The list will sync across desktops apparently. It didn’t work from desktop IE though – only the Windows Store IE