I bought my wife an iPad 2 for her birthday shortly after the 2 came out. She wanted it and LOVED it…just never used it. I use to get onto her in an attempt to get her to use the expensive gift. Part of it was me simply being a fool for people using tech but she really didn’t have much use for it. Unfortunately, the iPad 2 lacked basic needs for her to use it professionally and she had to force herself to use it as a consumption device.
When I bought my iMac, I tried to get her to use my old MacBook Pro, per her wishes, but she simply couldn’t make the switch to Mac. Windows was and is best for her. Realizing this and the simple fact her iPad mostly collected dust or was a large electronic Bible a few times a month [physical books are her friend] and during certain spells worked out as a good reading device, I decided to look into the Microsoft Surface 2 after seeing the improvements made in the new version.
Financially it was a no-brainer. Microsoft is offering $200 [minimum] for iPad and iPhone trades. My daughter had my old iPhone 4s that she didn’t like [she hates Siri; I'm not 100% sure why but she says she doesn't like the way it talks to her, go figure] and wanted my Nexus 4 since I just retired it for my new Nexus 5. I happily obliged her request and added it to the trade to get $400 in credit. A 32 GB Surface costs $449. Easy decision.
I went to get the 32 GB but they were sold out at the Microsoft Store in the Galleria Mall so I went ahead with the 64 GB for $159, after applied credit. Since I saved so much I added the Type Cover 2, insurance, a screen protector and a case with the $199 bundle they were offering. They were sold out of pink covers so I went with purple…close enough. The Touch Cover 2 didn’t suit her when we tried it in Best Buy last week but for an extra $10 I wonder who would even consider the Touch over the Type Cover.
The Store is littered with low-rent options. Since development has proven to be so easy, it leaves the Store open for less than great apps; at least that’s my assumption. This doesn’t mean it lacks essential apps for my wife’s needs but in going through the Top Free category there was definitely some trash mixed with some quality apps.
Microsoft needs to add better discovery. Either the low-rent options are the top apps [I didn't check download count on them] or there are some much-needed updates. I was able to easily find the apps important to my wife’s needs. It just took some patience and swiping.
The initial setup was easy. Since she didn’t initially realize it was touch screen, since it looks like a laptop w/ the cover on it, she had a momentary delay on the first screen when selecting a region. After that, she flew through the setup.
The part she loved was the ease of porting her files/settings. She was asked if she wanted to set it up as a new device or copy settings from Jarvis [a streaming rig I built she now uses as her desktop computer; I name all devices after superhero culture]. She copied them, customized her background and her apps, etc were added.
There isn’t another ecosystem where this flow works this well. My Mac apps don’t setup on my iPad mini or vice versa. Keychain is new and that helps but you clearly have two separate ecosystems and, important to me, separate app development flow. There isn’t a desktop Android option so definitely not there. I have said numerous times how Microsoft has the best ecosystem from phone to tablet to desktop and actually seeing it in action proved this true. Now they just need developers to back them and Microsoft could take over marketshare. I doubt they’ll win profit share. Apple’s margins [read: overcharging] is duplicated by no other.
The Type Cover 2 is great. It is laptop quality. The touchpad on it is really easy to use, although a bit small. It turned a tablet into a laptop alternative and shows the true intelligence of the “Smart Cover“.
Flash. Yeah, that old argument. Steve Jobs was simply wrong and this helps prove it. One of my wife’s professional needs is the use of Flash. She complained constantly on while we traveled or we she tried to do work on the couch about her iPad not allowing her to be productive. This is primarily due to her profession: teaching. Many of the school district sites and educational tools use Flash. So what did she do after setup? She went to one site, tried to download a file she never could on her iPad [due to the sites use of Flash], it worked, and she was sold.
On day one her Surface provided more productivity than her iPad has in 2 years. Sure that’s a little sensationalism but it is true.
My wife has a ton of Office docs in her Documents folder. I have tried to get her to use Dropbox. She didn’t [who wants to manually save all files to one folder?]. I got her into SugarSync. She used it a bit [thanks to selective folder selections] but it sat dormant so merely served as a backup.
SkyDrive? It just works. Windows 8.1 has an option to set the default save location to SkyDrive and boom…she creates a file and it is available on her desktop and Surface. [insert 'That was easy' button]
Moving files to the device were as easy as dragging over her 4 GB of files from her Documents folder, dropping them in her SkyDrive/Documents folder and she was setup. Of course 4 GB takes a while to upload then download but once done it is a mindless matter to keep her devices in sync. iCloud never offered her anything remotely close to this level of comfort or integration.
With a free 7 GB, she should be good for a bit but after adding her music [create a SkyDrive/Music folder, drag/drop files into it...done] she’s down to about ~1 GB left. I’m not big on paying for online storage for her after the failed Dropbox and SugarSync attempts but SkyDrive simply offers superior integration on Windows 8.1. After she cleans her old docs up, we’ll revisit paying for more storage.
Clearly, based on the number of docs she owns, Office is important to my wife. Office RT comes free on Surface RT. I’ve tried moving her to Google Docs without any success. She simply is more comfortable with Office so why fight it? Her first foray into using her Surface involved her diving immediately into Office and responding with “Ok…it’s the same thing.”
Sure, touch targets, etc are small and potentially problematic but not a showstopper when you have a capable cover with a mouse embedded. She went through Word, PowerPoint, and opened an Excel file from SkyDrive to happily see it was the same file she last used on her desktop.
There is a lot of fluff about Office being old, not loved by anyone, and a failed attempt at being a stake Microsoft keeps hammering but after seeing my wife in action…they should keep this stake. Most of that noise comes from Apple zealots, understandably, but Office is #1 for a reason. iWork is a novelty…for a reason.
It just works. No new printer needed.
You may see another post in a while stating “She didn’t use this one either” but I doubt it. With Office RT, printing, SkyDrive, settings/integration w/ her desktop, and the full Internet [read: Flash]…Microsoft has a winner.
This post by no means is intending to paint the iPad as an incapable device or the Surface 2 as the device you should push to your friends/family. Clearly the iPad is very capable of being productive for a lot of people but my wife wasn’t one of them. I’m not either [Nexus 7 all the way] but I know a lot of folks who truly get the most out of their iDevices.
Find what works for you and do you.