Monday, November 25, 2013

Microsoft Surface 2 Review – and Tips

I bought a Surface 2 as an impulse purchase last week, knowing fully well that I might regret not buying the more beefier Surface 2 Pro. Lighter than the Pro, and only allowing apps to be installed from the windows store, the RT version of Surface just seemed limited. However, here is how I justified the Surface 2 RT over the Surface 2 Pro -

  • Its lighter (680 gm)
  • Longer Battery Life (around 10 hours)
  • I already have a laptop for the beefier work.
  • Cheaper (AU$ 527 for 32 GB version vs. AU $1016 for the Pro 2 64 GB). In addition, there was a discount on the tablet at the conference I was attending.

In addition, I could do the following easily -

  • Connect to Azure Virtual Machines
  • Use full version of Microsoft Office (actually almost full, as it doesn't support VBA, but that wasn’t important for me).

One week later, I am not regretting getting the Surface 2 at all. In fact, I have been pleasantly surprised multiple times. It started with the two freebies

  • One year of Skype Unlimited World subscription : Living in Australia, and making a lot of calls to US, I always bought this anyway. I used to pay $45 every quarter for unlimited calls to US – so that was immediately a saving of $180 for me.
  • 2 years of 200 GB free with SkyDrive : This means $200 of free storage for two years. After that I will have to either pay or download and dump it else where.  I currently have a Dropbox subscription, but its $199.20 per year. Skydrive is almost half the cost, so there is a big chance I’ll probably just end up using Skydrive storage.

I almost missed these two – till Sharepoint MVP Sezai Komur pointed them out to me.

Multiple Windows Stacking -

I was meanwhile, already loving the ability to stack multiple windows side by side so easily. So I could have skype open for instant messages and read my email at the same time. If two windows were not enough – Scott Hanselman by changing the resolution, showed how you could stack 3 windows. Its 1080p, so this does work pretty well.


Screenshot (1) 

Remote Desktop

This was again extremely easy out of the box, and with the great support of running GP on Azure – I am really looking forward to this. Again Scott Hanselman has a great set of tips on making this experience optimal - Using a Surface 2 (RT/ARM) to get actual work done + Remote Desktop + Visual Studio + Azure.

Business Analyzer App

This app was the reason I bought my first tablet a few years back. It’s been updated quite a few times and I think with the lightweight surface – I’ll be using this even more.



One of the big issues I had with the first version of the surface was the inability to keep it on my lap and work. Microsoft’s listened and added a Dual-position Kickstand. This really helps keep it stable when you can’t grab a table.


I think with the second refresh of the Surface, Microsoft really has a strong competitor to the iPads and the android tablets.  The iOS app store still has a much greater selection of apps, but for a majority of my work which is in Microsoft Office, Surface is now my go-to device. The native Remote Desktop support helps as well. I’ll still be gifting my grandma an iPad, but for most working people – Surface is going to be my recommendation.

UPDATE : Leon Tribe also has a great review on the Surface 2 - Review: Surface 2 32G (Why I Am Shocked How Good It Is)

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