Surface/iPad – Now (Part 2)

Surface/iPad – Now (Part 2)

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Image source: The verge

In my post, Surface/iPad – Then (Part 1) I gave a brief history on Microsoft’s efforts with phones, Windows and Surface product line up back in the days. Also, mentioned how iPad almost dominated the tablet market. If you haven’t checked that post out already, I suggest read Part 1 first, and then continue reading this post.

Microsoft’s vision has been clear. They want Windows to play a central part in peoples lives. And with Windows 10, they have laid the foundation and working towards it with every new version of Windows they release. For example, with Windows 10 Creators Update, they have baked in Windows Holographic or Mixed Reality framework into the OS. You can read more about it here. What this means, developers can take advantage of the Mixed Reality foundation and start building new experiences (apps) through the HMDs (Head Mounted Displays)

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Image source: tctechcrunch

It is interesting new opportunity for developers, but an opportunity that is yet to be realized. Mixed Reality (MR) is still far from mass adoption, and I don’t think until end of 2018 we shall see a lot of content made specifically for this MR environment. Nevertheless, Microsoft wants to be ready when the wave of MR/HMDs is set and ready for general public. There are still couple of great HMDs already available in the market, such as HTC’s Vive or Oculus Rift. These are some powerful devices with great potential. But Rift, as much as it is good it can only work with a high end laptop.

Well, I am not going to dwell so much on MR. The point is, Microsoft is bringing in all possibilities, be it a productivity space which it has been for years and years, a mobile, MR, Gaming, Internet Of Things or a collaborative device like Surface Hub. All these different computing needs are packed into one Windows, the Windows 10.

And one of the best device to show full potential, optimized Windows 10, is the Surface Pro product line. The Surface family was never a threat nor a competition to Microsoft’s partners, such as HP, Dell, Lenovo and others. In fact, it was an inspirational device for these partners. Microsoft wanted the partners to make Surface clones, they wanted to flood the market with great, premium looking devices, a fantastic choice for the consumers.

Surface devices are premium devices, with a entry level Surface starts from $899. But it is a device made for productive first, play/entertainment second, unlike Apple’s iPad. The iPad as also mentioned in my Part 1 post that it is first a consumption device.

I will share my personal experience with an iPad. I had bought my first and last iPad in 2012, if I am not wrong it was iPad 3 (or marketed as The New iPad). In the start, I played around with the device quite a bit, loaded with tones of apps. I used it mainly for entertainment, for watching movies and Photos. Listening music was once in a while as I prefer listening music on my phones. Other than watching movies and playing games, reading news and tech articles was amazing, and reading and writing emails was also good. But that’s about it. I am a coder, I use Visual Studio, with SQL Server, Access with other applications. And none of these worked with an iPad, of course, it’s a tablet.

I always switched between my laptop (for productivity) and iPad when I am relaxed laying on my bed, sofa etc. After using iPad for 4-5 weeks, I significantly reduced using the device. And came a point when I hadn’t used iPad for nearly 5-6 months straight. It is when I realized that, iPad is not my type of device. The typing experience on a laptop is far greater than on the iPad (even with optional keyboard attached). There was no real work that I could do on the device other than replying to emails, which my iPhone could also do. So why reach for an iPad even for that.

I wanted an ultra portable device that could balance my work life plus my entertainment/consumption life which I call, Work + Play balanced life. When I first bought the first gen Surface Pro with Windows 8 I knew this was the device that could fit my needs. Although the mid range model that I had picked (i5, 4GB Ram, 128 storage) was not breeze to use with heavy apps like the ones mentioned above. But I used it a lot more than I ever used an iPad.

Today, I am writing this and all other articles for this blog, while running SQL Server 2016 along with Visual Studio 2017, Edge and Chrome both minimized on my stunning, powerful 2-in1 Surface Pro 4 (which is i5, 8GB Ram & 256 storage). This is exactly the space I want to be at, a device handling both my laptop and tablet needs. The device is not perfect, but the vision is clear, Pro 4 is nearly identical looking device to Pro 3 but improvised in all meaningful ways. Surface Pro 5 should be even better handling these two worlds of Work + Play.

Microsoft does not want you to buy a laptop and a tablet separately. Surface Pro can handle both. This is where Microsoft and Apple have taken different approaches. Microsoft with Windows 10 is trying to do everything with these unique experiences like Surface or with other Surface family products. Apple, wants to make one device to cater for one specific need. An iMac for desktop, MacBook pro for laptops, iPads for tablets, Apple Watch for wearables. It has worked for them, they have made big moolah with this method. Good for them.

2016 has been a good year for Microsoft with their Surface devices. It has brought them profits, the devices are selling well, people have realized an ultra portable device or 2-in-1s are a great offerings by Microsoft and other vendors. Sure, the sales still can’t match that for an iPad, but iPad sales have also stagnated and are at a year over year decline. And looking at the fantastic positive response to Surface Pros, Apple in 2016 also released another Pro device to counter attack the Surface, the iPad Pro.

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Apple wants iPad to be perceived as a productivity machine with iPad Pro. They released two screen sizes with giant screen 12.9 and 9.7. What is the difference between the regular iPad and the Pro? The only big difference in the Pro is the stylus support, or as Apple likes to call it, the Pencil. It is funny how Apple has been shying away from such input methods like the touch screens on the laptops or pen support.

But having no much choice, they had to support the pencil and a keyboard. Why I don’t consider a keyboard as a major play here because, even in non-pro versions there has always been 3rd party support for keyboards. This is just an official keyboard support from Apple for the iPad Pro, no big deal here. Apple pencil is good, specially for graphic artists, painters, architects. But the iPad Pro still carries the same problem I had with the iPad in 2012. I still can’t use heavy apps that I regularly use on my laptop or my Surface Pro 4. You still can’t use Photoshop (not the light version), video editing is not as simple as they demo it on stage during keynotes. Both these Photoshop and video editing require precision, which at the moment can and mostly handled by a mouse. Surface Pen or Apple Pencil can also do little justice to precision but it slows down the workflow. For a professional, things need to happen fast, without compromising on the performance.

The best thing about the Surface in my opinion, is the choice you can make depending on what you are doing. For example, if I am on my desk writing this blog or coding, I can throw in full size Bluetooth keyboard and a mouse, dock it to Surface dock and you can hook up one or more monitors and there you go. A full fledge powerful desktop like PC. You can also deattach the Surface keyboard and use it as a tablet, with 10 point multitouch screen, or write handwritten notes with Surface pen.

 

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Image source: blogs.windows.com

 

This is the power of Surface that some of the tech enthusiasts love. Granted, this is not everybody’s need, which is the majority in my opinion. But it is also evident with the decline of the tablet market and increase in 2-in-1s that users are realizing instead of having two devices, have one which is good at handling basic productivity tasks as well as a bit of Facebook, browsing web, watching Netflix etc.

The advantage with Microsoft or Windows ecosystem, the partners like HP, Lenovo and Dell are selling stunning looking 2-in-1 devices as well with incredible price ranges. It is not a must to go for a Surface device, but there are many Surface looking devices which are equal if not better than the Surface.

Microsoft today stands very firmly with their Surface brands. Surface brands screams premium quality, as well as price. And the reception to the Surface from tech journalists, media, and general public as been pretty solid and positive. This is proved by their next attempt at creating a new category, the Surface Book and recently released All-In-One computer, the Surface Studio. The Surface Studio is so beautiful, so premium, stunning looking device that it can’t be rivaled by any AIO computer today. Look at the launch video below and see it for yourself.

Concluding this post, your needs could be different than mine. iPad and iPad Pro maybe perfectly fitting your needs, and that is fantastic. I believe, choose something that best fits your needs, and don’t go by my word or someone else or what Microsoft or Apple markets. There is a reason there are different companies offering different computers and tablets, it’s all about range of choices to consumers and businesses to choose from.

The reason for this Surface/iPad blog was not to tell Surface is better than iPad or iPad is better. I have given the purposes of both devices, what their company’s intentions are with their respective products. And how best these devices can fit your needs.

It is evident the Surface Pro works for me, but that could be due to my nature of work, need.

That’s all folks for now. Please let me know what you think about this two part posts, please leave a comment below, share it if you like it.

Till then, enjoy rest of your week.

You can reach me on:

So it is April 11 – Creators Update

So it is April 11 – Creators Update

We kind of knew this date all throughout. However, today Microsoft officially have communicated that Windows 10’s latest update, the Creators Update will be releasing on April 11th.

You can read my post on what’s new in the Creators Update.

The release build will be 1703, where the first two digits represent the year, and last two the month. Though it is releasing in April, they first must have planned to release it in March but delayed it to April.

As CU is finished, the Windows development team should soon start working on Redstone 3. Remember, Creators Update was Redstone 2 and Anniversary Update was called Redstone 1.

I am more excited about Redstone 3 than 2 (CU). As much as Microsoft insists that CU is a big update, which it is, however, for the consumers there is very little meat/features to excite them about. My article “Should I Upgrade to Creators Update” explains why you are better off holding upgrading to CU on day 1 release, unless you are a tech enthusiast like me. Otherwise, there is nothing really exciting to look forward to in the Creators Update.

There are couple of neat features, small but good improvements which I have not mentioned in other posts, include:

  • PnP – Or Picture In Picture, if you use YouTube app in iOS or Android, you probably already know about this feature. It is an overlay of small video window that sits on the corner of the screen while you can explore the main section of the app. Similar feature is now in Windows 10 CU, so if you are Skyping or watching a movie, you can pop out the screen on the side and continue working.
  • Remote Lock – This feature is kind of interesting. It was formerly called Dynamic lock or Windows Goodbye. This is a live connection between your phone and your PC via Bluetooth (BT). As long as you’re in the proximity of the PC, your PC will be open/unlocked. When you walk away with your phone and the BT connection dies, your PC automatically locks.
  • Windows Defender Security Center Dashboard – This will show clear visibility to your PC health, security, and online protection.

That’s it for now folks.

Windows Ultimate (Desktop/Phones)

Windows Ultimate (Desktop/Phones)

Image Source: Arc Technica

Hello guys, hope you guys had a great week and looking forward an awesome weekend, I am definitely.

Without much further ado, let’s get into today’s topic. But first:

What is ARM?

Advanced RISC Machine, is a low powered, low cost, low heat set of Computer Processing Unit (CPU) compared to the usual, power horse Intel Chipsets. ARM chips are suitable for portable kind of devices, such as much loved iOS devices (iPhones, iPads), Android phones and tablets, the first-gen Surface RT by Microsoft devices.

Since the Reduced Instruction Set Computing architecture is different than what we find in desktops, laptops, servers, running Win32 applications, such as iTunes, Photoshop, Word, Excel, Chrome etc, these applications do not run on ARM chipset.

Now let’s go a little back in time and talk about Windows Phone. In 2007 when Steve Jobs announced the first iPhone, Microsoft took it very lightly, like seriously lightly and never saw what was coming ahead of them, until Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said that iPhones will not sell, nobody will buy a phone priced $600-700. He later however said, he should’ve moved into the hardware/phone business faster, as the competition was far ahead.

Microsoft woke up late in 2010 with their first attempt in phones, Windows Phone 7, and later in 2012, to Windows Phone 8. People did not care much in both their attempts in 2010 and 2012. Windows Phone fans and a lot of tech enthusiasts loved the fresh take on User Interface, which I am also personally in love with till date. The fast and fluid Live Tiles approach was really innovating. Instead of small count number on how many emails you got in the Mail app, the Mail app in Windows Phone would show you who the email is from and the first one or two lines of the matter itself. You can then choose to ignore the email or dive right into it.

Cut to the chase, people were already sold to Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android platforms, and it seemed, till date that people are not interested in any third platform. Microsoft’s own phone platform isn’t dead yet, with the current Windows 10 Mobile the development is still active but it is not at the forefront at the moment. One major failure to Windows Phone 7, 8, 8.1 or now 10 is the app gap.WP7-green

App developers have simply ignored developing anything for Microsoft Phone/Mobile whatever you want to call it. They say, you have got an app for that.. sadly this statement does not apply to Windows Phone/Mobile, and that’s what made this humongous ship to sink.

Microsoft’s third coming, oh wait, fourth coming… is something really interesting and I am intrigued by this in a big way, and the actual point of this article for today is based on.

Windows on ARM

In December 2016, Microsoft tossed a bomb towards us that Windows 10 will run on ARM chips. This is huge. Imagine, a full blown Windows 10 with all the modern apps (UWP apps, save for another day/article) plus the classic Win32 apps (Chrome, iTunes, yours trully some ERP and plethora of apps) running on your tower desktop, your laptop, or, wait for it, on your phone.

If you check the above video, full Windows 10 is running on Qualcomm Snapdragon processor (or ARM) that powers most of the mobile devices today.

How is this possible? Well, Microsoft has managed to emulate Win32 apps to run on ARM. So there is going to be a layer or a framework where Windows 10 will sit on, and that layer then translates the old school instructions to the new modern ARM chipset.

Granted, the first version may not be perfect, it could be buggy and slow, whatever the case, this thing will improve overtime and it’s going to be really great.

This is my take, and a lot of tech pundits share this idea, in the near future, this magical device that every Windows Mobile fan have been waiting for, called Surface Phone. Mind you, there is no official comment, news from Microsoft on this. But endless speculations and mockups designs like one below, have been rumoring around the web.

screen_shot_2013-12-24_at_10.25.35_amSo, one day, if Surface Phone (SP) ever happens, it would’ve crazy specs, super fast speeds, 16GB of RAM, 128GB storage, super camera, facial recognition et cetera.

 

 

This one, will be our go-to device. I mean, it is going to be THE All-In-One device. When you hold this device, it is the phone. You can do all the normal calls, text messaging, browsing the web with LTE support. When you need to do some real productive work, you can connect the phone to the dock and there you have a full blown Windows 10 operating system on your larger screen via Continuum support, you run modern apps as well as classic desktop (Win32) apps side by side on your screen, just as if this of your regular desktop/laptop computer. All your files and folders are saved on your phone or synced to OneDrive.

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The operating system will be smart enough that it would detect and adapt to different screen sizes, which Microsoft is already working on it with “Composable Shell” or CShell. As Windows Central reported, “Microsoft is building an “adaptive shell” into Windows 10 that’ll work across PCs and tablets, phones, HoloLens, and even Xbox“.

I strongly feel, Microsoft is working towards this and hence, has hold onto what we have been speculating a device from the Surface family, a Surface Phone. They do not want to release a device with a Surface logo onto it where it does not differentiate itself from others. It needs to have something unique, different that it can offer. Surface brand has always been about premium, and something unique. This is true with Surface Pro lineups, Surface Book and recently and critically acclaimed, the Surface Studio. They all offer a unique take on modern PCs.

The same would go for a Surface Phone, if it ever does happen. When Windows 10 will be fully ported to ARM, which is expected to be ready by end of this year, should we then start hearing some news on the Phone side.

This is going to be a true Windows Ultimate device, a Windows device that can do it all. All you need to carry is a small phone like device into your pocket and that would be it.

What do you guys think about Windows Ultimate? Do let me know in the comments section.

That’s all for now folks, catch you all later.

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