Monday, November 5, 2012

Windows Surface RT - mini review

Being heavily addicted to all things mobile I just had to go check out the new Microsoft Surface at the St Louis Microsoft Pop-up store. Well it's not really a store, here's a picture of it. Yep, that's it.

I have to admit after playing with it for about 10 minutes I really liked it and I almost bought one.  Now that being said I have been running Windows 8 on my main desktop and laptop since it hit RTM.  I have gotten use to it and now prefer it over Windows 7.

I was all set to buy one and start testing it out in our corporate environment. However there are a couple reasons why I didn't buy it. If I needed to test a Metro app I could just do that on my laptop or desktop, no need to purchase another piece of equipment just to test some apps.

The next reason was simply apps.  Our must have app is Lotus Notes. There is no Lotus Notes Metro app and I highly doubt there ever will be. I tried to connect the built in mail app to Lotus Traveler via activesync and it connects but does not actually work.  I asked IBM and they said it's not supported.  Why would it? if this worked you could get rid of the Lotus Notes client.  So I see it never being supported. We can always use the browser to get to Lotus Notes right?  Nope, iNotes isn't supported on IE10 yet. Plus the fact that with no client you take away one of the greatest features of Lotus Notes.  Offline access.

So let's move on.  We don't have our number one productivity app, what else can we do with RT? Ok, let's look for a VPN client so we can use the number one selling feature of RT, Office. No Sonicwall client, no Cisco client.  I asked the MS store employee and he said "Advanced security apps like VPN will be supported on Surface Pro, due out in January."  So that kind of tells me VPN will never work on RT.  So let's move file storage to the cloud.  Ok, we use Sharefile for that. Again, no Sharefile app.  You see where this is going.

Does anyone know if Windows RT would support MS Direct Access if we went and set that up? I've read that it is much easy to implement with Server 2012 and Windows 8. Not sure which version of Windows 8 though.

Ah, I have my ace in the hole that always works.  Citrix.  Yes! There is a Citrix app in the store.  I download it and can't connect.  That's it i'm done and leave the store without buying a Surface RT.

Upon further research it looks like the Windows RT Citrix Receiver uses a newer Citrix Infrastructure that we don't have in place.  It fact it requires a paid upgrade on some Citrix licenses to get to the new infrastructure.  Windows RT is dead in the enterprise if you ask me.

A final note on the Microsoft store, the employees were very friendly and offered to help several times.  I asked several questions to different employees and you can tell some were technical and some were just there for the job.  I also witnessed two Surface's being sold and one being returned.  I asked how many they have sold and was told about 300 on launch day and about 425 total for the first week.

7 comments:

coinbadgers said...

Lotus Webmail does work in IE10 on the Surface. Have to use compatibility mode. Then it's not straight forward to use the first time, but once you have setup seems to work well.

We're using a Meraki appliance for VPN. have not had a problem using Surface to VPN in.

Dennis Heinle said...

I recently updated the server to 8.5.3 fp2 and it does not support IE 10 natively. I have heard that there is a built-in VPN client on RT. Is that how you are connecting to the Meraki device? Do you have other Meraki devices? We are looking at them for wireless.

coinbadgers said...

Native Surface VPN.

Dennis Heinle said...

I have heard of the native VPN client and stopped by a Microsoft store to try and set it up. In the few minutes I was there I could not figure or how to set it up with our Sonicwall. I guess I need to setup the L2TP portion of the sonicwall.

clvlndpunk said...

Dennis, did you ever find a solution to your Sonicwall VPN issue? We're looking to RDP over a Sonicwall VPN and i'm looking at these tablets as an option. Thanks!

Berserktripon said...

I actually was able to connect my Surface Pro 2 metro mail app to Lotus Notes traveler 8.5.3 by copying the email settings from my supported iPhone iOS 7. I can send/receive emails, and calendar function works fine. The only piece that doesn't is I cant open email attachments, which is annoying, but liveable if I just forward said attachment to my hotmail account with my iPhone.

One other noteworthy piece of advice, if you uninstall mail (or perhaps even upgrade) it hoses the device profile on the traveler server and you can't reconnect. I had to wipe my surface and rename it, and then, voila.

For surface pro, you could probably load Notes 8.5, the tablet has plenty of speed and RAM. My IT phone guy told me it would probably eat up too much memory (but I think he's wrong, based on another site I saw that said Win 8 manages Java much better). FWIW, he also said lotus traveler doesn't store any profile info, it's all in cookies on the client (that is definitely wrong, my hosed profile is still there).

Berserktripon said...

I actually was able to connect my Surface Pro 2 metro mail app to Lotus Notes traveler 8.5.3 by copying the email settings from my supported iPhone iOS 7. I can send/receive emails, and calendar function works fine. The only piece that doesn't is I cant open email attachments, which is annoying, but liveable if I just forward said attachment to my hotmail account with my iPhone.

One other noteworthy piece of advice, if you uninstall mail (or perhaps even upgrade) it hoses the device profile on the traveler server and you can't reconnect. I had to wipe my surface and rename it, and then, voila.

For surface pro, you could probably load Notes 8.5, the tablet has plenty of speed and RAM. My IT phone guy told me it would probably eat up too much memory (but I think he's wrong, based on another site I saw that said Win 8 manages Java much better). FWIW, he also said lotus traveler doesn't store any profile info, it's all in cookies on the client (that is definitely wrong, my hosed profile is still there).

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