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Twenty Four Hours with my Microsoft Surface Pro


April 15, 2013 by Mike Hillwig

A few months ago, my friend Brent Ozar bought a Microsoft Surface RT. And he returned it in pretty short order. The point of his experience was to wait for the Surface Pro.

Now, I’ve been known to disagree with Brent from time to time. But in this case, I was pretty sure he was right. Brent is much more of a road warrior than I am, and he does a lot more presenting than I do. But still, I was in the need to do some technology retail therapy, and I had a need to replace my 2010 era Macbook Air.

I started putting together my list of requirements, even though I knew I wanted a Surface Pro. First and foremost, I wanted a machine that would let me demo with SQL Server, either via a VM or having the software directly installed. That eliminated the Surface RT and most of the Android-based tablets right away. I also wanted something that would be the only piece of technology that traveled with me, save the iPhone. That means I could leave behind the iPad 2, cracked screen and all. And I wanted a machine that had at least a little bit of storage. I’m not toting around my entire video library, but I wanted something that could handle a few movies for flights as well as a few small databases for SQL Server demos.

Most importantly, I wanted something that ran Windows 8. Since I’m not a Microsoft MVP, I don’t have access to a legitimate MSDN licene to test new technology. I can get my hands on a few things through work, but that’s probably not exactly legal. So I don’t take software from work. I make my living working with Microsoft technologies, and I wanted to get caught up on Windows 8. Our IT department won’t be rolling out Windows 8 for quite some time, so that means I have to do this on my own.

This left me with two options, the Surface Pro or the Lenovo IdeaPad K3. Since I was doing this on a bit of an impulse, I went into my local Best Buy and considered my options. The Lenovo was in the right price range, but it only came in a 64GB option, and I really wanted a 128GB device. But the killer was the keyboard. Microsoft has the keyboard accessories that snap right to the Surface, and it made the third party solutions for the IdeaPad a little repugnant.

When I priced out the Surface Pro, I had a bit of sticker shock, but it really was the machine I wanted.

Some of my friends are serious Macheads and really gave me grief about buying a computer with Windows 8. And you know what? Windows 8 is growing on me. Using the Surface in tablet mode with a stylus takes some getting used to. But whenI snap on the keyboard, this thing kind of kicks ass. It’s got enough power for me to do what I need. And I’m not doing demos that require me to push hardware to its limits.

I’ve had my Surface Pro for about 24 hours and have to admit that I really like it. The Touch cover takes a little getting used to. But it’s growing on me. I’m sure that I’ll have to find ways to stretch the battery life. The magnetic power supply isn’t quite as good as that on my Macbook, but it’s not terrible. If I had one complaint, it would be that I wished it had some other form of communication other than WiFi. My iPad has a 3G connection, and I find that I use that quite a bit, especially at work where we block personal e-mail sits. But perhaps as I move to using my Surface Pro more, I’ll just do more tethering with my iPhone, which is an option for me through Verizon. And really, if that’s my biggest complaint so far, that’s okay.

Windows 8 is taking some adjustment, but it’s only been 24 hours. Windows 7 had a learning curve. This will, too.

This entire post was composed on my Surface Pro.