Microsoft Surface Update

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Let’s talk some more about the basic keyboard. I’m really surprised at how well it works. But, it’s absolutely going to take some getting used to. Here’s some typing I did as a test to see where I missed keys, etc.;

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You really do have to look at what you’re typing I order to make the keyboard work, It’s too easy to wonder off the home keys. And some keys are just not where you feel like they should be.

I like the pointer device built into it. It works with some gestures too. I absent-mindedly started scrolling with two fingers like I do on the POF, and sure enough, it scrolled. More to explore there. I also love having arrow keys so I can quickly navigate & select text when I’m typing. I note the lack of traditional function keys, but I see the new  functional keys across the top which allow you to control sound, access the search and other stuff. While it’s gong to take some getting used to, I think it’s a win because of how thin it is, yet actually responsive to touch typing.

One reason I’ve been very excited about a Microsoft tablet is because I’ve been very happy with the Zune music service (and my Zune music player for that matter, go ahead, laugh). I connected my music up fairly early and it worked great (at home, more on that later). Some of my songs, the ones I had purchased, were downloaded immediately to the Surface. Cool. But, my playlists were not available. They must be unique to a device, which sucks. I’ll have to see if I can find a way to share the lists. This is because getting music added to the list is more than a little bit of  pain in the bottom. Searching songs & bands is easy, but the interface to add them requires repeated swipig fro the top or bottom of the screen. And, it’s slow to respond. Then I tried to play some music on the plane.

On the plane, I go to play some music and it won’t. Just get an error to go online to look for help. Can’t go online, so one of the things I was actually excited about with the new tablet is having my Zune, uh, I mean, Xbox Music, available to me isn’t working. I did some searching and figured out why the music wouldn’t play. None of it had actually downloaded at all. It was all only available while connected. I’ll fix this later.

I did rent a movie from the video store, download it to the Surface and watched it on the plane. It worked great. The volume was excellent and the sound quality was very good. I was watching SD movies, not HD, but they looked very good on the screen. I’m glad that part worked correctly.

I’m still excited by this device. And, I’m much more excited about the OS now that I’m working with a device that it was written for. I still think Win8 on the desktop sucks, but here, on this nice piece of hardware, it’s slick. But the apps… And no, it’s not just the dearth of them. It’s the fact that the ones we have seem to be seriously buggy. The life of an early adapter, yes, but come on. For this to be a functional tool, and it’s close, we really have to have functional apps.

Update: My first post about the Surface.


  • Jamie Thomson

    Hi Grant,
    I’m also very peeved that I can’t import my Zune playlists into XBox Music.
    Worse, Zune had a fantastic feature called “smart playlists” (which the SQL geek in me calls “playlists with a WHERE clause” 🙂 that allowed you to say (e.g.) “Build a playlist that has all my ‘liked’ songs in it” and any newly ‘liked’ song would automatically get added to that playlist (and to your Zune/WindowsPhone).

    I used smart playlists *a lot* and am annoyed that they’re not available in XBox Music.
    Still, all things considered XBox Music is pretty good – I just get slightly p!ssed off when a company releases something “new and improved” and its missing features that the thing it replaced had.

    On the plus side your XBox Music playlists *do* get synced between all your Windows 8 machines, your Windows Phone, your Android/iPhone (when they release the apps for it) and your XBox; *that*, my friend, is cool.


  • Sorry to hear the bit of functionality is gone. I need some more time at home to be able to get this set up the way I want. Next post is on setting up email. I have to see the client in action.

OK, fine, but what do you think?