Surface Problems With Azure

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I’ve been posting about the Surface over the last couple of weeks and I’ve tried really hard to be positive about it. But there are some serious problems with the device. I’ve already made a stink about the apps, but this time, I want to talk about the Microsoft ecosystem.

I’m working more and more with online services. These vary from storage, such as SkyDrive to Amazon Servers to Azure. And Azure is my problem.

I sit here, typing into a device that is really, really close to being fully productive despite being extremely small and light. Really close. And, it’s supposed to be a major player within the Microsoft world. It’s what the new OS was designed for, or so I thought. But, I might have just found my own personal showstopper. I’ve posted before about how I believe that our way forward as technologists lies with online services such as Azure. I’ve been spending time learning how SQL databases work on Azure and I plan on spending more time working out how Hadoop databases will work online too. I suspect that the PDW technologies we saw at the PASS Summit this year are an automobile and we’re largely manufacturing buggy whips. So I learn about the new features and try to implement them where appropriate. A sidetrack from the Surface? Not at all.

Today, I connected up to the Azure Portal through my Surface RT. Then I tried to manage a database. Clicking the link to attempt to bring up the online management engine, I was redirected to a screen for installing Silverlight. But, after attempting to do the install, I found that Silverlight is not supported on the RT OS. So much for Azure. As a device for production, I honestly expected this to work with the entire Microsoft ecosystem. Or at least, the primary parts of it concerned with mobility and online work. But not true.

Now, of course, I know that I won’t be able to count on this small unit for as much work a I thought it had in it. And this, not because of third party interference, but because Microsoft can’t standardize their own methods. This stinks. Truly. And I get, to many of you, this seems like a small thing, but I was really looking forward to being able to use this device to manage things out in the world and I was including Azure as one of those things. Until Microsoft does something about it I’ve just had a chunk of my hopes for the device chopped off.

I’ve posted a question about this on the Microsoft RT discussion group. If you know anything about it, come on over and help out.


  • G Bryant McClellan

    I’m with you Grant. I understand that until SQL Server is ported to ARM I won’t be running it on RT or ‘Droid either:-) But no Azure support from Microsoft hardware? That is just stupid, even if this is RT. You can’t even qualify it as an oversight. You won’t have everyone buying a Pro to be able to do those things. There are too many other viable alternatives.

    BTW Thanks for the series of posts on the Surface. I think it has tremendous potential, as you’ve demonstrated. The shortfalls are bothersome but you’ve presented them well.

  • Yeah guys, I gotta say, I thought Brent was a WAY premature in his decision to send it back because of typing and email, both of which are already fixed. But this is kind of big. Not because I’m such a huge fan of Silverlight, but because I need it to work with Microsoft products. I’m seeing a major shortcoming here.

OK, fine, but what do you think?