5 Things You Need To Know Before You Buy a Microsoft Surface RT

Microsoft has recently released its own in-house designed and built slate called the Surface. The 10.6 inch touch screen ‘iPad type’ slate offers many unique features such as its VaporMg (Magnesium) case, full size USB and the new Windows operating system.

#1: There are Two Versions of the Surface

There are two versions of the Microsoft Surface, specifically the Surface RT and the Surface Pro. This is very important to note as the RT as the name suggests runs Windows RT (short for RunTime). This is a cut down version of Windows 8 designed to run on mobile chips, such as those found in the iPad; and Surface RT. The Surface Pro (due in 2013) compared to the RT will have a faster processor, more storage, more expansion ports, an active digitiser pen (think real handwriting on the screen) and run the full version of Windows 8.

#2: Windows RT and Windows 8 Are Different

The face of the new Windows operating system is the Metro, now renamed to Modern, start screen. Although the start screen interfaces looks the same on Windows RT and Windows 8 they are not the same thing. Windows RT as mentioned above is specifically created to run on ARM mobile chips as found in the Surface RT. As the Windows RT is custom coded to run on ARM chips so must it’s applications be. Which brings us to…

#3: Windows RT Will Only Run RT Apps From the Windows App Store

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As the Windows RT build is fundamentally different to the full ‘x86′ version only apps built for RT will run on RT. These apps can be found in the new Microsoft App Store which is built into Win RT/8. Your existing Windows XP/Vista/7 legacy applications will not run on Windows RT. Before you go getting all upset, this is exactly the same as your iPad not running these applications and required you to buy the iPad app from iTunes. There is currently around 2000 apps but is expected to grow to 100,000 in the 3 months post launch.

#4: The Surface RT Has Office, But Not Outlook for Email

Microsoft has bundled in a version of Office 2013 Home & Student with the Surface RT. This includes Word, Excel, Powerpoint and OneNote but most notably not Outlook. Email will be accessed through the RT Mail app, which one again before you gasp, very iPad-esque. I’m sure it will be more than capable, will integrate with Cloud & Exchange based mail but will lack the familiarity and advanced features of Outlook. Ah and by the way, Home & Student RT versions are not licensed for business use, however an upgrade is available.

#5: It’s Not Out Yet – But Soon!

There has been lots of talk and buzz about these Surface slates but the fact is Microsoft has kept them very close at hand. The Surface RT is available for pre-order ready for its Nov 6th release date. Until these units are in the hands of the general public we wont know how great or how dismal the experience may be.

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