Surface RT Business Use Case

Since Microsoft has reduced the price for Surface and Surface RT I’ve bought a 32GB RT device. I was wondering if it would be useful in a business environment. Here are the specs: NVIDIA Tegra 3 Quad Core CPU, 2 GB RAM, 32GB storage / 16GB free, 1366 x 768 at 10.6", wifi, usb 2.0. Surface is a good tablet, however to make it useable in business you need at least a touch cover that gives you a keyboard and touchpad. I also utilized the usb port for a wireless mouse.

Surface RT

The touchcover is a great idea, an almost perfect solution to equip a tablet with a keyboard. It is thin, light, precise and protects the Screen during Transport. However, I’m missing some keys compared to a full featured Keyboard e.g. the print button to make screenshots. As the touchcover has no regular keys, it is hard to type in a dark environment. Of course the touchcover has no back light and you don’t "feel" the keys you’re aiming for. By design it is a tablet with a Keyboard, and you can’t put it on our keys like a laptop.

Office

Here are the good news. Surface RT has a Windows Desktop as you know it from your Laptop or Desktop. It has taskbar, you can pin shortcuts on the Desktop like documents and Computer. Surface RT comes with Office 2013 Home&Student (Preview), which looks like a regular Office 2013 application on a PC. Right now, as I’m writing this post there is no final Outlook RT.

Office 2013 RT

Update: Office Home&Student must not be used for commercial use. Therefore you need to own a seperate office license, e.g. via Office 365

Network Connectivity

The Surface RT tablet has wifi built in, but no WWAN card. If your on the road without WLAN you will have to use your mobile phone instead. Since almost every modern mobile phone can be used as WLAN access point nowadays, I don’t see it as limitation. The tablet has no LAN port, this might be an issue if you’re at a very old school cable based customers. You can configure windows VPN like you know it from your desktop and laptop devices. Surface RT is running the Remote Desktop Service Client that implements RDP 8 protocol. So you get all the cool features like WAN optimization via UDP (if there is server 2012 on the other side of the line). You also get PowerShell v3, but without ISE or –ShowWindow option.

PPTP VPN and RDP Connection

Applications

The platform limits the native execution of applications on the device. You can’t install a Dynamics AX client or other applications on the machine . However, since there is Remote App technology around for a while you can provide applications running on a RDS server (aka. Terminalserver). The RemoteApp Manager has a simple wizard that guides your through the process. Select an application, provide optional parameters e.g. a .axc config file, export the RemoteApp as RDP file and place it on a windows share. Open the RDP file from the Surface RT, authenticate yourself and voila here is Dynamics AX 2012 on a Surface RT:

 Dynamics AX 2012 Remote App on Surface RT

Business Apps

There are many apps available for windows 8 tablets, and some of them are business relevant. There isn’t hardly any useful Dynamics AX app available at the moment. However, here is summary what I’ve installed on my device: ÖBB Scotty for Austrian national railways, Skyscanner to query cheap flights, Holiday Inn IHG hotel reservation app, connect.8 for Xing, Photoshop Express to pimp my photos, Skype, Technet News and Windows Blog Feed Reader, a Facebook app, WordPress app, IBM Presales Advisor, Network Speed Test and Amazon Kindle App.

IBM Presales Advisor App for Windows 8

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Über erpcoder
Software Engineer and Dynamics AX enthusiast working in Research & Development for InsideAx

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