Surface RT/Windows 8 thoughts

I’ve had the pleasure to use the Surface RT for about 2 weeks now and I have to admit I’m impressed. Although I work for Microsoft, I’m a long term iPad 1 user and was fairly skeptical about what the Surface RT (without any legacy/x86 apps) would give me.

I’ll leave the physical reviews (aspect ratio, weight, performance etc to other more professional reviewers), but want to note down a few observations I’ve had.

The touchcover is more responsive than I was expecting although with a completely different feel. I was expecting a rubber/plastic type of finish but feels “material/fabric” like. Battery life is rather good (once patches are installed), BUT in saying that I’ve got in a habit of never allowing background processing to be running on my phones/devices. This means Skype/Lync/Mail are never running/pulling, which may be contributing to my better than expected battery life.

Not having processes running in the background also means that “live tiles” really dont have any benefit for me. Not a complaint, just an observation.

Now… the big question (at least that I’ve been asked) are about apps. What’s available, what’s not…  etc.  Currently (31st Dec 2012) there are plenty of apps that I’d call “why did they bother” kind of apps. These seem to be app versions of webpages, which (to me) don’t really provide any real benefit. I *could* just use the web page…  shocking, I know 🙂  Now some webpages definitely benefit from having apps (Facebook *cough* where are you?) but others definitely come across as solo coders at home wetting their feet in the Windows Store world. Although the apps aren’t overly useful I think it’s important for developers to try things out get an idea of work the ecosystem is like then go in with a better second or third app (I’m doing this myself). The game situation (most important genre) is definitely improving, Angry Birds Space/Starwars, Great Big War Game among others. Yes, lots of “meh” but definitely definitely improving (hoping to contribute to this myself very soon).

One note about the Windows App Store while on the Surface RT and you may get results for applications that cannot run on your device. I hope this will be addressed in the future. 


As for development of apps, well VS2012 and monogame are providing a brilliant dev experience so far. I’ve got demo apps running on Windows 8, Windows RT and OSX. Good stuff 🙂