Microsoft Surface: What is it?

Windows 8 has been repeatedly discussed by technology experts. Opinions on that topic are nearly evenly split between those who hate the changes and those who love it. Windows 8 may be the company’s biggest release since Windows 95 introduced the world to the start menu. However, Windows 8 is not the only product that Microsoft will be releasing on October 26th. The new Microsoft Surface tablet will also become available on that day, and may be even more important for Microsoft.

The first version of the tablet will be available in the 32 gigabyte or 64 gigabyte sizes. Buyers can also purchase some rather unique accessories: either the Touch cover or the Type cover.  The touch cover looks like a normal screen cover, but it actually has a touch sensitive keyboard built in. These keys are flat and do not move, but the system still reads it as typing. The type cover is a slender traditional keyboard with keys that operate like  normal keyboard. Both covers contain powerful magnets which attach to the tablet easily and will not fall off without you wanting it to. The body of the tablet also contains a built in kickstand. The body of the tablet is created with magnesium and gorilla glass, both of which are very hard to break.

 With all of these positives what could possibly go wrong? Quite a bit actually. The primary source of trouble will probably stem from the fact that the first version of the tablet will run on Windows RT with the Windows 8 pro version being released 3 months in the future. The issue with this? Windows RT does not equal Windows 8. Do they look the same? Yes. Does the interface react the same way? Yes. Does Windows RT use all of the apps in the Windows Store? Yes. So what is the difference? Everything.

Windows RT is an entirely different OS designed to take advantage of the mobile ARM platform. ARM chips are those that are often used in mobile devices like phones or android tablets. The normal windows simply can not run on the platform. Windows RT is an entirely different OS which has been designed to completely mimic Windows 8. The main issue with this is that all legacy Windows applications are not usable on the first version of the Microsoft Surface.

If users understand this fact then everything will be fine. Windows RT will be a good OS as long as users understand what they are getting. Unfortunately, Microsoft has not done a good job in explaining the differences to people. It looks the same as Windows 8, so users think it is Windows 8. The Surface Tablet looks like a great product, and we can only hope that a misunderstanding is not what derails it.

 

Microsoft Office 2013

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Unless you have decided to forsake all information concerning technology you should know that Microsoft will be releasing their new operating system, Windows 8, in late October. With this release Microsoft will also be coming out with their new Version of Office. The last two versions of Office, 2007 and 2010 respectively, have had major interface overhauls from their predecessors. The 2013 version of Office continues this trend by attempting to make Office more touch friendly. Has this attempt succeeded?  The answer is not entirely, but it is certainly an improvement over the 2010 version.  

The Office suite contains many programs that students and professionals use nearly every day. The two most recognizable programs is Microsoft’s Word and Excel programs. The Outlook email clients and the Power Point program are also programs that are used frequently. All together the suite contains Word, Excel, Power Point, One Note, Access, Outlook, and Publisher. The logos for the suite have also been changes as you can see from the image above.

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You can see the new Word interface in the image above. Most of the commands are still located in the same place on the ribbon, but they have been made easier to touch. The ribbon itself can be made to collapse until you place the mouse on it or run your finger up the screen. This feature is to save space for use on a tablet. If you have ever tried typing a document on a tablet you know that the keyboard takes up a lot of the visible space, and the collapsing ribbon is designed to save visual space so that you can see the text.  

The One Note program is my personal favorite.  I use this program to take all of my notes in class. This is nice because notes taken in the program immediately becomes available in my Sky Drive so that I can see it on other computers and on my Lumia 900 Windows Phone. Microsoft has now released a version of the program called One Note MX which is designed specifically for a Windows 8 tablet. The nicest feature of this version is the circle interface. As you type on a tablet a small circle appears near where you are typing  When you click on the circle, a round inter face with font controls, and all of the other commands that were on the old ribbon that took up so much space.  The circle is amazingly touch friendly, and makes this program great in class. 

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So will this new version of Office catch on? Seeing as how Office, and not Windows, is Microsoft’s best selling product, I would say that there is a good chance that the answer is Yes. The new interface is much better on tablets, which works well with the Windows 8 OS. There are also rumors that this version of office may become available on the iOS found on the iPad. This would be wildly exciting to Apple fans. The only thing I know for sure is that I certainly will be using it. In fact, I am using it right now. You can get your own free preview by going to http://www.microsoft.com/office/preview/en and downloading a 90 day trial.