When a Surface Pro Computer is Better than an iPad

by | Jul/4/2013

Not all, but many executives use Microsoft Office programs, and other programs that run in Windows. Microsoft Windows programs don’t run on the iPad. So, we tend to use applications that hinder us.

For example, with an Apple or Android tablet, you probably use Documents to Go, QuickOffice Pro HD, or some other app that allows you to edit Microsoft Office documents. While those apps are good, they just aren’t the same as using the real live Microsoft Office.

Your problems are over. Think of the Microsoft Surface Pro as being an extremely powerful laptop computer packed into a very small size. Because that’s what it is.

When you edit a Microsoft Office document on your Surface Pro, you are actually using the real live Microsoft Office.

While Drop Box is a phenomenally useful app and you’ll continue to use it for other purposes, there is no need to use Drop Box to transfer files between your non-Microsoft devices and your Windows machine that sits on your desk. Since the Surface Pro is running Windows, you’ll see all of your familiar folders including “My Documents,” your C: drive, and even the network drives you use when connected to your network.

In fact, why not get rid of your old computer and just use the Surface Pro at your desk from now on. You can connect large monitors, keyboards, printers, and just about everything you want via a USB hub that you plug into the Surface Pro. Nobody even needs to notice since you keep using your same screens and keyboard as before. Then, when you are ready to leave the office, just unplug the single USB cord and head out carrying everything you need—all in a small portable device that is a “big laptop” packed into a very small package.


  1. Bernie Perry

    Useful info as always, Mike.

    I’m curious, any thoughts about Dell’s new XPS 18? I’m giving it some serious consideration.

    • Mike Foster

      Hi Bernie!

      I’ve not used an XPS 18 yet other than to demo it in the Microsoft Stores. Therefore, I cannot offer in depth first-hand experience. It is really nice for sure. I do have a Lenovo Yoga and enjoy it greatly. Still, the Surface Pro suits me better.

      The Dell XPS 18 device is one of the new AIO (All In One) computers. It is designed to be used as a portable tablet computer and then “docked” at a desk to function as a “normal” computer. If someone needs a tablet with an 18 inch screen, then probably they will love the XPS. I don’t want something I have to lug around. The XPS has a screen resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels on the screen. My Surface is much easier to carry, has the same screen resolution packed into a smaller form factor, and I can “dock it” using a single USB connection as described in my post, “Docking Stations are Dead” at http://www.fosterinstitute.com/blog/docking-stations-are-dead/

      I think that it all boils down to personal preference. I met an IT professional while performing an IT security review at their office a few weeks ago and he loves his Yoga more than the Surface. I sat in stunned silence as I listened to him berate the Surface and brag about the Yoga. I have them both, find both very useful. I found another IT professional who says so many amazing things about the Surface and how it will revolutionize the law firm he represents. I think that he is as opinionated as all of us “IT Guys.” At least we all agree that Windows 8, though not perfect, is by far the best Windows OS yet. (No – Microsoft doesn’t pay us to say that or for anything else. It is just a fact.).

      Please keep us all posted about whether you prefer chocolate, strawberry, or vanilla, and why… or if you become totally attached to one or another like many of us.

  2. Ed Cox

    You make a pretty compelling case for me to migrate to the Surface as my only computer.

    I have come to depend on my iPad for many of the apps, including the Kindle, tidefinder, ESPN, and several others. Is Microsoft working to get these handy tools to work as well on the Surface as they currently do on my iPad?

    Thanks for stretching me into the future, Mike.

    • Mike Foster

      Ed – You are welcome for the “stretch!”

      I’m going to address “can I stop using my iPad if I use a Surface Pro?” in an upcoming blog post. If you or anyone else wants to receive the content of the blog post this instant, just email me mike@fosterinstitute.com

      As long as you have an iPhone, most people who want to walk away from the iPad will find the “Surface plus the iPhone” a great combo. The Surface has some “get your real work done” horsepower that the iPad lacks.

      Underneath, the Surface Pro has something the iPad will never have: Windows.

      Letting go of the iPad means that you will have less to carry around. You will have a C: drive. Outlook, Word, Excel and all of your favorite Windows apps still run on the Surface Pro. When you are on a web site that says, “click here to watch the video” the video actually plays (unlike in some cases when the iPad can’t play the video). The iPad is “instant-on.” So is the Surface.

      The Kindle and ESPN apps work great on the Surface too. What about TideFinder? There is a highly rated Microsoft app called, “Field & Stream Fishing.” Or you can use IE, Chrome, and or Firefox on the Surface to browse to http://dnr.maryland.gov/fisheries/mobile/v2/tides.asp

      You will lose some functionality, and gain a whole lot more. Leave the iPad on your desk, powered down but within arm’s reach, to use as a security blanket when necessary. Unless you are one of those “rip the adhesive bandage off fast!” people, then dive in and enjoy overcoming any obstacles you encounter along the way.

  3. Don Peterson

    Great pointers on making the Information Technology life simple and more effective.

    Thanks for the newsletter/blog.




  1. | Mike Foster's IT Security and Best Practices Blog - […] has some “get your real work done” horsepower that the iPad lacks. The post, “When a Surface Pro Computer…
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