Following the recent release of Microsoft Surface, we were really keen to find out how Surface is working out in an education environment. We interviewed Ian Mills from Bolton Metropolitan Council and Mike Richardson from Stockton Borough Council. Both these guys work in local authority roles that support schools with the use of IT. Here’s what they said after some time exploring the new Microsoft Surface device:
Surface is a really easy out of the box tablet, the manual is tiny manual and its simple to set up and start using. I was really impressed with the touch interface, having used an iPad in the past, I felt the Surface touch element was really good.
I have other Windows 8 devices including a home laptop and a work laptop. I love the way that Windows 8 brings all those devices together. I really like the remote desktop app, so I was able to use Surface as a primary device. I am working on Surface now in place of my laptop – I haven’t used my laptop for days! Initially I was concerned about not having Outlook, but the Mail app allows me to do everything I want across all my email accounts.
I’ve had some interesting feedback from schools too. The kickstand has been very popular because it means that the pupils don’t have to hunch over the device like they did for the iPad, which was causing their posture to suffer. The kickstand is also robust so it’s perfect for schools.
Microsoft Office on Surface is a huge advantage for teachers and pupils, as it allows them to easily create all the documents they need to. The battery life was also brilliant, lasting for the whole school day.
I actually gave my Granddad a Surface and a Kindle Fire to play with, to see which would be more suitable for him as a Christmas present. He couldn’t understand how to use the Kindle at first, but he was able to start surfing the web immediately with the Surface device.
One of my favourite features of Surface included the ability to print. I connected to my wireless HP printer at home immediately for really quick and easy printing. I also liked the multi-tasking option to ‘’snap’’ to multiple apps running simultaneously to the screen.
Something else I liked that will be key for schools is the flexibility, particularly with the saving to areas. The ability to save work on a school network or Skydrive will be great for schools.
I was able to run my wireless mouse and keyboard straight away using the USB which was really impressive. This will give different working style options for schools, as well as the touch screen option. The solid design of the tablet and the kickstand is also absolutely ideal for the school environment.
I think that OneNote is excellent for the classroom, and I really liked the Skype app too.
I gave Surface to a 6 year old, and she was able to access all the apps and games easily and said the Surface was her favourite device.
Another big deal for schools is the ability to use Flash sites. This means there are hundreds of playable games that can be accessed from Surface. Some sites do need to be ‘’whitelisted’’ by the IE team for them to work though, but most games are easily accessible.
The start screen is something else I really love, it’s so simple but displays so much information on the front screen. I like the information that is fed to you from the LiveTiles, which has encouraged me to look further into the live information being displayed on the tiles.
I think overall Surface has a fresh design and the wow factor.
Both Mike and Ian interact with schools on a daily basis regarding IT and so they really understand the benefits that Surface RT can bring to Education. They also mentioned that they are really looking forward to Windows 8 Surface.