Microsoft Surface RT review

Updated: A piece of engineering brilliance, but can the Surface with Windows RT satisfy the needs of a business user?

Price
£332

If you've been struggling to see what Windows 8 could bring to your business then you need to take a close look at the Microsoft Surface.

Designed in-house at Microsoft, in tandem with the Windows 8 team, it's there to take full advantage of the new operating system's features with the one caveat that the version we review here runs Windows RT. If you want Windows 8 Professional then you'll have to wait until the release of the Surface Pro early next year.

But make no mistake: as a piece of hardware design, the Surface is brilliant. For the first time, users can start thinking about replacing an ageing laptop with a tablet. This is a tablet with benefits.

Microsoft Surface RT

Designed from the ground up, the Surface RT is a great first effort from Microsoft

Laptop replacement

From a business point of view, the prime benefit stems from the keyboard built into the cover. At the time of purchase, you've got two choices: an ultra-slim Touch Cover with a pressure sensitive membrane keyboard, and a slightly thicker Type Cover which includes fully functioning keys with 1.2mm of travel.

Although 1.2mm may not sound like much, it's about the same as a keyboard on a modern laptop. And whilst it can feel a little cramped, in our tests we found we could type just as quickly on the Type Cover as a full-sized keyboard.

Microsoft Surface RT - Covers

We much prefer using the Type Cover (right) and business users are likely to opt for this too

Combine that with the inclusion of Word 2013, Excel 2013, PowerPoint 2013 and OneNote 2013, and you can see that the Surface could feasibly be rolled out to mobile workers instead of a laptop. Although note that Windows RT doesn't support Visual Basic for Applications, so macros won't work.

Your mobile staff will surely appreciate the weight drop compared to a traditional laptop too: with the Type Cover in place it weighs 896g; with the Touch Cover, 882g. With no cover at all, it weighs 682g.

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