As Microsoft released their latest financial figures and took a 900 million dollar write-off for Window RT pundits were out in force chiding Microsoft for its failed tablet endeavors. There was a time when I might have merrily joined in on that witch hunt but you know what? Windows RT really isn’t so bad. It actually does a pretty good job at addressing the needs of the consumer market it’s targeted for. And for those of you that know me – no, I wasn’t abducted by aliens or cajoled by Microsoft minions into writing this column. What actually happened was that my daughter got a Windows RT Surface. She is reasonably computer savvy and can find her way around Windows and do email but she’s not what you’d call an expert or power user. I totally expected to be deluged with questions about how Windows 8 worked or complaints about the formerly-known-as-Metro interface but to my surprise neither of these things happened. What did happen is that she got it. I showed her some of the basic Windows 8 gestures and she took off from there. That’s right she figured out how to use Windows RT touch interface and actually liked it.
The Surface RT and Windows RT did exactly what she wanted it to do: surfing the web, doing e-mail, watching YouTube videos, opening up the occasional Word doc or Excel spreadsheet and playing Angry Birds. That’s it. She was the audience this device was targeted for and it worked for her. She doesn’t use it for work didn’t have a lot of deeply in-grained Windows habits. More importantly apart from some light Office use she had no need to run a bunch of existing Windows programs. The Surface RT’s keyboard, super lightweight portability, excellent battery life and internet connectivity fit her consumer needs to a tee. While the Surface Pro has been chided for its limited battery life the Surface RT’s battery life is at another level – averaging at least eight hours plus on a full charge. While I’ve seen some complaints of the Surface RT’s performance I found this device to perform quite well for the tasks it does. Don’t get me wrong I’m still no fan of the Windows 8 Metro interface – especially for IT professionals but on the other hand Windows RT and the Surface RT in particular really isn’t so bad. It’s not a business device but it’s actually a very good consumer oriented tablet. The Surface RT is certainly a viable competitor to the iPad - especially if you want to run Office.