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Windows 8 tablets like the Microsoft Surface are great for all ages

Surface Pink - for some reason we don't have an alt tag here

Christmas is the perfect time to show your family the latest tech and find out what they think. So yesterday, I sat down with my grandfather and pulled out my Microsoft Surface with Windows RT tablet. I’d shown him Windows 8 on a laptop while it was in the pre-release phase, but this was the first time I’d seen him since the OS – and the tablet – hit the market on October 26.

Based on past experience, I wasn’t sure how he’d react. He loves technology, but he hasn’t followed the tech industry for a few years and, as a result, has gotten pretty far behind. Additionally, he hasn’t always been too excited about some newer software updates and he isn’t afraid to voice his opinion. So part of me was surprised when he couldn’t stop raving about the Surface.

Windows 8 is, in many ways, a big change. It’s arguably the biggest update to Windows since Windows 95, bringing with it a whole new interface and ushering in a new era of laptop/tablet hybrids. While there is a slight learning curve, my grandfather mastered it quickly and was soon navigating the new interface with ease. What really impressed him, however, was that it worked great both as a tablet and as a traditional laptop. He’d been thinking about getting a tablet for some time now, but he didn’t want to give up his traditional desktop applications. While they won’t run on the Surface with Windows RT, the upcoming Surface with Windows 8 Pro will support them. After spending a little while with the Surface and discussing the differences between the models, he quickly decided to pick up a Surface Pro when it’s released next month.

Touchscreens can be difficult for some people to use, since their fingers will often accidentally move or bump something. But the experience is still, in many ways, superior to a mouse and keyboard for people like my grandfather. Of course, when he needs the finer control provided by a mouse and keyboard, it’s right there waiting for him. The Surface’s kickstand, too, proved to be a huge bonus, since he didn’t have to hold the device the entire time. At one point, I had him switch to an ASUS VivoTab RT tablet (check back soon for our review) for a few minutes, and he immediately complained about the lack of a kickstand.

Many people have said that the experience of switching between the new interface and the traditional desktop can be jarring, but my grandfather seemed to transition effortlessly. He loved having the desktop for programs like Access and AutoCAD, but he really enjoyed the new app experience as well, particularly Weather and News. No, seriously, he probably spent a good hour checking the weather back home.

In the end, he actually ended up calling other friends and family members over so he could show them the tablet and apps, and spent time demoing them without any involvement on my part. The fact that he was able to quickly pick it up well enough to teach someone else is telling. Yes, Windows 8 is a big change, but it’s actually a good one. Best of all, it works for all ages and use cases, from kids to seniors and students to business professions. And if you’re a power user, here are some tips on how to make Windows 8 “not suck.”

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William Devereux

William Devereux is the former Microsoft editor at Pocketables, as well as a Microsoft MVP and SkyDrive/Outlook.com Insider. As his title implies, he wrote about all things from Redmond, including Windows 8 and Windows Phone. He is currently carrying a Windows Phone 8X by HTC and a Microsoft Surface with Windows RT tablet.

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4 thoughts on “Windows 8 tablets like the Microsoft Surface are great for all ages

  • Windows 8 may be a great change for those with touch devices, but I’m still bitter about the developer preview that ruined the experience for my standard laptop. I’ve since reverted to W7 Ultimate, but for anyone buying a new laptop (non-touch) with W8, I feel truly sorry for them.

    I love your ‘great for all ages’ article though – I mean, it’s so hard for kids to use technology – oh wait, it isn’t. A kid can use a Surface as well as an iPad. My two year old brother in law knows how to work my Android phone.

    I’m seriously starting to think that you’re getting free gadgets from Microsoft to post these reviews, either that or you’re some Bill Gates wannabe. Judging by your picture, it’s probably the latter. It’s fine if you want to worship Microsoft, but please keep it out of your reviews fanboy.

    Reply
    • Avatar of William Devereux

      Yes, the iPad and Android are just as applicable to “all ages,” but they don’t allow you to use desktop applications. You can’t use a mouse if you want. You can’t switch between interaction methods at will.

      The point of this article was just to relay some of my experience showing Windows 8 to people. In this case, my grandfather. He doesn’t like Android tablets or the iPad, and he wasn’t a fan of the Windows 8-based ASUS VivoTab RT either. It was the Surface with the cover, kickstand, and multiple methods of input that he loved. Your mileage may vary, but that was his experience.

      Reply
  • Forgive me, but you’re a bit of a broken record. I generally support posts on this site, but you in particular just seem to be on a different side than anyone else.

    I just plain think that your bias towards Microsoft products shows through – I’m sorry if it is offensive, but I just can’t take your posts seriously because of it.

    I’m not trying to be rude, I’m just calling it as I see it. Being a huge fan of MS products, I just see you as someone who ignores the flaws in their products and acts like they’re perfect – I think you know my views from past comments.

    Maybe if you tried similar Android / Apple products and reviewed them fairly, I would consider your reviews credible , but everything I’ve read amounts to you pushing an inferior product because you have a fondness for the company.

    Reply
  • Avatar of Stephen Trotsky

    Really?, how much money from M$ did you receive to publish this article.!!!??

    Reply

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