Increasing storage on your Surface RT with a microSD card

by Shijaz Abdulla on 15.12.2012 at 21:44

If you got yourself a 32GB Surface RT device, then by now you would have realized that you have under 20GB of space left after the Office 2013 and Windows updates got installed.

Fortunately the Surface RT device comes with a microSD slot (located underneath the kickstand), and you can easily insert a 32GB or 64GB SDHC/SDXC microSD card into it to increase the storage space.

However, the added storage appears as a separate drive on the device. Not very useful if you use Libraries (and you probably would). Also, you cannot add a removable device as a Library location for Documents, Pictures and Videos.

The solution is as follows:

  1. Insert the microSD card into the slot underneath the kickstand on your Surface RT device.

    32 GB SanDisk microSD WP_000198

  2. Create a folder ‘microSD’ on your C: drive.
  3. Open Disk Management (search for it under Settings and you will find “Create and format hard disk partitions”)

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  4. You will find the removable disk in the console. Right click the microSD card and choose ‘Change Drive Letter and Paths’ option. Choose Add and enter C:\microSD and click OK.

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  5. Now the C:\microSD folder is mapped to your microSD storage. You can now add the microSD card as a storage location on your Documents, Pictures and Videos libraries.
  6. For example, to add it as a location on your Documents library, open Computer > Libraries > Documents. Right click on the Documents library and choose Properties. Choose Add and then add the C:\microSD folder as a location. You can also create subfolders in the microSD folder and use separate subfolders for Documents, Pictures, and Videos.

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Qatar Mosque Finder app on Windows Store

by Shijaz Abdulla on 21.11.2012 at 23:29

The Qatar Mosque Finder app is now available on the Windows App Store.

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This free app was designed and developed by Mannai Trading Company WLL. Kudos to Antony Sebastian and his team.

Available now: Citrix Receiver for Windows RT/Windows 8

by Shijaz Abdulla on 11.11.2012 at 22:58

The Citrix Receiver for Windows 8 and Windows RT are available now on the Windows Store.

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This 4.53 MB download lets you access your Windows VDI session from your Surface, tablet or slate device or computer running Windows 8 or Windows RT.

This potentially enables new scenarios for IT to support BYOD scenarios in today’s world where the line between work and home devices begin to blur. Users can work on any Windows device they choose, regardless of whether it runs Windows 8 or Windows RT and still be able to connect securely to their corporate managed Windows desktop session, which is governed by their organization’s IT policies. On the device itself, they can install and run their favorite apps, and store personal pictures, media and files.

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The Citrix receiver is also available for non-Microsoft platforms, enabling access to Windows desktops from heterogeneous platforms such as IOS, Android, etc.

Also noteworthy is the fact that the Remote Desktop client from Microsoft is also available with Windows 8 and Windows RT, allowing you to connect similarly to desktop sessions without Citrix.

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Surface RT: Hands on

by Shijaz Abdulla on 31.10.2012 at 09:04

Received my 32GB Surface RT tablet yesterday. I had pre-ordered on the Microsoft store like everyone else and had Aramex ship it to me here in Qatar through their Shop and Ship service, as the device is not available locally yet. I am composing this post on Word 2013 that came pre-installed on the device.

I must admit that even as an employee of Microsoft, this device has exceeded my own personal expectations! I will try to be honest in my review, although I must say that the device is mind-blowing as a whole.

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Here are some good reasons why I recommend this device:

1. Office – We all know without a shadow of doubt that Microsoft Office is the ultimate in productivity tools. Office 2013 Home and Student Preview is built-in to the device. Once Office 2013 is released, Surface users will receive the released version as a Windows Update. Office 2013 is also cloud connected and lets you save/sync your documents with Skydrive so that your documents are accessible and updated if you are on your desktop or on your Surface device. Although this is not an Office 2013 review, the inclusion of Office out of the box is a major plus compared to other tablets.

2. USB port – Self explanatory – What would you do without USB? This is a major plus.

3. Expandable storage – Sure, they have 32GB and 64GB flavors of the Surface. However, there is micro SD card reader tucked away under the kickstand which lets you expand a 32GB tablet to 64GB or more.

4. Kickstand – Speaking of Kickstand, this is a MAJOR feature. Think of all the awkward positions and tablet covers that you experimented with your current tablet. All that is gone now. You simply flip open the kickstand and the Surface stands on your table or your lap. And when the kickstand is closed, you won’t even know it’s there!

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5. VaporMg body – all that you read about VaporMg is not just hype – the material is light, strong and feels good to touch. Next time you get to hold a surface try to feel the material that the back cover and kickstand are made of. Ok, the picture above shows smudge marks, but that’s what happens when you let your 3 year old play with the Fresh Paint app on it. 🙂 Below is a picture of the Surface without the Touch Cover, next to a Qatar half riyal coin for size.

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6. Gorilla glass screen – During the launch they showed how they fixed wheels to the Surface and used it as a skateboard. Now that’s what I call strong. The screen can be read from almost any viewing angle. It has something to do with the bonding of the material used in manufacturing the screen, but it really is cool. The display is very clear.

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7. Drop proof – the device can be dropped in 72 different orientations without being damaged! No, I did not test this one myself, but judging from the look and feel of the device, I believe it.

8. Slick charger – the charger is small and can be slipped into a side pocket of your bag, the charger connects to the device through a magnetic connector. The charger has folding pins and works in both 110V and 220-240V power outlets.

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9. Touch Cover keyboard – this is a treat, a delight, a new height of awesomeness. I do not have enough words to describe it. Just 3mm thick and doubles up as a screen cover and a keyboard with just the right sensitivity. It does not type when I don’t want it to, and I don’t have to push too hard to make it type. The touch cover snaps on the device with a magnetic link. You can literally hold just the cover and the device will hang without falling off. When you close the cover, the display turns off, saving power. Below is the Touch Cover next to a Qatar half riyal coin for size. My advice – don’t order your Surface without it.
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10. Handling – the weight is uniformly distributed. I am a Technology Solutions Professional by day, and a student by night. I spend time reading PDFs and watching flash videos, and it doesn’t hurt my hand a lot no matter how I hold. And of course, I still have the kickstand when I want to lay the device down. The thickness of Surface is exactly the same as an iPad. In the below picture, I show you the thickness with the touch cover on.

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11. Unmatched driver support: Even if it is Windows RT, it is still Windows! I just plugged in my HP Deskjet 3050 printer to the USB port and the drivers were automatically installed and printer ready to use in under 2 minutes. Windows RT supports 100% of the top selling printers out there. What is mobility if you can’t print anywhere, wherever you are? In addition to the printer, it automatically detected my Bluetooth mouse, Home NAS/media server, phone and some other devices, just like Windows 7 does.

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12. Front and Rear cameras: Works great with Skype. I read somebody’s rant about the cameras online, but I found them perfectly OK. By the way, Skype for Windows 8 is available on the marketplace. Also noteworthy is that the rear camera is mounted at an angle so that the camera looks straight even if you use the kickstand. Tested it, works perfectly!

13. Cloud connected out of the box experience: My other computer is a Lenovo X220 running Windows 8 Enterprise. When I unboxed my Surface, it asked me a few questions to set my language and wireless connection. Next, I entered my Windows Live ID and password. The next thing I know, the device configured my device exactly the way my Lenovo was configured. Same wallpapers, same color scheme, etc. both my devices look exactly the same and I can work seamlessly on any of the devices, and sync my stuff over SkyDrive. This, to me, is a true cloud connected experience, spanning different kinds of devices, different form factors, without compromise.

14. Apps – Yes, apps. Oh sure, Windows Store is new and doesn’t have as “many” apps as other stores, but I found all that I need for IM, Skype, and others. A foursquare app would be a cherry on top as far as I am concerned. Today when I browsed the app store, I found that it was localized with prices shown in Qatari Riyals and spotlight apps from my region (such as Al Jazeera). I also bought Angry Birds using my Qatari credit card, so no issues there. There is also a lot of rant going on in the internet about Surface RT not being able to run Windows 7 apps. So what’s the big deal? Can you run Macintosh apps on an iPad? In fact, the more you use Surface and the modern apps, the little you would want to go back to the old style apps. I seriously don’t want to go back to the old kind of apps on my touch device. By the way, there is another version of Surface (Surface Pro) that will ship with support for Windows 7 apps, but this will have a normal CPU that needs a fan, and will be thicker and possibly heavier.

Other tips/interesting points:

  1. The Touch Cover keyboard has keys for opening the Search, Share, Devices and Settings icons on the Charm bar.
  2. At first sight, the function buttons seem to be missing on the Touch Cover keyboard, replaced by volume, charm bar keys, etc. But when used with the Fn key, these keys become function keys.
  3. Someone ranted about not being able to use the on-screen keyboard comfortably when holding the tablet. He probably didn’t see the thumb keyboard option. (Click thumbnail below)

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  4. The integration with xbox is phenomenal. With SmartGlass you can use your Surface to watch videos on your xbox.

I said I will be honest, here are a few things that some people might consider as lowlights:

1. 3G SIM card slot, or lack thereof. Not a big deal for me – with multiple devices that people tend to carry today, I believe Mi-Fi is the way to go instead of getting a new SIM/connection for every device you have.

2. The charger power cord could be longer.

3. Touch cover keyboard learning curve, as others have noted, but this is a short one. For me it took about 5 minutes to get used to it, and now I am typing naturally on this keyboard right now and it is still day one. I will try to post a video of me typing away like a pro. 😉

4. The black Touch Cover is not exactly black, it’s black on the inside and a shade of gray on the outside. But it doesn’t overshadow it’s coolness in any way.

5. Availability in more countries/markets.

6. Kickstand angle cannot be adjusted, although I think the kickstand is factory set at the most comfortable position. I am using the kickstand and touch cover to type this post right now and I am comfortable.

7. Lesser apps in the app store – although my opinion differs, see point no. 14 above. Besides, Windows is, and continues to be, the most popular OS for end users. It is just a matter of (a short) time before the Store is filled with apps from every noteworthy app-maker.

This tablet is a game-changer, unique in its own way compared to other devices available today in the market. Windows 8 revolutionizes the way users interact with their devices, and brings consistency and seamlessness no matter what kind of device you use, by bringing your data, apps and everything you care about, wherever you go.

Surface: The Microsoft tablet

by Shijaz Abdulla on 19.06.2012 at 05:42

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Microsoft yesterday announced Surface, a new family of PCs for Windows, at an event in Hollywood. The Microsoft-made hardware will be available starting with the release of Windows 8 and Windows RT. The devices were conceived, designed and engineered entirely by Microsoft employees.

Key points:

  • Two models of Surface will be available – one running an ARM processor featuring Windows RT and the other running a third generation Intel Core processor featuring Windows 8.
  • With a full-sized USB port, and 16:9 aspect ratio for HD, it has edges angled at 22 degrees, making it comfortable to use and lets the software take center stage, without hardware getting in the way.
  • The casing of Surface is created using a unique approach called VaporMg (pronounced Vapor-Mag), a combination of material selection and process to mold metal and deposit particles that creates a finish akin to a luxury watch. Starting with magnesium, parts can be molded as thin as .65 mm, thinner than the typical credit card, to create a product that is thin, light and rigid/strong.
  • An integrated kickstand is always available for use whenever needed without adding to extra weight or thickness.
  • Touch Cover: A 3mm keyboard interface using a unique pressure-sensing technology that senses keystrokes as gestures, helping you type faster than on an on-screen keyboard. Touch Covers will be available in various colors. The touch covers attach to the Surface through a built-in magnetic connector and also doubles up as a protective cover.

Specs:

Surface for Windows RT

  • OS: Windows RT

  • Light(1): 676 g

  • Thin(2): 9.3 mm

  • Clear: 10.6” ClearType HD Display

  • Energized: 31.5 W-h

  • Connected: microSD, USB 2.0, Micro HD Video, 2×2 MIMO antennae

  • Productive: Office ‘15’ Apps, Touch Cover, Type Cover

  • Practical: VaporMg Case & Stand

  • Configurable: 32 GB, 64 GB

Surface for Windows 8 Pro

  • OS: Windows 8 Pro

  • Light(1): 903 g

  • Thin(2): 13.5 mm

  • Clear: 10.6” ClearType Full HD Display

  • Energized: 42 W-h

  • Connected: microSDXC, USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort Video, 2×2 MIMO antennae

  • Productive: Touch Cover, Type Cover, Pen with Palm Block

  • Practical: VaporMg Case & Stand

  • Configurable: 64 GB, 128 GB

(1), (2). Actual size and weight of the device may vary due to configuration and manufacturing process.

 

Above and below are pictures of the devices from the Surface gallery on the Microsoft website.

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Asus & Nvidia unveil world’s first Windows RT device

by Shijaz Abdulla on 04.06.2012 at 16:59

Asus and Nvidia today unveiled the world’s first Windows RT consumer device at a press conference led by ASUS Chairman Johnny Shih.

The ASUS Windows RT tablet is a 10.1-inch convertible tablet with an optional keyboard dock, powered by NVIDIA’s Tegra 3 quad-core mobile processor.

Consumers want a touch-friendly, mobile device with extremely long battery life. Tegra-powered Windows RT devices like ASUS’s Windows RT tablet will be thin and light, silent with no fan, and able to deliver great performance with true multi-tasking). Plus, they’ll offer days of battery life.

Enough words. Watch the video:

Update: 6/6/2012:

Acer has also unveiled the Acer Aspire S7 touchscreen ultrabook, the Acer Iconia W510 slate, a swiveling all-in-one, all running Windows 8  at Computex Taipei .

MSI introduced the Slider S20 running Windows 8.