Tag Archives: Microsoft

Surface Pro 3: The Writer’s Perfect Companion

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A few years ago I posted about the original Surface tablet. I praised it for its portability, slim keyboard cover, free Office and amazing battery life. I still use mine to write, surf the web and entertain my daughter. However, the device can be a bit limiting with only one kickstand option slow processor. Today I would like to introduce you to a true laptop replacement, the Surface Pro 3.

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Many angles – millions of possibilities

It all beings with a slimmer design, faster processor and 8 hours of battery life. That stuff may not be exciting to non-techies, but it is very important. It will enable you to load applications faster and work longer.

Why is this device such a great buy for writers? Where do I begin? For one, you can buy a keyboard cover to make sure you always have a fast, accurate keyboard anywhere you are. Any time inspiration hits, just flip open the Surface and get writing.
The kickstand can be positioned to any angle you need. Writing on a tabletop with a pen? Flip it all the way back. Writing at a desk with a keyboard? Position it at any angle you choose.

But those are mostly novelties. What’s the reason to sell your old laptop and get a Surface as a replacement? Glad you asked. It, of course, runs all Windows applications, including Office. You have Word with you anywhere you go. And all of those Word files can be stored in the cloud via OneDrive. When I update my latest story on my Surface, it saves automatically to the cloud. If I go home and want to continue working on the story on my desktop PC, the story is there waiting for me right where I left off.

Canvas mode. Perfect for creating.
Canvas mode. Perfect for creating.

Not only will you have access to 6GB of free cloud storage with OneDrive so you can work on your documents and have them sync seamlessly between your PCs,  there is also a USB port and MicroSD slot on the Surface. Let’s say you are out at a conference somewhere and there doesn’t happen to be Wi-Fi. All you have to do is carry your documents with you on a USB Memory Stick, external hard drive, or MicroSD card and you are ready to go. Or, of course, store them directly on the device itself.

Write directly on the screen. Send edits and comments in your own handwriting!
Write directly on the screen. Send edits and comments in your own handwriting!

For those who like to write by hand, the Surface Pro 3 also comes with a special pen. This digital pen will allow you to instantly write on the go. Just simply double click the top of the pen (just like a real life retractable pen) and your Surface will wake up and launch OneNote. What else can you do with this pen? Well, there’s Photoshop, Paint, etc. You can also write directly into Word or OneNote and it will convert to digital text. The perfect compromise for those who still wish to write by hand! You can also write directly on Word documents for editing, proofing, etc. and those notes will be viewable by any other person an any PC. Cool stuff!

The Surface Pro 3 is the perfect device to travel with you to the next writers convention. Leave your bulky laptop at home and get just as much work done in an even faster time with your Surface.

Surface Pro 3 is available for preorder at the Microsoft Store.

Writers Rejoice: Office for iPad is here!

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A few years ago (where does the time go), I wrote about Microsoft’s Surface and why every writer should own one.  I still feel that way, but a lot of people already have iPads with keyboards and various accessories and don’t want to commit to a new tablet and ecosystem. The iPad has long been merely a consumption device where people go to play games and watch videos. Now, thanks to Microsoft, you can turn your iPad into a true productivity machine.

What do you get? Touch centric versions of Word, Excel, Powerpoint and OneNote.
The price? Free to view and present all documents. $9 per month for Office 365 for the ability to edit and create documents (a must for any writer). The best part about the Office 365 subscription? You always get the newest version of Office for free, and you can install Office on up to five PCs, Macs, or iPads!

2014-03-27-image-6Now you can edit, create and present any Office document anywhere you can bring your iPad. Any writer who has attended a conference knows that some of the best ideas come out of those conferences, and you’ll want to take notes and start tweaking your stories immediately.
With Office on iPad you are now free to create anywhere, anytime.

Watch this short video for a demo:

Surface: The Perfect Writer’s Companion

As a writer, it is very important to always have easy access to all of the stories one is working on, especially on the go. That is why I would like to take the time to review what I believe is the perfect on the go device, the Microsoft Surface.

What is Surface? Surface is a tablet computer released by Microsoft, running Windows RT. Think of Windows RT like it is an iPad. Apple has the OSX operating system on their Macs and iOS for its mobile devices and tablets. Windows RT is a stripped down version of Windows 8.

Built in USB port means you can bring all of your files with you.

Why choose Surface? As I mentioned before, it is extremely important to have access to all of my stories I am working on, as inspiration  may hit at any moment. The Surface tablet has built in Wi-Fi and cloud storage, so all of my documents are always available. And when I update Eliza, the Witch on my Surface, it saves automatically to the cloud, so if I go home and want to continue working on the story on my desktop PC, the story is there waiting for me right where I left off.
There is another reason the Surface is a great writer’s companion: it comes with Office preinstalled for free. That is something that no other tablet can offer at this time.

A built in kickstand allows for greater portability, with the ability to set up and type in a matter of seconds on any surface.

Not only will you have access to 6GB of free cloud storage with Skydrive so you can work on your documents and have them sync seamlessly between your PCs,  there is also a USB port and MicroSD slot on the Surface. Let’s say you are out at a conference somewhere and there doesn’t happen to be Wi-Fi. All you have to do is carry your documents with you on a USB Memory Stick, external hard drive, or MicroSD card and you are ready to go. Again, another feature the iPad does not have.

Of course, the hardest part about tablet computing is always the typing. Portable keyboards are rarely that as they take up a lot of space and usually run out of batteries fairly quickly. The Surface has a solution for you, and it is nothing short of amazing. The Touch Cover for Surface is not only a smart cover for your screen, it also acts as a built in portable keyboard that is only a few millimeters thick. The keys are slightly raised and feel like felt and typing is as easy as tapping your fingers on a table. I had a few hours to play around with one and after about 10 minutes I was typing just as quickly as with a standard keyboard. On the plus side , you don’t even have to buy a stand for your tablet. The Surface has a built n kickstand that keeps the tablet at the perfect viewing angle.

With all of these great features, the Surface tablet from Microsoft is a must on any writer’s list this Holiday season. The clincher is definitely the free Office (although the USB port is extremely useful).
There really is no better tablet out there for a portable writing experience.

Microsoft Surface tablet is available for $499 at a Microsoft Store near you, or available online at Surface.com. Touch Cover is $119.

Thin and portable

Microsoft Store locations: http://content.microsoftstore.com/home.aspx?WT.mc_id=onlinestore_footertray

 

Surface.com: http://www.microsoft.com/Surface/en-US

 

The Future of Microsoft Windows is in the Clouds

Besides Literature and writing, my other hobby in life is following the tech world – primarily Microsoft. To broaden the scope of my blog I have decided to expand my Other Musings category to include anything and everything I am interested in or have an opinion on. So, here goes.

I have been using Windows 8 since the Release Preview, and am now using Office 2013 Preview as well. Although you will find many negative reviews of Windows 8, I have found that after using it for the last few months, it is really something that once you get used to it, you will love it. I recently booted Windows 7 to do a few things with my data on there and it was like using some ancient piece of technology. The new features in Windows 8 really do make a difference. For the non-tech people who may be reading this: The Start Screen shows all of your apps, features, etc. all in one place on the monitor in front of you. On this Start Screen you have tiles for different things that you can customize to your liking. There is a Mail app, People, Photos, Weather, Video, Music, etc. All of these tiles present information to you so that you do not have to click on them and open them up to see what the app is all about. This is very handy for things like Weather, Social Media updates, e-mail, etc.
I have found that the Charms, Switcher navigation, and Start Tip are all very useful things that take a while to get used to, but once you do you can’t go back. I spent most of my time in Win 7 dragging my mouse to the bottom left of the screen to bring up the Switcher interface and using right-click in Internet Explorer to view the tabs I had open.

The best part of the new Windows and Office: all of this is synced in the cloud so that any Windows 8 computer or tablet I use will recognize me and all of the apps that I have installed. No longer is an app tied to your device, it is now tied to your user account. This is pretty cool stuff that most people have no idea is coming. Perhaps the most intriguing new feature coming with Office 2013 is that it is all tied to my Microsoft Account. I was using my computer at work and editing a file in Skydrive. Windows told me that it noticed I have Word 2013 and asked if I would like to use it for this instance or use Office 2010 that is installed on the hard drive of the computer at work.
I have all of my documents and pictures uploaded to Skydrive so I can access them from any device I may be using. This means I can be working on a Word document on my Desktop Tower PC, head on the road and update my document with my Surface Tablet, continue working on it on a train or taxi with my Windows Phone, and then come back home and have the completely updated file sitting at home on my desktop PC. it is this kind of interconnectivity between devices that I believe is the future.

There are some great features coming with Windows 8 and Office 2013. Give it a try when it comes out and it may surprise you.