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Windows 8 and the Microsoft Surface

If you are going to read one review of Microsoft Surface 2, make it this one by Lukas Mathis who is a long-time Mac user.

Another difference between the Surface and an iPad is the Surface’s split screen mode. iPad owners often note that the iPad’s «one app owns the screen» system is a good idea, since people can’t multitask anyway. But that ignores that people often need multiple apps to work on a single task. I can’t count the instances where I’ve used split screen mode just in the last few days. I’m in a meeting, taking notes in OneNote while looking at last week’s meeting notes. I’m responding to an email while looking at a spec. I’m making a drawing while looking at a reference. I’m changing a mockup based on feedback in an email. I’m taking notes during a Skype call.

This is definitely one of my main issues with the iPad as well. Not being able to research something while writing at the same time is a big pain. Pasting the research content into the writing app is a poor way of solving the problem.

What I would like to see is something like what Microsoft have done with Surface, but with an Apple twist. Something in the lines of having a main app which runs in normal iPad mode, and the ability to run a second app in 1/4 of the space in landscape mode. The twist being that the secondary app has to be a multi-platform app, and when bringing it up in secondary mode, its iPhone user interface is shown.

This could fit quite nicely and would be a terrific asset, and I can imagine a lot of use cases where this would be a fantastic way of getting things done.

The problem with Metro might not be that it’s performing badly at its intended function. The problem might simply be that, unlike me, most people don’t want to use their tablets for productivity. They’d rather keep using their old Windows PC for that, and also have an iPad for watching movies and playing games.

This is a valid and fair point. Having the ability to distinctly separate devices for work and play can definitely bring peace of mind and the ability to focus better1.

I personally prefer using the iPad for as many things as possible2, including reading, answering email and using productivity tools such as OmniFocus and the calendar. When in serious “work mode” though, nothing beats the MacBook Air.


  1. Don’t add your work email to your iPad if you only use it for personal tasks and entertainment though. 

  2. I do recommend turning off notifications if you plan on using the iPad for work and personal tasks.