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Nathan Golia
Nathan Golia
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Reviews: Microsoft Surface RT Long on Promise, Short on Early Results

Insurers looking for a more content-creation-friendly tablet than Apple's iPad may have eyed Microsoft's Surface. However, early reviews indicate there's still work to be done before it's a true enterprise-ready device.

Following Apple's iPad Mini launch early this week, my initial reaction was, "Why would anyone need this?" Our world is becoming more mobile, not less; what's needed are dynamic devices that leverage the full real estate of mobile computing rather than continuing to shrink things down.

Some insurers, including 2012 Elite 8 honoree Graeme Boddy of Builders Mutual, pointed to the Microsoft Surface tablet as a potential game-changer. Microsoft's experience with content-creation software, Boddy told me, might be the key that unlocks greater insurance enterprise tablet adoption.

But while the Surface RT, which was announced today, does offer a version of Microsoft Office, the user experience on the software is still lacking, reviewers say. Gizmodo's Sam Biddle writes:

You can do work, yes. But productivity is limited to a "preview" (beta) version of Microsoft Office. It also hurts that Office requires plunging into Windows RT's Desktop mode… It'll only remind you of how much you can't do with your Surface, and is going to confuse the living hell out of most people who buy one—especially when Surface Pro, built on x86 architecture and perfectly compatible with all of those legacy programs, steps in a few months from now.

Techcrunch's Matt Burns adds:

Windows 8’s dependency on the classic environment will not allow the Surface to be a tablet. Half the apps pre-installed on the Surface RT launches in the classic desktop interface, most notably Microsoft Office, where the smaller user elements do not play nicely with the touch interface.

It seems clear that the Office version on the RT isn't enterprise-ready. So business users might be tempted to wait until the Surface Pro comes out in a few months (a concept discussed on Search Consumerization last week.)

But the pricing for the Pro tablets is likely to be on par with ultrabooks anyway. So why make the change in form factor?

Consumerization of IT is creating demand within the insurance enterprise for slicker, more mobile experiences for business users. Unfortunately, the technology hasn't yet caught up to the demand.

Nathan Golia is senior editor of Insurance & Technology. He joined the publication in 2010 as associate editor and covers all aspects of the nexus between insurance and information technology, including mobility, distribution, core systems, customer interaction, and risk ... View Full Bio

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