Here at Bit-Wizards, the preferred mobile computer is the Microsoft Surface. The Surface is a lightweight and powerful tablet, designed by Microsoft for the professional worker. We chose the Surface for its integration with the Microsoft Office products and other Microsoft technologies. One in particular that we love here at Bit-Wizards is OneNote—a powerful note-taking app specifically designed for the Surface, something all of us use extensively. You should check out my coworker Randy’s blog post on just how awesome OneNote really is. Our team of wizards are currently using the Surface Pro, Surface 2, and the new Surface 3.
A Little Surface History
Microsoft released the Original Surface on June 12, 2012.
Intel Core i5-4300U CPU
10.6 inch display
4 to 8 GB’s of memory
Then on September 23, 2013, Microsoft released the Surface 2 which featured an upgraded dual-stop/dual-position kickstand & slightly upgraded CPU.
Most recently, Microsoft released the Surface Pro 3.
12-inch 2160x1440 display
Intel Core i3/i5/i7 processor
Greatly improved, multi-stage kickstand
Battery-powered Bluetooth active pen
As the internal IT specialist here at Bit-Wizards, it’s my job to make sure all these devices are working, and are configured for the needs of my coworkers.
Our Device Set-Up Process
When we order a new Surface, I make an image (snap shot of the computer with all programs installed) immediately so just in case something happens, I can go back and troubleshoot. I then load the system using our Custom Windows 8.1 Enterprise image. Once the Surface has finished imaging, it’s time to configure the profile. I have a specific set of guidelines that I follow when setting up the Surface after the initial image. This guideline establishes the computer name, profile name, password, and other network related options. This guideline is used on every computer and it ensures the proper procedure is followed on every system.
Jumping on the Network
I add the Surface to our corporate network—we use Active Directory with password synchronization to Office 365—so our users have a single set of credentials. If the system is being assigned to another user, or to a brand-new user, I input the user name. The system then checks our Active Directory and the new profile is created. I then log on as that user and configure Outlook, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, and then I add the corporate user list into Microsoft Lync. Next, the guideline calls for me to check all the configurations and confirm they are complete at this point the user profile is almost complete.
Depending on the specific user and his or her role at Bit-Wizards, a customized set of applications are installed on the custom image. The most common apps are Office 2013
, Visio, and Microsoft Project. If the user is one of our talented Software Engineers, I install Visual Studio 12 & 13 as well as Microsoft SQL and the management tools. If the user is hired as a Web Developer, the system has the same apps as the engineer, but also contains Adobe Creative Cloud Suite.
All About That Cloud
We moved to Windows 8 earlier than most companies, and also adopted cloud infrastructure. With Windows 8.1 as the main OS, each user can store his or her files in OneDrive. This makes migrating or upgrading to another Surface seamless and relatively simple. Since everything is stored in the cloud, secured by Microsoft’s rock-solid Azure
set up. Microsoft has also made it easy to get tech-support and warranty repair if needed, their support site is super user friendly.
Official Joaquin Hardware Wink Rating
Overall, the Microsoft Surface is a great product, and when connected to an external monitor, keyboard and mouse, it makes for a great workstation at work that is easy to pack-up and take with you. And out of a possible 5 on the Joaquin Hardware Wink Rating, I give it a 4.0!