Microsoft Surface review: Ripples of change

GSMArena team, 19 November 2012.
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Office 2013 Home and Student Edition

Office 2013 Home and Student ships with every Windows RT tablet and the Surface naturally has it on tap. This is a huge deal for a tablet and a major selling point as neither iOS or even Android can compare their offers to the full-fledged Office 2013 inside Windows RT.

Office 2013 Home and Student gives you Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. Microsoft decided not to optimize the interface of either app to suit the Modern UI and instead just ported the x86 versions to the ARM-ready platform.

We can't really blame them for doing so, as the office applications are bound to be used with a keyboard and a mouse/trackpad anyway. Plus, Office isn't the easiest software to understand, which means that a general design overhaul might've put off frequent users.

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Word, Excel and PowerPoint

All the functionality is there and, if you mainly use your PC for document editing, Windows RT can easily pass as your daily driver. Whether your game is creating or editing documents, Windows RT has got you covered. There's an easy to follow step by step tutorial for each Office application in case you're new to it.

Word 2013 features the entire package - text formatting, headings, track changes, page layout, you name it. Windows RT has an impressively ample selection of fonts, too.

Word is a demanding app - CPU usage was well over 30%. Banging on the keyboard as quickly as we could made the Surface stutter a little bit and delay the input of some of the characters.

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Word 2013

Excel 2013 is there for your spreadsheet needs. Formulas and calculation are all supported, and so are cell formatting options. You'd be hard-pressed to find a difference between Excel on your PC and the one on Windows RT. Still Macros aren't supported so power users aren't really covered here.

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Excel 2013

Creating PowerPoint presentations on the Microsoft Surface is as easy as on PC. You can choose between countless transition effects,animations and sounds. A presentation can be previewed and imported, and an existing file can be edited.

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PowerPoint 2013

OneNote 2013 is your one-stop app for taking and organizing notes on Windows RT. The app has an interface similar to Word but is cleaner, with less options.

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OneNote

Creating a note is very simple and the time and date are preset automatically.

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Creating a note

You can have multiple Notebooks in OneNote and creating one is done through a drop-down menu. You can choose the name of the Notebook and the color it shows up in, as well as whether to save it locally or in SkyDrive.

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Creating a notebook

SkyDrive can sync all of your Office 2013 documents between devices. All you need is your Microsoft ID. It's very convenient and sync is instantaneous. Your documents are safe in the cloud in case your PC needs a reset or is broken or lost.

Organizing skills

The Calendar app on Windows RT is well familiar - it looks identical to the one on Windows Phone. You can set it to show events in Day, Week or Month view. There is no Agenda view so you cannot see a list of your upcoming events.

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The calendar

Day and Week view are sorted by hours so you would need to scroll up or down, depending on the specific time of the event.

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Week and day view

Events are color coded depending on the type of calendar (your own, Birthdays, Holidays, etc.) and you can change colors to your liking.

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Calendar options

Setting an event is simple and straightforward. Thanks to the large screen you see all of the information without the need for endless scrolling.

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Creating an event

The Calendar syncs with Hotmail, Google and Outlook. Facebook is strangely missing here so all of your Facebook buddies birthdays will need to be manually entered.

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Calendar accounts

Perhaps support for more services could come with future updates.

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