Surface and the newbie?

For Christmas, we purchased a Microsoft Surface tablet for Scott’s mum.  The main reasons for which:

  • It behaves similar to newer computers that friends and family will be using or have started using (Windows RT/Windows 8 UI),
  • It’s a tablet,
  • It’s something that Scott’s mum can grown into, and if she chooses, she could invest in a new computer when she is ready,
  • She can add a memory stick or external hard drive to view pictures that we send her from over the past several years

However, being half way across Canada, it does make it difficult to support.  Thankfully we have our own, just for that purpose. Once we get our kitchen renovated, it will become the kitchen computer.

I digress.

There are some stupid UI choices and behaviours about this computer.

1. If you get locked out of your computer because you’ve entered the wrong password on your Surface too many times, you have to use another computer to reset the password.  This makes is difficult for someone where this is their primary computer.

2. By accident, I had set the date to ‘yesterday’ instead of today on her computer.  There is no simple way to change the time on the Surface unless you go into desktop mode.

3. Trying to give her support using Remote Assistance did not work.  Now this could be a problem with my network to her network.  That’s really annoying, and the tool is not easily accessible.

4. The “Make everything on your screen bigger” setting does not work on Surface.  Good luck to anyone who has sight accessibility issues, which Scott’s mum does have.  Accessibility is not it’s strength.

5. The Skype app UI is horrible.  It’s hard to tell who is actually online.  You have to go the list of people, and select available.  That can be really confusing to a very novice user like Scott’s mum.

6. The downloadable Trackpad Settings app didn’t work in the initial version.  It works now, but I really could have used it working to setup mum’s tablet.

Those are my gripes so far.  I think Microsoft could have made this tablet a little more user friendly for first time users.  Am I regretting not getting her an iPad? Not specifically.  Would an iPad be easier?  Yes.  Would she be able to save all her pictures and such to it, and access them on a hard drive or memory card?  Absolutely not.

I will say, Betty has done very well learning how to use her computer.  Good on her!

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