Should I buy a Surface to "keep up"?

Discussion in 'iPad' started by username:, Dec 25, 2015.

  1. username: macrumors 6502a

    Dec 16, 2013
    It is important in many career roles to be tech savvy. Currently I only use ios and OS X. Should I get a surface pro so I stay up to date with windows and know how to use it? Whenever I go into a store and try to play with a surface I am completely lost, absolutely no idea how to use the thing.
  2. Ghost31 macrumors 68000


    Jun 9, 2015
    Uh. No. If you need to use Windows for some reason, load Windows 10 onto your Mac. I wouldn't buy a whole computer to "keep up" unless you need to keep up with some kind of hardware trends because you're an engineer or something. And even then...
  3. sonicrobby, Dec 25, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2015

    sonicrobby macrumors 68020


    Apr 24, 2013
    New Orleans
    I personally use "parallels desktop" on my Mac. It will allow you to install Windows as a virtual machine on your Mac. You'll get to play with Windows without having to shell out cash for a new device. It's actually pretty handy to have when you need to use some Windows only programs.
  4. PBG4 Dude macrumors 68020

    PBG4 Dude

    Jul 6, 2007
    Knowledge of Microsoft Office will get you farther than knowledge of Windows, IMHO. No one in the corporate world is going to expect you to set up ODBC drivers and map network drives, for example. There's a help desk for that. They will expect you to be able to use Excel and Word though.

    I managed to turn my strong Excel/VBA skills into an 18 year career so far.
  5. username: thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Dec 16, 2013
    Oh yeah!
    Do I have to pay for windows 10?
  6. sracer macrumors 604


    Apr 9, 2010
    in exile
    As someone who is actually in the tech field and needs to keep their knowledge fresh, I recommend that you buy a Windows system... that is NOT a Surface. I'd recommend a 14" notebook (seems like the smaller ones are more expensive) with a touchscreen. A decent quality notebook will be half the price of a Surface Pro and allow you to have a more rounded experience. (There are quite a few Surface-specific issues and features that may skew your knowledge/experience). If you have an eagle-eye for bargains you can find some excellent deals. 2 weeks ago I picked up a 14" Dell from Best Buy for $120 new.

    Installing Windows 10 as a virtual machine or boot camp on a Mac is not the same as owning a separate device dedicated to the OS. The cost of a Windows license alone shifts the scales toward a separate machine. There are numerous updates for Windows 10 (some small, others large) that are frequently installed. If one is only using a virtual image/boot camp, then those updates don't happen until you boot the image up. Then when you DO boot up, you'll have to wait for the updates to happen before doing anything productive.

    If you tinker around with a virtual image/bootcamp system and damage it, it is much trickier to restore/recover. With a dedicated machine simply boot up the recovery partition and reinstall/refresh/repair.

    If you use bootcamp and are booted into OSX and want to "try out" something on Windows, you need to stop what you're doing on OSX, shutdown and reboot into Windows. When you're done, boot back up into OSX.

    Running a virtual machine like VirtualBox or Parallels is fine for running Windows apps, but for learning about Windows 10 itself, not so much.

    There are so many advantages to having a separate machine over a virtual machine that if the OP can afford it, it would be money well spent. Sometimes people can get tunnel vision over price alone and think that the option that lays out the least amount of money is the cheapest. That's not always the case.
  7. Abazigal macrumors G3


    Jul 18, 2011
    What career are you referring to and what is your definition of "tech-savvy"?

    Many jobs can get by with simply knowing how to start up your PC and using office and the browser. And if the system is locked down by the administrator, you won't be able to tinker much with it anyways.

    Get one for personal interest and if you think it suits your needs, but I doubt knowledge of how to use one would be necessary for any job. Even if it were, I am sure training of some sort would be provided.
  8. Newtons Apple macrumors Core

    Newtons Apple

    Mar 12, 2014
    Jacksonville, Florida
    I bought and already returned my Surface Pro4. It was a i7 unit with 512GB. Still do not like how it looks when using software like Quickbooks and AutoCad. Plenty of speed/performance but the keyboard is still poor compared to a good laptop.

    Back to my MBPro 15 with Windows 10 via Bootcamp.

    A combination that is hard to beat.
  9. geraldem macrumors regular

    Dec 16, 2015
    I love my Surfacebook. I also have the rMB and iPad pro. Nice to get to know the best and worst of each of these devices. Been really impressed with Surfacebook, especially since the last firmware. At release it was somewhat buggy, but pretty awesome now
  10. username: thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Dec 16, 2013
    This is a good point. I might start looking for cheap windows machines. I guess I just feel lost when I have to get setup with a windows machine at work. To be specific, usually if I want to share a file I airdrop it. But what is the best way to share files between OS X and windows?How easy is it to access icloud files on windows? Is it smooth using internet explorer? Is internet explorer better these days? Or should I try to use chrome? Is itunes still awful on windows? ITunes U? If I am doing some research at work, how should I save that info for later at home? Is USB the best way? What are the best cloud service that are both windows and OS X friendly? Can I access keychain on windows? How can I get all of my keychain passwords on windows? Are my hard drives formatted correctly? Can I share files using a USB easily? Im sure there are other details that cause friction that dont come to mind right now.
  11. sracer macrumors 604


    Apr 9, 2010
    in exile
    Terrific questions and very valid ones. My personal preference is to use OSX/iOS when possible, but my job is very Windows-centric. And because I regularly have need to access software and data from both platforms I've been able to set up workflows that are platform-neutral for most of those tasks and yet be able to have special apps that work best on one platform or the other. There's great freedom in being able to be proficient with both... if I had to choose one or the other, I'd be able to switch over with minimal effort.

    IMO the best way to accomplish what you'd like to do and learn is to have a dedicated Windows system. Researching and shopping around is sometimes more enjoyable than actually owning the device. :) Enjoy the journey, not just the destination. Be careful of hype. One can get caught up in the emotion of techo-lust that only results in spending more money than you need to. Things like the iPad Pro, Retina Macbook, Surface Pro, Surface book are all terrific products but really only shine for the specific niches they serve.
  12. joeblow7777 macrumors 603

    Sep 7, 2010
    If your only concern is being familiar with Windows, why not just get a budget laptop to play around with? You can get something that runs Windows 10 fine for a fraction of the price of a Suface. You don't need Microsoft's flagship device just to learn Windows. It's easy to get into the Windows ecosystem cheaply. Too bad the same can't really be said for someone looking to try out OS X.
  13. Rafterman macrumors 68020

    Apr 23, 2010
    The Surface Pro is a brilliant machine, techwise, and Windows 10 is not bad at all. But the problem for me personally is that, unlike OSX and iOS, Windows does not scale very well. You can "enlarge" certain features and menus of apps, but many do not play well with that and end up having text so tiny you can't even read it.

    For example, one Windows app I use is Starry Night Pro Plus. But on a 2800 x 1800 screen, or whatever the Pro 4 is, the app's details on things like planets and stars, when you hover over it with the mouse, are so tiny it unusable. A high resolution on a small screen that that, with no scaling, is a terrible experience. But the Mac version of Starry Night Pro, even on my 15 inch Retina Macbook, is perfect. With OSX, I like that your screen size can be any resolution, and it always looks the same in terms of text and image sizes.

    Now, if you could get OSX running on a Surface Pro. . . :)
  14. jerwin macrumors 68000

    Jun 13, 2015
    Bootcamp is a good experience for learning some of the peculiarities of Windows 10, but at the same time, it won't give you the full experience of mucking about with master boot records and low level drivers. There are certain things about my bootcamped windows 10 home installation that i've learned not to touch-- and I make regular backups from the mac side.

    a surface pro would give you some insight into how microsoft expects it's own operating to run. You'll have to decide whether this is worth the rather considerable cost. As learning experiences go, you might be better off building your own desktop machine.
  15. Newtons Apple macrumors Core

    Newtons Apple

    Mar 12, 2014
    Jacksonville, Florida
    I agree 100%. This "scaling" issue was a deal breaker for me. I have tried two of the previous Sirface Pro models and it is over and done for me.
  16. maxsix Suspended


    Jun 28, 2015
    Western Hemisphere
    I simply could not agree more... this is very sage advice!

    Kudos sracer for your excellent posts here, advice that a vast number of enthusiasts can benefit from.

    I live / work in a multi-platform environment, which is an excellent way to stay current and fully conversant with what the world is computing with.

    Apple is wonderful, but the moment you step out of the walled garden of Apple / MacRumors / et al, it's a very different world that's moving at a very rapid pace. Speaking only for myself, I cannot imagine living in the Apple Bubble and not knowing what the rest of the world (the greater majority) are doing.

    Cheers :D
  17. sparksd macrumors 68000

    Jun 7, 2015
    Seattle WA
    I'm actually coming at this from the other direction - I'm retired now after 40+ years as a s/w developer then system architect, working in environments where (in recent decades) Windows and Linux were the norm and Apple systems were seldom, if ever, seen. The Air 2 I now own is the first Apple product I've touched since playing with the original Mac back in 1984. I also would recommend getting a dedicated system that you can work/play with. Both sides - Apple and Windows (and Linux) - have a lot to offer and each have strengths and weaknesses the others don't and exposure to all is beneficial.
  18. username: thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Dec 16, 2013
    Mirroring my thoughts exactly. "Platform neutral" is my goal! Yes I think I will get stuck into shopping around as you say and try to find something cheap. I'm looking forward to it.
    In a similar vein I might even look for a cheap android device too
  19. username: thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Dec 16, 2013
    Uh... I am already thinking about virus software, constant OS updates, and the sea of sub-par cheap windows devices with their below quality screens, awful speakers, annoying keyboards and touchpads, and generally bad user experiences. I know the higher priced devices are good, but the cheap ones can be pretty bad.
  20. CE3 macrumors 65816

    Nov 26, 2014
    Like @sparksd, I'm also coming from the other side of the spectrum. I've been with iOS for mobile (iPhones and iPads) since 2013, but I've only ever used Windows desktops and laptops until recently. If you're tech savvy and find yourself in a situation where you have to learn a new platform or piece of software, it usually doesn't take much to adapt. I was off and running with OS X in a day or two.

    You can find some very decent Windows laptops and desktops in the mid-tier 500-700 range. If all you're considering the purchase for is to simply "keep up" the Surface Pro isn't necessary. Once you know Windows 10, you pretty much know how to use anything that runs it.

    Malwarebytes + Windows Firewall + Windows Defender (along with a good ad & popup blocker) is all I've used on my Windows machines for years. The last time I had viruses was when I had anti-virus programs like Norton & McAfee, and in both cases it was only Malwarebytes that managed to properly detect and remove.
  21. username: thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Dec 16, 2013
    seriously thinking about a Surface 3. I can get one with typecover and pen for £380.. would be a lot of fun!
  22. Night Spring macrumors G5

    Night Spring

    Jul 17, 2008
    Unlike previous posters, I think installing Windows through Bootcamp is a good way to learn the kind of things you want to learn. I mean, people are thinking about things like it's harder to recover if you mess up a Bootcamped system, but for the level of things you want to learn, it's unlikely you'll mess up the OS. I've been running Windows on Macs through Bootcamp since around 2009, and my Macs have been the best Windows machines I've ever owned. Once I install Windows on a Mac and set it to boot to Windpws, I can forget that it's a Mac and use it like any other Windows machine. All you need to do is to get hold of a copy of Windows, and you can start learning it now, instead of going through the hassle of picking out a Windows computer. I have a feeling for what you want, you can just install Windows 10 without paying and run it unactivated. You'll get activation nags, but most features just keep working. Once you start getting to know Windows better, then you can better evaluate whether having a dedicated Windows system would be useful to you or not.
  23. bensisko macrumors 65816

    Jul 24, 2002
    The Village
    Knowledge and experience with Windows (being able to use the computer and perform necessary actions to get to task-based applications and such) are pretty much required for most jobs. Having said that, I'd worry more about Windows 7 than I would Windows 10. Maybe in two years Windows 10 will be more of a standard, but for now Windows 7 pretty much rules (and Windows 10 isn't so different that you wouldn't be able to play with a work computer for a day or two and figure your way around).

    Having said that... you can easily drive yourself mad with that line of thinking. What about Android? Should you also learn ChromeOS? Windows Phone? I've been doing the cross-platform thing since 98 and, really, it's less important than ever. Being cross-platform is so easy these days (as compared to late 90s/early 2000s) that you really just need to pick what works for you, and you can collaborate with anybody else fairly easily.

    I have a Surface Pro 3 and it's an immensely fun device! For me, I wouldn't recommend any other system for Windows users (barring specific needs). The Surface is pretty great (and fun!).
  24. The Clark macrumors regular

    The Clark

    Dec 11, 2013
    Victoria, BC
    Windows 7 will be more relevant than windows 10 for at least another four years.. look at how many businesses run Windows XP. If you want to stay relevant, definitely focus on Windows 7 and the entire office suite.
  25. joeblow7777 macrumors 603

    Sep 7, 2010
    If you can use Windows 10 you can use 7, and vice versa. 10 has more features and some superficial differences, but the basics are the same. I was able to transition my mom from 7 to 10 in just a matter of minutes, and my mom is literally the least tech savvy person I know.

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