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Microsoft – Surface Pro will be available before end of May in The Netherlands and many other countries

By the end of June, the Surface RT will be available in 29 countries and the Surface pro will be available in 25 countries.

It’s a pity we often have to wait for new products like the Surface Pro, but at least it’s coming to the Netherlands. And the waiting will also be over pretty soon, since it will be available before the end of May.

Personally I’m not a big fan of Windows RT, but I really love Windows 8 tablets. Since I’ve gotten my Windows 8 tablet, I have been using it as my main device. And apparently I’m not the only one as you can read in this great article:
“Two months with the Surface Pro and how it replaced my notebook”.

If you’re considering a tablet and are not yet sure if a Windows RT, Windows 8, Android or Apple tablet best meets your needs, read the comparison from one my previous blog posts.

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Home LAB Setup guide – 01 Hardware selection

As you will probably know by now, I’m really into ICT. I mainly focus on virtualization and Microsoft technoIogies. As such, I try to:

  • Keep up with new ICT developments
  • Improve my knowledge and skills for both old and new ICT technologies
  • Get certified in many different areas of ICT.

A proper lab environment is a prerequisite to do so. Because of virtualization however, this has become so much easier (and cheaper) than before.

In the next couple of blog posts I will try to document the steps I’m taking to build my lab. Today I’m staring the series with the hardware selection. The important part of the hardware I use for my environment is as follows:

  • Mainboard: Gigabyte GA-H77M-D3H
  • CPU: Intel Core i5 3570 quadcore
  • Memory: 32GB
  • SATA controller : IBM M1015 (flashed to LSI9211-8i)
  • VM storage: 2 * 512GB SSD Samsung 830 series
  • Non VM storage: 2 * 2TB SATA

To me it was important that my machine would be able to run both Microsoft Hyper-V 3.0 as well as VMware ESXi 5.1 properly. Both have hardware requirements, but VMware ESXi 5.1 is generally more restrictive with regards to supported hardware. Very simply put, it means that the mainboard, CPU, network and storage controller need to be compatible with the features you require.

Normally you would check supported hardware on the official hardware compatibility list (HCL) of the vendor, but these are generally aimed at real server hardware and do not support/contain consumer hardware. So before buying hardware, check on forums to see what combinations of hardware are working for other people and choose the one that matches your desires best. You can also google for ESXi whitebox.

Furthermore, I plan to run many systems at the same time, hence the 32GB of memory and the 2 fast 512GB SSD disks. Besides the fast, but small SSD you generally also need more storage to store other files like by example operating system images and tools.

The next post is about the Hypervisor selection and installation.

 

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Windows 8 tablet considerations including Windows RT and Windows 8 comparison

[Update 14-12-2013]

It’s been more than a year since my initial post, so here are some updates from my point of view:

  • Tablets and ultrabooks are coming closer together due to all the available form factors. Tablet, clam shell, slider, convertible, dockable / detachable, etc. This provides more choice, but makes it also harder for people to choose the device that is most appropriate for them.
  • Cheaper Windows 8.1 based tablets (based on the new Intel Atom processors) have become available that make it a more viable alternative to Android and iOS based tablets.
  • Windows tablets based on AMD processors seemed interesting to me last year because of their added graphical power, but they didn’t seem to get any traction up until now.
  • High end Windows based tablets (Intel Core i5/i7 based) are still relatively expensive.
  • Many companies that previously produced Windows RT tablets, stopped making them (Asus, Samsung, HP, Lenovo, HTC. The only companies that are still producting Windows RT tablets are Microsoft, Nokia (largely backed by Microsoft) and Dell.
  • Rumours are floating around that Microsoft will be reducing the number of Windows versions and in my opinion it would make sense to get rid of Windows RT.
  • The new and improved Intel Atom (quad core processors) are making ARM based Windows RT devices even less interesting because they provide better performance and use less energy than the previous versions while allowing people to run x86 programs.
  • Windows tablets have become available in smaller sizes (8 inch) and Windows 8.1 and Windows RT 8.1 have updated to better work with this.
  • Windows 8.1 and Windows RT 8.1 have been released and many minor adjustments made it more tablet optimized.
  • Most major apps have been released as a “Metro”/Modern app for Windows 8 / Windows RT, but it’s still lagging behind Google’s Play Store and the Apple App Store.
  • The graphical performance included in processors is increasing, reducing the need for seperate GPUs for generic use and bringing more options for apps.
  • Google Android based tablets are still going strong and provide a lot of bang for buck. Also the Android OS is still getting many useful updates. Security and OS version sprawl is still an issue though, especially in the enterprise. Also there’s a big gap in user experience because there are still very cheap tablets with lots of disadvantages, while the normal and high end models are very good in general.
  • The Apple iPad (hardware) and operating system (iOS) received updates and they’re still doing very well what they’ve always done while providing great stability and improving battery time and performance. To me however it’s more of the same without much added value over previous versions. I’m curious to see if, how and when Apple will make their devices more popular for people that want to be able to do more. Maybe some kind power tablet running OS X with touch and iOS options ?

If you have something to add or if you think something that’s incorrect, please leave a comment.

[Update 14-12-2013]

Since I’m seriously considering buying a Windows based tablet, I’ve been very closely following all developments. Even though a lot of information has become available, it’s often spread across many different websites and articles and is often incomplete in my opinion. Since the Microsoft Surface RT tablet is available for pre-order and will be sold when Windows 8 will be available on the 26th of October I decided to write this article.And even though a lot of people have complained about this on various sites, most sites don’t have one article that covers all the things to look out for. In this post I try to do just that. One of the most useful resources I’ve used are the articles from Paul Thurrott on his website supersite for windows.

Also it’s not just consumers that are having trouble understanding / explaining the differences between Windows RT and Windows 8 tablets though, Microsoft employees are also still being trained to properly handle questions.

In this post it’s important to realize that Microsoft Surface RT is not the same as Windows RT, Microsoft Surface RT is a tablet from Microsoft (hardware) that runs Windows RT (software). Microsoft Surface Pro is another tablet from Microsoft (hardware) that runs Windows 8 (software).

Read the rest of this entry »

 

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