Agreeing on a standard for end user devices such as a laptop can increase productivity, maximise employee work time and lower costs on device maintenance and training. To provide an example of standardisation, I will focus on the benefits of standardising on the Microsoft Surface Pro in a work place. The reason I have chosen this product for my example is – based on a typical Microsoft based IT platform with Office 365 – we have one vendor providing the hardware, software and cloud products. This in turn provides some great benefits that may only be available by staying within the Microsoft ‘ecosystem’.
- Travel companion
Surface Pro combined with the Type Cover keyboard weighs roughly 1.07kg. Given the slim design and the light weight product, this is a great travel companion. Some may find the 12.3” display a little too small for every day use, however I would recommend purchasing the Surface Pro Dock which allows you to plug two external monitors, keyboard, mouse, network, other USB devices and charger, all with one connection. As you can see with the dock, it can meet the needs of both road bound, and office bound workers.
- Device encryption
In a scenario where your laptop is lost or stolen, you would likely be concerned about your data ending up in the wrong hands, right? Joining your Surface Pro running Windows 10 Pro to your Office 365 account provides you with the ability to centrally manage encryption of your hard drive. This means that unless someone was able to authenticate as you, your data will be safe.
- Sign documents with your Surface Pro
Fill in your PDF document and sign off with your signature using your Surface Pro Pen. If you make a mistake, simply erase it using the ‘rubber’ on the end of the pen as you would with a traditional pencil.
- Dictation – Speak to your Office applications
Although this feature is not exclusive to Surface devices, I wanted to include this in the list as a benefit. As long as you have a Windows 10 devices with a microphone, an active Office 365 subscription that includes Office 2016, and recent Office updates, you can take advantage of this feature.
The Dictation feature roll out in Australia began in March, and many users started seeing this feature in late June. To enable this feature, open up an Office application of your choice, such as Microsoft Word, and click the Dictate symbol. I have included a screen shot of the Dictate button here:
More information on this feature can be found clicking here
- Ease of sign in
Again, this is feature is not exclusive to Surface Pro, though there are only a selected number of brands and models that this feature is compatible with, and the Surface Pro is one of these. Windows Hello enables you to sign in to your laptop and other selected applications with Biometric technology using your finger, or your face. This can save you time through out the day without the need to enter in a password. This may not save great deal of time, though for me signing in on average 20 times a day I certainly appreciate this feature.
Having the same company providing both the operating system AND the hardware provides a unique level of integration between the software and hardware. This results in greater efficiencies, battery life, and compatibility than can not likely be achieved by 3rd part hardware providers. This was once seen as one of the main benefits of Apple Mac based computers, but now Microsoft is also able to claim this benefit. This integration also makes it much easier to keep your device updated, with much simpler updates of drivers and firmware. This greatly helps with maintenance and troubleshooting.
For some the 12.3” display is the perfect size, while others report the display size is too small and would rather go for a larger display such as a 14” display. From my experience, this is one of the largest factors that have deterred businesses from converting their fleet of laptops to a Surface Pro.
You also need to remember that the Surface Pro standard warranty is a Back To Base (BTB) warranty, meaning that if an issue arises that requires Microsoft’s attention, you will need to organise shipment back to Microsoft where they will likely swap the whole unit. I would recommend keeping a spare on hand or ensuring your IT provider is managing this spare for you. I would also recommend ensuring users documents are synchronised or backed up, as data may not be accessible before sending back to Microsoft.
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