What is Surface and why do I care?
I try to provide info based on what I have learned and experienced using a variety of products in the Microsoft UC platform space. Mostly, that info is around devices (and I do have a device to review, but in this case I will be looking at the Lync experience on the Surface tablet. If you haven’t seen the surface yet (because you have been in outer space or perhaps just woke from a coma) it is Microsoft’s direct foray into the tablet space. It combines the familiarity of Windows and the ease of use that the Windows Phone brought to the PC/Tablet world:
Properly using this device requires that applications be capable of delivering the experience in the “Windows 8 UI experience”.
Lync in this case delivers that in spades.
I received my Surface and the first 3 task I completed were:
- Update Office to RTM
- Install Skype
- Install Lync.
One of the things I was most pleased about was the fact that I could actually do work on this device. I’m writing this blog entry from Word 2013 installed on my Surface RT. Lync was extremely important for me to truly consider this a companion device.
The UI for the Lync Surface client is slick. Its sexy, it’s good for touch screens and it is exactly what Microsoft needs to release if Surface and Lync are going to be taken seriously.
As you can see, the interface is very touch friendly. Your presence and personal note are located in the upper right corner. Clicking on that opens your card where you can update your note, change your presence, change your call forwarding settings and log out,
The layout is optimized for Touch. Lync meetings are automatically available in the left hand corner along with tiles for voicemail, your contacts and your conversation history. You favorites are available via the center tile and your contact groups are available on the right.
Inside the contact groups, you can see that you get the photos as you expect.
As you select a contact you have the option of starting communications through modalities including IM/Voice and Video. The contact card is also available if you wish.
It’s a very familiar interface with comfort for a touch screen
How does it perform
I was a little skeptical at first about how it would perform, but when Joe and I did a video call from surface to surface, it was pretty impressive. The performance didn’t lag at all and the video quality was excellent. Having the ability to switch between the front and rear cameras was a nice touch as well.
Overall, I found the client to be a terrific addition to the Lync family. My only disappointment is that I haven’t seen a way to share or participate in sharing session yet. I will have to update this further when I have been able to try that. I am going to hope that considering the iPad supports content sharing, that the Surface would support that as well.