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6/27/2014
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Microsoft Surface Pro 3: Customers Speak

Early adopters of Microsoft's Surface Pro 3 say the Windows device is working well as a tablet and an ultra-light laptop.

Surface Pro 3 Vs. World: Mobile Smackdown
Surface Pro 3 Vs. World: Mobile Smackdown
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

The Surface Pro 3 has earned better reviews than its predecessors -- but most of the commentary has come from tech journalists, who, let's face it, are an awfully keyboard-dependent, word processing-oriented bunch. What are Microsoft's actual customers saying? We spoke to IT decision-makers at Seattle Children's Hospital and University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), two early Surface Pro 3 adopters to find out how and why they've chosen to deploy the device.

The Surface Pro 3 is technically a tablet, and Microsoft still sells its Type Cover keyboard separately. Nevertheless, both organizations were attracted to the device's laptop capabilities.

"It's the thinnest Ultrabook ever created," UPMC VP of Medical Information Technology Rasu Shrestha said of the Pro 3's appeal.

[On the fence about the Surface Pro 3? Read Microsoft Surface Pro 3: Why To Buy.]

"The mobility of it, the lightness, the kickstand, the screen size," said Seattle Children's CIO Wes Wright. "It hits a bunch of our complaints from the originals [and] makes it much more viable in a health care setting."

Despite a shared enthusiasm for the Pro 3's laptop mode, each organization plans to use the Pro 3 in somewhat different ways. Wright said Seattle Children's plans to deploy around 1,000 devices, 300 of which are destined for clinical use. The rest are pegged for non-medical staff, such as those in the finance and supply chain departments.

The hospital had previously deployed around 150 Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2s, mostly as notebook replacements for execs and administrative departments. Similarly, the majority of the hospital's Pro 3s will serve first and foremost as ultralight laptops. But Wright said the Pro 3's hybrid qualities will play a bigger role among the 300 devices earmarked for doctors.

All of Seattle Children's Surfaces will rely on a Windows 7 virtual desktop for shared resources because "the fat app changes often, and rather than trying to touch 6,000 devices, it just makes more sense for us to serve up a single virtualized image," Wright said. But whereas most of the Pro 3s will be managed like typical corporate-issued devices, the clinicians' units will "probably be issued in more of a personal device mode.

"If I just gave them a laptop, I wouldn't get any innovation out of [the doctors]," Wright said, noting that the Surface Pro Pen opens up new ways for doctors to use tablets.

UPMC plans to deploy most of its 2,000 Surface Pro 3s to physicians. Microsoft touted earlier Surfaces as a way for doctors to access and modify Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems on-demand, enabling them to work more effectively with patients, and avoid running to a computer workstation between appointments. UPMC's deployment taps this vein, but with the added twist that the hospital is developing its own EHR product, Convergence.

A Windows 8.1 app, Convergence pulls information from multiple EHR systems and allows doctors to switch between a visual view of a patient's records, and those underlying systems. UPMC will serve as a "living lab" as the Convergence team prepares to bring the app to market, Shrestha said. UPMC originally planned to build Convergence on iOS but

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Michael Endler joined InformationWeek as an associate editor in 2012. He previously worked in talent representation in the entertainment industry, as a freelance copywriter and photojournalist, and as a teacher. Michael earned a BA in English from Stanford University in 2005 ... View Full Bio

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Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
7/2/2014 | 6:49:23 PM
Re: Hitting the right Cord
Definitely, if you're in position to do that many upgrades and in a business in which people move around all the time, you could build productive workflows around the Surface Pro 3 . Microsoft has worked on some accessories that help with that-- charging carts, etc.
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
7/2/2014 | 6:42:39 PM
Re: Health care
I wouldn't blame the Surface Pro 3 for healthcare costs. ;) I can think of plenty of other things I'd blame first.  If implemented correctly, the SP 3 should help doctors to fit more patients in each day, if not to provide more personal and interactive care. That won't necessarily translate to lower costs for patients-- but better service for their money, and better convenience? Sure, I think those are reasonable goals for doctors who buy the device.
Hospice_Houngbo
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Hospice_Houngbo,
User Rank: Strategist
6/30/2014 | 10:22:37 AM
Not now...
With the Surface Pro 3 pricing tag, it is clear that Microsoft is not going after the low-end market. So for now I am out even though I have come to like my Surface RT despite its limited functionality.
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
6/30/2014 | 9:06:42 AM
Re: Nice to see...
@anon, what made you dissatisfied with the Surface Pro 3's pen? Many people (me included) seem to consider it an improvement over the previous-generation Surface styluses. What are some of the use cases in which you've found the new model deficient?
mejiac
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mejiac,
User Rank: Ninja
6/29/2014 | 3:33:34 PM
Re: Nice to see...
@Paul987,

Thank you for sharing...and I agree with your assetment, that the Surface Pro line are the best mobile system that you can get, since both apple and samsung are more consumer oriented (with enterprise applications).

It would be interesting to see if given time the market better defines itself, and we would see microsoft being the perfered enterprise mobile solution.
mejiac
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mejiac,
User Rank: Ninja
6/29/2014 | 3:28:15 PM
Hitting the right Cord
Excellent article Michael!, and a great follow up to your prevous "why to buy".

This got me thinking:

If an organization decides to roll out surface to it's administrative/executive personnel, and they provide the infrastructure to utilize it fully (having dongles and adapters already placed in conference room for projection, an enterprise cloud storage enabled for quick access and file sharing) it would definitly lead to a great increase of efficiency.

Most tablets fall when it comes time to project, or simple be able to review and send back an attachment, and I think this is where the Surface shines. So if an enterprise solution is implemented to support the use of Surface as the main device, I can definitly see this being a very succesful win for Microsoft.

 
mak63
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mak63,
User Rank: Ninja
6/29/2014 | 2:46:41 PM
doctors drawing

clinicians like to draw while explaining conditions to patients

http://thumbs.gograph.com/gg64154892.jpg

Doctor is drawing on the Surface Pro 3 when the patient gets the bill

moarsauce123
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moarsauce123,
User Rank: Ninja
6/28/2014 | 6:49:53 PM
Health care
Interesting that both showcases are in health care...no wonder why health care is so expensive.
zberg
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zberg,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/28/2014 | 3:32:18 PM
Re: Nice to see...
Bought mine opening day and love it! Sorry you're having troubles with your pen. Mine works flawlessly and opens OneNote as it should from its sleeping state.
anon5461672089
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anon5461672089,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/28/2014 | 12:09:02 AM
Re: Nice to see...
Own a Surface Pro 2 and just got the 3 four days ago. The pen technology on this last version is abysmal. Anyone saying that it's an upgrade from the past 2 models has no clue what they're talking about and is too easily aroused by gimmicks, like opening OneNote from the pen's top button. Opened a trouble ticket with Microsoft hoping that I had a defective pen/machine but eventually found out that it is what it is. Microsoft decided to mess up one of the greatest strengths this thing had instead of leaving it alone and working on other things.
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