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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.

switched to Windows because iPads would allow doctors only to view records, but not to modify them.

UPMC also hopes Convergence will help address ones of Windows 8.1 and the Pro 3's chief weaknesses against the iPad -- a lack of quality touch apps. Most big ERM vendors focus on iOS because it has the most users, said Seattle Children's CIO Wright.

Despite the ongoing app gap, both Wright and Shrestha expressed enthusiasm over the Pro 3's hybrid capabilities -- not the tiled Start screen, per se, but the new pen, which replaces the previous Pros' Wacom-based stylus with N-trig technology. As noted, some employees will treat their Surfaces as ultralight, ultrathin laptops -- but for doctors in particular, the pen adds another dimension.

When Wright said the Pro 3 enabled more innovation than a laptop, he spoke specifically about the pen. "It really has the best handwriting experience, closer to a paper experience than any other tablet I've ever used," he said. Seattle Children's doesn't yet have specific plans for how the pen might be used, but "with [Windows 8.1's] handwriting recognition, there's the potential that I can integrate that with the EMR we use daily."

Dr. Maida Chen, medical director for sleep disorders at Seattle Children’s Hospital, has previously lauded the pen. "When we have very quickly evolving situations with patients, jotting down notes is still the way that most clinicians go," she said.

Shrestha noted that clinicians like to draw while explaining conditions to patients. He added that doctors will also enjoy taking quick notes that can later be converted to text, and that the pen can also be used as a mouse device.

Though Wright and Shrestha praised the Pro 3, neither pretends it's the perfect device for all employees.

"We're continuing to push ahead with our BYOD strategy, looking at iOS and Android alongside Windows mobile phones," Shrestha said, though he added that for core clinical workflows, such as interacting with EMRs, the Pro 3 is an ideal candidate.

"Most of our day-to-day work is in a virtualized environment," Wright said. "We're working with Citrix and Microsoft [on Windows 8.1 virtualization] that will serve up touch-enabled apps to anyone with a touch-enable devices, be it iPad or Surface or Android."

He mentioned that some Seattle Children's employees, including many scientists in the hospital's Research Institute, use Apple computers. "My chief medical information officer, he uses a MacBook Pro," Wright said. "He does a lot of stats and graphics. He's interested in whether the Surface Pro 3 can give him the performance [of the MacBook]."

Wright isn't overwhelmingly concerned about the Pro 3's power, however; 60% of Seattle Children's 1,000 Surface Pro 3s will be the low-end model configured with Intel's Core i3 chip, and only 10%% will use Intel's high-end i7 processor. But as the comparison between the Pro 3 and MacBook attests, Microsoft's tablet isn't likely to become the only device Seattle Children's IT staff has to manage.

Even if Seattle Children and UPMC achieve successful deployments, those experiences may not portend much for the Surface Pro 3's overall prospects. After all, early Surfaces attracted high-profile corporate customers, such as Delta. But Microsoft's tablets -- and Windows slates in general -- have barely registered in the overall market.

The Pro 3 has already attracted other notable commercial customers, including BMW and Coca Cola. The device has been on the market since June 20, and Microsoft's so far been mum on sales figures. Time will tell if the Surface line, which has still yet to turn a profit, has finally turned a corner.

At least one customer is optimistic, though. "I really think they've got a hit," Wright said.

InformationWeek's new Must Reads is a compendium of our best recent coverage of the Internet of Things. Find out the way in which an aging workforce will drive progress on the Internet of Things, why the IoT isn't as scary as some folks seem to think, how connected machines will change the supply chain, and more. (Free registration required.)

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: Moderator
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: Strategist
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: Strategist
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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