Code through the pain Ladislav Mrnka's professional blog about software development


Microsoft today announced arrival of Surface Pro tablet in January 2013. Great! What about announcing when will be Surface RT available world wide?

When I first saw announcement of Surface tablets I immediately wanted one and my choice was ARM version with Windows RT. I was very suspicious to initial expectations of  "low price" but on the other hand Google showed that you can do high quality tablets with very interesting price. My determination to buy Surface RT was for a while weakened by the final announced price - $499 for bare version was little bit more than I expected for two simple reasons:

  • Surface tablet without touch or type cover is just a half of the product and the price of those covers is extraordinary high. The real price of Surface RT tablet is $599 if you want just black touch cover. I want type cover so the price is  $628 (+ 20% VAT for Czech Republic and probably some import tax).
  • Office 2013 RT was a great value until Microsoft added Home & Student edition suffix. This suffix made it for many people just a bloatware because to use the tablet in business environment (for example as BYOD), you also need additional full license of Office 2013. The real licensing policy to use the tablet in business environment is very unclear. Does it mean that to use the tablet in business environment we also need Office 2013 Home & Business edition (additional $219) or Office 365 Small Business Premium (additional $149 per year)? Why should I pay licensing fees for version with Outlook when I cannot use it on Surface RT?

I hoped for price around $500 but with touch cover and Office 2013 RT without limited license - those two features should have been market differentiators. Even after initial price disappointment I still want the device and I want it now. I desperately try to buy one (preferably with EU continental power supply) since its official release but with no luck. I live in a country where Microsoft Store (the online version) is not available. When I tried to order the tablet from UK, they don't post it abroad. When I traveled to London for vacation, I wasn't able to find any single shop where they would offer Surface RT for sale. I guess there is none official because Microsoft simply chose strategy to release the product only through the online store and through Microsoft Retail Stores but no retail store exists in Europe!

Surface is just another product showing that global market or at least EU market doesn't exist. I can watch localized advertising in local TV broadcast showing how great Windows 8 is on tablet but there are almost no tablets available on local market and probably no RT tablets at all (Asus Vivo Tab RT will probably hit the local market soon). I'm not looking for anybody to mediate the purchase for me - we have family friends in UK so I can use their help (unfortunately that means UK power supply) in the same way I did it before when I wanted Nexus 7 prior to availability on Czech market (Nexus 7 is offered by Asus directly, not by Google) but why do I need to use such complicated way to buy a simple product?

Microsoft, Google and Amazon are great in showing how uninterested they are in small markets. One would expect that $628 has the same value regardless of the customer's address.

Posted on November 29, 2012 by Ladislav Mrnka
Filed under: Microsoft

I just had a very hard month at my job. I was behind the schedule due to my fault during estimating some of my tasks. When I realized that my estimate for the essential task was completely wrong, I was too close to the deadline and too far from my commitment to meet the deadline. I decided to make my best to finish the assignment on time. I worked very hard and did more than 10 man days of overtime during just 17 days. This effort successfully ended week ago and I again work in normal mode - still two weeks to go and I will take some vacation. I didn't fully recovered yet and I still feel very tired. That is also the reason why I reduced my participation everywhere this month (including Stack Overflow).

Even with so much work to do I watched or read about all big October's events and announcements including Apple's keynote, Windows 8 launch, Windows Phone 8 launch, Google's announcement of new Nexus devices and finally also some Build sessions. I have also already upgraded my PC to final version of Windows 8 Pro. I was especially happy to see announcement of Windows Phone SDK 8.0 and the new version of .NET for Windows Phone 8 because not releasing the preview of the SDK to community was a very strange decision. It will be definitely something I will try once I recovery from the exhaustion.  I'm full of enthusiasm with all new things happening in Apple's, Goolge's and Microsoft's platforms but only Microsoft platform interests me at the moment also as a developer and not just a customer.

I'm not going to buy Windows Phone 8 mobile phone but I'm very interested in development for this platform and its relation to WinRT. I will perhaps buy Microsoft Surface RT. It could be a nice companion to my iPad 3rd generation and Nexus 7. Just the price seems too high and availability in Europe isn't good. Availability in Czech republic is equal to zero and it will most probably not be available this year at all. I just have to hope that it will get to Czech republic faster than for example XBox 360 - it took one year to launch XBox 360 in Czech republic and next 3-4 years to launch XBox Live which is at the end something like bad demo to the service available in main markets (US, UK, etc.).

Posted on October 31, 2012 by Ladislav Mrnka
Filed under: Microsoft
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I have already wrote the article about Microsoft strategy to annoy as many of their current Windows Phone customers as possible by announcing that their phones will not receive upgrade to Windows Phone 8 and that they will only receive Windows Phone 7.8 with a new fancy home screen - that is still the only officially announced feature for the upgrade. But somebody in Microsoft believes that annoying customers is not enough so they decided to annoy developers as well. The rest of this article is about features in Windows Phone 7.8 and about situation around Windows Phone SDK 8.0.

Posted on September 23, 2012 by Ladislav Mrnka
Filed under: Microsoft
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Two weeks ago Microsoft announced Windows Phone 8 (related article) for a new generation of smartphones. Windows Phone 8 will have a shared core with Windows 8 to unify whole Windows ecosystem. As I understand it, developers will be able to write Metro application once and target it on all Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 devices including desktops, notebooks, servers, smartphones, tablets and probably also a new generation of Microsoft XBox. The targeting will most probably be only about different UI for some devices. I will not deny that this sounds promising. The Windows Phone 8 and all its features looks really great. Microsoft did a great job when creating this new version of operating system for mobile devices and as a developer I really like the new platform.

Some new Windows Phone 8 features are dependent on a new hardware available only in new devices created directly for Windows Phone 8. These devices will be available on official Windows Phone 8 launch. There is also a lot of amazing software features which are completely independent on a new hardware. Current Windows Phone 7.5 customers highly expected these features and they were so happy to hear about them. Until Microsoft did it ... The history is repeating and Microsoft again showed how they care about their current smartphone customers. There will be no official upgrade path from Windows Phone 7.5 to Windows Phone 8. The current known situation and a lot of assumptions around Windows Phone 8 and relation to Windows Phone 7.5 is explained in the rest of this article.

Posted on June 30, 2012 by Ladislav Mrnka
Filed under: Microsoft
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