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ST7: Microsoft Surface Pro


0012.pngOne of the key pieces of hardware at Solid Edge University this year was the Microsoft Surface Pro 2. I've been a fan of the Surface Pro since it was released a year and a half ago or so. It has all the power of a real laptop in the size of a tablet. It even has a real keyboard you can use for real typing. Being a guy who types a lot, that part is important to me.


The Surface Pro 2 figures in to Solid Edge University in a couple of ways. First, one of the hands-on rooms was populated with Surface Pro 2s. Second, ST7 has a couple of new features aimed directly at tablet-type operations.


Fingers are not very accurate when compared against a CAD display more than 2000 pixels wide, but fingers are an integral part of interacting with tablets via the touch interface. And the Surface Pro is about half tablet by pedigree. So Solid Edge decided that they need to distinguish between functions you might want to do with your fingers (low accuracy touch) and functions you might want to do with your stylus (anything requiring precision or cursor feedback).


The following short video shows me doing a few simple functions on the tablet with fingers and with the pen (stylus).


The Surface Pro isn't a device that you would want to use all day for CAD, with it's 10" screen, but it is highly portable, is bigger than your phone, and is powerful enough to do parts and drawings. You can use it with or without a mouse.



Also, Windows 8 is going to be a divisive feature of this piece of hardware. 8.1 has added back some of the functionality that you might miss. Business users aren't much excited about the tiled interface (Metro), and I can't truly pin down any single function of Windows 8 that I prefer over Windows 7. The portability and overall practicality of its small size and powerful-enough-to-be-productive design are what sold me on getting one of these. I also wanted to believe in the "one experience across all devices" mantra, integrating Windows Phone operating system, but there were enough limitations with the phone that I couldn't drop my Android to go there.


Anyway, cool hardware, useful tool, and now can run Solid Edge with even more capability than before.

Gears Esteemed Contributor

I've recently, mostly because of their appearance at SEU14, been looking at maybe getting one of these, as potentialy a full replacement for my aging [but still very capable] desktop machine...coupled to a decent monitor, of course.


I hope they [Microsoft] make a pocket/recess location for the stylus/pen [like Samsung's Galaxy Note range] on the next iteration of this, as that'd be an annoying thing to have rolling about, & mostly, to lose.

Looks like th graphics performance is pretty decent to try this out with feature heavy assemblies and large multi-sheet drafts. Care to cover these in another video Matt?

PLM World Member Valued Contributor PLM World Member Valued Contributor
PLM World Member Valued Contributor

It won't repalce a workstation at the desk but I was surprised at how well the Surface ran in the class. It could replace a laptop for on site work. Much better then a viewer application in a regular tablet. We had the bulldozer motor model from the ST7 launch and could work with it like on a desktop. We went through everything they did in the main presentation.


The attached monitor and mouse were real requirements for modeling though because the icons are so small on the tablet screen.


It even did a decent job of running keyshot and Edge at the same time.





I'm not sure I'd go as far as replacing a main work computer with it, at least if you're doing a full day of CAD. It was only about $1200(US) which included the 128gb storage and the keyboard. I don't know about the Pro2, but my original Pro has a spot for the pen, magnetically coupled, but it's the same spot as the power connector uses.


Doing a review with a large assembly/drawing would be fun. I'll see if I can get a new Pro2 demo unit from Microsoft. Thanks for the idea.



Yeah, for real work you need a mouse and a real monitor. Thanks for the input about the hands-on session.

Community Manager

I think for a lot of folks this could be their only machine if they get the docking station and attach monitor/keyboard. It is powerful enough to run SE full time on the desktop for most applications. Then, just unplug it and take it with you on the road. 


I think this was one of the biggest surprises at SEU14. I found the iPad Viewer App to be a real tease. You'd be looking at something and start wanting to edit a little thing here or there. But with Surface Pro I could make the change and email the updated part to a vendor etc... great when on B-Trips, or next years SEU. Heads up to everyone, but MS has announce update... Surface Pro 3


"With the company’s Surface event in full swing, the first new device unveiled on stage on Tuesday was the all new Surface Pro 3. The new Pro model features a larger 12-inch display and a completely revamped thinner design that is only 9.1 millimeters thick. It also has a new kickstand that holds the device up at any angle. Microsoft says its new Surface Pro 3 features an “absolutely beautiful” screen that has been increased to 12-inches so that the device is a better laptop replacement. It also has the highest contrast ratios in the industry."


I've already dropped enough hints to my daughter and wife... This would be nice for my big 60th in August...