Review of Microsoft Surface RT as UC Communication Device



Will a communication device similar to Surface RT or iPad one day take the place on your desk where your phone is currently sitting? Not only providing voice but every other mode of communication like presence, IM, Desktop sharing, meeting and video?


Lync 2013 for Windows 8 (aka Lync 2013 Windows Store App):

  • The Lync Windows Store App provides a clean, touch oriented Lync experience for Windows 8
  • The new Lync 2013 Windows Store App is considerably different than the Lync 2013 PC App as it is a Windows8/Metro/Modern/What-ever-we-are-supposed-to-call-it design, but shouldn’t take too long to acclimate to
  • USB Lync Optimized devices work as audio devices, but call control does not work. (CX300 and Jabra410 tested) For example: hangup/pickup buttons do not work.
    • Verified that this does not work on Windows 8 for PC either.
  • Navigation into Contacts screen seems sluggish. (this seems to be a Surface RT issue as Lync for PC is much
  • A very small item, but there are no emoticons available when you are using the Touch or Type keyboard. (perhaps a bit of a Surface design issue as there are emoticons built into the onscreen keyboard—but since the onscreen keyboard is not there when using the Touch or Type keyboard they are missing)

Below is the main Lync 2013 Windows Store App running on Surface RT:WP_000830

My Lync 2013 Windows Store App Overview Video


  • The built in mic provides excellent audio using the Lync 2013 Windows Store App
    • a colleague I called kept asking “you are just using the built-in Surface mic?” ;-)
  • the Surface RT is not Lync Optimized at this time.
  • Cameras, both front and rear, have a white round LED to let you know when you are on cam. (nice)
  • Front facing Camera is angled to be used with kick stand up.
  • Note: Unlike a laptop that you can easily change the angle of the cam, with the surface you either need to accept the kickstand angle given (which is good) or hold or prop it with something.

Thoughts on Surface RT in General

  • The Surface “content consumer” to “productivity” conversion is impressive in my opinion: just “slap” on the magnetic keyboard and open Office 2013.
  • The kickstand lives up to its well engineered hype—it is excellent fit, finish and operation
  • has a short power cord (in fairness, you should not have to plug it in throughout day)
  • Magnet power cord connector does not "pop" off because of edges, negating some of the “magnetic coolness” factor
  • my fingers seem to slip off the little grips to open the kick stand. (perhaps just me?)
  • After being a Windows Phone user I personally miss the “Back” button.
  • I’m very impressed with the Touch Cover, it takes very little getting used to
    • One surprise about the cover is that the touch pad has left and right click buttons
    • The bottom of the keyboard is a grey, soft fabric and sets on a desk nicely.
  • Does the Surface with Touch Keyboard work on your lap?
    • I found that it works okay on your lap (for chair only conference session scenarios)
    • The keyboard is not rigid so it tends to flex on your lap and also remember the weight is in the screen (opposite of a laptop)
  • I’ve tested several USB devices with Surface RT with below results
    • USB thumb drives seem to work just fine
    • USB Microsoft Wireless Mouse 3000 works just fine
    • As noted earlier, Lync audio devices work as a Mic/Speaker, but not for Lync call control (hangup/pickup)’
  • If you are planning to use your Surface RT with a printer, make sure the printer is supported on ARM/Surface RT platform---printer compatibility is limited.

To See Lync Windows Store App Compared to Other Lync Editions:


  1. Hmm, well, yes, there IS room for improvement.
    Thanks for the review!

  2. What I'm missing is the ability to change the communication device (Built In-Mic, Bluethooth Device, USB Headset)

    1. i've used bluetooth devices with Surface RT and Lync Windows Store app. Am I missing your suggestion? thanks