Going Mobile Drives Paperless: Microsoft® Surface

In the latest blog, we analyzed the growing use of the Apple® iPad including the benefits and drawbacks of using it for maintenance and calibration work. In this blog, we want to highlight the Microsoft® Surface in comparison to the Apple iPad.  These two tablets are the primary choices among Life Sciences in their manufacturing environments. The growing demand in Life Sciences companies to go paperless has led to an increase in the use of mobile devices, especially tablets, in manufacturing.

In our previous blog, we discussed how the use of mobile devices in general has evolved work execution – you can read more about this here.

The Microsoft Surface


Microsoft Surface, originally released in 2012, offers two variations, Surface Pro and Surface RT. The Surface Pro runs Windows 8 as a full operating system where the Surface RT runs Windows RT (a lighter version of Windows 8 built for mobility).  Out of the gate in 2012, Microsoft Surface (both PRO and RT) proved to be a comprehensive solution for corporations. With built in security functionality and ease of use for Microsoft based companies, the Surface was a strong challenger to the Apple iPad for pharmaceutical, biotech and medical device companies.

The Surface is unique compared to the Apple iPad because it offers the ability to be used as a tablet or as a full laptop (with a docking station) – a 2-in-1 device. With this, it offers an immense advantage compared to the iPad because this allows technicians to take the tablet on the plant floor and when they return to their desk, plug it into a docking station and use it as a laptop. This crossover functionality allows technicians to maximize the computer’s and overall functionality. As we mentioned in the previous blog on the Apple iPad, there is no solid research that suggests which device is more popular in manufacturing environments or among Life Sciences companies.

Check out Blue Mountain RAM on a Microsoft Surface:

Benefits of using Microsoft Surface for Mobile Work Execution

The main benefits of using Microsoft Surface over Apple iPad include:

  • Surface RT offers a less expensive solution than iPads
  • Wider range of compatible software (especially with Surface Pro)
  • Compatible with add-on devices including USB devices, barcode scanners, printers, etc.
  • Can be used as a laptop with docking station accessory (Windows Pro)
  • Not limited to technical specifications – can expand hard drive space, etc.
  • Compatible with Blue Mountain Regulatory Asset Manager

Downfalls of using Microsoft Surface for Mobile Work Execution

While the Surface has many benefits, it also presents a few serious drawbacks that need to be considered including:

  • Small 10” screen size makes it difficult to use as a laptop
  • Bulkier and heavier than Apple iPad
  • Surface Pro is more expensive than Apple iPad

The Surface can be used both on the plant floor as well as for management to access reports and statistics providing meaningful data when it is needed the most.

Maintenance and Calibration

In our next blog, in the mobile series, we will cover some of the benefits and advantages of using mobile devices for management.

Click here to view a recorded version of our “Going Mobile Drives Paperless” webinar.

Read the Go Mobile Series:

Blog 1: Going Mobile Drives Paperless

Blog 2: Mobile Work Execution

Blog 3: Apple® iPads

Blog 4: Microsoft® Surface

Blog 5: Benefits

Blog 6: Dendreon Success Story

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