Surface Book AZERTY to QWERTY

So I just picked up a Surface Book and paid a good price as it has an AZERTY keyboard rather than a UK QWERTY.  I decided I could live with it if needs be but when it arrived I set about seeing what options I had

The first thing I did was set the language options to UK – that way I can type as if I am on a UK keyboard even if the keys themselves are in the wrong place!

 

Language

 

So now my on screen keyboard is correct and reflects the positioning of the typed keys (if not their positioning on the keyboard itself!)

qwerty

I then looked online to see if there were options for replacement keys – I found several companies on EBAY that sold sets of QWERTY stickers that could be stuck on top of the existing keys.  But I didn’t like that option as the backlighting would be impacted and it would probably end up looking a little tacky.

I also found this company who could supply individual keys albeit at a bit of a premium price:

https://www.quikfixlaptopkeys.com/?product=microsoft-surface-book-single-replacement-keyboard-key

I noticed that there was also a video on their site outlining how to attach the new keys which gave me some confidence that I might be able to remove some of the existing keys:

And so I decided to attempt a basic rejigging of the keys such that they reflect, as far as is possible, a QWERTY layout instead of the AZERTY layout that the keyboard came with.  I found a plastic tool that I already had in my toolkit which proved good at getting under the keys in order to remove them (see pic).

I settled on this – I don’t think I will be purchasing any keys as the guts of what I wanted was already there, just in the wrong order.  (Though it is nice to know that if I wanted to finish the job I can do so for a small premium!)

 

keyboard azerty

 

Job (almost) done!

NB If you are trying something like this the trick is to prise off the keys from the top of the key itself (at least, that is the approach I took)

Windows 8 – FlipView – Programatically adding Next and Previous

 

image

So when using a flipview control there is no need for ‘next’ and ‘previous’ buttons as they are built into the UI already:

image

But … the Windows 8 UI is new and unless you are using a mouse those buttons above will stay hidden.  So these programmatic buttons serve as clues that you can indeed go backwards and forwards through the apps detail screens (I have witnessed many people repeatedly using the back button to go back to the summary screen before touching the next item to go back to the details view – at least until the penny drops!

And the code is straightforward! Here is the XAML I used:

image

and here is the code behind:

image


NB You can download Surface News for free here:

http://apps.microsoft.com/webpdp/app/surface-news/0491cb58-5e16-4007-865b-f4058703ce91

A PC for the Post PC era?

Windows RT first Impressions

So prior to using it I kind of had a mind set that Windows RT was going to feel like using Windows CE’s big brother (which technically maybe you could argue it is) but in practice what I have found so far is that the experience is EXACTLY the same as standard Windows 8.  I am emphasising that because it does feel like the same O/S and not some kind of cut down little brother (which again, technically in many ways you can argue that it is).  So what does that mean? I guess in the first instance it is good news for Microsoft.  It means RT devices are more attractive than they otherwise might be and bodes well for the future (though I do wonder how long it is until the Intel chipsets match ARM for battery, cooling and  ‘small device’ opportunities – making RT nigh on redundant).  At this point I should mention the Elephant in the room – you cannot run legacy Windows Apps on Windows RT, but what is surprising is at this early stage, and even with the limited (10k+) number of apps available this fact is maybe not such a big deal after all.  Most of the devices I have seen so far fit firmly in the iPad competitor category and when viewed in this light the story for RT devices is very positive.  Microsoft have been very smart in including what feels to me like a full version of Office with Windows RT – making it a even more compelling than if it only supported  Windows 8 apps (which is does extremely well!). 

So the overall initial impression of RT is very positive. If you want something that offers iPad like weight and size (or lighter/Smaller) with reassuring levels of Device*, Office and PC compatibility and a relatively low price point then I would urge you to check out these devices now! 

* The device support in terms of things like printers, scanners, mice etc. looks to be good but with some limitations with older equipment – so check this out first if you want to use RT with any third party hardware that it getting a little long in the tooth.

Update – where do I see myself using my RT device?

My own RT device (Surface) will live its’ life on a day to day basis in the family lounge.  By day it will be the target device for the development of new Windows 8 Apps, by night it will become a leisure device for the whole family to use (Browsing the web, Skype calls, etc.) .  It’s portability also makes it a candidate for taking on holidays or business trips where its’ note taking and office / calendar functionality will come to the fore.