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    Surface Pro vs. iPad


      Good day, all. I have a new client who's interested in mobility, but is having some trouble deciding between the Surface Pro and iPad. Obviously, Go is available for iPad and is free and you have to have a FileMaker license for the Surface Pro. Got that. But, some other issues are involved as well. He's thinking his field support staff can use the Surface Pro as a laptop / desktop machine as well as for mobility, and that would mean he'd only have to buy that device (versus a desktop plus an iPad). So the cost differential basically disappears.


      Therefore, what the discussion is working itself down to is how easy it is, using a Surface Pro and a FileMaker Pro license, to integrate data acquisition from the device to the solution. I know the Surface Pro has an onboard camera. How tough is it to capture from that camera into a solution? What about bar code reading?


      Anyone with experience running a mobile solution on a Surface Pro, please chime in. TIA.



        • 1. Re: Surface Pro vs. iPad

          Does the surface have GPS and glonass? I saw banter on the Microsoft support site stating not and I wrote it off!

          • 2. Re: Surface Pro vs. iPad

            I honestly don't know. It's a good point. Since the location functions don't work in Pro, you'd have to have a hook to grab the GPS values. Don't know if that would be possible. Certainly not if the GPS isn't there.   

            • 3. Re: Surface Pro vs. iPad

              AFAIK, the surface does GPS via a wifi network connection, not via an on-board, and you'd still have to make your hooks somehow regardless as it's non-native in FMP. There are numerous GPS dongles that would allow you to insert a location, similar to barcode scanning or bluetooth keyboard input.


              The "seamless" experience with FMGo will be better on the iPad. There are also a number of "keyboard cases" for iPads that turn it into a quasi-laptop experience like the surface. Surface has the advantage on screen size, and in some cases hardware.


              what other "laptop" functionality does the client need that wouldn't be sufficed on an iPad. Email, web, and even office are all available on the iPad.

              • 4. Re: Surface Pro vs. iPad

                I think for the comparison of iPad and Surface you will have to have a deeper look at the differences of iOS and Windows.


                At least currently with iOS you have


                • no multiuser environment, one device can´t easily be handed out to different workers
                • no multi-window environment, it gets tough to work with several apps at the same time, for example put in some text in a database based on an email you got
                • no full MS Office, forget about VBA based solutions, highend Excel templates etc.


                To my experience these points make it difficult to sell an iPad to business users.

                • 5. Re: Surface Pro vs. iPad

                  Hi Mike


                  Surface Pro is more positioned to compete with the MacBook Air rather than the iPad. I'd see it as a laptop computer more than a tablet.


                  Certainly it would solve the cost issue but if GPS is critical for your solution I'd first try to find out how to solve this with the Surface Pro before jumping in. I have a customer who is absolutely happy with his Surface Pro.


                  Best regards



                  • 6. Re: Surface Pro vs. iPad

                    I have a couple of organisations using iPad mini’s for sending and receiving roster information from remote workers to their Filemaker Servers.




                    The biggest problem with the iPad is the inability to support them in any meaningful way.




                    No remote access to see what is happening if things go wrong.




                    The difficulty in  replacing files in Filemaker Go.  The file checklist I developed for replacing the file on the iPad, which I found worked every time contains about 20 steps. Too hard for most users to follow.




                    Serious number of corrupted files using Go 13.  Inability to access the iPad to test what is happening keeps this problem in the mystical happenings category which the clients are beginning to tire of. 




                    As soon as a reasonably price  Windows tablet with cellular ability comes on the market we will start testing.




                    Main problem is the Go only features (signature Capture, simple photo capture) that are fundamental to the solution.




                    Apple need to take a close look at the tools available to support iPads or they will find their market shrinking.




                    Best Wishes




                    Jim Brear


                    COAMAS Services


                    PO Box 1542 Armidale NSW 2350


                    Mobile Phone: 0429 428 700


                    Home Office Phone: (02) 6772 3933


                    email:  <mailto:jbrear@coamas.com.au> jbrear@coamas.com.au


                    Web   <http://www.coamas.com.au/> http://www.coamas.com.au


                    COAMAS - Community Options, Advocacy, Management and Accounting Software

                    • 7. Re: Surface Pro vs. iPad

                      FAire points. Business user is a broad term. iOS devices are so lightweight  and instant for mobile workers where we want to keep technology out of the way . iPad is used where you would never pull out a laptop and it is the sole reason I got in to FM .


                      iOS9 multitasking will be interesting and I am looking forward to seeing how we can work with it.  Like having fm go and switching layouts etc while while google maps navigates to a previously specified contact . 

                      • 8. Re: Surface Pro vs. iPad

                        I have interest on this topic as well. Does anyone know if the onscreen keyboard on Surface Pro work on FMP 14? I noted the last version does not work for this.




                        • 9. Re: Surface Pro vs. iPad

                          I'm also very interested in Surface Pro because of this problems with iOS.

                          (1) to install GO you need to download from App Store and handle all the fmGO Marketing features that are not intended for professional users:

                          1.1) the user need a password for the store;

                          1.2) the user need to get rid of the totally useless fmGO tour (for professional use of go);

                          1.3) the user need to understand that the solution installed by default on GO need not to be used (not easy to explain to somebody that it's new to FMP);

                          1.4) the installation process of the needed DBs may me not enough simple.

                          1.5) after a while fmGO ask for registration and, if they do it, FMP start to send emails that are saying that anyone can develop anything on FMP easily without programming skills;

                          On Surface you install FMP whith an assisted install, the operation is ONE CLICK only point (1.2) the tour at the moment it's equal since, incredibly, in the assisted install you can't disable it.


                          Regarding point 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.5 I really believe that Filemaker should take action to help to increase sales, and it's truly not difficult to do.

                          It's aligning the FMP marketing for the professional use of FMP, something that I believe is difficult to do but absolutely needed for the wealth of the platform (it's a big cultural change that it's already inside the product but not in the marketing).


                          (2) I agree with JimBrear:

                          The biggest problem with the iPad is the inability to support them in any meaningful way.

                          No remote access to see what is happening if things go wrong.

                          As far as I know there is still no way to use Teamviewer or other tools to do this for iOS restrictions.

                          Regarding this point I hope that Apple will do something if not they will lose many professional user.

                          When there are issues on iOS the cost and the frustration for solving them it's very high.

                          On TeamViewer website there is (or was) an open letter to Apple to sign for this.


                          The advantages of GO are:

                          - battery life;

                          - with new iOS device it's very very fast (1 million of record search in a fraction of second);

                          - integration with iOS (camera, barcodes scanning, gestures, phone call, GPS);

                          - the app it's free (this is also very important, today  any SW business that is growing fast it's giving something away for free to collect money from premium users).

                          I really love GO but it's difficult to ship to non FMP users.

                          I've recently tried Surface Pro using Web Direct (I was in London Gatwick Airport with one hour of time) and it's very cool, responding fast, touch screen very precise, very very nice.

                          Maybe also Apple my introduce a new Apple Air similar to this device?!



                          • 10. Re: Surface Pro vs. iPad

                            Hello Mike!!


                            GPS issue is kind of easy to solve in a windows computer.


                            I have transportation customers using my programs for big fleets and i use standard GPS readers, the solutions offer real time location and is visible at the central office.


                            Basically what i do is to communicate with the GPS via Virtual COM port, and read the data.



                            • 11. Re: Surface Pro vs. iPad

                              even on a desktop you can switch on the screen keyboard and type in anything - so I don´t see any problem. Just tried myself with Win10 and FM13.

                              • 12. Re: Surface Pro vs. iPad

                                It sounds very well. I should have a try    on this.






                                Sent from my iPhone

                                • 13. Re: Surface Pro vs. iPad

                                  Hey folks, we've recently implemented Surface Pro 3's in replacement to our web solution. There are some flaws with it, but overall, I couldn't be happier.



                                  1) Users get the standard desktop experience they are used to with their desktops

                                  2) They do have their full office suite of products and can use them as normal

                                  3) They can run the full version of FMP 13 and interact with it as normal.(see cons)

                                  4) Many of the users, once they received USB CAC readers, have ceased using their laptops and work solely with the SP3.

                                  5) Setting up VPN access fort the tablets took no time at all and works flawlessly.

                                  6) You have access to pretty much anything and everything you could use on a regular desktop PC.


                                  1) The on screen keyboard is finnicky with FMP. It may or may not appear.

                                  2) Cost factor for the components can surpass decent spec iPads. We're using $1300 SP3's with $150 keyboard and $75 DOD approved cases, $200 docking stations.....

                                  3) Application size..... You HAVE to zoom in for most solutions that were not built for tablet usage.

                                  4) Touch use... Navigation on screen can easily be triggered when trying to scroll. (This can be solved with better design of the solution though)



                                  We're still doing some testing and I am getting good feedback from users, so, time will tell.

                                  • 14. Re: Surface Pro vs. iPad

                                    The main advantage of the surface pro over an ipad is processor and ram.  Most ipads have 1GB ram, I believe the iPad Air 2 has 2GB ram.   


                                    The surface comes with 2GB ram  or 4GB ram , I would go for the 4GB, since it is going to be used as a computer.  I would make sure the surface had the full version of windows, not the RT version.  You can consider the surface pro which comes available with 8Gb of ram and windows professional.   


                                    There are some known issue using FMGo with large database.  Portals with several thousand records will have missing records and or several portals with several records on a layout will cause FMGo to crash.   I would consider this bad layout design for an iPad in the first place, but there have been reports.  Some of these issue may have been addressed some in FMGo 14.  Still items to consider.

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