New Windows Surface Tablet Puts Revit in the Field.

With Microsoft’s announcement of Windows 8, and the unveiling of the Surface Tablet, it finally appears there will be a tablet form factor that will run Revit in the field.  According to the press release there will be two versions, one based on the ARM chip and another based on the Intel i5 chip running Windows 8 Pro.  The iPad, as much it is great for so many tasks, simply does not have the horsepower to run Revit in the field, and delivering the type of user experience one would want with heavyweight programs is a real limitation in the ‘cloud.’  I understand Autodesk is now counting solely on Citrix to provide its remote platform but even if you are driving Revit remotely would you want to rely on whatever internet connection you have?  That’s just not a funnel I would want to count on in the field.

At first glance you might say so what, not a big deal.  However, if I can have a device that toggles between my heavyweight AEC programs, and delivers content the way my my iPad does then I might have an iPad to sell you; because frankly I am sick of devices, I live between the Mac and Windows camp, I’m tired of it.  I used to be an Apple fanatic, even being the only kid in business school with a Mac, the disastrous PowerPC model, but what was not to like about Apple.  Now, how did we get to the point where Microsoft is the little guy, relatively speaking.  Now if they could get their content management into a spot that works the way you want.  Imagine the central Revit model up on the sky drive, you check it out in the field, do your work, update it, booyah.

I think single purpose, highly specific apps are great to digest data,  not for the creation of it so I am real interested in the melding of tablet like functionality with horsepower.  I’m rooting for the little guy, I’m rooting for Microsoft.


BTW anyone else bother to notice the blending and vertical integration of software/hardware.  Apple, obviously.  Google buys Motorola. Microsoft with multiple attempts, Zune, XBox, etc.  and now Surface. And more germane to AEC Trimble buys Tekla and SketchUp.  Seems to be the biz strategy du jour, watch for more.


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  1. #1 by Bill Debevc on June 20, 2012 - 1:05 pm

    I too have an interest in Microsoft’s Surface Tablet. Microsoft has a lot to loose if Surface is a flop, so with that said I would believe that this is going to be a “game changer.”

    As far as Revit running natively on Surface, there are a bunch of stuff that must be right for this to happen not only from Microsoft but from Autodesk.
    Will it run native Windows apps or just metro apps?
    Will it be 64 or 32 bit?
    Will it have enough RAM? Remember that GB they quote is storage not RAM.

    I still think that the Private BIM Cloud concept will be the way to go. Yes bandwidth is a challenge, now with 4G on Microsoft’s biggest rival in the tablet market the iPad bandwidth is not as big of a issue as we thought. The bigger issue is model sync, too many times you get in the field and have forgotten to load the latest model. This holds true to any mobile device, or cloud based storage technology.

    I don’t want to rain on your parade, but we need to really look at what Surface is. It’s “from the short demo” a great tablet with some great features. The keyboard and touch pad alone will make Revit easier to navigate and do some drawing than what Apple and Google offer. I don’t think that without a remote session you will have the horsepower needed to run anything but the smallest Revit model with the current Revit Technology. Maybe Autodesk will see the writing on the tablet and develop an app for that.

    I am sure as we get more information from Microsoft we will learn much more about what Surface can and can not do. I look forward investing in a Surface Pro tablet as soon as they start shipping, regardless if it can run Revit natively or not. Because I know I can run Revit from my Private BIM Cloud anywhere on any device.

    Bill Debevc

  2. #2 by Shaun on June 20, 2012 - 3:46 pm

    It would be nice, relying on WAN for remote desktop (citrix app etc) is waaaaay more preferable than accessing a central file over WAN. I have tried both and the limit with tablet access is the desktop focused 3D navigation… which remains an issue for either scenario.
    Working ‘remote’ you don’t have to carry the processing hardware, the battery to power it and the data stays safe in a data-centre.


  3. #3 by Jim Foster on June 21, 2012 - 6:42 am


    I see Revit in the field as task specific. Perhaps there is a way to set up the ‘field’ model to not tax the resources. From my perspecitve, we model existing buildings in Revit, and start with generic componentry and detail back at the shot, the laptop/tablet PCs are not that high powered and have performed admirably, inlcuding a 400,000 SF Tower. But agreed, it iwll be interesting to see how far we can push the functionality.


  4. #4 by Jim Foster on June 21, 2012 - 7:03 am


    Point taken, but with Field BIM a lot of the time not a lot of infrastructure so you would have to set it up yourself. So what do you imagine it would look like? We bounce this idea around a lot. If you were relying on a Citrix type model, what kind of connections would you need? For us, having the power resident on the laptop/tablet PC is more important and we have a ‘slave’ computer that all the data gets saved to on a periodic basis, and that ‘central’ file gets backed up to the cloud. Thanks for the comment.


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