Surface Go is now just over a year old! The size of the device and its functionality has certainly made the device popular with students and faculty staff alike. The Surface Go is available in two flavours, 4gb /64gb and 8gb /128gb. The 4gb version comes with Emmc storage where as the 8gb version comes with SSD storage.

Running Windows 10 Pro, or Education these devices are ideal cloud connected to the Microsoft Cloud leveraging the power of Azure Active Directory for identity management as well as the Enterprise Mobility and Security features available to institutions.

So out of the two models, the regular question is “is the 4gb version big enough for education?”

Well, I am currently using the 4gb version of the device and thought it would be a good opportunity address the question. The 4gb version looks exactly the same as its more powerful sibling, and has the same Micro-SD slot located under the kick stand for expanding the storage. However I am using the device in its native form, and this means I need to install all the tools to make the device workable.

The quickest way to get a device up and running is AutoPilot

For those not in the know, AutoPilot for Surface is the keystone of the Microsoft Modern Deployment architecture. Ideally for new devices, existing devices can be enrolled into the service. This is done by harvesting the serial number and hardware hash from the device, and adding them into Microsoft Intune. In Microsoft Intune you create a deployment profile which is essentially means we can edit the Windows Out of Box Experience, in turn Intune can deliver configuration polices to the device based around the device or the user. Importantly it can also deploy your modern apps, Win32 apps (as MSI) and PWA’s as well.

So my AutoPilot deployment is already setup and connected to Intune, so all I need to do was to harvest the serial number of the device and add it to Intune, This is done simply through a Powershell cmdlet available from Michael Niehaus and is available below

http://aka.ms/AutoPilotShell

This process will create you a CSV file which you can upload into Intune and attach to your deployment profile. Now simply by resetting the device it will connect to the AutoPilot service and set itself with my ‘corporate profile’

So what different in my world?

If your using a device as a Office 365 connected device, then the first question is really to ask, do I need the full desktop version installed on my machine. Office 365 make working on the web really easy, and with tools like Immersive Reader, auto Sub-titling and other AI available, the overhead of the full desktop version is really not need on smaller machines.

The Office PWA , is now the launch app for Office 365 and is part of the Windows 10 deployment from version 1903. A simple click take you to your connected tools of choice.

But what if I work offline and have not internet?

Well you can always chose to install the Office Mobile apps from the Windows Store. These light office applications were initially designed for use on the long lamented Windows Phone platform. Word , PowerPoint and Excel are available and are considerably smaller than the full version and install in a fraction of the time.

Office mobile is a small footprint, clean design fully functioning version of Word and ideal to consider in your deployment.

Think of a new browser.

We are all aware of the Microsoft Edge browser that has been a part of Windows 10 since launch, (if your still using IE, you really shouldn’t be !) Edge has grown on every edition of Windows to include some amazing accessibility features and the ability to ink directly onto a webpage using the Surface Pen.

However there is now a new kid on the block in the shape of the new Edge, which is powered by the Chromium rendering engine. This will give you the functionality and compatibility of using any website designed for Google Chrome, but without the overhead of managing another identity (Google) in your school or establishment.

The new Edge also support the ability to create PWA or Progressive Web Apps, the new standard for enterprise apps. Its very simple to create a PWA simply goto to your favorite website, chose the ellipse menu on the right hand side of the Edge screen, goto Apps, and then select Install this website as an app.

You will then see on your Windows 10 start menu the app will be installed, and also you will be able to access the PWA’s by simply browsing to edge://apps in the URL bar.

The Tweetdeck website working on Windows 10 as a PWA – fully functional

To get your hands on the new Edge browser goto https://www.microsoftedgeinsider.com/en-us/ to see the future of web browsing and make your first steps into the world of PWA

So with these cut down Office applications or PWA’s we have significantly reduced the footprint of the software install on the device making 64gb quite workable on the Surface Go. This will also decrease install time using Windows AutoPilot to provision the machine getting them into the hands of users more quickly and saving you money on deployment times using older technology such as SCCM.

So finally, my free space on my 64gb device is exactly 32gb, so remember if we are working in Office 365, we will be storing documents in Overdrive. Keeping local storage to a minimum.

So as an IT Pro my final thoughts are :

These are very different times where the IT Pro needs to think differently with a new set of tools. Getting a deep understanding of tools like AutoPilot and Intune are fundamental to support your organisation on its journey to the cloud

To find out more check out the resources at https://aka.ms/surfaceresource

Published by kevsait

Head of SAIT.Edu cloud consultants to education, and member of the Microsoft UK Surface team. All thoughts in this blog are my own

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