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Doug, you think the Surface RT doesn’t have VPN? Try Binging it next time

For those of you on the outside you may not know how things happen on this side of the site. At any time there’s a string of emails flying back and forth with various thoughts and comments about what’s new in tech and what we’re seeing. Of course, sometimes they make it to Mobility Digest Leaks and you see exactly what’s happening but we probably have 50+ internal emails flying around each day. Even if it doesn’t lead to a complete Leak post, they often still inspires a post. That doesn’t mean that what happens in our emails is ‘fact’.

See, the other day I was playing with my new Surface and tried to set up VPN or RDP. The way Windows RT deals with VPN is different than the way you would do it on a Pro device, at least for me, because in Pro I spend most of my time in desktop mode but in RT you spend most of your time in RT mode.  Because of this, to me, the VPN settings in RT (which are only visible in desktop mode) were hidden. So in an internal email about the strengths/weaknesses of the Surface I wrote “I love it but it’s an iPad replacement, not a desktop replacement for me. And it all comes down to one thing – lack of VPN. If I could VPN in to my office and pull up files then I wouldn’t care about Pro but since I can’t easily get my files it’s a two step process that’s annoying.” From those three sentences Doug Simmons was inspired to write a 300 word post about how much of a failure it is to release the Surface without VPN abilities and how it’s worse than an iPod. Here’s the thing though – when I wrote those three sentences I was wrong in my assertion and I didn’t think this would be the basis of a Simmons rant. In fact, once I read his post I did a simple Bing search for “Windows RT VPN” and of course all of the responses make it clear that there is VPN connectivity native in Windows RT (and thus on the Surface). For the sake of reporting, a Google search would have also made these results clear.

For those of you who have been unable to find it, go to the Desktop mode – control panel and then you can add connections (read more here). If you can’t connect then I found that changing the authentication methods to add additional methods did the trick for me. And yes, now I can 100% connect via VPN to my office and now having Word and File Explorer on my Surface really make this device a stand out device that’s in its own class if you care about productivity.

This doesn’t mean there’s not a legitimate VPN gripe with Windows RT. As PC World has pointed out, Cisco AnyConnect VPN is not supported on RT and until Microsoft provides APIs or access to Cisco, it appears as though there will not be an AnyConnect app in the works. For me, that’s a non-issue, as that’s not how I connect but for many this is an issue.

Bottom line is that Simmons’ premature rant against the Surface wound up leading to the truth – there is VPN connectivity baked in and this device is epic. Word is where it’s at if for productivity. The other tablets are just portable web browsers. So than you Simmons, for leading me to Bing it and get the most out of the Surface – this thing is hot.

And next time you knock a product, maybe you should try it first. Time Warner Center has them for you to give a test drive.