OPINION Like their 2013 counterparts, the newly released Autodesk 3DS Max and Maya 2014 install and run properly on the Surface Pro.
But these two powerhouse programs point up a lot of what's wrong with Microsoft's "no compromises" device.
It's frankly amazing that so much computing power has been packed into the tablet form factor. And so long as scenes fit within the tablet's limited RAM, rendering times are relatively quick.
But the Surface Pro's 10.6-inch screen size and 1920 x 1080 resolution make both programs' crowded UIs next to impossible to use. The standard 150% magnification of the system text only affects the menu bar and dropdown items. All of the tiny icons in the interfaces are left unchanged and are so small and tightly spaced together that it is a chore to perform the simplest of tasks.
So the final conclusion we've drawn is that 3d modeling on the Surface Pro will have to wait, at least for this generation of software tools.
Hopefully Autodesk will soon port over the 123d suite of apps that have appeared over the years for the iPad. Although those applications are rather simplistic, they are at least designed for touch interfaces with their much larger touch targets and uncluttered interfaces. And when run on a muscular system like the Surface Pro, these tools might actually be useful.
This also has to be a huge opportunity for independent developers who can build something fresh from the ground up. For example,Nevercenter's Silo 2 is a robust low-cost app that should be easy to skin for a touch interface. Adding multi-touch capability would be less trivial, but first things first.
Windows 8 store development seems to be picking up, with Microsoft recently announcing that they've hit the 60,000 app milestone some six months after the store's opening. But quality creative apps are still very rare. For the Surface Pro and other Windows tablets to achieve their full potential, this has to change...and soon.