ACT! Tips

Running ACT! on the new MS Surface Pro

Posted On Sunday - 28 April 2013

MS Surface pro

A quick view of the hardware specs will reveal this tablet is no slouch, as it comes fitted with an Intel i5 processor, Intel HD Graphics 4000, 4GB RAM, and a 128GB SSD Drive.

Shortly after the 128GB MS Surface Pro model came available in March, I grabbed one for myself. Since it’s announcement last summer, I had forecasted that this device, or devices like it, would shake up the CRM market because it allowed for mobile computing with an offline, on-premise solution. Not a synchronizing client or cloud access, but the complete application on a mobile, tablet platform that I could run on the dark side of the moon.
After doing some research, and reviewing the DELL, ACER, and Lenovo offerings, the general consensus was the MS Surface Pro was best of breed.

While this is not intended to be a general product review of the Microsoft Surface, a few quick impressions are inescapable. Firstly, it’s a lot heavier and thicker than most would initially expect, and secondly, the same can be said for it’s price –  a whopping $1500 after adding keyboard, VGA adaptor, and extra power adaptor, and taxes.

That said, I spent a Sunday afternoon loading it up with my software, and now it’s a full production, no compromise tablet, capable of doing anything my office computers can, minus the large storage capacity – this includes my QuickBooks, ACT!, MS Office, QuoteWerks, and suite of Adobe products.
And as much as I’d love the extra storage space, SSD drives are still quite comparatively small and  costly, and certainly less necessary with the many online storage options available. (Microsoft Windows 8 provides you quick easy access to their SkyDrive service, while not limiting you from using other such services like Google Drive, DropBox, ADrive, just to name a few).
One of the deceiving things about the Microsoft Surace Pro is that its’ 10.6″ “ClearType Full HD Display” is actually running a resolution more suitable to 23″ monitors, or higher. The default resolution out of the box is 1920×1080 pixels, which would normally make the text unreadable on such a small, 10.6″ portable display. Microsoft has overcome this problem by increasing the system text size to a whopping 150% of normal, making the text clear and easily read. By doing this, Microsoft has solved one problem, by creating another for users of programs that don’t easily tolerate changes to the system font – namely ACT!.

DisplayText

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DisplayResolution

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As most experienced ACT! users will tell you, increasing the system font on a normal Windows platform to a meager 125% of normal will distort the display of ACT!, and cause the program to behave erratically. Increasing it to 150% makes the program unusable.
A simple work around is to reduce the system font to 100%, while dropping the resolution down to a still-reasonable 1600×900. The net effect of this change is to make the screen bigger and text smaller, so the two changes balance each other out. It’s a simple fix that does not compromise screen, text, or graphic clarity, and the user experience remains much as it was before (START – CONTROL PANEL – DISPLAY).

Author’s Note: With Windows 8, I’d also recommend downloading the free “Classic Shell” from http://sourceforge.net/projects/classicshell/ to provide you the familiar Start button you will soon crave with Microsoft’s ill-conceived “Metro Mode”.

With these changes, you’ll be able to enjoy the full power of ACT! on a mobile device, and on a Windows platform you’re familiar with, that takes only a few seconds to load and start using. It’s a costly device, but one I thoroughly enjoy using.

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