This isn’t a real post, just a bunch of loosely connected thoughts I’ve been having.

I purchased some software recently. I have done this hundreds of times in my life. When the package arrived it seemed smaller than usual. Here’s what it looked like on the outside: future I was expecting to receive a DVD disc, but this box wasn’t big enough to hold a DVD. I stared at it for a minute, trying to make sense of this tiny box and then I saw it: future_edit It was my future. And yours, too. This was not the first time I had purchased something that only contained a key. The most common purchases that are key-only are my Xbox Live subscriptions. But those are usually the size of a gift card, not a larger style box like the Office for Mac 2011 came in. My MSDN subscription allows for me to download .iso files and apply a key as well, so the concept of what is being done here is not new to me. It’s just that…well…I was expecting a disc!

Why I Am Switching To The Surface Pro As My Primary Laptop

I’m writing this blog post from my Surface Pro that I purchased while at TechEd North America last month. Two weeks ago I decided to start using my Surface Pro as my primary laptop. At only 128GB of storage I was slightly concerned about not having enough space before I realized that I don’t need to store my stuff locally all the time. Many of my files can reside on SkyDrive, for example. My old laptop only had 256GB of disk space to start with anyway, and much of that space is taken up by stuff that I’ve used over the past 3 years but I don’t really need anymore. By switching to the Surface Pro I got a chance to find out what stuff is truly needed in order for me to work. I think of it as a minimalist approach. I even used the Surface Pro for all my sessions at TechEd Europe in Madrid last week. Here’s the advantages that the Surface Pro gives me:

  • Lightweight, easily fits into any sized travel backpack
  • I can run in Desktop mode, giving me the look, feel, and functionality of a real laptop
  • I can switch to running tablet apps easily
  • I can get work done while sitting in an airplane seat, even when the jackhole in front of me reclines all the way back
  • I can run Hyper-V and build VM’s as needed

When I mentioned in Madrid that I could run Hyper-V on my Surface Pro a colleague of mine (let’s call him Todd Klindt (blog | @ToddKlindt), because that’s his name anyway) said “What are you going to virtualize with only 4GB of RAM?”

It’s a fair question, and my response was that I didn’t intend to run more than one virtual machine for anything other than testing builds of SQL Server. Todd mentioned how his laptop (which looks liked it weighed ten pounds) had 32GB of RAM and that he needed it to run fairly complex virtual environments for purposes of Sharepoint testing.

I can’t help but think that the days are numbered for server-sized laptops. Who needs to carry such a thing with them everywhere they go? It’s like trying to bring your house with you when you go on vacation.

The Future Is Already Here

While we were in Madrid it was announced that SQL Server 2014 was available for preview. Around the same time Grant Fritchey (blog | @gfritchey) also mentioned to me that there were SQL Server 2014 templates available for VMs on Windows Azure. In fact, he blogged about that, saving me the trouble of showing you all the steps on how to get your very own SQL Server 2014 VM up and running.

So with my Windows Azure subscription I can easily create a few dozen VMs. I can use the VMs for anything I need, including for demos running during presentations. Here’s the best part: I only pay for the VMs while they are running. When they are powered off, I don’t get charged. So, I can build a server farm and spin it up before I give my presentation and then shut it down right away, keeping my costs low. How low? It would take me years to end up spending the same amount of money that is needed to buy a 32GB RAM laptop today.

That means I don’t need to carry around a huge laptop anymore, ever.

At this point I can only think that the folks who are looking to purchase such laptops today are the same folks that need to show off by buying an expensive sports car.

I love living in the future. We don’t need a DVD disc, we just need a product key. We don’t need a 32GB RAM laptop for building server farms locally, we just need to ability to easily create VMs somewhere.