Today Microsoft announced their new tablet called the Microsoft Surface. Except they were fairly reticent to call it a tablet. They referred to it mostly as a PC and claimed that this new product was more than just a tablet and more than just a laptop. It was both.
From the little that I’ve seen of it, it seems like they are right. It is a very thin, fast, and powerful tablet that comes with a case that has a built in keyboard. It will run all of the apps that Windows is pushing for their upcoming release as well as all of the traditional Windows programs, including Microsoft Office. What does this mean for missions in general? Not much, at least not right now. However, it is a big step in a shift that was started with the iPhone. The world is gradually going more and more mobile.
A tablet of this size and convenience running any Windows program but with the convenience and mobility of a tablet is going to catch on. So much so that Microsoft didn’t even trust all of their normal partners (HP, Dell, Samsung, etc) to handle things right, they wanted to make their own, and encourage everyone else to catch up.
Missionaries are like most people in that they are not typically on the forefront of technology. The reason being that they don’t need to be. But sometimes something comes along that changes things and forces everyone to adapt. Email is one of those things, Skype is another. Social media is quickly becoming another in that line. Many missionaries and many people around the world are still using Windows XP which is fine. But by the end of this year we will be able to work anywhere with a tablet running a new faster more powerful operating system. They will be able to plug this tiny little tablet into a display, either TV or projector, and display their content, and everything is being built to adapt to this. That means that your current computer and programs have a limited shelf life. If Moses were around today, his Psalm would be asking God to teach him to number the days of his desktop.
The problem that this brings up is the fact that these changes require a learning curve. I happen to really like Windows 8, but it initially appears VERY different. The question is, is it worth the effort? For most people it will be. Windows is going to live or die by this new shift, Apple is already living and thriving off it, even Ubuntu (Linux) is getting into the game with a phone operating system that will plug into your computer and run everything right from your phone.
Fortunately many missionaries are up for the challenge. Learning a new operating system can at times be tedious and even challenging to some. But it pales in comparison to the challenge of learning a new language and culture and working day in and day to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a dark and hardened land, thirsty for the truth.