Solid Edge University 2014
When it was announced that Solid Edge runs on Surface Pro-class tablets, I got a bit excited. No major CAD vendor has adapted their software specifically for Windows 8.x Metro mode or for tablet computers -- seemingly a rebellious kick in the teeth for former overlord Microsoft -- (except for Autodesk, who added a single button to exit touched selection mode), and so I was pretty interested to see what Siemens PLM Software had pulled off.
Well, it wasn't so impressive. As the photo shows (snapped from the giant projection screen), Solid Edge works properly -- but not specially -- on a Windows 8 tablet. What's happened here is that Siemens PLM made sure that the software functions with the touch-aware operating system. Most CAD packages that I have tested are the same; just a few don't work with touch input.
Solid Edge works the way we would expect software to work on a touch screen. We got to see Solid Edge responding to multi-touch gestures, such as zoom and rotate, as well as to the input from the pen. Use of the pen is important to get past the fat-finger problem.
(The 3D mouse you see glowing blue on the left belonged to a laptop used for other demos, not this one. Is a 3D mouse still need in the touch screen era?)
So, what would a touchscreen-optimized CAD program look like? Moment of Inspiration is one that was designed from the ground up for touch input: get the 30-day trial from http://moi3d.com/.
Reminder: "Surface" tablets run Windows RT, which is not much good for anything; "Surface Pro" tablets run Windows 8.x, which is compatible with all your Windows software, but costs twice as much as the RT version.