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Category: Microsoft

Surface 3 Starbucks

My Microsoft Surface 3 Review

A couple of weeks ago I got myself a Microsoft Surface 3 as a secondary device to my Surface Pro 3. While I am totally happy with my Surface Pro 3 as my daily driver on the road, in the office or at home, I wanted a secondary device for home tablet use and to showcase some new Windows 10 scenarios with Azure Active Directory and Office 365 integration. I got some tweets from some user who wanted to know my feedback on the device and so here is a small review:

Technical Specifications

Surface 3 Specs

  • Size 10.52″ x 7.36″ x 0.34″ (267mm x 187mm x 8.7mm)
  • Weight 1.37 lbs (622g)
  • Display 10.8” ClearType Full HD Plus Display Resolution: 1920 x 1280 Aspect ratio: 3:2 10 point multi-touch
  • Surface Pen support
  • Battery Life: Up to 10 hours of video playback
  • RAM/Storage 2GB RAM with 64GB storage & 4GB RAM with 128GB storage
  • Processor Quad Core Intel Atom x7-Z8700 processor (2MB Cache, 1.6GHz with Intel Burst technology up to 2.4GHz)
  • Wi-Fi (802.11 a/b/g/n/ac)
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Full-size USB 3.0
  • Mini DisplayPort
  • microSD card reader
  • Micro USB charging port
  • Headset jack
  • Cover port
  • Software Windows 8.1
  • 1-year of Office 365 Personal with OneDrive cloud storage
  • 3.5 megapixel front-facing camera
  • 8.0 megapixel rear-facing camera with autofocus
  • Microphone
  • Stereo speakers with Dolby® audio
  • Ambient light sensor
  • Proximity sensor
  • Accelerometer
  • Gyroscope
  • Magnetometer

I got the smallest version with 2GB of RAM and 64GB of storage.

Design and Durability

Surface 3 and Surface Pro 3

Microsoft did it again, if you expect any sacrifices on design, quality and durability you are wrong. The Surface 3 comes, like the Surface Pro 3 with great design and great built quality. The Surface 3 comes with a 10 inch screen, the Surface Pro 3 comes with a 12 inch screen, but both have a 3:2 aspect ratio which I really like for getting stuff done. With that you can also use it in portrait mode without any problems.

The difference between the Surface 3 and the Surface Pro 3 is the size and performance. With that, the Surface 3 is designed to be used as a tablet. And you can feel that, the size and especially the weight is made for tablet usage. The Surface 3 is just 200 grams lighter than the Surface Pro 3 which is just enough to hold the tablet in one or to hands for awhile without getting tired arms. This is also handy if you are doing some writing using the Surface Pen.

Again, everything seems to be at the right place and all buttons and the whole chassis is feeling very “high-class”.

Display and Audio

If you think you get any sacrifices on display quality or audio, you are wrong again. The Surface 3 comes with a stunning display, very bright and good color quality, in some scenario, the display even feels brighter than the Surface Pro 3. Now the biggest surprise of the device was the audio quality, this is maybe the best audio quality I every had from a tablet. If you have used other tablets including the iPad or Surface 2, you know that audio quality wasn’t bad, but it was far from being good. The Surface 3 has changed this, of course it is still not somethings music enthusiast will really use, but if you want to watch House of Cards on Netflix the speakers are loud and clear.

The other big pictures here is the Surface Pen support. As the Surface Pro 3, the Surface 3 does support the Surface Pen, not like the Surface 2. This is great to take notes using OneNote and use it as a notebook, especially if you wake up in the middle of the night and have a great idea you can use the Surface Pen and the OneNote button to quickly open an new OneNote page.

Ports and Internals

The Surface Pro 3 has full-size USB 3.0, microSDXC card slot, a Headset jack, a Mini DisplayPort and at the bottom a Cover port for the Type Cover. Of course also the older covers work perfectly, but they just don’t match in size. The position of the ports have changed a little bit from the Surface 2. The Surface 3 does also have a new power port in form of a micro USB port, instead of the magnetic power port of the Surface 2 or Surface Pro 3. This is great so you can use every charger, even the one from your phone. But to be honest you don’t really want to do this, because the charging speed using a phone charger is very slow. And on the other hand you lose the magnetic adapter safety feature.

Heat and Fan Noise

The Surface 3 comes equipped with Quad Core Intel Atom x7-Z8700 processor and I had never had any issues with heat or fan noise. To be honest, I am not even sure the Surface 3 has a fan. But on the other side, the workloads you are running on the Surface 3 are not even close as powerful as the applications you run on the Surface Pro 3.

Type Cover

Surface 3 Type Cover

The Surface 3 also comes with an own Type Cover in the right size. Microsoft also improved the Type Cover from the Type Cover 3 which you got with the Surface Pro 3, even you can not really see it directly. Especially the keys feel much better, which make it a perfect typing machine. I am sure with the next release of the Surface Pro comes out, the improvements in the Type Cover for the Surface 3 will be included in that as well.

Battery life and Performance

Surface 3 IE

I think this is the most important part for most of the people reading this review. First, the performance of the Surface 3 is a lot better than the performance of the Surface 2 and the same goes for battery life. But for the same the Surface Pro 3 performance is much better compare to the Surface 3. But this was clear right? The Surface 3 is designed as a tablet with light usage for office apps and some other apps as well, and the Surface 3 handles that just fine. The Surface Pro 3 is design as a powerful notebook replacement which is a total different story, so if you are looking on a powerful machine you should go with the Surface Pro 3, if you need something thin and light to use as a tablet and Office usage, you will definitely be happy with the Surface 3. As I mentioned I got the smallest version with only 2GB of RAM, and this is my real bottleneck if you are doing multitasking. So if you are expecting to do any real multitasking you should go for the 4GB version. The other performance bottleneck is the disk speed, this is a huge difference to the Surface Pro 3 as well, but to be honest for the things I use the Surface 3 for, I don’t really care.

Camera

Microsoft also upgraded the back-facing camera to a 8 megapixel camera which is even better than the Surface Pro 3. So you can do some simple but good shots with the tablet. But of course this never comes close to your Nokia Lumia.

Software and Accessories

Surface 3

Software is where everything comes together. Windows 8.1 works perfectly on the Surface 3 and I really like the mix between touch and keyboard usage. I use it as a tablet with touch apps and can run a full desktop applications like Office to get real work done. I really love the combination of different Microsoft Services such as Skype or Skype for Business for communication. But where the real power comes together is with OneDrive and OneNote. The new Surface Pen and OneNote are already a perfect combination. You can press the OneNote button on the Surface Pen and OneNote opens instantly and you can start taking notes, even if you are not logged. The notes from OneNote get sync via OneDrive on all your devices like your phone or desktop pc. Microsoft is not only bringing software services together, they are now also integrate hardware.

After the first 2 weeks I upgraded the Surface 3 to Windows 10, and I have to say the new tablet mode works perfectly, performance of the Surface 3 with Windows 10 is great.

Microsoft also offers a lot of different accessories like display or Ethernet adapters for the Surface Pro line and they will now also work with the Surface 3. You can use the same USB Ethernet Adapter or Mini Display Port adapter as for the Surface Pro 3. Microsoft also released a new docking station for the Surface 3, which helps you make the Surface 3 also a desktop replacement.

Conclusion

Well if you have to choose between the Surface 3 and the Surface Pro 3 you really have to consider what the devices are designed for. The Surface Pro 3 can be the tablet which is your powerful laptop and desktop replacement. The Surface 3 is more your lightweight tablet which also can be your laptop if you only need it of light Office usage. So if size and weight matter to you, and you don’t need great performance you should go for the Surface 3. But if you need any performance you may want to go with the Surface Pro 3, even the i3 version has much more power than the Surface 3. Another thing here is, if you want to go with the Surface 3, I really recommend you to spend that extra money and go with the 4GB model.



Powershell

Move multipe Hyper-V Virtual Machines with Live Storage Migration via Windows PowerShell

Well I was working in on a Private Cloud Deployment where we had some temporary storage for our Hyper-V Virtual Machines and after we got the right storage ready, which was btw a Windows Server Scale-Out File Server Cluster running with Storage Spaces and DataON JBOD chassis, we had to migrate the storage of all virtual machines running on our Hyper-V hosts. Since Windows Server 2012 offers Live Storage Migration which allows us to move the Virtual Machine to a different storage location without downtime we would use that. But if you have to move around 20 virtual machines you think twice if you want to move that via the Hyper-V Manager GUI or Windows PowerShell.

Here is a pretty simple PowerShell foreach loop which moves the storage of all virtual machines running on the Hyper-V host.



Veeam Vanguard

Veeam Vanguard 2015

Today Veeam announced the Veeam Vanguard Program for the first time, and I am proud to announce that I am one of the first Veeam Vanguards in 2015.

A Veeam Vanguard represents the Veeam brand to the highest level in many of the different technology communities in which Veeam engages. These individuals are chosen for their acumen, engagement and style in their activities on and offline.

I am really proud to be part of this. This is my thirds technology award, after being a Microsoft MVP and Cisco Champion for some years now.



System Center Universe Europe

Speaking at System Center Universe Europe 2015

I already had twice the honor to speak at System Center Universe Europe, the first time at SCU Europe 2013 in Bern and the second time at SCU Europe 2014 in Basel. As I mentioned in a blog post a couple of months ago, System Center Universe Europe 2015 is just around the corner and you still can get tickets!

At SCU Europe 2015 I have again the great honor to speak together with some other great community leaders about the Microsoft Cloud and Datacenter solutions.

My Sessions at SCU Europe 2015:

Nano Server the next generation of Cloud Server in your datacenter

In this session we will walk you through how Nano Server is changing the fundamental way we look at fabric Servers and workloads. Nano Server will change the way we build servers and solve fundamental challenges which we have encountered over the pact years embracing cloud fundamentals. Speaking together with Kristian Nese (Microsoft MVP)

What’s new in Windows Server 2016 for Hyper-V

With Windows Server 2016 Microsoft adds again exiting features to its Virtualization Platform. Learn in this session what Shielded VMs, Rolling Cluster Upgrades, Storage Spaces Direct, Hyper converged, PowerShell Direct, Windows Containers, and much more is and how you can profit from these new technologies. Speaking together with Carsten Rachfahl (Microsoft MVP)

Azure Site Recovery, 365 days later

Disaster Recovery, everyone talks about it – everyone claims they have it! But does it really work as expected?! Join us in the session about Azure Site Recovery, the business continuity service from Microsoft for all cloud platforms, on-premise – service providers – public cloud. You will learn how your company or customers can use ASR in their datacenter and which new scenarios have been added in the last 365 days, since we presented this topic at SCU 2014. Speaking together with Michel Lüscher (Microsoft)

There are a lot of other great sessions as well, so make sure you get your ticket!



Windows 10 Task View

The best Windows 10 Features – Why you will love Windows 10

Since the first release of the Windows 10 Preview in the Insider program, I was using the Technical previews on my Surface Pro 3, and it is great how Microsoft is improving Windows 10 over the last several months based on research and feedback from the Windows Insider program.

In some days, at July 29, Microsoft will release Windows 10 to the public, and here are some reasons why you will love Windows 10:

Microsoft Edge

Microsoft Edge Browser

With Windows 10 Microsoft released a new browser called Microsoft Edge (before Project Spartan) which is amazing fast and brings a lot of new features to the table such as Cortana Integration, Web notes which allow you basically draw your notes on websites and share them and Microsoft also promised to allow browser extensions. Secret: you can also switch from a Light Theme to a Dark Theme.

Task View & Virtual Desktop

Windows 10 Task View

Most of the IT Pros reading this blog already knew about Task view in previous version of Windows using WIN + TAB, but only a few other users did know about this features. Microsoft not only improved the Task view, Microsoft also promoted it much better  with an icon in the Taskbar.

In Windows 10 WIN + TAB does not only offer you Task View it also allows you to create and switch between Virtual Desktops. With Virtual Desktops you can now finally create multiple workspaces on your PC, which should bring you the productivity boost you need. Secret: You can switch between different Desktops using the Shortcut: CTRL + WIN + ARROW (LEFT and RIGHT).

Hyper-V

Hyper-V vNext Runtime Memory Resize

Microsoft build Hyper-V directly into the Windows Client since Windows 8. This is great if you want to run Virtual Machines on your Windows Client. Windows 10 Client Hyper-V brings you the great performance and features Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V will bring you. Of course some features are only available in the server build of Hyper-V, but you get some great features such as Enhanced Session mode to copy & past between your PC and your Virtual Machine. Secret: Windows 10 will allow you to run Hyper-V and use Connected Standby at the same time.

(more…)



MCSD Azure Solution Architect

MCSD: Azure Solutions Architect

Today I just passed the last Microsoft Azure exam for the MCSD: Azure Solutions Architect. Since I focus on Microsoft technology I always try to be certified in the specific areas where I am focused. With Public and Hybrid Cloud scenarios becoming more and more important, I started to work with Microsoft Azure and other Microsoft Cloud Services such as Office 365, so it made sense to learn more about the solutions and earn the certifications. For the Azure part, Microsoft has a certification called MCSD: Azure Solutions Architect which includes three different exam:

  • 70-532 (Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions)
  • 70-533 (Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions)
  • 70-534 (Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions)

I already go 70-533 at the beginning of this year, since this was the topic I was working with for quite some time. With Developer and DevOps scenarios becoming more and more important, I decided to prepare also for 70-532, which is focused on the Developer site of Azure, and the 70-534, which is an overall architecture exam. Bringing IT Pro and Developer skills together in this Cloud focused world, makes totally sense. IT Pros will have to learn some basic developer skills to make sure they can keep up with the fast moving cloud world. I am proud the be the second certified MCSD: Azure Solutions Architect within itnetX, after Marcel Zehner. This shows our strong focus, knowledge and commitment to the Microsoft Cloud Strategy. If you want to do the exams as well, here are some recommendations:

  • Get a Microsoft Azure Subscription and start playing and testing. Btw, this is something you should have done a while ago.
  • Learn PowerShell, well I have been saying this for years now, learn PowerShell and get some knowledge on that topic, even if it’s not Azure related.
  • Install Visual Studio. Yes you will need this in the future, not just for the exams.
  • Check out the Microsoft Certification page and learn about the exams and which skills are measured. Login to Azure and start working with these topics. To be honest, it doesn’t take a lot of time to build some demos.
  • Check out the Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA) courses. Microsoft offers some great exam preparations and courses with several hours of video content, examples and preparation questions.
  • Check out the current Azure Portal and the new Preview Azure Portal.
  • Look out for some great blog posts with study guides for example from Keith Mayer, Anders Eide and Marius Sandbu.

With that you will not only pass the exams, you will also learn a lot about how things are going to work in the future.



Microsoft Remote Desktop Preview App

Microsoft Remote Desktop Preview App for Windows 10

Yesterday Microsoft announced a new Remote Desktop Preview app for Windows 10 Universal Windows Platform (UWP) on the Remote Desktop Services Blog. You can get and download from the Windows Store. The new Remote Desktop Preview app has a connection center to manage your connections to Windows Clients and Windows Server. The connection center is your starting point. It allows you to easily manage your desktops. You can add new desktop connections and edit or delete existing connections. Selecting one of the desktop tiles launches the connection. It’s great to see Microsoft finally creating some great Apps for their own Universal Windows Platform.

Microsoft Remote Desktop Preview App Connection Center