Category: Surface

Microsoft Teams Video Call

How to host Tech Workshops and Trainings online

I just got asked by one of my blog readers, who is a consultant and trainer, about what tools I use to give online tech workshops and trainings. I thought this would make a good blog post; that’s why I want to share with you how you can provide tech workshops and trainings online. This can obviously also be used in day to day collaboration and meetings.

How to give Workshops and Trainings online

In my previous job, I worked with a lot of customers and provided workshops and trainings. Here are some of the tools I used, and I am still using. I know that there are a lot more applications out there which can give you a great experience. Some of them are optimized for public streaming, others for collaboration. The same is true for my list; depending on the use-case, meeting, workshop, or content you have, maybe one tool is better than the other. So have a look at these tools and decided which one works best for your workshop or training. I also need to point out that you can use them not just as a standalone app, but also in combination with each other.

Microsoft Teams

The first tool which pops in mind and is the one I use the most is Microsoft Teams. Microsoft Teams is a fantastic collaboration tool. It lets you do a couple of things like meetings and video calls with screen sharing and PowerPoint presentations as well as included whiteboard experience. In addition to meetings and chats, you also get a rich collaboration space with teams and channels, which you can also use to share workshops and training material over time. You can provide an excellent experience for your customers and team members even after the workshop or training is done. There are many features in Microsoft Teams. The best thing is to check out the product page to see all the capabilities of Microsoft Teams. You can invite people outside of your organization as guest accounts to have a collaboration space.

Microsoft Teams Video Call

Microsoft Teams Video Call

I want to share two of the live chat and video experiences that you can use in Microsoft Teams for online meetings, trainings, and workshops.

Microsoft Teams Online Meetings – This is the experience most users probably are familiar with. With Microsoft Teams online meetings, you can host audio, video, and web conferences with anyone, and you get features such as scheduling assistance, meeting note-taking, screen sharing, meeting recording, and instant messaging.

Microsoft Teams Live Events – With Microsoft Teams live events you can broadcast video and meeting content to large online audiences. This can be inside and outside of your company. Live Events are meant for one-to-many communications where you are leading the interactions, and audience participation is primarily to view the content shared by you. Live events feature is excellent if you want to organize things like webinars. While the online meetings functionality has a chat, the live events comes with a Q&A feature, which makes it easy to keep track and answer questions.

If you want to learn more about how to present PowerPoint in Microsoft Teams, check out Sarah Lean’s blog post.

Microsoft Whiteboard

Another tool I use a lot is the Microsoft Whiteboard app, and I already wrote a blog post about why IT Pros should use the Microsoft Whiteboard app.

Microsoft Whiteboard

Microsoft Whiteboard

The Whiteboard app is a digital whiteboard that allows you to invite people online to collaborate in real-time. It also integrates into Microsoft Teams as well.

PowerPoint – Present Online and record Presentations

PowerPoint Present Online

PowerPoint Present Online

As mentioned before, you can use Microsoft Teams to share and present your PowerPoints. However, what a lot of people don’t know is that PowerPoint already has an integrated sharing feature. You can share and broadcast your PowerPoint presentation online directly within PowerPoint, without the need for an additional tool.

Present Online in PowerPoint

Present Online in PowerPoint

You can also record PowerPoint presentations and share them online later on.

Record Slide Show

Record Slide Show

 

Visual Studio Code Remote Share

When it comes to code, Visual Studio and Visual Studio Code (VS Code) offer you a feature called Visual Studio Live Share. Live Share allows you to share your code in real-time. You can collaborate and work with multiple people on the same code. New is that you can not only join using VS Code or Visual Studio, but you can now also join by just using a browser.

Invite people with Visual Studio Live Share:

Visual Studio Code Live Share

Visual Studio Code Live Share

Collaborate on the same file:

Sharing code online with VS Code Live Share

Sharing code online with VS Code Live Share

I hope this blog was helpful and gives you a couple of ideas on how you can provide workshops and trainings online as well as collaborating in real-time with people. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments. Thanks to Martin Dimovski, who gave me the idea of this blog post.



Home Office Setup 2020

My Home Office Setup 2020 – How does yours look like?

A couple of days ago, Microsoft and other companies recommended that people work from home (if they can) due to the Corona disease (COVID-19). Since I am part of a remote team, I work mostly from home when I am not traveling, and so let me share my home office setup 2020 with you. I did share my home office setup already in 2018 after we just moved. Since then, I have upgraded my home office with a couple of new things, which I believe make working from home even more productive and enjoyable.

This is it, this is my Home Office Setup in 2020

Here is a quick view at my desk setup:



Surface Pro X Windows 10 on ARM WSL 2

How to Install WSL 2 on Windows 10 on ARM

This is just a quick blog post about the experience on running the Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 (WSL 2) on Windows 10 on ARM, which comes on devices like the Surface Pro X. Since I got many questions from developers and IT Pros about the Surface Pro X and how it can handle different workflows on Windows 10 on ARM, I decided to write a blog post, on how you can install WSL 2 on Windows 10 on ARM and the Surface Pro X.

Requirements

You need a device that runs Windows 10 on ARM like the Surface Pro X. Yes, WSL 2 works on the Surface Pro X, and you can run Ubuntu 18.04, which comes as an ARM compiled distro. But you will need to install at Windows Insider build (19041 or higher, also known as Windows 10 20H1 or Windows 10 version 2004). And yes, if you are running an Intel or AMD based machine, you can also install and run WSL 2 on Windows 10.

Install Windows 10 on ARM Windows Insider Build

Install Windows 10 on ARM Windows Insider Build

To run Windows 10 Insider Builds, you can go to Settings, Update & Security, and the Windows Insider Program and join the program. If you get asked to choose the Ring, you will need to select the Insider Slow Ring. You will need to reboot your machine and check for updates, to install the Windows Insider builds.

Install WSL 2 on Windows 10 on ARM

To install the Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 (WSL 2), you need to follow these tasks.

  • Enable the Windows Subsystem for Linux Optional feature (WSL 1 and WSL 2)
  • Install a distro for the Windows Subsystem for Linux
  • Enable the ‘Virtual Machine Platform’ optional feature (WSL 2)
  • Configure the distro to use WSL 2

Enable the Windows Subsystem for Linux and Virtual Machine Platform

Windows 10 on ARM Control Panel WSL2

Windows 10 on ARM Control Panel WSL2

You can enable the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) and the Virtual Machine Platform feature in the Control Panel or with PowerShell.

Enable-WindowsOptionalFeature -Online -FeatureName Microsoft-Windows-Subsystem-Linux
 
Enable-WindowsOptionalFeature -Online -FeatureName VirtualMachinePlatform

These commands will need a reboot of the machine.

Install a Linux distro for the Windows Subsystem for Linux

If you don’t already have installed a WSL distro, you can download and install it from the Windows 10 store. You can find more here: Crazy times – You can now run Linux on Windows 10 from the Windows Store.

Install Ubuntu ARM WSL 2 Windows Store on the Surface Pro X

Install Ubuntu ARM WSL 2 Windows Store on the Surface Pro X

If you want to run a full Ubuntu virtual machine on Windows 10 Hyper-V, you can check out my blog post.

Set WSL distro to use version 2

After you completed the first two steps, you will need to configure the distro to use WSL 2. Run the following command to list the available distros in PowerShell:

wsl -l -v

If this command doesn’t work with the -v parameter, you don’t have the right Windows 10 build installed.

To set a distro to WSL 2, you can run the following command:

wsl --set-version DistroName 2
Convert to WSL 2

Convert to WSL 2

You can also set WSL 2 as the default. You can also run the command before you start the Linux distro for the first time, which will give you faster setup speeds.

wsl --set-default-version 2

To find out more about installing WSL 2, check out the Microsoft Docs page.

After you have enabled WSL 2 you can see that WSL 1 was running kernel version 4.4.0.

WSL 1 Kernel Version

WSL 1 Kernel Version

 

WSL 2 is running Linux kernel version 4.19.84

WSL 2 Kernel Version

WSL 2 Kernel Version

You can also see, that this is an ARM version of Ubuntu.

Ubuntu ARM

Ubuntu ARM

Conclusion

I hope this helps you and gives you a quick overview on how you can install WSL 2 on Windows 10 on ARM and the Surface Pro X. If you have any questions, let me know in the comments and check out the WSL 2 FAQ. The Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 Kernel is also open-source, you can follow the project on GitHub.

By the way, you can now also start using Docker Desktop together with the Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 and even use WSL 2 on Windows Server.



Surface Pro X User Review

Surface Pro X – First Impressions and Review

I just got my brand new Surface Pro X two weeks ago, and since then, I spent a couple of days with it and started to use it as my daily driver. Since I got a lot of questions around the device, how I am using it, and what the limitations are, I decided to write this short blog post. There are many reviews out there from a lot of professional reviewers who focus more on specifications and restrictions to run all possible workloads. In my Surface Pro X review, I try to share my first impressions and write a short review of how the device works for me. Here is a brief review and my first impressions on the Surface Pro X, which is more focused on my use case and what I think the device is good for as well as where you might hit some limitations.

My First Impression 👓

I want to spend a couple of words on the first impressions I had on the Surface Pro X when I opened the box. Don’t get me wrong, all the Surface devices had an excellent built quality and design, but I have the feeling that the Surface Pro X is on the next level. It is hard to describe why, but the design and the details make it feel a real premium device.

Surface Pro X Body

Surface Pro X Body

On the software side, I was trying to stick with ARM64 apps as much as possible, and with the new Microsoft Edge Insider Canary version, I have almost all the apps I need. With the ARM64 apps, the performance is excellent, with no issues at all. Even emulated x86 32-bit apps like Visual Studio Code run very well for my personal tasks. However, I am not sure what the impact on battery life is if you run these apps most of the time. If you have a Surface Go, which I like very much, I can tell you that the Surface Pro X is way faster.

Why I love the Surface Pro X ❤

After using the Surface Pro X for more than a week, I can say this might be my favorite Surface device ever made. Don’t get me wrong; it can’t run 100% of the workloads I need, like containers and Hyper-V, for example. But for that, I also have my Surface Book 2, which runs all workloads and also provides a larger 15-inch screen.

Surface Pro X vs Surface Pro 7

Surface Pro X vs. Surface Pro 7

However, I was traveling, writing, and presenting a lot in the last couple of days, and I love the weight (774g), the size (287 mm x 208 mm x 7.3 mm), and the 13-inch screen in a 12-inch chassis with very thin bezels. It is very convenient to travel with since it provides the form-factor of a Surface Pro with the kickstand, but it also adds a 13-inch screen. The screen is bright, and the 13-inch display with the 3:2 aspect ratio is fantastic for productivity. The Surface Pro X is also 1mm thinner than the Surface Pro 7, which doesn’t sound like much, but you can feel the difference.

Enabled by the custom Microsoft SQ1 processor, one thing I completely underestimated is the possibility of having an always-on device. If you open up the Type Cover or start the Surface Pro X, it is instantly on and available. With Windows Hello, you are logged in immediately, and you can start working. When you close it and put it in your bag, or you leave it overnight, the battery doesn’t really drain much — speaking about battery life, which seems to be great so far, I get enough out of the machine for a travel day or a day at a conference. Another great feature the new Surface devices have is that they all come with fast-charging, which allows us to charge the machine very quickly.

Surface Pro X and Surface Pro 7

Surface Pro X and Surface Pro 7

The Surface Pro X also comes with a 5.0MP front-facing camera with 1080p full HD video and a 10.0MP rear-facing autofocus camera with 1080p HD and 4k video. Since I started to work more with video, having great cameras for recordings and Microsoft Team calls, and great audio with dual far-field studio mics, recording videos and doing conf calls works excellent. The 2W stereo speakers with Dolby Audio Premium are surprisingly good.

Connectivity Qualcomm

Connectivity Qualcomm

I am also pleased about the connectivity options, the Surface Pro X comes with Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac), Bluetooth 5.0 and a Qualcomm Snapdragon X24 LTE Modem with nanoSIM and eSIM support. This is my first tablet with LTE support, and I like to have that option to be always connected. All of the wireless adapters are now coming from Qualcomm, and I didn’t have any Wi-Fi or Bluetooth issues; everything worked fine and at full speed.

The Surface Pro X also comes with two USB-C ports and a Surface Connect port, which means you can use your existing Surface adapters and chargers.

Alcantara Type Cover

Alcantara Type Cover

I am not sure if the Surface Type Cover for the Surface Pro X is different from the Surface Pro 6 and 7; however, for me, it somehow feels different. The typing experience is excellent, and I love the track-pad. I also got a couple of questions around the new Surface Slim Pen, which you can store in the Type Cover and supports wireless charging. For me, I even like it better than the existing Surface Pen. That said, I am mostly using the Surface Pen to take notes or using the Whiteboard app, and for that, it works great.

If you want to know more about the Surface Pro X Specifications, you can find them here.

What do I run on the Surface Pro X 💻

For me, the Surface Pro X is a great travel and work device. The small form-factor, weight, and the 13-inch display combined with all the Surface features like the touch-screen, Surface Slim Pen, kickstand, and many more, make it a great productivity device. I mostly use it for office tasks, mail, web browsing, note-taking, and doing presentations, and the Surface Pro X is excellent in doing all of that. Especially the mobility and always-on feature combine with the connectivity make is a fantastic device for me.

Surface Pro X with Slim Pen

Surface Pro X with Slim Pen

What I use and what works fine:

  • Office Desktop Apps (Office 365, Outlook, PowerPoint, Word, Excel) ARM version
  • OneNote ARM version
  • Microsoft Edge Insider (Edge based on Chromium) ARM version
  • Visual Studio Code Emulated x86 32-bit version
  • PowerShell
  • Microsoft Whiteboard App

What I am missing for my workflow:

  • An ARM version of Microsoft Teams, I am currently using the web version of teams and installed it as a progressive web application (PWA), which works great. You can also install the 32-bit version. However, this impacts performance and battery life.
  • Camtasia to do screen recordings
  • A native ARM64 version of Paint.NET. I am currently using the emulated 32-bit version from the Microsoft Store, which works well, but again I would like to see a native ARM64 version with more performance and better battery life.
Install MS Teams PWA

Install MS Teams PWA

I also connect my Surface Pro X to the Surface Docking station, which works great, and it powers to of my monitors.

Limitations and things to consider 🧱

The Surface Pro X runs Windows 10 on ARM, and this is not comparable to Windows RT or Windows 10 S. Windows 10 on ARM can currently run ARM64 apps or emulated x86 32-bit apps. So you can install your Windows applications as long as they are not 64-bit. Something to consider is that applications which are not compiled for ARM64, run emulated. This can have an impact on performance in battery life. In my use case, I run from time to time Visual Studio Code, which doesn’t seem to be an issue or have an impact on battery life. Some of the applications you are using today might are x64 apps. For example, a couple of Adobe apps or others, these apps can currently not run on Windows 10 on ARM. However, Adobe and others are working on bringing and compiling applications to ARM64, so they can run natively on the Surface Pro X and other ARM Windows devices.

Another limitation for me is that I can’t run Hyper-V on Windows 10 on ARM. That means I can’t use it for all my workloads and demos I do with virtual machines and containers. However, that isn’t a big problem, since I am doing more powerful tasks like this on my Surface Book 2 or maybe in the future on a Surface Laptop 3. But yes, you can run the Windows Subsystem for Linux and the Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 (WSL 2).

  • Drivers for hardware, games and apps will only work if they’re designed for a Windows 10 ARM-based PC. For more info, check with the hardware manufacturer or the organization that developed the driver. Drivers are software programs that communicate with hardware devices—they’re commonly used for antivirus and antimalware software, printing or PDF software, assistive technologies, CD and DVD utilities, and virtualization software.
    If a driver doesn’t work, the app or hardware that relies on it won’t work either (at least not fully). Peripherals and devices only work if the drivers they depend on are built into Windows 10, or if the hardware developer has released ARM64 drivers for the device.
  • 64-bit (x64) apps won’t work. You’ll need 64-bit (ARM64) apps, 32-bit (ARM32) apps, or 32-bit (x86) apps. You can usually find 32-bit (x86) versions of apps, but some app developers only offer 64-bit (x64) apps.
  • Certain games won’t work. Games and apps won’t work if they use a version of OpenGL greater than 1.1, or if they rely on “anti-cheat” drivers that haven’t been made for Windows 10 ARM-based PCs. Check with your game publisher to see if a game will work.
  • Apps that customize the Windows experience might have problems. This includes some input method editors (IMEs), assistive technologies, and cloud storage apps. The organization that develops the app determines whether their app will work on a Windows 10 ARM-based PC.
  • Some third-party antivirus software can’t be installed. You won’t be able to install some third-party antivirus software on a Windows 10 ARM-based PC. However, Windows Security will help keep you safe for the supported lifetime of your Windows 10 device.
  • Windows Fax and Scan isn’t available. This feature isn’t available on a Windows 10 ARM-based PC.

On the hardware, you need to be aware of is that the black color looks great, but it also picks up a lot of fingerprints. I also don’t like it too much that the Surface Connect port (for charging and connecting the docking station) moved a little up on the side. I think the reason for this is that the bottom of the tablet is just too thin. This is not a big deal, but just something to be aware of.

Conclusion 📝

The question is, should you buy it? And my answer is, it depends. Again I love the hardware and how it works together with Windows 10 on ARM. If you are looking for a machine, which can do what you need to do, then it is a no-brainer. If you are running 64-bit apps, for example, some of the Adobe applications, you might want to may go with a Surface Pro 7 or Surface Laptop 3.

For me personally, the Surface Pro X is a great companion to my Surface Book 2 or the Surface Laptop 3. Depending on what I need to do, I only travel with my Surface Pro X, because it is light and brings all the advantages of the Surface Pro form-factor. If I am traveling for a longer period of time, I will also bring my Surface Book 2 with a large 15-inch screen, as a mobile workstation.

Surface Pro X and Surface Laptop 3

Surface Pro X and Surface Laptop 3

If I am traveling, I can use the Surface Pro X as a secondary screen.

Surface Pro X Box

Surface Pro X Box

I hope this review gives you a couple of impressions about the Surface Pro X and why you should or shouldn’t get it. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment. Just to make sure, in case you didn’t know, I am a Microsoft employee working in the Azure Engineering team. I am not evolved in the Surface product at all.

By the way, this review was written on the Microsoft Surface Pro X.



Microsoft House Zürich

Microsoft House opened in Zürich

Microsoft Switzerland just announced the Microsoft “Pop-Up” House in Zürich. The Microsoft House in Zürich will offer different experiences to dive into the Microsoft world.

Over the next three months, the Microsoft House offers you the opportunity to visit events and workshops and experience our technologies, solutions and latest Surface devices. We look forward to talking to you about your business and what’s important for you and invite you to work with us in our 300 m2 co-working space.

The opening will take place on Monday, December 10th at 12.00 pm. The Microsoft House is located at Poststrasse 5, a few steps away from Paradeplatz, in Zurich.

The Microsoft House in Zürich offers:

  • A temporary Microsoft Store – To discover and buy the latest Microsoft Surface devices and accessories.
  • Experience – You can experience the latest technology like Microsoft Surface devices, HoloLens, Mixed Reality and even the dive into the world of artificial intelligence. Or just enjoying playing games on the latest Xbox One X and explore the history of Microsoft. You can also join workshops for things like Office 365 and more.
  • Open Workspace – There is even a 300m2 co-working pace which you can use.

Microsoft House Zürich Flyer

I will definitely step by and check it out!

 



Surface Headphones

Surface Headphones – First Impressions

Today my early Christmas gift to myself, just arrived, the Microsoft Surface Headphones. Yes, Microsoft at their Surface Event in October, announced a new product called the Surface Headphones. The Surface Headphones are wireless noise cancelling headphones. This is especially handy when travelling or in a open space office. The will compete with products like the Bose Quiet Comfort 35 II and the Sony WH-1000XM3. If you are travelling a lot, especially if you fly a lot, you will never ever want to travel without noise cancelling headphones. By myself I was using the first generation Bose Quiet Comfort 35, which were my steady travel companion. I was really happy with it, even the sound quality could have been slightly better. However, with Microsoft releasing the Surface Headphones, it was time for an upgrade.

Microsoft Surface Headphones

Of course, I didn’t really have time to test them yet, but I wanted quickly share my first impression and a little review about the Surface Headphones.

  • First of all, I really like the design and build quality, the have this premium feel and design, like the other Microsoft Surface products.
  • Boy the feel comfortable. Even do they are heavier than my Bose QC 35, the feel lighter and very good when wearing them. Especially when being on a flight for over 10 hours, this is a must.
  • Setup is so easy, Cortana on the Surface Headphones let you quickly go through the whole setup process and everything just worked like you expect it to be. No pairing errors or things like this.
  • They work great with Windows 10, iOS or Android.
  • With Cortana you can also use voice commands to check your calendar or play your Spotify playlist.
  • Connecting multiple devices like the Surface Book 2 and my phone at the same time, is really useful. Especially when a Skype for Business or Microsoft Teams call comes in, you can easily switch to your PC.
  • In my opinion the sound quality of the Surface Headphones is better than on my Bose QC 35, and it is a joy to listen to music. Again, I am not a sound enthusiast, but for me the quality is really good.
  • One of the unique features are the wheels or dial on the side. The wheel on the right allows you just adjust the volume and the wheel on the left allows you to adjust the level of noise cancellation. I like the wheels much better than, the buttons on my Bose headphones, they are way easier reachable.
  • The Surface Headphones also have buttons on the side, which allow you to pick up and end calls, skip to the next track, pause and resume music playback.
  • You cannot only regulate the level of noise cancellation, you can even amplify the background around you, which is handy when someone starts talking to you.

Overall the first impressions of the Surface Headphones has been great, and I can’t wait to test them on my first trips. They are a great edition to the other Surface Peripherals.

If you are living not in the US or UK you can order them from www.bigapplebuddy.com. If you are using the coupon code “THOMASMAURER” you will get $10 off their 1st Big Apple Buddy purchase. This not only works for the Surface Headphones but for other items as well.



Bag for Microsoft Ignite 2018

What’s in my bag for Microsoft Ignite 2018

In a couple of days, I will board the plane and fly to the largest Microsoft Conference in the world – Microsoft Ignite 2018. I am very happy to travel to Microsoft Ignite 2018 in Orlando this year. In this blog, I will quickly share with you what I pack in my bag for Microsoft Ignite.

Microsoft Ignite is an annual conference for developers and IT professionals hosted by Microsoft. You can get the latest insights and skills from technology leaders and practitioners shaping the future of cloud, data, business intelligence, teamwork, and productivity.  I am really looking forward to it and meet other enthusiasts around Microsoft Cloud solutions. And of course, to connect and meet with members of the Microsoft Product Groups.

In the last couple of days, I am already preparing for the event. Besides checking out sessions and preparing side meetings, I am also packing my bag. One of the most important things for larger conferences like Ignite, is that you pack light. The conferences venue is huge, and your sessions and meetings maybe spread over the whole venue. You will walk a lot. It is important that you have good and comfortable shoes and save weight as much as possible, when packing your bag. And this is what I try this time.