Tag: Surface Pro

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.



Handwritten Email using Outlook

Handwritten Emails and Drawings using Outlook

In the latest Office Insider Fast build for Outlook (1907 Build 11727.20034), you now get the feature to create drawings or handwritten emails in Outlook using your finger or pen. This is great if you want to give your email a more personal touch or quickly create a drawing to explain something quickly. It works with touch, Pens (like the Surface Pen) or even with a mouse or trackpad.

The Outlook team mentions a couple of scenarios for this:

  • Insert a drawing canvas and start inking in an Outlook Email.
  • Insert a picture and ink directly on it with a stylus or Surface Pen
  • Play tic-tac-toe with a colleague and ink continuously on the same drawing canvas by replying back and forth.
  • Save your ink in drafts and reopen them to continue working.
  • Copy and paste ink and drawing canvases from other apps.
  • Use multiple drawing canvases in one email and draw in all of them.

Release notes

If you are running the Office Insider Fast builds on your machine, you can find the notes in “What’s New”.

Office Insider Release Notes Drawing in Outlook

How to enable drawing and handwritten emails in Outlook

If you want to use drawing in Outlook, the Draw tab is enabled by default on touch-enabled devices like the Microsoft Surface Pro. If you are not on a touch-enabled device, you can go to Customize Ribbon and select the Draw tab, to use a mouse or trackpad.

I hope this gives you a quick look at Ink in Outlook and how you can create handwritten emails and drawings within an email.  If you have questions, feel free to leave a comment.



Windows 10 Tablet Surface Go

Surface Go – My first Impressions and why I bought it!

I just received my Microsoft Surface Go. Yes, in Switzerland it was released just now, a couple of weeks after the US. The first review videos out there, did convince me that this is the right device I was looking for, but more to that later. In this short blog I want to give you a look at my first impressions of the Surface Go.

Why I bought the Surface Go

Microsoft Surface Go

First, let me tell you why I bought the Surface Go. I am a long time Microsoft Surface user, since the first Surface Pro. I went to several iteration of the Surface family and currently I am using a 15-inch Surface Book 2 and a Surface Pro. Surface Book 2, I like because of the power and screen size, and it is perfect for me to do some serious work. The Surface Pro is more less my light travel work devices to day.

As you know I spend a lot of time travelling at conferences or to customer for meetings. Every weight and space I can safe during traveling is basically a great thing. A lightweight device for doing some simple work like mail, browsing the web or working with office would be enough for most of the tasks. Another tasks I need my device a lot for is taking notes. Since I started to use OneNote, I never took notes on paper again. Most of my note taking I do with the Surface Pen. Especially during meetings, it is much nicer to take notes on an almost flat surface, instead of hiding behind a laptop. The Surface Pro and the Surface Go are prefect for this, since with the kickstand. They let you switch easily from taking notes with a pen, to using the keyboard.

Benefits I expect from the Surface Go

I think the Surface Go would have all these requirements and benefits:

  • Lightweight and small
  • Surface Pen support
  • Full Windows 10
  • Touchscreen and Keyboard with trackpad support
  • Great built quality like other Microsoft Surface Devices
  • Enough power to still do some simple work
  • LTE to be always connect

I know the Surface Go LTE version, comes later this year. I think this would be perfect, but with conference and travel season coming up, I didn’t want to wait. Let’s see if I upgrade later to the Surface Go LTE version. These always connected devices running Windows 10, cannot come soon enough.

My first impressions of the Surface Go

Surface Go Kickstand

Let’s talk about my first impressions of the Microsoft Surface Go. The most important part is obviously the formfactor. The Surface Go is crazy small and light. It really feels great in the hand and it seems to be the right size for a small and light travel device. It is almost cute if you put it to the 15inch Surface Book 2. The build quality is great as expected from Microsoft Surface hardware. The performance feels great for the tasks I am looking for. Microsoft Edge and Outlook and the other office apps feel fast and responsive.

The Surface Go also comes with a Surface Connect Charger, which is a great magnetic charging port. With that it can also easily connect with the Surface Dock and power my external monitor. However, the Surface Go also has a USB Type-C Port, and you can also charge the devices using a UBS charger.

I also got the Signature Type Cover, which is a smaller version of the Type Cover which comes with the Surface Pro. It is small but typing feels great. It takes only a quick moment to get used to it. Great is the huge glass trackpad which on the Type Cover.

Windows 10 Tablet Surface Go

I think this is the first Windows tablet I really can use as a tablet. With the size and weight, it is ideal to also use it as a tablet. For example the Surface Pro is only a little bit larger, but it makes a huge difference when you want to use it as a “portable tablet”. I found myself using Windows 10 in tablet mode a lot, and using the Surface Go in landscape and portrait mode.

Audio quality seems to be very good for a device in that price category. And the front facing stereo speakers make the difference to other tablets.

What I also really like is the great quality cameras which Microsoft has build in. If you record videos or if you do Skype for Business Calls and video meetings, the quality is way better than other tablets or even notebooks.

These were my first impressions of the Surface Go. Please let me know in the comments if you have any questions about it



Toms Workplace 2018

My Workplace 2018 – How does yours look like?

Last week I was browsing the web and I found a lot of cool looking home office setups. I realized it is quiet interesting to see how people workplaces look like. With that I want to give a quick look at my home office and my workplace setup. Secondly, I would like to share your setup as well. If you want to share yours write a blog, link it in the comments or show it on Twitter, what ever you like.

This is it, this is my workplace if I am not on the road.

  • My main machine today is the 15-inch Surface Book 2 attached to a Dell curved-ultrawide monitor (Dell UltraSharp 38 Monitor – U3818DW), which with Windows 10 and the Snap feature is absolutely great to use.
  • I also have a Surface Pro as a company work machine, which I use mostly on the road when I need a real mobile work machine. It has enough powerful to do serious work and still gives you a mobile work experience.
  • I am obviously using a lot of Surface accessories like the Surface Precision Mouse, the Surface Pen, the Surface Dial and the Microsoft Modern Keyboard.
  • I also use some wireless Bose Quiet Comfort 35 headphones, not only for travel but also in the home office
  • I like the Surface Pen on my Surface Pro to draw some quick stuff or take some notes in Onenote.


Surface Book 2

My First Impressions of the Surface Book 2

Last week I got my early (or late) Christmas gift to myself. The Microsoft Surface Book 2 15-inch version was finally shipping to Switzerland. The 13-inch version of the Surface Book 2 was already available last year. I am a long-time Surface user since I got my first Surface and my first Surface Pro back in 2012. As you might remember, I got a new Surface Pro 2017 as a new company device back in July 2017. I picked the Surface Pro as a replacement for my Surface Book, which I used quite a while, and I am very happy with it. It is a light and mobile device, perfect when you are traveling. I think the new Surface Pro with LTE would even be better if you are on the road.

However, one thing I always knew was that I am more productive with a larger screen. Even the 13” Surface Book, made a huge difference against the 12” Surface Pro. The thing is simple, and it is mobility versus screen real estate. I am often working on the go, which means I like mobility. On the other hand, I am also working a couple of hours on the device with no extra screens. Having some extra space on the mobile device makes me more productive.

Surface Book 2 and Surface Pro

When Microsoft announced the new Surface Book 2 13-inch and 15-inch, I knew I want a 15” version. It would give me more screen real estate, more productivity, paired with the Surface quality and design. The combination of a 15” screen in a 3:2 aspect ratio, together with a touch screen and pen support, will provide you with the best possible work setup.

The Surface Book 2 also comes with some performance improvements. With the higher-end models, you get a new 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8650U quad-core processor, and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060, which will provide you with the necessary performance. For me, these performance improvements are a nice addition, but not the reason I would upgrade. If you are a creator, designer, editor, you might highly benefit from the additional graphics performance. However, Microsoft also updated the disk to a faster NVMe SSD, and this you can see and feel in your day-to-day tasks.

Surface Book 2 – First Impressions

I haven’t used the Surface Book 2 long enough for a full review, but I want to share my first impressions.

  • Hardware and build quality are amazing as for all the Surface devices, no surprises here.
  • Performance improvements from the 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8650U quad-core processor and the NVMe SSD are great. They are helping a lot if you are running Docker containers and Hyper-V on your machine. I can also imagine if you are doing graphic intensive work, you also benefit massively from the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060.
  • The fantastic 15” PixelSense display with the 3:2 aspect ratio and a resolution of  3240 x 2160 is just stunning and makes a difference if you need screen real estate. The quality of the display is also fantastic, and you can switch between “Enhanced Mode” and sRGB. And as always, I am thrilled with the Surface Pen support.
  • Yes, you can still detach the screen from the keyboard to use it as a giant 15” tablet.
  • Microsoft now includes 2 x USB type-A (version 3.1 Gen 1), 1 x USB type-C (version 3.1 Gen 1 with USB Power Delivery revision 3.0), 3.5mm headphone jack, 2 x Surface Connect ports, Full-size SDXC card reader. The only thing missing is the Thunderbolt port, but to be honest, I never missed it before, but of course, it would be nice to have it.
  • Of course, the Surface Book 2 15” version is huge if you compare it to the Surface Pro or the Surface Laptop. With 1.9kg also heavier, but with the performance improvements, battery life, and the larger screen, what else can you expect? However, if you undock the screen from the keyboard, the tablet part is still very light.
  • It also provides you with the necessary modern Wi-Fi standards a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth Wireless 4.1 technology, and built-in Xbox Wireless for the 15-inch version.
  • Since I am using it only for a couple of days, I cannot talk about battery life. Microsoft claims up to 17 hours of video playback. To be honest, the first Surface Book was already very good in terms of battery life. I think, with the Surface Book 2, I will make it through a day.
  • Of course, it also ships with a Windows Hello face authentication camera. A 5.0MP front-facing camera with 1080p HD video and an 8.0MP rear-facing autofocus camera with 1080p HD video.

Overall my first impression of the Surface Book 2 is fantastic. The Surface Book 2 is the laptop I was waiting for, for a long time. I think this is the best notebook I have ever owned. Are you owning one, or thinking about buying one for yourself? Let me know in the comments.

 



What is in my bag for the Microsoft MVP Summit 2018

What is in my bag for the Microsoft MVP Summit 2018

Soon again I am on my way to the Microsoft MVP Summit 2018 in Redmond. The Microsoft MVP Summit is the yearly, multi-day event, which is hosted at the Microsoft headquarters in Redmond and in Bellevue. The event brings a large catalog of technical sessions and variety of networking opportunities. The Microsoft MVP Global Summit enables MVPs from around the world to connect with each other, build relationships with Microsoft product managers, learn about upcoming technology and products, and provide feedback on Microsoft products and services.

If I remember correctly this I my 7th MVP Summit, which I can attend. I am really looking forward as always and I am sure it is going to be great fun.

Obviously you need to pack some stuff, to make the best out of the week. Especially since you need to take a lot of notes, and also work on some projects remotely. Besides my clothes and my running shoes, I also pack my latest tech stuff.

What is in my bag for the Microsoft MVP Summit 2018

What is in my bag for the Microsoft MVP Summit 2018

  • Surface Pro – As my daily driver I will bring my Microsoft Surface Pro, which is a perfect travel companion, since it is a small and light devices. As you may know, I also love to take notes in OneNote using the Surface Pen. The battery life should bring me more less through a day of work at the event.
  • The Surface Pen  – The Surface Pen is one of my favorite Surface peripherals to take handwritten notes during sessions.
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 8 – After Microsoft really holds back on the Windows 10 Mobile investments. I decided to Switch to a Samsung Galaxy Note 8. The Note 8 looks beautiful, has a great camera, a Pen for OneNote. It also has enough battery life to bring me trough a long day.
  • Microsoft Arc Touch Mouse – The Microsoft Arc Touch Mouse is my absolut favorite travel mouse. I am using a Microsoft Arc mouse since the first version and I am happy with the integrations Microsoft made.
  • Bose Quiet Comfort 35 – The best travel Headphones I have ever owned. I like the new wireless capabilities and the noise canceling is perfect when you are stuck on a long flight.
  • Samsung Gear S3 Frontier – Around my wrist I am currently wearing a Samsung Gear S3 Frontier smartwatch, which helps me track my runs on Samsung health
  • Microsoft Surface Adapters – Of course I bring a bunch of Surface Pro adapters, since you never know if you need to connect your Surface to a big screen.
  • Microsoft Surface Power Adapter – This is a thing I really started to like. The Surface Power Adapter not only allows you to charge your Surface, but the extra USB port also allows you to charger your phone or another USB device at the same time.
  • Next to that, I will bring some cables, sunglasses, even I might not really need them in the Seattle area this time of the year, and a bunch of other stuff you need during an event.

Old Times

By the way it is funny to see, how the inside of my bag change over the years. I wrote a similar blog post for the Microsoft MVP Summit in 2013. When I was carrying a Lenovo Thinkpad X1 and a Lumia 920.

Bag for Microsoft MVP Summit



Surface Pro Storage Spaces Boot

Boot from Storage Spaces Virtual Disk in Windows 10

A couple of weeks ago I got my new Microsoft Surface Pro, I decided to go with the 1TB version to have enough space.

Surface Pro Storage

After the first minutes of setup I quickly wanted to run disk optimization, which for SSDs usually does quick trim operations. In my case this was running way longer then on my Surface Book, so I checked what was going on, and I realized that it was running Optimization on a Storage Spaces Virtual Disk, which is kind of strange.

Surface Pro PowerShell Storage Spaces Boot

I checked the disk configuration and really, my Surface Pro (2017) does have a Storage Spaces Virtual Disk which it boots from. The Storage Spaces Pool does include two physical 512GB NVMe drives with one Virtual Disk on top configured as simple (striped) volume. Right now I don’t know how they did it, but it seems now possible to boot Windows from a Storage Spaces Virtual Disk with the Windows 10 Creators Update or some Surface team magic. Then when Storage Spaces was introduced with Windows 8, boot from Storage Spaces was not possible.