back to article Surface Pro 4: Will you go the F**K to SLEEP?

Against all predictions, Microsoft has made a profitable multi-billion dollar business out of a boutique tablet. It has also turned a bog standard commodity Thing - a Windows laptop - into something desirable. And it has done it all without fully answering the question “Why should I have one?” The Surface began life only three …

  1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Hurray, Merry Christmas

    Hurray, Andrew is back.

    Sod all political correctness, now we have an El-Reg contributor we can violently disagree with.

    You missed one more reason to get a Surface - vertical industries and especially development for them. You can immediately test your stuff for real while having a decent environment and a keyboard to debug. This is something you do not get with Android or iThings because they are strictly "build on your desk(top), debug in an emulator, run on your slab". That sort'a works for games and entertainment which you can emulate or debug while tethered and starts to suck royally if you are trying to build something that interfaces to external equipment. That is one application where all the "minuses" of Windows suddenly become pluses.

    So while I am (and have been for 20 years) vehemently anti-Windows, I can see why people who try to write a high margin app for ~ 500 customers which talks to obscure external kit will use it instead of Android or iOS.

    1. Danny 14 Silver badge

      Re: Hurray, Merry Christmas

      Asus t100 runs windows 10 quite well and costs about 220. There was a 1800 version of the sp4. Holy hell.

    2. SuccessCase

      Re: Hurray, Merry Christmas

      "You missed one more reason to get a Surface - vertical industries and especially development for them. You can immediately test your stuff for real while having a decent environment and a keyboard to debug. This is something you do not get with Android or iThings because they are strictly "build on your desk(top), debug in an emulator, run on your slab"."

      The last part of that comment is simply wrong (you you can of course debug on your slab and are in no way restricted to debugging on your emulator) and the implication you are trying to make about the decency of the development environment is also misleading - or at least highly partisan. All these platforms offer highly capable and mature IDEs.

      Of course there are strong opinions about IDE's which mostly, IMO involve tribal loyalties based on some fuzzy algorithm based on what you use the most and started with first rather than rationally and objectively which is best. I think Visual Studio has a reputation as a rock solid IDE, whereas xCode for iOS/OS X in its latest incarnation is also fantastically good (really, I guess, this shouldn't be a surprise because all the clever bods at MS Apple and Google are highly invested in refining how the IDE's work) . MS Visual Studio is highly capable mature and has excellent code completion but really today there is nothing to distinguish MS Visual Studio and Xcode (even in terms of code completion or most other terms).

      I personally prefer Xcode's philosophy for integrating UI design (where Storyboards provide freeze dried, or archived, views directly equivalent to the real thing). I found Visual Studio's philosophy of generated code a little flawed (hide code if you can't maintain it through edit cycles), but really I can see this with this I am splitting hairs.

      I love both MS for innovating and leading the way with the introduction of the excellent and intellectually pure C# and Apple for taking up the challenge and producing the, arguably, more practical and so damned fast, flexible and powerful SWIFT. Really both those languages are a MASSIVE credit to their respective companies (and I think you will find both the C# and SWIFT teams have a great deal of mutual respect).

      But mostly I think you have made one of those comments that sounds like it is making an important "knockout" point until you start trying to think of a Use Case for what you are describing. When you are developing you generally want to be in an office environment and with as few interruptions as possible. Development requires focus and concentration and isn't something you want to have to do in the field. So what you are saying has appeal until you really look at where development is done and done best.

      Also the advantage of being able to develop on the device isn't much of an advantage when, as a developer, you generally want the largest screen avaialble, preferably dual monitor with the fastest processor. Sure the surface pro is a capable dual device and can be connected up to additional monitors, but as a developer you generally want the fastest machine available, so will err towards a beefier desktop class laptop/machine.

      Also, importantly, developing on an emulator for 95 percent of the time is superior because you can have a desktop class CPU running it (so it's trés fast it's only when you reach the end of the development cycle and when doing performance optimisation that running natively on the app offers an advantage). It's an advantage to be able to run the simulator and your IDE on separate screens with all the windows nicely arranged. Of course there is a danger of failing to run your code sufficiently frequently outside of the simulator, but actually that danger also stands testament to just how damned good the simulated environments are for iOS and Android (which as said you don't have to use anyway) and the danger is easily mitigated by employing best practice.

      There is an advantage to be had, for if you want to debug an application in the field (though generally you would be doing such at the end of your development cycle and generally any advantage this offers is restricted to a smallish subset of apps). I can see some value there, but by the time we get to that, the point you are making has been somewhat marginalised. So yes, kinda, its a nice option, and you wouldn't say no, but overall its nothing like as big an advantage as your comment seems to imply.

      1. IrrelevantMusings

        Re: Hurray, Merry Christmas

        '"You missed one more reason to get a Surface - vertical industries and especially development for them. You can immediately test your stuff for real while having a decent environment and a keyboard to debug. This is something you do not get with Android or iThings because they are strictly "build on your desk(top), debug in an emulator, run on your slab"."

        The last part of that comment is simply wrong (you you can of course debug on your slab and are in no way restricted to debugging on your emulator) and the implication you are trying to make about the decency of the development environment is also misleading - or at least highly partisan. All these platforms offer highly capable and mature IDEs.'

        --

        Think you misunderstood the original comment. The Android and iOS IDEs run on a desktop or laptop, not on the device you're targeting. You can't run XCode on an iPad. So you code in XCode on an Apple desktop, debug it in an emulator running on the desktop box, and then move the binary to the iPad and run it "for real" there.

        With the SurfacePro, you can actually code on the SurfacePro, and debug it in the IDE with breakpoints, variable inspection, etc.

        (This is just a clarification, not a plug. Really dislike MS Windows myself.)

      2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Hurray, Merry Christmas

        Of course there are strong opinions about IDE's which mostly, IMO involve tribal loyalties based on some fuzzy algorithm based on what you use the most and started with first rather than rationally and objectively which is best.

        I'm baffled that anyone thinks there could possibly be an acceptable rubric for determining "rationally and objectively which [IDE] is best".

        (Personally, my answer would be "none of them". Some are merely less terrible than others.)

    3. Quortney Fortensplibe
      WTF?

      Vertical Industries ?

      Something to do with lift shafts, tower blocks or well digging, I presume.

      1. PNGuinn
        FAIL

        Re: Vertical Industries ?

        You forgot the roll of carpet and backhoe digger ....

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A solipsism you say ?

    So what you are actually saying is that the Surface does not necessarily exist, and since I was not present when the picture on El Reg was taken, I can not be sure it WAS taken when you say it was, or, indeed, that the camera with which is was taken even existed when you say it was taken. If a camera was involved at all.

    All I know, then, for something slightly resembling certainty, is that a picture exists of something you say is a Surface 4, which is unsure to exist.

    Please don't use difficult concepts on El Reg. There's enough bovine excrement to be found on the internet as it is. At least, I think I have observed it.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'll pass

    Too PC to be a pad, too pad to be a PC.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: I'll pass

      I can understand how those of you who write software or manage massive storage systems are dubious about things like the Surface Tablet. However, my car mechanic has been using touch-screen PCs since WinXP Tablet Edition. A lot of the automotive diagnostic software has had the option of a touchscreen interface for years.

      1. TheOtherHobbes

        Re: I'll pass

        I'm sure that works for him. But most of us aren't car mechanics.

        Practical, must-have use cases for padlets are rare. Most applications work fine on a cheaper/lighter tablet, or need a (possibly also cheaper) full-fat laptop.

        The genius of the original iPad was that it wasn't competing with anything except itself. The SP is competing with most of the portable Apple range, with the high end of Planet Android, and with most Win laptops.

        Pricing it at [really expensive] and making it run an unpopular OS really isn't a good way to win customers.

  4. Franco Silver badge

    I've got a Surface Pro V1 which I upgraded to 10, and whilst by and large I prefer it, I do miss some Windows 8.1 features. Most notably, the charms bar swipe from the right was something I used a lot for connecting to external monitors etc.

    Probably will upgrade to the 4 though, and not just cos I can expense it. ;-)

    BTW as far as I am aware every version of the Pro has had the pen bundled with it, and not as an extra unlike the keyboard.

    1. The Original Steve

      @Franco

      But the behaviour is the same on W10 isn't it? You flick from the right side of the screen and the "Action Centre" appears with a "Connect" button, which is the button to press to connect to an external monitor AFAIK...?

      1. Franco Silver badge

        Re: @Franco

        Functionality is much the same, muscle memory still looks for the old location though! Got used to having power and search there too.

  5. Zane

    All quiet on the western front

    So - good hardware, bad software? That's why I have a double boot Windows/Linux on my laptop. All Microsoft stuff is much too resource hungry - if you want to get your work done, boot into something with performance.

    /Zane

    1. AceRimmer

      Re: All quiet on the western front

      I used to dual boot Windows/Linux too

      Problem was, to get any work done I had to be in Windows.

      To play any games I had to be in Windows.

      If I wanted to waste an evening fiddling around with command prompts and text based config files I would boot into Linux

      1. Roo
        Windows

        Re: All quiet on the western front

        "I used to dual boot Windows/Linux too

        Problem was, to get any work done I had to be in Windows."

        Exact reverse for me

        "To play any games I had to be in Windows."

        That's still true, although I rarely get a chance to play a decent game these days, all I get to play these days are is find the registry key that's fucking up the system today game.

        "If I wanted to waste an evening fiddling around with command prompts and text based config files I would boot into Linux"

        Each to their own.. You wouldn't happen to be related to Eadon would you ?

        As it happens I rarely need to boot up Linux because suspend & resume work properly unlike the pre-installed Win 8.1. I'd be the first to confess that plain text config files stashed in /etc aren't as challenging or as *exciting* to edit as the zillion line uncommented .ini files scattered around the Windows partition (or the regedit game). On the other hand I don't particularly like playing the regedit or hack the undocumented & uncommented .ini file games, so I'm quite happy to spend my Linux time working and doing fun & productive things instead.

        YMMV.

      2. inmypjs Silver badge

        Re: All quiet on the western front

        "Problem was, to get any work done I had to be in Windows."

        Have an upvote from me. I too use substantial windows only applications which means to get most of my work done I have to be in Windows. That's why microsoft fucking it up for the sake of fondle slabs and phones is such a piss off.

      3. Avatar of They
        WTF?

        Re: All quiet on the western front

        Had Linux for seven years now, haven't been in a command prompt in... Erm... Seriously I can't think when. I updated to the latest flavour of Mint last year (well the new version back then) and that was two lines of update code, so that was 18 months ago? I used Mint because Ubuntu had that awful unity but I used ubuntu from 2009 - 2012. (Mandrake before that) I was in terminal even less back then as Ubuntu updates through the package manager not through terminal.

        What do you do in Linux that needs to go into command line?

        My machine is on 24/7, I never reboot or shut down as it doesn't need to when I update. I turn it off when I go on holiday. (Because I suddenly fear it catching fire for some reason)

        Seriously how bad is your install if you need to use the terminal to get things done??

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: All quiet on the western front

          Had Linux for seven years now, haven't been in a command prompt in... Erm... Seriously I can't think when.

          <greybeard>You're doing it wrong.</greybeard>1

          1Actually I'm clean-shaven, and of course don't mind if you don't use an interactive shell. If everyone shared my preferences, it'd be harder for me to feel smugly superior. Not much harder, but every bit counts.2

          2Except the parity bit, of course.3

          3OK, arguably the parity bit counts in GF(2).

    2. Danny 14 Silver badge

      Re: All quiet on the western front

      So what had that got to do with the sp4? Are you saying linux runs well on a touch screen tablet? Ive never tried linux of a touchscreen keyboardless device.

    3. KeithR

      Re: All quiet on the western front

      "if you want to get your work done, boot into something with performance"

      Oh, bugger off, man - blind anti-Windows zealotry (especially when it's as asinine as that post) is tiresome.

      If you "can't get your work done" on a Win platform ,it's YOU, not the software.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: All quiet on the western front

        Top answer. If I could give you 10 upvotes I would.

    4. Code For Broke

      Re: All quiet on the western front

      @Zane: If you're going to tell me to do something in that obnoxious time, at least do it properly. Details please? I agree that Windows tends to take way more than its fair share of system resources just to give you your blank canvas. But what Linux distro and UI does so smashingly better these days?

  6. Flatpackhamster

    Win 10 Tablet mode

    I've got a Linx 1010, which is a 10" tablet with keyboard and Windows 10. It has a 'tablet mode' option which gives you the Win8 'tablet' style interface, and it works better (in my experience) than Win8. For example, Control Panel in Win8 had tiny fiddly menus which were unreachable with fingers on a touch screen, but Win10's settings menu solves this. So it does sort of work.

    1. Danny 14 Silver badge

      Re: Win 10 Tablet mode

      I bought a linx 8 last year on black Friday for £30. The specs are very underwhelming, its a dual core with only 1gb ram and 32gb of storage but it had a HDMI out and a micro USB (plus a uSD card). Turns out it runs 720p KODI very well and due to it being "slim" sits nicely behind a TV. As such it never gets switched off and runs as a media centre (rpi2 better "value" now of course)

      As a tablet it is too slow (probably the RAM really) and hasn't enough storage (a uSD isn't really an alternative for installing apps onto) but I can see a more up-to-date version being very usable indeed.

  7. Vince

    Thank goodness someone other than me has finally mentioned how much better Windows 8.x is than 10. I really don't mind 8.1 at all and find it works really well on hybrid devices. It also works perfectly on my regular desktops and laptops too - especially since I prefer no start menu and (still) don't understand the fuss about it not being there at all.

    Windows 10... well... let me see now. My convertible is just a messy confused machine that I struggle to find things on because the UI behaviour is really odd at times, and really very unfriendly, my Lumia 950x is proving to me that Windows 10 mobile isn't even close to being ready. The UI is all over the place, it has many really obvious and serious bugs, the camera just isn't as good as it should be and as previous Lumia devices, but that's another software cause as the hardware works fine, it updates without asking, you can't actively prevent updates at all to the main OS so things just break thanks to updates, and the battery life isn't anywhere near as good as my Lumia 1020, despite supposedly being much better.

    The hardware is great, but I want Win Phone 8.1 back on my Lumia and I'm keeping 8.1 on my desktops and laptops.

    1. L05ER

      funny...

      i have the exact same experience (not being able to find a fucking thing) with 8.1...

      where did the "Open With..." option go? Where the hell is the photo viewer? where are all my printer options? sure as hell not where they used to be.

      this whole dumb it down to make it tablet friendly shit has to stop. where was the market demand for these hybrid pieces of shit? oh right, it never existed. THAT is why they are having so much trouble designing something that works...

  8. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
    Linux

    But does it run...

    ...Linux?

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: But does it run...

      It's a good question, it might not due to mandatory secure boot.

      1. g00se
        Linux

        Re: But does it run...

        afaicr 'mandatory' secure boot is illegal on anything other than ARM

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: But does it run...

          Not with the advent of Windows 10.

  9. thames

    Maybe they should put Android on it instead. Perhaps they'd have a real winner thn.

  10. N2 Silver badge

    "I’d hold off until the bugs are addressed"

    That made me smile.

  11. ATeal

    Really?

    Are they cool or are they just mandatory at the place where the author works?

    I've only ever seen two in the wild that was 2 years ago and about 9 months ago AND I'M AT A UNIVERSITY.

    The 7 inch form factor has found a niche in my life (I can hold it above my face at night) but I really am far from convinced that any larger (laptop-screen-sized) thing is worth it compared to a laptop.

    Looking at the picture, can I rest my wrists on it? Will I feel the wobble of keystrokes? The keyboard looks flimsy AF.

    ----------------------------------------------

    I admit I'm biased, GNU/Linux here, also I want them to fail because the idea of MS (or M$ as you probably expect me to say) having power here scares me. (Droidwall FTW)

    1. sabroni Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: AND I'M AT A UNIVERSITY.

      Get a fucking job!

      1. ATeal

        Re: AND I'M AT A UNIVERSITY.

        I didn't say I was a student!

        1. Naselus

          Re: AND I'M AT A UNIVERSITY.

          "I didn't say I was a student!"

          Doesn't matter if you are or not. Universities swarm with Apple junk outside the computer science lab and are *nix within it. Admin will be on Windows though. And then you'll have all sorts of random shite being brought in by the students. I did a brief stint as a sysadmin at a uni in the UK a few years back, and frankly with that kind of mess of users it's hell.

          Once you get to actual real enterprises, though, Windows rules the roost and in a MS house Surfaces do well. They've acquired enough cool factor (and a high enough price tag) that execs can be provided with them instead of Apple junk and it's a lot easier on the support staff; when a Macbook won't play nice getting the damn thing working is a herculean task requiring 6 3rd line engineers, two ex-Apple staffers and a couple of PhDs in computer science, but you any 17 year old PFY can make a Surface dance pretty cheaply.

        2. Danny 14 Silver badge

          Re: AND I'M AT A UNIVERSITY.

          we use a few small form factor devices but they are for specific things. The PE department take a tablet with detachable keyboard out onto the pitch with them. The wifi works out there so they do registers but they also take pictures and video for the students to evidence. this is saved onto network drives immediately rather than copied later (speed thing for the staff rather than a requirement). They also pull up youtube clips as they are going along with techniques. (these are ASUS tablet/keyboards). The HDMI is unreliable on the ASUS tablets

          The IT class workshops have a few too but they are for students making faux kiosks as part of their projects, again it is to mimic a till or kiosk and program/design accordingly (these are HP 360s so not really a tablet as such just a foldaway keyboard). Tech department staff have some so they can wander around, take evidence photos and videos and "dock" them as their desktop machines (these are Dell 10 tablets with separate dock stations and detachable keyboards).

          Of all of them the dell tablets have worked the best as they just work - keyboards detach/reattach and work, the docking stations work as soon as you dock them etc. I can also replace the batteries on the Dells (not needed to yet but I have removed the panel to see where they are).

    2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Really?

      AND I'M AT A UNIVERSITY.

      Exactly because you are at a university. Apple has more or less corralled that audience into a paddock of its own. The same is valid for various Silicon valley companies.

      If you stray outside that however you are much more likely to run into Microsoft. Primary and secondary education in the UK, various verticals, incumbent telecoms outside USA/Silicon Valley, health across most of Eu, public sector in most of the world, etc are exclusively Microsoft.

    3. Gordon 10 Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Really?

      You haven't met many journalists have you?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Shame about the software"

    Just about sums up Microsoft which is rather alarming as they are supposed to be a software company.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Trollface

      Re: "Shame about the software"

      They used to make pretty good mice.

  13. graeme leggett

    "The range of...cool apps is terrible"

    Any particular ones you were thinking of that are missing?

    1. Law

      Re: "The range of...cool apps is terrible"

      When I used a windows phone (WP 8 / 8.1) I found the apps that were in the store were really there as a tick box exercise for microsoft. "Oh yes, we have a facebook app... see!!" Yet these things lacked any support or features.

      What Microsoft are struggling with now is, after having significantly changed the API for every major (and minor) win phone version in the last 3 years there are very few companies willing to put in the time and effort to developing a decent feature-rich application.

      Having "Facebook", "Twitter", "Rightmove", "YouTube" etc apps in the store isn't enough... they need to be usable, have similar features to other platforms, and be actively supported by the companies who make them (and not built by Microsoft because the company who runs the service won't!). I don't see how Microsoft will be able to do this... they've screwed developers around too much, have little share in the mobile space, and the consumers spending cash of windows mobile devices have largely moved on.

      Their only hope now is business, and the horrible tactic of strong arming people into their services via automatic updates... i.e. "Good news - a free Windows 10 Upgrade available: click here to install now, click here to install later!!"

  14. LDS Silver badge

    I really don't understand why 10 has no "dual" personality, especially since Surfaces got traction

    Of course 8.x shortcomngs had to be adressed for desktop users. But there were no need to abandon the 8 interface for tablet users. Just switch to one or the other automatically, or on user request. Why Microsoft can't deliver an OS with a "dual" interface? Too worried it could confuse lusers? Just make automatic switching optional. I didn't upgrade my Surface Pro 2 exactly for this reason, I saw 10 and found it wasn't really up to the task while I'm using the Surface without a keyboard.

    Another step back IMHO is moving away from a Wacom digitizer. MS bought its pen company, but Wacom pens don't need a battery, don't need bluetooth, and its technology is far more advanced.

    1. DragonLord

      Re: I really don't understand why 10 has no "dual" personality, ...

      The tablet mode (that you can switch on in the action bar, or by ripping off the keyboard/folding it behind) is very similar to the windows 8 start menu. It also has nicer 1/2 and 1/3 screen app sharing, however you need to learn the new swipe gestures for it.

      As I'm not an artist I can't comment on the pens, however I've read good reviews from artists so...

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Expensive aren't they?

    The top of the line is £200 more than a 15in MacBook Pro (i7, 256Gb)

    With that vivid Blue keyboard, it is a wonder that MS has not sponsored Chelsea. After all, isn't their song,

    Blue is the colour...?

    1. tirk
      Joke

      Re: Expensive aren't they?

      ...a wonder that MS has not sponsored Chelsea.

      Chelsea are doing about as well as MS thse days too!

    2. Carl Williams

      Re: Expensive aren't they?

      Add the ~£339 cost of an iPad to that to cover the dual use of the Surface pro and suddenly it's £139 cheaper.........

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How many mainstream laptops have 2k screens?

    I am guessing thats why people want it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      My Dell has a 4k screen ...

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      >How many mainstream laptops have 2k screens?

      A few, from Lenovo and Toshiba amongst others. However, the Surface, and the Surface Book, have 3:2 aspect ratios which for some will be reason enough to buy them over the near ubiquitous 16:9. The only other option is 16:10 from Apple. Again, if I am wrong here, please pretty please post a link to a non 16:9 laptop!! Thanks!

      Windows was a bit behind OSX in the way it dealt with UI scaling on very high res screens, but apparently it's good now. The issue is that some 3rd party software for Windows isn't fully civilised yet (Photoshop, I'm looking at you). This chicken and egg situation (why buy a pricey high res laptop if the software isn't ready, why rework the software if there are few customers) might explain why high-res Windows laptops aren't yet common.

  17. Candy
    Coat

    and the Pen now comes “free”?

    The Surface Pro series has always had a pen bundled with it. The Surface (non-Pro) doesn't.

  18. tony72

    Hmm

    There are a couple of errors in the article, which I would submit using the "send corrections" link, but I'm going to assume that you wrote the article on the SP4, and that's to blame for "... ended up one of my taking my usual notetaking options with me" etc. That's what happens when your "laptop" only really works on a desk. Sorry, still not sold on the form factor. The Surface Book, on the other hand, I really kind of want. I hope they make it available in the UK, and that I can justify the cost.

  19. chivo243 Silver badge
    Headmaster

    Great design?

    Wait, tablet design 101 - A Graduate course for designing a new and challenging form of the tablet. Graduated rounding edges will be explored. A flat screen touch interface will also be explored. Intuitive buttons at 10 O'Clock and 3 O'Clock...

    1. Naselus

      Re: Great design?

      "Graduated rounding edges will be explored"

      With a big note saying 'If you do this, Apple WILL sue you'.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Surfaces meh

    ipads and droids were easy to fend off as we could simply say it won't run any of our software (Which was the truth, our software almost 100% Windows applications), can't with the non pro Surfaces.

    There goes our machine replacement budget for this financial year :(

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Surfaces meh

      However most companies have since realised that it's easier and cheaper to replace the software to be platform agnostic.

      Most businesses are going web app way, and there are loads of office applications for android and iOS, Microsoft office included.

      In fact Microsoft app count for android now exceeds 75.

      https://play.google.com/store/apps/developer?id=Microsoft+Corporation&hl=en_GB

  21. Swarthy Silver badge

    So it's a bit restless?

    You should load this into its memory.

  22. Mikel

    They aren't popular

    That is a lie. They are getting better at hiding the bleeding is all.

    1. Shane Sturrock

      Re: They aren't popular

      I've seen a few Surface Pro tablets in the wild but they always had their keyboard attached and some executive was carefully typing while the thing teetered on their lap. Personally, I'll stick with my MacBook/iPad mini combo which gives me a real laptop which is incredibly small and light and a tablet that actually has apps. MS is stuck between two worlds with the surface and it really doesn't work well in either. It isn't a good laptop and as a tablet the lack of apps makes it pretty useless unless you want to poke at desktop apps with your finger. Frankly, with Splashtop Remote installed on my desktop PC I can access Windows apps pretty well from my iPad even when I'm on the road not that there's a great deal of software on Windows I ever have to use these days and since work it switching to Office 360 there's even less reason (I would have preferred Google Docs but some users couldn't get to grips with it unfortunately)

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: They aren't popular

        that's great if your environment is mac friendly but on my (domain) network there wont be any macs joining (we don't have terminal services so no thin client access etc). We don't have any mac infrastructure so that will be pricey for us to change. Some of our users want a small tablet to "do stuff" out an about with but also want a keyboard to type at times, they also need to connect to the domain so that pretty much means something similar to the surface pro.

        I'll give you that for "most users" they would be better with a thin and lightweight laptop but a mac isn't the answer to everyone.

        I have found the dell tablet options to be a cheaper robust alternative.

  23. Anne-Lise Pasch

    So... if you map the power button to 'hibernate', all your troubles go away?

  24. Mattp

    I disagree with the statements made the the HP X2 would be a better choice, because of battery life. It has a claim of up to 9 hours. Yet testers have got 9hrs 23 from an SP4. And the SP4 has a bigger screen (12.3 up from just 11 for the HPX2)

    See article here for more info

    http://www.winbeta.org/news/battery-life-experiences-surface-pro-4-core-m3-base-model

    Bottom line: your usage may vary. But I have an SP4 with a M3 processor and I used it through a day for 9 hrs (though half of that was with the wifi off. )

    1. Danny 14 Silver badge

      Dell with the keyboard battery pack will last 9 hours easily with quite some remaining. And 9 hours being USED in a classroom environment too. With just the tablet undocked you will get about 6 hours constant use.

  25. Youngone Silver badge
    Facepalm

    What is Windows 10?

    I've been trying to figure out what Windows 10 is for months now, and Andrew has nailed it for me:

    a tentative peace agreement between warring factions

    Awesome.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Who knew?

    #MSFTBaaaad

  27. Kev99

    Interesting, isn't it, that for decades the pundits complained about minuscule screens on laptops and sang the praises of those with15" or bigger screens. Now we're back to days of Compaq luggable screen sizes. Do these toys also come with magnifying glasses?

    1. Danny 14 Silver badge

      that's because the quality of small screens was poor. A good quality 10" screen is better than a poor quality 15" screen.

  28. The Average Joe

    Happy with what I have now...

    I have a MacBookPro and an iPad. Both work GREAT! They do EXACTLY what I ask! They sleep, wake, WIFI works right, Bluetooth works right, no loud fans or hot surfaces. Both have great battery life. Updates have not created any issues...

    The SP4 is a business product and just for the rabid Microsoft supporters. It is expensive and we have a LOT of installed iPad's and Apple computers for the high level execs.

  29. martinusher Silver badge

    Once again, the software

    I just contributed something very negative about Windows 10 in another thread, about what a PoS it is compared to W7. The SurfacePro looks like the answer to those of us who like the idea of an iPad or similar tablet but want something with a bit more power than just a basic 'browse the Web and play music' peripheral. Unfortunately, Microsoft seem to have the knack of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory -- they just don't seem to be able to make reliable, functional, software. I don't think its the programmers' fault, it looks like marketing -- business considerations -- trump functionality and reliability every time.In effect, they will compromise the functionality of their software to push some new business they have in mind, often a business that's a copy of what ever's out there (cloud) or something we don't want.

    I used to use a Motion tablet. Its a early Surface like device that ran Windows XP. Microsoft's 'upgrades' did it in. Even with expanded memory and stripped right down internally it barely functioned once "SP3" was installed.

  30. ben_myers

    Windows 7, 8, 10 all cause sleep apnea or worse

    For a number of months now, I have dealt with numerous owners of laptops who complain that their computer is dead. Not dead. It is comatose, a state undocumented by Microsoft and caused by atrociously bad power management software. Also caused by Microsoft wanting all of us to put our laptops to sleep instead of powering down completely. I have now found two causes of comatose. The obvious one is you puts your lappie to sleep, the battery runs down to zero, and plugging in the power adapter then pressing the on-off button repeatedly does no good. The less obvious one happens when Windows is the middle of an update and you put the computer to sleep. Either ones corrupts the CMOS, rendering the computer into a brick. Microsoft needs to expend far more effort on its power management. Yes, there is a solution in the meantime. The EASY solution is to power the darn thing OFF, no sleep!

  31. TeeCee Gold badge
    Facepalm

    Doesn't go to sleep?

    If you have Cortana set to respond to "Hey Cortana", turn it off. That often does it.

    Used to work just fine, but broken as of the 1511 update in Win 10. This is probably the most annoying thing about 10, the major updates have a nasty habit of breaking as much, if not more, than they fix.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Really?

    Anyone who praises 8.1 automatically invalidates all their other observations.

  33. Pliny

    Using an SP4 and it _is_ a good machine

    I'm writing this on an SP4 now, and yes I did expense it. Observations from 2 days of use: it's fast, the screen is very nice, the keyboard/trackpad rocks and like the article says, I can sit back in tablet mode when I want to read and mark up a pdf. It can even play games at low res. Furthermore it is half the weight of the laptop and iPad+stylus combo I used to lug around with me before. Battery life is iffy - 5 hours tops on the i7 and more annoying, very slow to charge. There were weird experiences/bugs getting all the patches applied (one update would not install with an SD card in the machine).

    If Windows Evernote supported pen input or OneNote could do OCR I would be a happy man.

    So the article is pretty spot on, it is good but not perfect but I am not aware of anything else that can meet so many use cases in an acceptable way which is available at this time.

    1. curi0s1

      Re: Using an SP4 and it _is_ a good machine

      The OneNote that is part of Office (and which is also available for free) does do OCR.

  34. VulcanV5

    Asus Transformer

    'S funny, how memories are short. Back in 2011 -- all of, er, four years ago -- folks were agog at the prospect of getting their hands on the Asus Transformer TF101. Amazon UK got one delivery but then ran out. My wife bought one, still has it now, paid £350 for it and uses it. . . EXACTLY . . . in the same way as the pictures show of the Surface wotsit thingie. The clamshell keyboard protects the screen when not in uswe and serves as a second power source as well.

    I was so impressed, I bought the Transformer's successor, the Asus Prime. As big a load of shite as there'll ever be, this was so appallingly engineered that it had curved edges (ohhh, how trendy) but with square ports, so your chances of keeping a HDMI connector in place were non-existent. Its wifi capabilities were dreadful, too. I think Asus has stopped making it now.

  35. m155698
    Stop

    Don't think the "F**K" in "Will you go the F**K to SLEEP?" is necessary

    Puts me off reading the article. Tired of overuse of expletives.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Don't think the "F**K" in "Will you go the F**K to SLEEP?" is necessary

      It's from the book of the same name. I dare say if the child is young enough the exasperated parent will even have read it to them in an attempt to get them to do that.

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Don't think the "F**K" in "Will you go the F**K to SLEEP?" is necessary

      Tommy Bowdler, is that you?

  36. NeilPost Bronze badge

    Sales numbers ?

    Sales numbers are absent again.

    "Against all predictions, Microsoft has made a profitable multi-billion dollar business out of a boutique tablet. It has also turned a bog standard commodity Thing - a Windows laptop - into something desirable."

    Yes, the writedown that has been mentioned was a cool $1bn. That will take a huge time to repay back, out of the profits. Now... how much are the profits, just out of interest.

  37. ChaosFreak

    Go the Fuck to Sleep!

    Damn... I have the same "bag heater" issue with my SP3. You put it to sleep, it wakes up immediately. Put it to sleep again and put it in your bag, an hour later you have a very hot bag and your Surface has turned itself completely off (due to thermal overload) which means you're starting from a clean boot.

    I was hoping the SP4 would solve these problems. Sounds like it hasn't.

    1. BrianT

      Re: Go the Fuck to Sleep!

      ChaosFreak, the problem you and the article author have is very likely caused by the default setting in Windows 7, 8, 8.1, 10 of having the mouse wake the device from sleep. It is one of the most annoying things imaginable. One of the first things I do with a new / newly installed machine is go in and disable all this too-clever-by-half power management nonsense. That includes disabling waking up to install updates.

      When I say "Sleep!" I mean sleep and only I may wake up "sleeping beauty".

    2. curi0s1

      Re: Go the Fuck to Sleep!

      The problem is that if you put the tablet in a relatively loose compartment in your back pack the cover can open slightly and, depending on how much it opens, that can cause the Surface to come out of sleep mode. Just make sure you have it in a tight pocket.

  38. Peter Galbavy

    I wanted a Surface Pro 3 but no mobile data support, so I waited. Surface Pro 4 - still none. Lovely idea, but to be properly portable, for me, it needs to be independent of WiFi, MiFi and tethering and ugly dongles. Shame.

  39. MagicBoy

    It's not just the Surface Pro 4, the older Surface Pro and Pro 2 have power saving issues as well. Microsoft appear to have their head in the sand on this one as they've done nothing after nearly 5 months. Kind of ironic that their own software doesn't work properly on their own hardware.

    http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/surface/forum/surfpro-surfusingwin10/windows-10-makes-my-surface-pro-1-extremely-hot/9ca517f9-5cbc-403b-ad3b-a?auth=1

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