Improving the Surface Customer Experience

Improving the Surface Customer Experience

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Did you know, that from the time it left the assembly line to when it was on store shelves on October 26th, we’d already made a number of updates and improvements to Surface RT? How is this possible, some of you may ask? Read on to find out…

When we first started working on Surface, we set out to build a product that would be the ultimate stage for Windows. We put the customer experience at the heart of all that we did and with attention to each and every detail, we brought this idea to life. Whether you’re looking for a tablet that provides a great entertainment experience with the ability to get some things done, or you’re looking for the power and performance of a laptop in a tablet package, with Surface RT and Surface Pro there are two great choices from which you can choose.

Since we first launched Surface in October 2012, we’ve been making updates and improvements available via Windows Update to further enhance the customer experience. Even though Surface is first and foremost a hardware product, the customer experience is certainly not static and many great improvements have been made. At launch, there were updates to the inbox apps, Windows RT, and the final release of Office Home & Student 2013 RTfor Surface RT customers. Since then, we’ve been making updates available on a regular basis and the overall customer experience has improved incrementally. This will continue over time.

We’ve made updates to the hardware drivers thereby enabling additional functionality such as with the track-pad, reduced the instances where Limited Connectivity is reported for wireless access, improved the audio quality and reliability, tweaked the software responsible for interpreting keystrokes on Touch Cover so you can type more quickly and effortlessly, and we’ve made it possible to use Type Cover and Touch Cover at a larger variety of angles. One recent announcementbrought an update to Internet Explorer 10 such that Adobe Flash content now runs by default on both Surface RT and Surface Pro.

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And yesterday, we announced that there would be an update to the Mail, Calendar, and People apps that come with Surface RT and Surface Pro. These apps are designed to manage communication seamlessly on your Surface across multiple accounts—Outlook.com, Exchange, and others. This update is available starting today and for a detailed overview of new features and improvements, see this blog post on the Windows Experience Blogincluding instructions on how to install this update from the Windows Store.

When we started working on Surface we put the customer experience at the heart of all that we did. That is still true today and as such, over the coming months, you’ll continue to see updates and improvements made available to both Surface RT and Surface Pro customers. This includes further updates to the wireless system to reduce the instances where Limited Connectivity is reported as well as an update to the Surface Pen driver to enable pressure functionality in Adobe Photoshop with Surface Pro.

We know many of you are waiting for an update on specific dates for Surface Pro availability. Please rest assured that while we don’t have anything specific to share right now, we’ll let you know in a follow-up blog post just as soon as we do.

34 Comments
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  • I love everything about my Surface.

    The only thing missing for me is an extended battery support for an 10 hour flight to Japan.

    Please license someone to provide extended batter support for the Surface Pro.

    I have spoken to numerous battery companies. They would all like to support the Surface Pro but Microsoft is blocking them.

    Without extended battery life you product has a very limited audience.

    Thank you for your consideration!

    Brian

  • What about education? Any plans to make the Surface RT available at a discount for schools? I'd like these in my students hands next year, assuming they will work flawlessly with Office 365, but can't justify the cost.

  • I would like the photos that I add to contacts--I'm sorry, people--in Outlook 2013 to appear in the people app. They appear in the people app on my WP8, but not my people apps on my surface rt or my win8 pro install.

  • I left a long commentary a few weeks ago and left for a sporting event with my kid.

    What I have noticed at most sports venues are parents with their iPads using them to record video of their kid's or team's matches. It is still baffling to me that so much camera and video resolution can be made to fit inside a phone, yet the surface camera and video has very low res capabilities - had to ditch it in favor of my Nikon.

    It is another nitch area where I see a lot of pad usage that makes consumers gravitate towards iPads. An offering from MS that produces better video and pictures than the iPad would create more buzz.

  • EricT
    2 Posts

    Hi,

    I wonder if there are any plans to release higher specked Surface Pros to the market: e.g. 8Gb RAM and/or 256Gb SSD?

    The SDD capacity is more critical to me.

    I'd be the happiest user of the power Surface Pro...

    Thanx.

    EricT
    2 Posts

    oops, sorry - overlooked that this is not the right thread to ask about Surface Pro... :(

  • P40L0
    2 Posts

    I'm using Surface RT with the latest updates and I'm loving it.

    Those are my suggestions to improve the experience even further:

    -Make the speakers louder (increase the dB limit);

    -Make a native Facebook App based on the latest Microsoft Facebook Beta app on Windows Phone 8 (it's finally complete and awesome there);

    -Update/Upgrade Office RT for Metro UI, and don't launch it from the Desktop anymore;

    -Integrate most of the "Desktop" functions in the new Metro UI, from the full Control Panel to Customization (the Desktop must be almost totally excluded from the RT experience);

    -Support the .mkv (H.264 / AAC / DTS) format in native Video app;

    -Increase printers drivers support (my Canon PIXMA MP210 doesn't work :_( );

    -Improve performance, reducing "stuttering" on some apps (like Music), and keep everything fast and fluid;

    -Reduce as short as possible the delay when launching and app (no more loading screens);

    -Improve 3D games performance;

    -Create a valid "Windows Movie Maker" alternative for the RT/MetroUI experience, optimized for Surface RT;

    -Improve the native Facebook chat (I often see double messages, or failed notifications/messages);

    and most important of all:

    -EXPAND the Windows Store. Try to fuse it to the Windows Phone Store, and create an unique, unificated store where an app created for Windows Phone 8 works with Windows 8/RT almost automatically or, at least, with a single 1-Time Purchase.

    The Store really need to "explode" with thousands and thousands more app.

    Thank you :)

  • Palmetto15
    2 Posts

    Any chance an update can be sent that will enable the volume (speakers) to be louder?

  • So now that you have fixed it may we see the surface pro in Australia, intel haswell core hybrids are just around the corner. And unless you release the surface pro now I am just going to wait another month to see what other manufacturers are going to make that will put the surface to shame with same performance and longer battery life (unless Microsoft engineers consider releasing a surface 1.5 that has a haswell core in it).

    The point is you don't delay the release of a consumer technology item or you risk it being superceded before it comes out.

  • Palmetto15
    2 Posts

    Just received the April 15 update to my Surface RT and I'm a little disappointed.  In the news app I used to get a feed from a newspaper called The State. It's out of South Carolina.  After the update it appears that I've lost that news feed and I can't add it -  how come?

    Overall my family is very impressed with the Surface RT device.  In fact we like the device so much we haven't charged our iPAD in months. Way to go Microsoft keep up the good work!!!

  • pissedoff
    1 Posts

    Microsoft customer service is among the worst I've ever encountered:

    1. i was really excited when the Pro came out - I ordered in online the 1st day it was available.  Of course it was on back order and it took 3 weeks to be delivered.

    2. after using it for 3 weeks - the device failed.  I contacted customer service and was told the only option was to return it and a new or refurbished device would be sent in 5-6 business days.  After 9 business days - the unit arrived.

    3. The email I received from Surface support asked asked that I return the pen and power supply with the failed unit - of course I did. When the device was returned - no pen or powersupply arrived with it.  I contacted Surface support again - now I've been informed it will be ANOTHER 3-4 business days for these items to arrive. ARE YOU KIDDING ME???

  • Bought one of the first RT units and have used it on and off for a couple months now and have some general feedback. First off, for a first foray into the pad market it is a good device that could be a great device and a game changer in my opinion with a few tweaks.

    I have worked in IT support organizations in some capacity for most of my career so I have a pretty solid handle on what customers often look and ask for and I took this opportunity to be the consumer and to be honest as I can be because I actually would like to see MS be successful in this market.

    One of the biggest portable drawbacks I have with my device and the reason I often set it down is that it is simply difficult to hold. There is a shortage of real estate along the edges and if you adjust for a more secure hold on the unit you are assailed by a variety of charms or functions that are triggered along the edges of the active screen. The glossy design is attractive to the eye, but means that the tiny grip you have along the edge (because you do not want to lose the page you are on by invoking something along the edge of the screen) will slip.

    I think a simple solution to this issue would be to just add a 1/2 inch of plastic with the eraser-finish along the outside edge, or simply sell a flexible frame that can be fitted around the unit that adds the necessary real estate and grip along the edges of the device. We are not talking about some clunky full sleeve, rather something that keeps the simple single-unit form-factor of the device. The only draw-back is how to do so without blocking the kickstand which is awesome.

    The other areas of needed improvement are the functionality of the browser. There have been vast improvements in the browser due to a variety of updates, but there are still issues with most common sites loading slowly and displaying "slow script" errors, and the formatting of some sites still get mangled when formated for the Surface screen. The embarrassing thing is that some of those sites where I experience this behavior are MS sites or MS affiliated sites like MSN or MSNBC.

    The last area of disappointment is the cramped living space. What I mean is the small amount of available disk space. I know that iPads have a similar issue, but I thought that making a competing product meant doing it better? The real drawback is on the app store front where I have had to unload or not buy more apps because after downloading and installing a few I had no more space. If MS is trying to encourage app development, space limitations on consumable devices is not a good thing.

    I nearly bricked the unit by downloading a Disney Tinkerbell movie for my daughter as we were going on the trip and streaming from the cloud is a nice idea in concept, but in reality the bandwidth often is not there when you are on the road or flying. Once I used up most of the space bringing the movie down locally I had a warning that I was running out of space, but I was not given any options to free up space or stop the download. Rather the unit was super unresponsive. Was finally able to jettison enough things to get it working again, but it was slow going and I really thought I was going to have to something to restore the unit to the original configuration.

    For a disk space solution I bought a 350 GB SATA mini drive in a nice shiny black case, and with a short USB cable and a generous application of Velcro product I can attach the additional storage to the back of the unit to keep the whole setup somewhat portable and self contained. Something a bit more thought out and engineered for the units to attach additional drive storage would be nice.

    I know there is a Surface mouse accessory and a usb port for a keyboard (if someone wanted to use a full-sized keyboard), and there is a mini-hdmi port for video output. I was hoping that the Surface units would have some kind of quick-connect docking capability for those times you want to go full size on the peripherals - that would have been cool.

  • Domingo
    1 Posts

    I have a Surface Pro 128gb. When I go to my bank page, I sign in and the bank system opens another window, I guess because it opens a secure site window. But the new window just opens, but no information appears. Does anybody know what I would need to change to make it work?

    PH8
    1 Posts

    When you enter the bank site (or before), hit the F12 key to bring up the developer tools, then make sure the the browser mode is set to IE9.  Some websites have issues with IE 10:-)

  • That flash update was really helpful, though I did have a quick question on this most recent keyboard connectivity one.  It might be detailed somewhere I missed, but one quirk I noticed was if my Surface RT was off and I hooked the touch keyboard to it, then turned it on it may or may not have detected it.  Same story for if it was off and I un-hooked it, it may or may not have detected that, so that when I touch/clicked into a field, the onscreen keyboard would not come up.  I forget what it was, but with a particular combination of things I can consistently recreate the issue, or consistently make it go away.

  • Murrington
    5 Posts

    Dear Microsoft

    You could improve customer service by informing your customers when they can buy your products. You could also improve customer service by apologising to all of your potential customers in the Uk, Europe and Australasia for the lack of information in the delays of release dates and prices.

    Kind Regards,

    A VERY annoyed customer

  • JonnyJonah
    2 Posts

    So now the news leaks of Surface Pro being available in China on 2nd April?? Why are we still waiting in the UK?? China with its history of piracy and low volume sales of Microsoft products is yet another kick in the teeth to your traditionally strong markets. Come on Microsoft, hurry up and release the Surface Pro in the UK, other European countries and also for our Antipodean cousins!!