The latest updates and improvements to Surface

The latest updates and improvements to Surface

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Spoiler alert – we’re sharing some more updates to Surface that will make it even better. Before your eyes glaze over at the thought of installing updates and trying to understand them, remember that these updates show up of their own accord via Windows Update. So while it’s important to us that you know the work that’s being done, there is not a lot of homework for you here.

Our last post on updates and improvements was back in March, and since then we’ve been hard at work on a number of things that will impact the way you use your Surface.

The natural place to begin is the improvement to WiFi connectivity. As anyone who has ever reset a router or called their cable company in a moment of darkness knows, WiFi connectivity is not the product of a single thing, but the interaction between the connection coming in from a service provider, the network hardware (cable modem or router, or cable modem with an integrated router), the operating system, and the device you’re using to access the internet. There were improvements back in the March update that reduced the instances of ‘limited connectivity’, and we’ve gone further since then to minimize these events from the Surface side. We take the ability to get and stay connected very seriously and hope that you’ve noticed the improvement.

We’ve also published a new driver for the Surface USB to Ethernet adaptor for Surface Pro to allow direct Ethernet connection to a wired network, including the ability to PXE boot (PXE stands for Preboot eXecution Environment – it means you can boot from the network).

The convenience of always having a great keyboard (and the click) is one of the things that truly sets Surface apart, and we continue to refine the typing experience on Touch and Type Cover. Those of you that really take your Surface everywhere will appreciate an update that improves typing performance when you don’t have a hard surface to work on – meaning Touch and Type Cover are now even better at catching every single keystroke wherever you’re typing.

I mentioned an expanded list of keyboard shortcuts in a post last week, but I’m going to call them out again since updates we published yesterday make these available on either Touch or Type Cover with Surface RT as well as Surface Pro. Not everyone aspires to be a master of keyboard shortcuts, but for those who do the productivity gain is pretty great and you will garner the respect and admiration of those who watch you work.

  Fn + Caps:

Locks F1-F12 into being function keys. Do it again and you get the charms, volume, Home, End, etc. if you are in the function lock mode, you can get the inverse options by pressing the Fn key, naturally

  Fn + <spacebar>:

Print Screen

  Fn + <spacebar> + Alt:

Print Screen for the in-focus App only

  Fn + Del:

Brightness Up

  Fn + Backspace:

Brightness Down

  Fn + <left>:

Home

  Fn + <right>:

End

  Fn + <up>:

Page Up

  Fn + <down>:

Page Down

Also in the vein of making sure your Surface serves you well in a wide variety of settings we published an update to the LifeCam driver on Surface Pro that will enhance image clarity in low light conditions, this update also improves performance and reliability when you switch between the integrated camera and an external camera.

Lastly, a firmware update has boosted the volume of the speakers on your Surface RT. Depending on what I’m doing I might plug in a headset or use external Bluetooth speakers, but day-to-day I do use the speakers on the device more than either of these. The boost in volume is great for games, videos, Lync, and Skype calls.

We are committed to continually improving Surface. I mentioned last week that there’s a lot coming with the Windows 8.1 update later this year (read more on that here in case you missed it) and we’re constantly working to ensure that Surface really is the one device for work and play.

Brian Hall

General Manager – Microsoft Surface

18 Comments
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  • Tainue
    1 Posts

    I would certainly say that with these new updates, surface will become more efficient

  • jevansnc
    1 Posts

    Could you possibly add a gesture to the wedge mouse. Two that I used a ton on the MacBook Air with the Magic Mouse was double tab on the mouse to zoom in the browser like you would on the touch pad or screen and swipe left or right to go forward or back in the browser.

  • AdrianHHH
    1 Posts

    It is interesting to read about the Surface in this blog, also to read some very interesting comments. But there is no easy way to know when comments are added, there is just a count of comments. Please add a "date of last comment" to each topic on the front page, or add some other way of easily finding out which blogs have new comments.

  • what I'm really longing for today is a right-mouse button keyboard combo replacement (fn-right-alt would be ideal), because Office treats keyboard right mouse key differently from mouse right-mouse key and gives you spelling corrections instead of general context menu)

  • lashtal
    2 Posts

    Any plans to enable the shortcuts on the Wedge Mobile Keyboard? I own and use both Wedge and Type cover, and these really helpful shortcuts are working only on the latter, making the experience inconsistent.

    jevansnc
    2 Posts

    I posted a comment about this. I would like some more functionality in the wedge similar to the apple magic mouse. You can double tap to zoom in the browser and swipe left or right for instance in the history.

  • I JUST received my Surface Pro and am like a kid in a candy shop!!! The last touch-enabled computer that came close to the awesomeness of the Surface Pro was my HP TX1410.

    The thing that is incredibly important to me is the pen integration and interaction wit the touch-screen. Right now, even after calibration, the pen is not very precise (the pointer shows left or right of where the pen-point actually is)and often takes multiple touches to register on a certain point of the screen. Having said that the handwriting recognition has improved to the point where I can almost scribble and it will decipher what I am trying to say!!!

    Additionally, the mouse-pad on the type cover also is not very sensitive to touch and I have to hit it pretty hard when I want it to select something.  One other suggestion with the mouse-pad..... Many mouse touch pads have, in the past, had a thin area on the right side of the pad where one could run your finger up and down to control the scroll of a screen... That does not seem to be available and would be an excellent firmware update soon.

    The work that has been done on this is amazing and my Surface Pro has become my new constant companion! It is My Braingazm1000!

    I apologize for harping on an issue but the more I use the stylus/pen, the more annoying the imprecision of the touch. It gets worse when you switch between portrait & Landscape. HP had these issues Solved way back with the TX7410us .... so it should not take much to fix on the surface with an update.

    *TX1410us

  • DW1
    1 Posts

    WIFI is still awful on RT. Testing side by side with a Windows 7 laptop the throughput is around 1/4 at best of the laptop.

  • soder
    1 Posts

    I am not sure if anybody from the relevant team (read: the surface blog team) will comment on this, but some of my feedbacks regarding this:

    1) do these monthly FW updates require the touch/type cover to be attached to the tablet, and actually be in "active mode" (and not inactivise via folding it to the back of the tablet) in order for the keyboard-related fixes to be applied 100% ? I heard somewhere -it may be a completely stupid and inaccurate statement actually- that the touch/type covers have their own firmware as well, so these need to be updated as well. Wonder if that's true or false?

    2) I would be very carefully with the involvement of the "del" key in any activities other then the "Delete files / Delete items". What happens if I want to increase the brightness while an important files is currently selected, but for some reason the Fn keypress is not detected correctly, and the tablet issues an unfortunate DELETE activity?

    3) Can we expect the camera fix for the RT as well?

  • Love my Surface RT, but thus far unable to get the June 2013 update to work as "advertised" with my Type cover -- my interest is in the brightness controls. Fn + Del / Fn + Backspace seem to have no effect.

  • BWHerman
    1 Posts

    My two biggest concerns right now are with the "Swipe to go Back" on IE10 Metro having to reload every time (really annoying), and the fact that links in IE10 Metro take sometimes 3 to 4 "clicks" or "taps" to queue them up.  I don't have this second problem when I use the pointer on my Touch Cover.  It is only when I am using as a tablet.  Not really happy with the performance of IE in Metro so far.  Honestly, I haven't really used it in desktop mode, but that's a confusing annoyance as well to have two different versions of the same browser on one device.

    Lmkz
    1 Posts

    Totally agree, the "reload on back" thing in IE drives me nuts. It wouldn't be quite so bad if it didn't completely lock the page so you can't scroll/click while it's reloading... Do a reload in Chrome and you can still interact with the page while it loads, this should be default behaviour.

    The other thing that irritates me about IE10 is that a page will occasionally half crash, which means touch scroll and resize stop working, but it is otherwise OK. Reload doesn't fix, have to close page and reopen.

    In general though I am very happy with my Surface RT (when I can get it off the kids playing Angry Birds Star Wars).

  • Ian Dixon
    7 Posts

    I love my Surface RT but I still have issues with "limited connectivity" from time to time.

    On our podcast this week we talked about a issues with the volume fading in and out at levels bellow 10. Is this a known issue?

    thedigitallifestyle.com/.../the-digital-lifestyle-show-405-mac-pedal-bin

  • P40L0
    2 Posts

    Hello Surface Team!

    The latest May and June Updates were great for my Surface RT!

    Although some old and new issues are still present, and I would like to report them with some new suggestions too.

    Well, let's start:

    -When I switch between open apps and I'm listening to music or audio (Music app, or Others) the sound lags and crackles for seconds before going back to normal. Many times it happens when launching intensive CPU apps like Office, and it's very annoying: please fix that;

    -After waking from Standby (after many hours) the screen fickers with horizontal black bars before going back to the normal Lockscreen. Very ugly thing to see: please fix that too;

    -Many 3D games performance are not so solid, please improve the 3D drivers and its performance;

    -I noticed that the SoC inside the Surface RT, the NVIDIA Tegra 3, is using only 4 of the 5 Cores of the SoC, and having the 5th companion core Disabled, and not only that: all the four cores are "downclocked" compared to the official Tegra 3 Specs. Please, take advantage of the full Tegra 3 capabilities (5th Core and Full Clock speeds), cause Surface RT, despite is already pretty good, needs to be faster and snappier;

    -Going to Previous Page in IE10 Metro reload it and fade it for too many seconds: please, stop reloading it and just let it to be loaded back directly from the offline cache, for a faster and more fluid navigation;

    -Please, support WebGL APIs in IE;

    -Please, don't block "Torrent Clients" from the Store: they are really useful even outside the piracy area, and are totally Legal. Torrex is vry good indeed;

    -Please, make a valid "Windows Movie Maker" alternative for Windows RT. It really misses a basic video editing tool, and it cannot miss it considering the Surface "producivity" feaures;

    -Please, improve "File History" including in its backups even all the System and Apps settings and personalisation (even the most advanced, like the Registry and Servicies ones), so that we can Backup and Restore the Surface even more easily. Or even better: create a "Skydrive Full Settings Backup"!

    -Upgrade Office and Outlook 2013 to be Fully Metro;

    -Hurry up with Windows 8.1 RT Finale release... :)

    That's all for now.

    And despite all of that, I still consider my Surface RT the best Tablet ever made, and even my best Laptop too, in one single device.

    Keep up the great work!

    And Thank You.

    -Paolo

    soder
    2 Posts

    For all of your "Please support this" or "Please fix that" points there is no need to comment, none of them will be implemented.

    Regarding the 4+1 core Nvidia Tegra3 architecture: it seems this was a mistake or appears to be a dead end due to Microsoft simply ignored to support the +1 extra core, so Nvidia had to deliver the SoC with the +1 core to be disabled for any Windows RT-installed devices. Check the Nvidia product description for Tegra 3 (www.nvidia.com/.../tegra-3-processor.html). Tegra 4 still supports the extra core, but have no doubts, MS still wont support it. Thats how things are flushed down on the toilet, sad but true.

    P40L0
    2 Posts

    I really don't think any of that points

    will be ignored instead (Torrex, a RT torrent client, is already on the Store; a basic video editing app was leaked in Preview build of 8.1, same thing for a Skydrive/Account full system settings backup (with settimgs of new supported Apps included). So, still hoping for the full Tegra3 4+1 Cores support, and the performance improvements.. ;)

  • sklein382
    1 Posts

    Any chance you are working on volume for Surface Pro? Speakers are ok, but I find that at full volume my headset is not loud enough to hear over engines on planes.

  • tarcizo
    1 Posts

    I only miss the insert key. It would be possible in a further update?

    Other thing is when surface came back from sleep, takes some time to be in the network again, making apps like mail or IE to crash if you try to use them before network is reestablished.

    Thanks

  • GeffK
    2 Posts

    Hi Surface people. Put some i7 Haswell with Iris GPU and more Storage. Than I'm buying 3!

    Or at least any Haswell and more Storage