Ink support in Windows 10

by Volker Weber


As I was thinking about different 2-in-1 concepts for Windows 10, I could not help but notice how well Windows plays with Surface. Yes, I know, surprise! Microsoft makes both. But there are quite a few things that I would want to do on iPad and simply can't.

Number 1 is the ability to annotate a web page. That's built into the Edge browser. Tap an icon, take your pen and fire away. Not in Safari on iPad Pro. I would have to take a screenshot and then open that in Paper by 53.


Number 2 is the ability to write with your pen instead of using a keyboard. When you are holding your Surface and tap with your finger to open an entry field, it will show a keyboard. But if you tap with the pen, it opens a writing area. And if that thing understands my handwriting, it will certainly understand yours.


And then there is the ink workspace. Tap a small icon and it opens up. Select what you want to do from there. I don't particularly like the stickies. But being able to make a screenshot of the current screen, no matter what's on it, and then being able to annotate that? Sweet. That's number 3. On the iPad Pro I have to do the screenshot + Paper thing explained above.

Number 4: click the pen button and get a blank page in OneNote. Double click it to first select a region on the current screen and import that into OneNote.

And number 5, just to complete the list: you can go to an empty page to doodle on from the ink space. It's just one page, you can easily delete it. Or save your doodle into a file before you hit that delete icon to get a blank page.

That's the stuff, that's built right in by Microsoft. On top of that you get real applications.


Do you have to use the Surface 4 Pro to work with real applications or is the Surface 3 fast and capable enough?

Stefan Dorscht, 2016-09-29

I would recommend the Surface Pro 4, if only for the much better keyboard and trackpad. But I would want the slowest of them, because it has no fan. I don't care for performance at all since my workload hasn't grown in 20 years. I need to do some very light photo editing and I mostly use very lean text editors.

But I would not advocate for the Surface in all workloads. Some people are much better off with traditional notebooks. I do most of my work on Retina MacBook Pro (late 2013).

Volker Weber, 2016-09-29

@Stefan: I would certainly recommend to take both in your hands before you buy one. I have the Surface 3 (4/128 GB which is fast enough for my needs). The Pro 4 was too large and heavy for me to be used as a tablet, and if you don't use it as a tablet, then you might indeed be better off with a notebook anyway. Bear in mind that the Surface 3 is already larger and heavier than the regular iPad (Air 2 or Pro 9.7). So for me the smaller Surface is ideal for travelling and as a tablet, otherwise I use my larger 14'' laptop. I don't need anything in between.

Jochen Kattoll, 2016-09-29

Die Screenshot-Funktion im Ink-Workspace macht auch auf Desktops mit der Maus Laune. Mit einem Grafiktablett lassen sich auch die restlichen Ink-Funktionen sinnvoll nutzen. Einzig das Lineal kriege ich mit meinem Wacom nicht rotiert.

Haiko Hebig, 2016-09-29

Really like this on Surface Hub for meetings. Great tools.

Thomas Mendorf, 2016-09-29

There is one thing that does not properly work on my Surface 3, and that's charging. Most of the times when plugged in the battery status states: "Plugged in, not charging." It would only ever charge when shut down, never when I am working. Which is a huge pain. Anyone any experience with how this can be fixed? Thanks.

Jochen Kattoll, 2016-09-30

I asked because I'm fine with my MacBook Pro.
But the OneNote-Workflow where you can annotate PDFs and Docs with the pencil, search your handwritten notes, ... is great.

Therefore I tried a Lenovo Thinkpad Yoga 260 and sent it back. Too big/heavy, always running fans and the screen was not "pressure resistant", so called "labbrig".

Stefan Dorscht, 2016-09-30

@Volker @Jochen
If I would go with a Surface Pro 4 would you recommend the Core m3 Version (lack of RAM and diskspace) or the i5 with 8GB RAM an 256GB diskspace?

Any infos regarding battery life and running fans especially for these variants?

Stefan Dorscht, 2016-09-30

I would go with the M3 4/128, because that fits MY profile. I don't know about your profile.

How does it fit mine? Very light workload, no need for big storage because I have terabytes of storage on other machines. The M3 needs a lot less power than the i3/5/7 processors. Lower energy consumptions means less heat dissipation, hence no fan. Also, the battery is smaller which evens out the benefit of lower energy needs.

If you need to run virtual machines, if you want to work with videos, if you play games, you need more power. With more power, there is more heat. That means you have fans. And they will run.

I know plenty of people who are really happy with their Surfaces. It's popular amongst students because it supports their workflow. But I know people who have returned their Surface because they could not use it on a train (does not fit on the table with everything extended) nor on airplanes.

Volker Weber, 2016-09-30

Hello Stefan,

I have since 2 weeks now a Pro 4 with the I5/8Gb/256GB. The fan I never heard running so far and it is my daily driver now. What is really cool is "Windows Hello", it unlocks the machine very fast by face-recognition. At first when I read about, it looked more a gimmick to me, but using it now for 2 weeks I love this feature, it works also in the dark (infrared cam) and from about a meter distance.

Battery life: not to shabby for a laptop/pc, but you cannot compare it with an Ipad.

Keyboard: I had a Surface RT (1st gen) a couple of years ago; the keyboard is much better now: backlight if needed, nice keytravel, great trackpad, more robust (no bending while typing).

I'm a happy camper so far.
My daughter has an HP X2 12 2-1 with a Core M3 and to be honest from a cpu perspective for regular Office functions the M3 is more then enough. I don't see any big usage differences.

I bought this edition of the Pro 4 for its 256Gb ssd mainly

Frank van Rijt, 2016-09-30

@Volker, don't you ever get the "Plugged in, not charging" battery status on your Surface 3 when you are working? I checked some forums and it seems to be a common issue, not so much of the hardware but a software problem. None of the proposed solutions worked for me so far. Any idea how to fix it?

Jochen Kattoll, 2016-09-30

Jochen, sorry, saw your question but forgot to answer. No, I am not getting this. But I have an idea:

Surface 3 is the only Surface that charges over MicroUSB 2.0. This does not deliver enough watts to run the device and charge at the same time. Depending on the power supply you are using, the brightness of the display and other factors it may not be able to charge while you are using it.

Volker Weber, 2016-09-30

Thank you, Volker. It's micro USB indeed, not sure how I can change the power supply though? I just use the one that came with the device.

Jochen Kattoll, 2016-09-30

I often charge mine with a 4-port charger when travelling. Microsoft says:

"Your Surface is designed to work best with the included power supply. Using a third-party power supply may result in slow charging."

Rule of thumb. Connect Surface first, then plug in power brick. You can also try any other 2A rated power supply with any microUSB cable to see if there is a problem with your power brick.

Volker Weber, 2016-09-30

Excellent, thank you, Volker, will give it a try. And thanks for the tips about ink support, didn't know all of them. Learning more every day :)

Jochen Kattoll, 2016-09-30

Volker - I am one of those that did not like the Surface profile for lap usage (train, plane, couch, conference chair). which is why I went Lenovo X1 Yoga. Laptop format, that bends to tablet format. and the pen is powered by the laptop and stored - I lost my surface pen twice!

John Head, 2016-10-02

Thinkpad X1 Yoga is the best machine I've seen all year.

Volker Weber, 2016-10-02

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