Microsoft Surface Pro 4 :: Seven+ weeks in

by Volker Weber


I owe you a short update on Surface Pro 4. It's currently the only computer I use. I need to recharge it twice a day and it lasts about six to seven hours on a charge. Love the Signature keyboard and trackpad. It's not a compromise and the Alcantara palm rest feels so much better than an aluminium body. I clean it up once a week with some soap and it has not turned gross in any way.


I run Windows 10 in Tablet Mode most of the time. That means all apps run fullscreen without any chrome around them. I have a few Win32 apps like Sonos, Filezilla or Blogdesk, but the majority of apps are from the store. There are only a few workflows still on the MacBook that I need to pull over. Documents are in the cloud so I can switch back and forth in a second.

Overall I consider this a full success. I could do everything on Windows 10 now. And I did not have any WaaH moments in a long while.


The Surface Pro 4 is an awesome device and i assume my i5 has better battery run time. A day of use is no problem. What's holding me back to ditch my MacBook Pro is Apple's photo management: OneDrive etc. is nowhere near to this solution. Volker, what are you using for photo management?

Ralph Inselsbacher, 2017-02-12 17:34

Google Photos is awesome.

Volker Weber, 2017-02-12 17:35

Volker, your experience is very interesting, because mine is exactly vice versa. Although I have MacBook Pro (2016) and Surface 4 Pro standing side-by-side on my desk, "real" (efficient) work is only done on the Mac side. I have also moved all my work over to Office 365 last year. What may be different in my work pattern and is leading to advantage Mac (for me):

1. perfect keyboard, touch pad and screen (I am not using the Touch Bar a lot, but can not live without moving fast between full screens just by a pad gesture)
2. stability and efficiency of basic OS tasks (file, windows and app handling)
3. No work interruption because of very slowly installing OS updates
4. stability of Office 2016 apps (I am not using the mobile ones on Windows ...)
5. all the "terminal" stuff of a Unix system by hand, still easy Remote Desktop to datacenter Windows servers
6. FinalCut Pro :-)
7. Visio runs in Fusion very well (1.)

And yes, I love the feeling of aluminium and a very quiet machine.

Why I still have the Surface on my desk? It's part of my job to know it's world and capabilities. It plays well with Surface Hub without the need of an additional Apple TV...

And yes, sometimes I touch the Mac screen, but nothing happens.

Peter Meuser, 2017-02-12 22:08

@peter - you may be like me, where you prefer more of a laptop that can be a tablet vs a tablet that can be a laptop. Have you looked at the Surface Book? Among other things, the batter life is awesome as it has two batteries - one in the base & one in the tablet.

Volker - I'm trying to figure out which apps you use based on the screenshots. Maybe an article some time about that? There's a couple you've mentioned as one offs, but there's a few icons on there I don't recognize.

Amy Blumenfield, 2017-02-12 22:23

I can spell them out for you. The right block might be confusing.

First row are three German TV channels: ARD, ZDF, arte.
Second row is VLC, Nebo and Xodo, all from the store.
Third row is Slack, Drawboard and Fotor.
Fourth row is Justwrite, Q10 and Cliqz.

Justwrite and Q10 are simple text editors, Cliqz is a Firefox browser with privacy extensions.

The tiny icons on the middle block are Explorer, Sonos, Blogdesk and Filezilla. The big ones are Flipboard, NextGen Reader UWP (my favorite of all), Weather, Instagram, Twitter and Poki.

Any more questions?

Volker Weber, 2017-02-12 22:33

I wonder how a developer workflow would compare between the Surface and a MacBook. A flow where you have a lot of command line (webpack, npm, gulp, Ng, cf, docker, mvn, Travis) and tools like Gimp, Visual Studio Code, Sublime, Eclipse, Balsamic.

Stephan H. Wissel, 2017-02-13 01:15

Stephan, as a developer you might prefer a big (external?) screen. Here I see see no advantage of the small, pen aware Surface, do you?

Amy, yes tried Surface Book (after) the new MacBook. Two issues for me:

1. Windows 10
2. Keyboard

Peter Meuser, 2017-02-13 05:56

Stephan, most developers I know can easily go back and forth between Windows 10 and Linux, but not Windows and Mac. Reason: the keyboard is too different. Windows has all the tools by now. Also see:

Volker Weber, 2017-02-13 10:00

Thank you, Volker, for inspiring me to finally start using my Surface 3 in Tablet Mode which I have rarely done so far mainly because I am still using Windows 7 at work. This one screenshot gave me the necessary nudge to try some of the apps and it has been a great experience so far. Thanks!

Jochen Kattoll, 2017-02-13 11:19

There are a few gestures you need to learn. Swipe from the left to switch programs. Swipe from the top to reveal the window header. Swipe from the bottom to get the taskbar and from the right for notifications. Swipe all the way from the top to the bottom to close a program. Swipe from the top and then to the side to dock a program in split screen mode.

Volker Weber, 2017-02-13 11:22

I knew most of them already, as a BB10 user I am a good swiper :) I learned most of them by coincidence/intuitively but top to bottom to close was new to me, thanks. And I do love the pen, absolutely fantastic.

Jochen Kattoll, 2017-02-13 14:48

Additional gestures for Surface precision trackpad that I knew:
- use 2 fingers to scroll
- use 2 fingers to zoom like on smartphone
- swipe 3 fingers upwards - list of opened windows
- swipe 3 fingers downwards - minimise all windows
- swipe 3 fingers left or right - switch between opened windows
- tap trackpad with 3/4 fingers- start Cortana

Anan Venasakulchai, 2017-02-13 17:12

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