Stuff that works :: Microsoft Surface Pro

by Volker Weber


It has been more than half a year since I started using a Surface Pro 4 with i7/8GB/256 GB. At the time I was using a Surface 3 with Atom X7/4GB/128GB for travel, but most of my work was done on a MacBook Pro. Surface Pro 4 changed that equation.

Surface Pro 4 is a vastly more powerful machine than Surface 3. Since I have only very light workloads, I did not expect this to make much of a difference, but it did. Surface Pro never felt any less powerful than the MacBook Pro. The other really big difference was the keyboard/trackpad. You can't really go from a MacBook Pro trackpad to a PC trackpad. What I had on Surface 3 was barely usable, and the keyboard was a bit too small. The Alcantara-clad Signature keyboard cover on the Surface Pro changed all that. Not only were both the keyboard and the trackpad excellent, but the fabric around the actual keys felt so much friendlier than aluminium.

Now that the hardware was more than sufficient for my use, everything depended on the software. I am an Office 365 user, I have mail accounts on Gmail and, I use the Microsoft and Google cloud, and I have used both Windows and MacOS extensively. I cannot live with Windows 7, which feels last century, I did like Windows 8 somewhat, but I became a Windows 10 fan ever since Microsoft added extensive ink support to it. Apple will be catching up with iOS 11, but obviously not on MacOS.

The main reason that I like Surface Pro so much is that I don't have to worry about file sync. With my Mac/iPad combination I had to go into Good Reader and first sync the PDF files from my OneDrive account before I could read them. With Surface Pro I just rip off the keyboard and turn in into a tablet. I can grab the pen to annotate a screenshot or take notes in OneNote, which I could not easily do on a MacBook.

Not everything is perfect. I have not found an inexpensive photo editor like Pixelmator on Windows 10. There isn't really a blog editor like Marsedit that works with my ancient CMS. The MacBook or the iPad haven't retired, but most of the time I just grab the Surface Pro.

If I needed to replace the Surface Pro 4 I have, I would want a Surface Pro i5/8/256, because it is fanless. I hardly ever hear my SP4 fan, but occasionally I do. I would not want the Surface Notebook, since it cannot be used as a tablet. And I also would not opt for the Surface Book, because it is just too much and I cannot utilize its power. The clipboard is very light, but it only has a small battery and no kickstand. Surface Pro is the best design for my use. Your mileage may vary.

Could I drop the Surface and go back to the Mac? Yes, in a split second. I love them both.


How do you organize the live fotos from the iPhone? On a Windows 7 machine there are always two files when I import the fotos from the phone. And that's annoying. Does that changed witch Win 10?

Karl Heindel, 2017-07-09 21:05

I don't.

I don't use live photos, since they they impact low light perfomance, take up more space and don't add anything to my photos.

I don't import photos. The are automatically uploaded to Google Photos and OneDrive.

Actually I don't do any file management at all. I create, I store, the cloud takes care of everything else.

Volker Weber, 2017-07-09 21:12

Volker Affinity Photo might be worth a look as photo editor.
It is available on Windows, OS X and iOS. The file format is the same between the platforms.

Tobias Hauser, 2017-07-09 22:28

Little correction: Surface 3 has no m3 but Atom x7-Z8700.

Christoph Spitz, 2017-07-10 09:48

A recent review in the newest c't complains about the quality of the Surface Book. I am a bit puzzled (since I never touched a MS machine): is the Surface Book the same machine you are talking about?

Axel Koerv, 2017-07-10 10:10

Christoph, thanks. Corrected.

Axel, der Erfahrungsbericht von Clemens Gleich? Ja, das ist das Surface Book. Habe ich selbst nie benutzt aber in der Hand gehabt, ohne dass mir diese (zu großen?) Toleranzen aufgefallen wären. Beim Surface Pro habe ich null-komma-gar-keine Mängel.

Volker Weber, 2017-07-10 10:18

Have you tried for photo-editing to use the solution from Polarr? (paid version) (free version)

Frank van Rijt, 2017-07-10 16:10

I've got both last year's MacBook Pro AND the Surface Book 4.

The Apple is much more forgiving of imprecise finger placement.

Trying to compose an email in Windows Outlook on Office 365 is an exercise in repeated cursor jumps, re-choosing where to edit, etc.

The sensitivity settings for the touchpad are at the lowest already.
It is as though hovering a finger over the touchpad triggers some event.

I got the Book for the tablet mode. I do produce a blog from it - .

If Windows had classes like Apple does, I would be there.

Any advice here would be great !

Joseph O'Laughlin

Joseph O'Laughlin, 2017-07-11 01:05

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I explain difficult concepts in simple ways. For free, and for money. Clue procurement and bullshit detection.


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