I am Panos Panay with the Surface Windows 8 Pro Engineering Team AMAA.
Hi, I am Panos Panay, Corporate Vice President at Microsoft working on Surface. We hosted a reddit chat on Surface RT back in October and I’m here with my team again today from 9:30-11:30am PST, to chat about Surface Windows 8 Pro. You may have questions about Windows 8, Microsoft, or other Microsoft products and I may not be the best person to answer those, but my team and I will try to answer every Surface question I can over the course of the 2 hours. This post can be verified here: http://twitter.com/panos_panay, http://twitter.com/surface and facebook.com/surface
EDIT: Battery life: http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/18063g/i_am_panos_panay_with_the_surface_windows_8_pro/c8ae355 The product was designed to take full advantage of Windows 8 coupled with the Ivy Bridge core processor from Intel. We created a product that did not compromise speed, performance in any way. With that, we wanted to be the best notebook/laptop product in its class, but still deliver you the tablet form factor. This product is optimized in every way to take advantage of the full third generation core i5 it runs, yet give the best battery life. If you compare it to say a MacBook Air, you will quickly see that pound for pound in battery size vs battery life, you will find optimizations that puts Surface best in its class. That said we picked a smaller battery to be sure we were able to give you the same performance and to keep it thin. This kept the weight under 2lbs, and still kept it thin enough to take advantage of our great Windows work for inking and give you a great inking experience (like pressure sensitive inking, ability to do kanji, great sketching). While these tradeoffs are challenges as much as they are opportunities, we think given the performance and experience you will be getting, it is an exciting product.
EDIT UPDATE: Storage Space and Pro 64gb model http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/18063g/i_am_panos_panay_with_the_surface_windows_8_pro/c8ae60l We designed Surface Pro (and the allocation of disk space on our systems) to have the power of full Windows 8, the ability to have a simplified and fast upgrade to full Office and the confidence of a recovery image already available on your device. Beyond the flexibility and confidence this provides, we also include an ability to extend your storage via microSDXC, USB 3.0 and SkyDrive (including 7GB of free storage). Initial reports out regarding available disk space were conservative (eg. 23GB available on 64GB and 83GB available on the 128GB system), however our final production units are coming in with ~6-7GB additional free space.
Available disk space is a design choice and a tough one to make as an engineering team. It is a clear set of tradeoffs to provide the customer more space while providing them the tools out of the box. We created a simple disk image with only a few critical applications out of the box installed to provide choice. There has also been questions about why including the recovery image by default. Ideally, you will never need your recovery image, however this is a choice we would prefer the customer to make vs. having the customer need the recovery image not realizing they needed to create one themselves. Marc DesCamp
We decided to ship a Pro 64GB sku as it provides full windows 8 and enough storage for a number of large application installs such as games, productivity apps etc. which usually run in the multiple GBs. It also provides you flexibility to extend storage should you need. If you plan to carry more personal items with you locally, our 128GB may be the better option for you.
The Windows team is aggressively working on this feature to fix this for all high resolution Windows devices. We don’t have a date yet to share, so sorry. But in the meantime here are some things I do to maximize my external monitor experience..
- I personally use 125% scaling.. and like that better for what I use Surface Pro for… see more things on the screen.. and the size of the text suits me just fine.
- Next I make sure my Second Screen is set to Extended mode.
- Then I adjust my Office apps using the built in zoom control (lower right of office apps) to set the desired text size. In Windows 8 the Desktop can be thrown on your second monitor and operate all your office apps... nice.
- For Outlook if I have on my second monitor I switch Outlook into mouse mode.
- Also in Outlook you can change your Zoom Setting in new message (compose window under zoom).. and it will also persist (which is nice).
- In IE desktop.. same thing.. the zoom persists on the desktop.. And I use IE 10 desktop in desktop mode.. and the touch version of IE10 on my Surface modern screen.
- You can also change the width of the cursor under Ease of Access.
- Also… not a must but, if you use a high resolution external monitor it also help a lot.
For the Surface Pro....is the boot loader unlocked? Can I do what I want with my (potential) property? Or am I locked in to Windows 8?
Like other Windows 8 machines, you can access BIOS settings and turn off secure boot, enabling you to load other OSes.
This needs to be advertised heavily! A top if the line tablet that can run Linux would be a killer for the tech and IT crowd!
May have just sold me one.
Why no docking station?? You're so close to full desktop replacement here!
Hey, this is Andrew Hill, I lead the Mechanical team. The docking connection is a great question; I have been using my pre-production unit as my main machine for a while now. When I am at my desk I plug in a Mini Displayport and a USB cable and go to work. Others among us take advantage of docking station solutions that are available to drive displays over USB3.
You mean you plug in mini-DisplayPort, USB 3.0, and the power cord to go to work, don't you?
Surely you can see how for future revisions, a single docking connector to provide all of those in one cord would be much better?
Hey, Ralf here. I use Solid Works and other CAD software on my Pro. I basically walk up to my monitor and plug the mini display port cable into my device and go to work. Surface is meant to be a super mobile note pad style tablet so we basically built our dock right into the product. Today you can attach different keyboards and find your style of color and typing, but this is not where it will stop. If you look at the Surface Pro connector you will notice additional contacts that provide opportunity for more cool things to attach.
We're looking at Windows 8 tablets to replace the laptop / iPad combo for our sales team. We currently have the Dell Lattitude 10 Tablet and the Lenovo Think Pad Tablet 2. Id like to test out a Surface Pro because of the more powerful processor and more memory, however, the Surface doesn't have a docking station like two previously mentioned tablets do. I fear that this will be the sole reason for us choosing a different tablet to go with. People don't want to sit at their desk, plug in the power, their usb dongle for a keyboard and mouse, and a cable for their monitor. They want to sit the device down in a dock and go. I get the whole touch / type cover being the dock and all, but I think you're really holding your product back by not offering a dock for enterprise customers. 2 USB ports, Ethernet, HDMI, Power, and I'll be sold. Even charge $200 for the thing; we'll buy it.
There are a couple of decent USB3 docks on the market that simplify cable management to your monitor, USB accessories, and audio devices. So two cable connections (USB3 and power) on SurfacePro does the trick.
So many questions...but I guess my biggest one is why (now that its almost out) was there a 3 month gap between the surface RT and surface pro? Since it looks like you guys didn't get any super early access to haswell chips (or any other tech), I'm not sure what the reason was behind the delay.
This is simple. We started the Pro 3 months after we started Surface RT :-) That is exactly when we staffed the team to go and bring this product to life!
Hello, I am very curious why you decided "hey, let's charge separately for the keyboard that we advertise every Surface commercial with". At about $900 just for the Surface, it's kind of ridiculous to spend another charge to make the surface actually be what it's advertised as. Why didn't you just do clever marketing and just say "Oh the Surface costs $999" with the keyboard included. People would never really think the keyboard is what's driving the cost up.
People would never really think the keyboard is what's driving the cost up.
Right, they wouldn't care, they would just say 'screw this, a thousand bucks is too expensive!' Microsoft would be way smarter to just eat some extra cost and bundle the whole thing -- this thing that they're advertising -- at $900. The keyboard would be a great differentiator (at least one other person in this thread is asking how MSFT intends to compete against iPad and other tablets).
It is an interesting discussion. When we launched Surface RT, we included the keyboard. Customer feedback then came through strongly that people want to choose - whether its color or Touch vs Type cover. While the Cover is an important part of the whole story, we believe customer choice is too and want to provide both.
Thanks for doing this AMA. My question is, why did Microsoft not work at improving the battery life of the Pro? Reviews put it between 4 to 5 hours of battery life, which is much lower than competitors. Surely something could have been done?
Side question: Can we ever expect a 3G/4G Surface RT and/or Surface Pro?
Awesome question. The product was designed to take full advantage of Windows 8 coupled with the Ivy Bridge core processor from Intel. We created a product that did not compromise speed, performance in any way. With that, we wanted to be the best notebook/laptop product in its class, but still deliver you the tablet form factor. This product is optimized in every way to take advantage of the full third generation core i5 it runs, yet give the best battery life. If you compare it to say a MacBook Air, you will quickly see that pound for pound in battery size vs battery life, you will find optimizations that puts Surface best in its class.
That said we picked a smaller battery to be sure we were able to give you the same performance and to keep it thin. This kept the weight under 2lbs, and still kept it thin enough to take advantage of our great Windows work for inking and give you a great inking experience (like pressure sensitive inking, ability to do kanji, great sketching). While these tradeoffs are challenges as much as they are opportunities, we think given the performance and experience you will be getting, it is an exciting product.
Is this technology included in the Pro? If not, why not?
Hey, this is StevieB, I manage the Applied Sciences Group that did this research. In some ways some of this technology did make its way into Surface and Windows 8, and in other ways the industry has a ways to go. The demo you are seeing is a research prototype we developed to understand touch and graphics latency. It is meant to ask questions such as what level of latency is perceivable to the user. The research demo does not contain a full engineering solution which is productizable yet.. for example we used a projector that can project at 30Khz.. not really something you can carry around…. However, two things that got tech-transferred into this generation of products.. The first is that we understand the impact of latency on the user experience … the lower the latency of the system, the faster you get your work done.. even 10ms makes a difference. So, one of the things we focused on in Windows 8, was touch latency.. The whole system is tuned to deliver one of the fastest touch to graphical responses… we reduced the latency of all Windows 8 touch controllers to be below 12ms, and Windows 8 optimized the input thread to be the highest priority. The result.. buttery smooth touch input that makes the graphics almost stick to your finger… (just compare Surface side by side to other tablets/phones).. I am super happy on where we have gotten with latency.. Industry leading.. and the beauty is because of research we know how much we should keep going .. Finally the second part which got tech transferred was digitizer tech used in the research demo in that video.. the superfast pressure sensitive digitizer made its way into touchcover, the superfast keys (1khz) on touchcover is how we can do key/tap detection and allow users to home keys without accidentally typing. It is an exciting technology platform here...
Have you performance tested for graphical and engineering type applications? If so is the hardware acceptable for software like SketchUp, AutoCAD, Photoshop, etc?
Hey; Andrew here. First chance we had we installed our cad software on prototypes. It was meta-cool to have the 3D models of the device up on the screen of the device. I am excited to start using the device as I travel to have models to review with vendors without having to pack my monster laptop. Also; using the pen to redline drawings is cool.
I have a Windows 7 PC at home. I play games and watch media just like most people. Why do I need a Surface?
If you're looking for an all-day battery and an entertainment-first experience with the ability to still get some work done – Surface RT is for you. If you want a powerful PC that gets work done with the flexibility of a tablet, then Surface Pro is your device.
Does Microsoft have any plans for an external battery or for a thicker keyboard cover that has an extra battery?
Or, if I want an external battery brick, is there a third party one I can buy that can be used with the surface.
That would require extending the design of the accessory spine to include some way to transfer higher current between the peripheral and the main battery. Which we did...
What are the new connectors on the bottom of the Surface Pro for?
Wow - I'm pumped you caught that - we haven't announced what they are for but they aren't an accident! At launch we talked about the "accessory spine" and hinted at future peripherals that can click in and do more. Those connectors look like can carry more current than the pogo pins, don't they?
These are some questions from /r/surface that I remember people asking (I know its a lot, but I think they will be common questions here):
What are the extra connections on the bottom of the Pro that aren't on the RT? Is it for new docks or maybe something that will extend the battery kife?
I don't see battery life as an issue. As a student, there's an outlet at every desk and table on campus, but how long do you usually get out of the battery?
Can I bundle a type cover instead of a touch? I like black, but I'm sure people want more colors, are those coming?
Is there a Surface phone, larger tablet, or any other Surface device coming?
What will pricing be like in the UK and any word on a release date?
That's all I can remember. Thank you very much.
We will sell Surface Pro without a cover to allow customers to select the color or style cover of their choice. We are releasing a set of Limited Edition touch covers starting in February and will continue to evolve Limited Editions to give customers more choices and options for colors across our colors in the future.
Pricing and release information for Surface Pro in the UK will be coming soon.
What additional pressure can MS put on partners like Twitter, Flixster, and others to create more robust Win 8 apps? I would love to see more partners take the approach of Major League Soccer, who have built a very functional app that is also a thing of beauty to use on the Surface and on desktops.
Also how soon can we expect fixes for some of the wifi issues with the RT version, as well as continued issues with xbox music?
At Windows 8 launch we talked about the Store as a "grand opening" because even though we felt great about the day 1 app selection we knew we were just getting started. In the last 2 months we have seen over 100M app downloads and since GA we have seen the selection grow by 4 times over. I think we added 10K apps in the last month. Those are all big numbers but don't exactly address your question about what we are doing with the top ecosystem partners to make high quality, in depth apps. Our relationships with each of these partners is unique and in some cases we are supplying test hardware, engineering support or other kinds of support to help.
Thanks for asking this - Windows 8 introduced a lot of change from the UX to the app model to the store. Of course that all started with an expansion of the platforms we run on to include ARM. When we designed the new Windows runtime (WinRT) we designed it to be cross platform so new Windows 8 apps could run on both X86 and ARM platforms. Windows RT is what we called the version of Windows that runs on ARM because it is compatible with WinRT apps. You're asking a more general question and we haven't faced having to explain a range of platforms since the introduction of Windows NT and will keep investing in driving clarity.
why the decision to go with the displayport output instead of full hdmi? How will you continue to convince developers to create Windows Store applications of their existing x86 software while still selling this product? what is the incentive, for example, of spotify to design a Windows Store application when their existing software will technically work on this hardware? Their x86 application works well for traditional types of computing (mouse/keyboard), how do you get them to embrace new forms of input (this is basically saying: I don't want to use mouse/keyboard applications on tablets, how do you incentivize them to use a tablet optimized UI)?
Hi, this is Ed from the hardware development team. Displayport on Pro can drive an external monitor with resolutions up to 2560x1600p. We wanted to give the most flexibility with monitors available today, and generally speaking most HDMI monitors are limited to 1080p.
FYI HDMI has supported 2560x1600 since 1.3
True, but it is difficult to find HDMI monitors with vertical resolution beyond 1080p.
Hello Microsoft team. I have a couple questions for you guys, hope you can answer all of them! I have been following the Surface since it was announced and I really wish you guys the best of luck and I want you to succeed!
Where the heck is all the available space on the Pro models? Specifically the 64gb model. Can we just reinstall Win8 via USB and reclaim all the used space by the recovery partition and whatever else is eating the space?
The battery life is a major concern. Can you explain why the battery life is so low?
How come there is no stylus holder like the RT model?
The quality of the cameras, was there any improvement whatsoever compared to the RT model?
Can you explain the reasoning to only sell both models with 4GB RAM? I'm sure people would like 4/8/16GB options.
Just a side note that Engadget pointed out in regards to switching text size between the default 150% and changing it:
If you could quickly jump between the two that might not be so bad, but from the desktop it's five taps and swipes into the Control Panel just to get to this setting and, when you change it, Windows forces you to log out of the computer -- thus closing all your currently running apps
This should be addressed and make it a much easier experience to switch between both, IMO.
Thanks for reading!
Hi, this is Marc DesCamp from the Surface team.
Regarding your question on differences between RT and the Pro unit, lets start with what's the same, the resolution.
However, we did make improvements camera/video; we choose a new sensor to improve low light performance, a different ISP for video noise suppression (cleaner video) and included the True Color software feature. True Color analyzes the video stream to adjust gain, frames per second and integration time to improve the quality of the video stream you see especially in challenging lighting scenarios such as backlighting.
Marc here. The cameras on RT and Pro both stream 720p.
What's the coolest thing you've seen the Surface used for?
What is the coolest thing you can imagine the Surface being used for in the near future?
Hey this is StevieB.. Surface Pro is a unique tablet.. in that it offers 4 modes of input in a compact form factor. It has touch, because of Touch/Typecover you have a mouse and keyboard which is built in to your screen cover, and now you have a digital Pen. So the combination is unique in that you have something the size of a tablet but the power and productivity of a laptop. I see people around here use Surface Pro as their main machine.. switching from reading an ebook in their hands, running Outlook, and flipping it to the desk and running a full version of PhotoShop. I just loaded photoshop the other day.. and boy it loaded fast.. faster than my desktop. I was like ya baby .. so Surface Pro has the power when you need, but throttles down heavily when you don’t need it so that you can carry it around.. pound for pound it is the fastest most portable device out there..
The Surface Pro has the Micro-SDcard slot but if I can not configure my libraries with the SD card it has become less useful. This may be a question for the Windows team but would there be something to easily allow Libraries to be used with SD Cards. An even better solution would be what the Windows Phone team is doing with the SD card.
That's a good point - we will fix that
I'm seriously considering buying a Surface Pro to use as a more portable laptop, but the high price puts me off. Can you justify the price relative to all of your competitors' tablets (Asus, Apple, Samsung, etc)?
Surface Pro is perfect for the person that wants a MacBook Air and an iPad, but doesn’t want the weight or hassle of both devices. We didn’t skimp on the performance you need to run a business but gave it to you in a very portable package.
My company is planning to use Surface Pro as a "smart display" for our current locomotive data logging box so we're excited to get our hands on one! We prefer using COTS computers and we liked RT's build quality and I've been slaving away at a "Windows Store" app so here's to a successful launch!
A couple of questions though:
- Why no stylus silo/even some sort of clip?
- Haswell or even the 7w i7s in the future?
- Why no GPS or built in GSM/LTE?
Hey, this is Ralf. We designed the Surface Pro pen like a normal pen. We wanted the user experience to be close to a regular note book. It has a clip and it can be carried clipped to the cover or carried with your other pens. We also made the button of the pen magnetic so you can clip it onto the side of your Surface, into the power dock. This way it stores easily without making the device bigger.
Did you survive TDD Dojo?
Yes, thanks for asking.
I am wondering if MS has considered some type of trade in/buy back program for those who picked up the RT version of Surface but find themselves needing just a bit more machine?
No, there is no hardware trade-in or upgrade program at this time. We are confident people will love the devices they purchase but if there are any issues that arise we have a 14 day in-store return policy and a 30 day online store return policy.
From /r/Surface :
- Will the touch covers ever come in more colors?
- Why don't the type covers come in colors?
- What are the 4 extra contacts on the bottom of the Surface Pro for?
- Will there be a dock with extra battery life for the Surface?
- Will you be making a Surface Phone, Surface laptop, or Surface 8 inch tablet?
- Yes, more colors soon
- They likely will over time....
- You can guess on the contacts.. but it is related to the future :-)
- Great suggestion :-)
- Don't know
Will the hard drive be able to be upgraded past the 128gb stock drive? By the way I will be picking mine up this weekend.
Hi, this is Ed on the development team. The internal solid state drive built into Surface is not accessible for upgrade. However, the recessed micro SD memory card slot gives you unlimited memory expandability. The SDXC slot supports the highest performance SDXC memory cards.
What is the work environment at Microsoft like? What kind of people do you work with on the Surface team? Why is your name so Greek?
work environment at Microsoft kicks ass. We go full speed and believe in the products we are building. The Surface team specifically has the opportunity to bring experiences to customers that help people get more done everyday. That is crazy motivating for our team.
My name is so Greek, because my family is from Cyprus
Wait, so will this run League of Legends, or not?
Surface Pro is compatible with millions of existing games for Windows.
Why doesn't the keyboard just come with it? It seems like a real dick move on the part of Microsoft.
Through the launch of Surface RT we had consistent feedback from our customers that choice is important. Some customers prefer color Touch Covers, others prefer a Type Cover. For the same reason we are now introducing a 64GB standalone for RT, we will sell Pro without a keyboard and allow customers to choose what suits their style.
Is the Surface Pro going to be available at retailers other than the MS stores, or is a full release going to be delayed like the RT was?
Yes. It will be available at Staples and Best Buy in the US and Best Buy and Future Shop in Canada. We will have more to share on additional expansion in the future.
Surface Pro will be available with all of our current retail partners at launch, including Microsoft Stores, Best Buy, and Staples in the US.
when will wifi issues on surface be fixed? I have to disconnect and reconnect to wifi networks routinely...
Wifi connection robustness has been improved with the Feb 12 Windows Update. Another version is in the works and will release Mar 12
Visual Studios 2012 Question. You say the Surface Pro is full Windows 8. Can I put Visual Studios on the Surface Pro along with the Windows SDK and write C++/C# Windows Desktop applications? Any limitations to this? Also, does the surface have 32bit or 64bit Windows 8?
Yes totally.. no limitations relative to any other Laptop/desktop Windows 8 machine. Surface pro is fast, so it handles these developer tools nicely. It is 64 bit.
Did you guys improve the speakers over the RT Surface?
Yes, the speakers are different in Pro. They are higher powered because there is more space in the Pro. At the same time, we are making updates to RT to improve the speaker performance there too.
With regards to the specifications, surface looks decently worse in terms of display than other tablets such as the iPad or the Galaxy tab. However, the surface looks great, and is completely on par with the competition (in most cases). I know a lot of it is based on the software, but can you describe exactly what you guys did to make it look so good?
The visual experience on Surface RT and Surface Pro is super important to us. You can see a full write up here: http://www.microsoft.com/appliedsciences/content/projects/ClearTypeDisplay.aspx
Hi Panos & team. I love the surface, thanks for a great product! What do you wish you could have included but had to remove? Tell us more about the tradeoffs that made this into the product it is today.
Glad you love your Surface. I think we have built a product that gives us the best of laptop performance in the tablet form factor. I think the biggest tradeoff results in thickness vs battery life. Being able to give you a great experience as a tablet form factor, but maintain enough battery life to have a awesome productivity experience is tricky. The opportunity to make the product with speed and feeds that are best in class is exciting. We have given you the best pen performance possible, the product is fast, and the screen is bright and has the highest contrast on market. That said keeping it under 2lbs for comfort reasons and under 13.5 mm of thickness was also critical for you to be able to enjoy the features.
ok i have to ask this, would you rather have 100 surface-sized laptops, or one laptop-sized surface?
Easy, I would take the Surface every time!
Sonic Bids is a company that was started by my first cousin. His name also happens to be Panos Panay. He is a good guy.
Why should I choose a Surface Pro over an Ipad?
For the same reasons you'd choose a MacBook Air over an ipad! Except we're lighter, higher resolution, have a touch screen, four modes of input, thinnest keyboard ever made, digital ink, etc.
Panos: I was the first in NYC to purchase an RT and I shook your and Sinofsky's hand. I'm reading the Union Square event is invite only? I have my Pro preordered at that Best Buy and would love to get it at midnight. Let me know what's up if possible.
Union Square is not invite only - we will be there to see the first Surface Pro sold and hope to see you there!
No invite necessary. I will be at the Union Square Best Buy in NYC at midnight on Friday night. I look forward to shaking your hand again.
Is a new keyboard dock similar to the Thinkpad Helix in the works? If not, has the Surface team given any thought to this type of add-on?
It would fix issues regarding lap use and potentially add battery life.
Thanks for the suggestion, keep them coming. :)
is the Surface Pro have NFC come with it???
No NFC on the product.
For the RT, I'd love to get a 64gb version, but with a non-black cover. Can we see some options in the future for
Touch Cover Included: Select your color
Starting Feb 9, we will offer a 64GB standalone Surface RT to allow customers to pick the color and cover style of their choice.
Thank you very much Panay. I am planning to get the pro on Saturday. I would jut like to know a few things to seal the deal.
Is the volume louder on this than the RT.
Can I use the stylus like a mouse.
Will it be out at best buy on Sunday.
Thanks for the great work on the product.
Yes volume is louder than RT :-). That said, we are also working on a firmware update that will bring more volume to Surface RT devices on market today!!
Yes you can use the stylus as a mouse!
available on Saturday at Best Buy and Staples and Microsoft Store. I will be in NY Friday night to buy mine at the Union Square Best Buy.
As many reviews have pointed out, the Surface Pro has a very high resolution for a 10.6" screen, which has made it so that it is scaled to 150% to be usable on the desktop. Windows 8 doesn't allow you to run independent scaling between the Surface Pro and an external monitor when using an extended display option. I want to keep scaling at 150% on the Surface Pro, and have scaling on my external display at 100%. Are there plans to fix this in Windows 8?
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