Weekly Surface News Roundup – October 4th, 2015

Another week has come and gone. As you might expect, with the anticipated Surface Pro 4 announcement happening this Tuesday (October 6th) a lot of the mainstream tech news has been firmly focused on Surface Pro 4 rumors (again or still…).

However, we were able to dig up a couple of news stories from the past week of interest to Surface owners and enthusiasts:

  • Polish Company makes Surface Knockoff
  • SkyWest gives 7500 pilots Surface 3 tablets
  • More Surface Pro 3 Firmware in September

OK, let’s get started…

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Surface News Roundup: Polish Company makes Surface Knockoff

You may not know this, but the Microsoft Surface is not sold in Poland. So, Kruger & Matz took matters into their own hands and created their own version of a Surface.

The Edge 1161 is a weird mix as it looks like the lovechild of the original Surface RT and a Surface Pro 3 offers a Intel Core M power processor and 64GB of internal storage. It does, however, run full-blown Windows 10 and offers USB 3.0 (full sized & mini) and Micro HDMI ports.

For around 1,949,00 zł ($514 USD) it’s not particularly cheap but it does offer a decent kickstand and detachable keyboard cover. The prince does currently include the keyboard cover for the preorders but, only until Tuesday. After that, it’s unclear whether or not if will be included in the price.

Related: Winbeta, Kruger & Matz

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Surface News Roundup: SkyWest gives 7500 pilots Surface 3 tablets

SkyWest, Inc. is deploying Surface 3 tablets to 7,500 pilots at its ExpressJet Airlines and SkyWest Airlines subsidiaries. In addition, The Surface 3 is pre-qualified to make it easier for airlines to get Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) authorization from the FAA and EASA for the tablets.

So, it looks like the Surface 3 will join its big brother in the cockpits of airlines.

Related: Microsoft

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Surface News Roundup: More Surface Pro 3 Firmware in September

In case you missed it, Microsoft released a second firmware update for September last Tuesday (the 29th). This set of firmware, listed as “System Firmware Update – 9/29/2015”, targeted the Surface Pro 3 and included the following updates:

  • Surface Pro System Aggregator Firmware update (v3.9.650.0) improves booting time experience and enhances the system reliability while docked.
  • Wireless Network Controller and Bluetooth driver update (v15.68.9030.41) improves the wireless network connectivity and stability.
  • Surface Integration driver update (v2.0.1209.0) ensures when using a custom power plan that the selected plan will not revert to the default balanced power plan when installing a Windows Update.
  • Microsoft Docking Station Audio Device driver update (v1.31.35.10) improves audio experience when no external speakers are connected to a Surface Pro 3 Docking Station so that Surface Pro 3 internal speakers are used.
  • Management Engine Interface driver update (v11.0.0.1157) improves the system stability.

Related: Microsoft

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And that’s it for now. You can expect a flurry of activity this week once the SP4 gets announced on Tuesday. Remember, you can watch the event live online at 10:00 AM (EDT) Tuesday here: Windows 10 Devices Event. If you don’t feel like watching it yourself, I’ll be doing a live session on the Love My Surface Forum during the webcast so you can join me there starting at 10:00 AM (EDT) Tuesday to share thoughts about the announcement.

Tim

 

Surface 3 Is Plugged In But Not Charging

Many Surface 3 owners have noticed times when their Surface 3 is plugged in but not charging even though the light is on. They most often discover that it didn’t charge in one of two ways:

  • The power icon in the system tray reports “Plugged In, Not Charging” or…
  • They plug it in at night and it has a dead battery in the morning.

Sigh. Really? The light is on, it even knows that it’s plugged in, so why isn’t it charging? Without any clear answers from Microsoft, we started testing to try and figure out what’s going on.

We started by plugging in the charging adapter then connected the Mini-USB cable to the Surface 3 to see if it would start charging properly or if it would give the “Plugged In, Not Charging” status from the power icon in the system tray.

This test was repeated 50 times over the course of two days. The Surface 3 started the tests fully patched as of 9/24/15 with 63% battery charge and was not used for anything else during the testing. Between each test, we shut down and restarted the computer to make sure it wasn’t a running process causing the problem.

We obtained the following results:

  • The Surface 3 started charging correctly: 21 times
  • The Surface 3 did not start charging: 29 times

This means that (during our test run) the Surface 3 only started charging correctly when connected to power 42% of the time!!

We hypothesize that the Surface 3’s charging system has a hard time accepting the power coming from the USB port when it’s first connected because of something weird going on with plug and play support. We suspect the underlying cause is a firmware or driver issue which gives us some hope that it will be corrected by Microsoft in the future.

Surface 3 Is Plugged In But Not Charging: Try This Simple Workaround

If you’re like most people, you leave your charger plugged into the wall and connect your Surface via the Mini-USB cable. Turns out, that may perpetuate the problem.

We discovered (after another series of 25 tests) that if you connect the Surface to the Mini-USB cable FIRST then plug the power adapter into the wall, the Surface 3 starts charging 100% of the time (per our testing). As a bonus, you kill an Energy Vampire at the same time.

We also discovered that if you forget and connect the Mini-USB cable while the power adapter is plugged in, simply unplugging the power adapter and plugging it back in will also cause your Surface to start charging normally.

Based on this, we suspect that having the Mini-USB cable plugged into the Surface 3 first gives plug and play a few moments to figure out that it’s the power adapter before the power starts flowing so it can be ready for it.

While we can’t guarantee this workaround will work in your case, it just might. If it does, your Surface will be charged when you need it. Besides, it’s easy so what are you out trying?

Tim

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Enable God Mode on Surface Tablets

Here is another Quick Tip for you: “god mode”

Since Windows 7, Microsoft has included a little feature called “god mode” (taken from gaming where you could often use a cheat mode called god mode to become invincible – please don’t blame me if you don’t like the name).

If you enable god mode on your Surface, you won’t be invincible but it can be a pretty handy way to easily access various (sometimes hidden) systems settings. As such, this post is essentially for folks who like to make various tweaks to their Surface.

Enable God Mode on Surface Tablets: How To Do It

To create a god mode icon on your desktop, follow these steps:

  • Tap and hold (right-click on the Desktop to bring up the properties menu.

  • Select New Folder and name it exactly as follows: godMode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}

  • The folder should rename itself to godMode and look like the example below:

Once you have a godMode icon, go ahead and open it and you’ll get a long list of settings you can use to tweak various aspects of your Surface.

The procedure above works for both Windows 8.1 and Windows 10. Also, once you’ve made it, you can rename the icon to whatever you want and it will still work. So, if you don’t like the name you can call it something like superMode or adminMode or whatever.

There are a lot of settings and tools on the god mode list, perhaps too many, but the list is searchable (top right corner) to help you find what you’re looking for – cool, eh?

In case you’re wondering, using god mode will not allow you to access settings unless you have permissions to do so. So, it works best if you’re logged in with an administrator account.

Tim

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A Fix for Windows 10 Wi-Fi Issues – Quick Tip

Folks have been reporting some Windows 10 Wi-Fi issues where their device no longer has the ability to connect to a network. It’s almost as if the Wi-Fi card is disabled because you can’t browse or connect to wireless networks.

If this has happened to you, it could be because of a bug in a recent Windows 10 update. Fortunately, there is a fix circulating on the internet that may help you fix it.

Windows 10 Wi-Fi Issues: The Fix

The fix involves deleting a registry key where some bad information about the wireless network is listed. The bad data seems the be the result of a patching process where the registry key is supposed to be deleted after the patch is installed but isn’t.

Fortunately, it’s really easy to remedy:

  • Start an Administrative Command Prompt by performing a tap and hold (right-click) on the Start button then selecting Command Prompt (Admin) from the choices.
  • Enter the following command into the command prompt (no quotes) “reg delete HKCR\CLSID\{988248f3-a1ad-49bf-9170-676cbbc36ba3} /va /f”. If you get an error indicating the specified registry key doesn’t exist, then this fix won’t correct your problem and possibly something else is going on.

  • After the command completes, assuming you don’t get the “key doesn’t exist” error, restart your Surface. Your Surface will take a bit longer to start than it normally does but, after it restarts, you should be able to see and browse wireless networks again.

If you saw the error above, you should still restart your Surface but it probably won’t help resolve your problem.

Tim

iPad Pro vs Surface 3 – Which Is For You?

A lot of folks – including yours truly – started off by comparing the iPad Pro to the Surface Pro 3.

Personally, I blame the Apple marketing folks; they used the same “Pro” name, claimed it was more powerful than 75% of laptops sold last year, they included a keyboard and pen… err…. pencil, and they even set the price point to be in the same range as the Surface Pro 3.

But, let’s back up a minute and talk about another, more apt comparison; iPad Pro vs. Surface 3.

This comparison might be more valid because, after folks started digging into it, it looks like the iPad Pro isn’t really a “pro” device as it doesn’t run a full blown “computer OS” like Surface tablets do. As such, it is arguably just a tablet and not a hybrid tablet/laptop.

While the Surface 3 does run a full “computer OS”, it is much more tablet-like in it’s technical specifications, so, I think it is a better comparison to the iPad Pro than the Surface Pro 3.

iPad Pro vs Surface 3: The Comparison

Let’s start off by comparing some basic aspects of the iPad Pro and Surface 3. This is not intended to be an all-inclusive technical comparison but it does represent (what I believe) to be aspects of both devices most people care about. Below is a summary table outlining the aspects compared in the article:

iPad Pro Surface 3
Price (128Gb) $1340 USD $880 USD
Display 12.9″ 2732 x 2048 10.8″ 1920 x 1290
Benchmarks (Geekbench) 2090/3569 960/3300
Battery Life 10 Hours 10 hrs per Microsoft, 7.75 hrs in my testing
Keyboard and Pen OK keyboard, great pen Great keyboard, good pen
Applications and Programs iOS Apps from Apple Store All Windows Store apps. Virtually all Windows programs from the past 30 years

Now, let’s dive more deeply into each of the above aspects…

Price

First, in an effort to compare apples to apples (no pun), let’s compare the 128GB, LTE-capable the price of both tablets including a pen/pencil and keyboard.

The 128GB Surface 3 LTE with a Surface Pen and Type Cover comes in at about $880 USD, in contrast, the 128GB iPad Pro LTE with Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard, you’re pushing $1340 USD. Numbers don’t lie, if you’re on a budget, get a Surface 3.

If you go for just the cheapest option for both platforms, the 64GB Surface 3 with no pen or keyboard is just $499 USD versus $799 USD for the 32GB iPad Pro. Talk about the infamous “Apple Tax”!!

Display

Apple has always created good displays and the iPad Pro looks like it will be no exception. With a 12.9-inch 2732 x 2048 Retina display and capable of 720p HD video playback. By contrast, the Surface 3 has a 10.8-inch display with a resolution of 1920 x 1290. If you do the math, the iPad screen offers 5.6MP while the Surface 3 offers just 2.5MP. So, as you might expect, the screen on the iPad Pro is probably superior to the Surface 3.

Both touchscreens support up to 10 simultaneous points of touch. So, in that aspect at least, they are the same.

Computing Power

Apple claims that the A9X processor is 2.5x more powerful than the previous generation and, according to some newly-leaked benchmarks, it looks like they are right.

According to Surface 3 for single-core operations but, for multi-core operations, the gap between the processors is much less.

Via WCCFTech

In fact, assuming the leak is accurate, the A9X is more powerful (per Geekbench scores) than the Intel i3 processor. I know its a bit off topic but in case you’re wondering about how it stacks up against the Surface Pro 3 processors:

  • The i3 scores around 1550/3150
  • The i5 scores around 2700/5400
  • The i7 scores around 3200/5900

I say “around” because I’m pulling my data for the Surface 3 and Surface Pro 3 models from the Geekbench Browser and there is some (normal) variation in the results. I also realize that the results for the A9X probably represent the best of several runs with everything being done to optimize the test scores (as many chip-makers do exactly that in such cases); so, I don’t feel bad about using approximate scores for my comparison.

Battery Life

The reported battery life for the iPad Pro is around 10 hours according to Apple – who, in the past, has been a bit conservative with their battery life estimates. Microsoft says that the Surface 3 battery life is (up to) 10 hours. But, according to my own testing, it has a battery life of closer to 7 hours and 45 minutes (web browsing). So, we will see what the iPad Pro provides when we can actually get our hands on it.

But, it is probable that the iPad Pro will give you more battery life than the Surface 3.

Keyboard and Pen

We can’t talk about the keyboard without bringing up the fact that the iPad Pro is lacking a kickstand. Yes, the Smart keyboard will give you a little bit of wiggle-room to adjust the screen but it does not offer the flexibility of the Surface 3’s 3-position kickstand. In addition, some hands-on reviewers have said that the keys on Apple keyboard don’t quite feel right and that they’re spaced too far apart.

On top of all that, the Smart Keyboard is considerably more expensive than a Surface 3 Type Cover coming in at $160 USD vs. $130 USD.

The Apple Pencil, on the other hand, seems to be a hit. While virtually everyone agrees that the Surface Pen is good, most seem to think the Apple Pencil is at least as good or better.

It’s probably worth noting that the Apple Pencil is 2x the cost of the Surface Pen ($99 USD vs. $50 USD); so, it might be a case of “you get what you pay for” or another example of the “Apple Tax” depending on how you view such things.

Applications and Programs

It’s no secret that the Apple Store offers many more apps than the Windows Store (though you could argue about exactly how many variations of “Angry Birds” you might need) so, from a store perspective, Apple (not necessarily the iPad Pro) has the advantage. However, Surface 3 to even out the whole Apple Store vs Windows Store thing.

Also, the Surface 3 – which runs a full-blown version of Windows – will let you load just about any Windows application or program ever made. Since the vast majority of business programs (along with a healthy chunk of academic programs, not to mention most games) have been made for Windows for the past 30 years or so, I would say the Surface 3 has a distinct advantage when it comes to applications and programs.

iPad Pro vs Surface 3: Which is for You?

Now that you have an idea of how they stack up to each other, let’s talk about which is better for you. As you might expect, both devices will let you browse the web, email, Facebook, Tweet, etc… So, I’m not going to try to make a recommendation based on such mundane points.

Instead, I’m going to give you MY OPINION on which device you should get based on different use cases.

Get an iPad Pro if…

  • You’re an Apple fan: If you’re an Apple fan and like using iOS, get an iPad Pro. Let’s face it, you won’t be happy with anything else. You don’t have to justify it to anyone else. It’s OK to like what you like.
  • You require a status symbol: This is going to be unpopular among Apple fans but I’m going to say it anyway. Having worked in the industry for years, I’ve observed that a large percentage (I’d say around 75%) of Apple users I’ve dealt with use Apple products because they’re a status symbol, not because they need an Apple product. I’ve seen too many managers and executives that had to have the latest iPad or MacBook Pro because of their own “reasons”, only to stop using it after it’s no longer the latest or greatest (or, more likely, it comes back covered in Barbie stickers because they gave it to their 8-year old daughter as a birthday gift <- true story, happened to me 2 years ago at a university in Michigan).
  • You need an iOS device: Contrary to the point above, there are legitimate reasons why you might need a device running iOS (like the iPad Pro). For example, if there’s a certain software that is only available on the iPad or if your entire office has already standardized on iPads.
  • You need the best display: While the Surface 3 display is respectable, Apple has always had high-quality displays and the iPad Pro is no exception. We can reasonably assume the large 12.9″ display on the new iPad will be bright and crisp with vibrant colors. If you plan to use your tablet for watching videos or looking at high-quality photos on a regular basis, the iPad Pro may be the tablet for you.
  • You don’t want to use passwords: The iPad Pro offers a fingerprint scanner which will allow you to unlock your iPad without the need to enter a password. The Surface 3 does not. If you hate entering passwords or PINs consider an iPad Pro.
  • You need the longest possible battery life: If Apple continues it’s trend of providing excellent battery life on their devices, and this is something important to you, the iPad Pro is the way to go, as long as it will run the apps you need. If you don’t need 10 hours of battery life every single day then you might not want to spend the extra money.

Get a Surface 3 if…

  • You’re a Windows fan: If you like Windows and think Apple is over-hyped, or you just like Windows because you’ve been using it for years, then get a Surface 3.
  • You’re replacing a laptop: The Surface 3 runs a “computer OS” as opposed to a “tablet OS” as such, the transition from a laptop (or desktop) will be smoother.
  • You need to run Windows software: If you need to run a piece of software that requires Windows, and it doesn’t require a really powerful CPU, look at the Surface 3. If you need to run both Windows and Android applications, this is also a no-brainer.
  • You want to save money:  The numbers from the Cost section are pretty straight-forward. Clearly, iPad Pro is a lot more expensive than the Surface 3. If you’re on a budget, get a Surface 3 and save yourself up to $500(ish) USD.
  • You need a new tablet now: The Surface 3 is available now, the iPad Pro is not. Seems pretty simple. Come November, assuming no delays, this point will no longer be valid. Of course, by then, you might also have to weigh out getting a Surface Pro 4.

If no single aspect helps you make up your mind between the two tablets, pick which of the points above mean the most to you and make two columns (one for the Surface 3 and one for the iPad Pro) then assign “votes” accordingly. If something is really important to you, give it 2 “votes”. Sometimes it helps to see things in black-and-white 🙂

iPad Pro vs Surface 3: My Thoughts

Look, despite this being Love My Surface site. I’ve been in the IT field for a long time and I know that no device is always “the best” in every situation (despite what fan boys say).

Both devices are good and each has their strengths and weaknesses. You need to understand why you want/need a tablet. After you do, your choice will be easy. Personally, I’m sticking with the Surface. It works for me.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, this has been a long post to write, so I’m going to fire up a game of KSP since I can do that on my Surface (but not an iPad Pro).

Tim

Surface Won’t Stay Asleep After Windows 10 Upgrade

After upgrading to Windows 10, you may have noticed that your Surface turns itself back on shortly after you press the top button to put it in sleep mode. You’re most likely to see this issue with a Surface Pro or Surface Pro 2 but it’s possible that it could happen on a Surface Pro 3 or Surface 3, as well.

Not only is this problem annoying but it can leave you with a dead battery because your Surface will sit – powered on – when you thought you turned it off for the night.

Microsoft seems to be aware of the problem and will probably issue a patch for it at some point but, until that happens, you probably don’t want your Surface to be on all the time. Do you?

Surface Won’t Stay Asleep: What To Do About It

Fortunately, there are a couple of things you can do to help address this issue. They aren’t really “fixes” per se, but they are definitely usable workarounds you can employ in just a short time. I have instructions for both workarounds below but I’d try the “Turn Off Keyboard and Mouse Wake” one first and only do the “Set the Power Button to Power Down Your Surface” workaround, if the first doesn’t help you.

Surface Won’t Stay Asleep: Turn Off Keyboard and Mouse Wake

This is pretty easy, it seems that this problem is often caused by the touchscreen sending errant “wake-up” commands to the CPU. The procedure below will turn off the ability of the Touchscreen to send those commands:

  • Make sure your Surface is un-docked and there are no keyboards/mice attached (either physical or via Bluetooth).
  • Log in with an Administrator account.
  • Search for Device Manager and Choose Device Manager (Control Panel) from the results.
  • When the Device Manager window appears, expand the Keyboards section, there should only be one entry under it. Tap and hold it and select Properties.

  • The HID Keyboard Device Properties window will appear, select the Power Management tab and uncheck the “Allow this device to wake the computer” box then select OK.

Repeat the same procedure for the Mice and Other Pointing Devices section as well. This should prevent your Surface from coming back on after you put it to sleep.

In case you’re wondering, the keyboard and mouse items you changed are how Device Manger sees the “touch” component of your Surface’s screen. (It’s not quite that simple but close enough for our purposes.)

Surface Won’t Stay Asleep: Set the Button to Power Down Your Surface

If following the procedure above doesn’t prevent your Surface from waking itself from sleep, you can also set the top button to actually power down your Surface (instead of just putting it to sleep). This has the advantages of making sure your Surface won’t wake itself and ensuring the battery will not be drained. However, the disadvantage is that it will take longer to power off and back on when you need it.

Granted, the Surface boots pretty quickly but it can still be a pain to wait for it.

To set the power button to turn off your Surface instead of sleeping it, follow these steps:

  • Log in with an Administrator account.
  • Search for Power Options and select Power Options (Control Panel) from the results.
  • Select Choose What The Power Button Does.

  • Set the options for When I press the Power Button and When I close The Lid in the On Battery column to Shut Down and press OK.

You can also set the same option for when you’re plugged in but it’s not as critical as when you’re on battery.

After implementing one (or both) of these options, your Surface should no longer mysteriously wake itself up a few seconds after you put it to sleep and cause a flat battery when you try to use it again.

Windows Application Compatibility Mode On Surface

If you own a Surface but need to run older applications that weren’t designed for Windows 8.1 or (more recently, Windows 10), you may have run into problems with those apps on your Surface.

When you call the publisher of the software, the most common solution they offer is to get an updated version of the software that is compatible with newer versions of Windows. That’s a great solution if the update is free (or very low cost), but what about when they want you to fork out the money for a full-price upgrade of the application? Or how about apps that do not have upgrades? I often ran into that at the university with scientific apps, small software companies would go out of business and there were no more updates for their products.

Luckily, there’s a feature in Windows that you can use to “fool” an application into believing it’s running on an older version of Windows. It’s called Application Compatibility Mode and it can save you some money on software upgrades.

Windows Application Compatibility Mode

Commonly referred to as Compatibility mode, this feature has been around for a long time. It first appeared way back with Windows 2000 SP2 in 2004 (before that it was an add-on in the (rather expensive) Server Resource Kit package from Microsoft. Basically, it “lies” to an application and tells it that it’s running on an older version of Windows, as far back as Windows 95 (from 20 years ago).

Now that you know what compatibility mode is and what it does, let’s go over how to use it…

Windows 10 Compatibility Mode: Automatic Setup

The recommended way to use compatibility mode is to run the Troubleshoot Compatibility Wizard in desktop mode. In the example below, I’m using an old version of a program called ThumbsPlus as my example. To start the process, follow these steps:

  • Log in with an administrator account.
  • Make sure you have a desktop shortcut for the application (technically, you don’t need to do this but it’s easier if you do).
  • Tap and hold (right-click) the application shortcut and select Troubleshoot Compatibility.

  • Select Try Recommended Settings from the two options offered.

  • Tap or click the Test The Program button. The application will attempt to start. Be aware, you may get a UAC prompt.

  • Check to see if it works properly. If it does, close the app and tap or click the Next button in the Application Compatibility Troubleshooter window. Next, select Yes, Save These Settings for This Application. The compatibility settings will get saved. When it’s done, tap or click Close to exit the troubleshooter.

If the application worked after running the troubleshooter, you’re done and don’t need to try anything else. If it still doesn’t work, you should continue following the steps below:

  • If the application wouldn’t start or doesn’t work correctly, you should still select Next in he Application Compatibility Troubleshooter Window but select No, Try Again Using Different Settings.
  • Next, you’ll be presented with a list of possible problems, select the applicable choices. If none of the choices are applicable, select I Don’t See My Problem Listed.

It will try the test again after making adjustments to resolve the problem you checked. Depending on what box you checked, you may get additional screens with check boxes for you to select other symptoms you’re seeing.  Hopefully, after it makes some adjustments, the application will run on your Surface.

If you checked multiple problems or you selected the I Don’t See My Problem Listed option, you’ll get the following window and you’ll need to continue troubleshooting:

  • Select the version of Windows with which you know the application to be compatible and tap or click Next. You’ll get a window describing the compatibility settings to be tried. Tap or click the Test the Program button. Be aware, you may get a UAC prompt and/or an additional screen with more check boxes for you to review (depending on what you choose).

  • If the program works this time, close the app and tap or click the Next button in the Application Compatibility Troubleshooter window. Next, select Yes, Save These Settings for This Application or No, Try Again Using Different Settings as applicable.

If the application wouldn’t start or doesn’t work correctly at this point, you can try again and set a different version of Windows. If none of them work then you have a program that compatibility mode cannot fix and you may have to upgrade or find a new program for that task.

The screens/options described above should be what 95% of you will see. However, if a particular program you’re trying to troubleshoot results in different troubleshooting options, just follow the prompts as best you can.

Also, in case you’re wondering, the No, Report the Problem to Microsoft and Check Online For a Solution option is, IMHO, pretty much useless but you can give it a shot if you want.

Windows 10 Compatibility Mode: Manual

If you don’t like the Application Compatibility Troubleshooter or it didn’t work for you, you can also try changing the compatibility settings manually. To do that, follow these steps:

  • Log in with an administrator account
  • Make sure you have a desktop shortcut for the application (technically, you don’t need to do this but, it’s easier if you do).
  • Tap and hold (right-click) the application shortcut and select Properties.

  • Select the Compatibility tab.

Once here, you can change several settings such as the version of Windows, color modes, and forced VGA resolution (640×480) to try and solve your compatibility issues. Just be sure to apply the settings as appropriate (either Change Settings For All Users or just the Apply button).

So there you go, you now have an extra tool in your arsenal of knowledge to help you get the most out of your Surface tablet. Use it well.

Tim

Free VPN From VyprVPN Available Now

Good News, folks!

Now, there is an excellent FREE VPN option available for your Surface tablet. VyprVPN (by far our favorite VPN provider and one we use every day) is now offering a free plan.

As I am sure you already know, we are big proponents of following good security practices, see post on public Wi-Fi Risks and things you can do to protect yourself, and we highly recommend using a good VPN on open networks.

We have recommended VyprVPN for a while now, because they are reliable, fast, and cheap. But we just learned that they now offer a free plan too – it doesn’t get any cheaper than that!

Click Here to Get VyprVPN for FREE

I love that they are providing this free service to their customers and, if you do not already use a VPN, I highly recommend that you give them a look.

Here is what you get with the Free plan:

  • 500 MB data usage/month
  • 2 Simultaneous Connections
  • NAT Firewall
  • PPT
  • OpenVPN
  • L2TP/IPsec
  • Chameleon

If you run out of data on the free plan, you can upgrade to their basic plan and that offers unlimited data for only $6.67 – still one of the cheapest in the VPN market.

We use their Pro plan and will continue to do so, simply because we like the unlimited usage with 2 simultaneous connections – Tim and I usually travel together, so often use VyprVPN on both of our Surfaces at the same time.

As if all this were not enough, I should also add that Vypr offers free storage with their plans. The free plan includes 5 GB of cloud storage.

Want more? Well…

“Golden Frog [these guys own Vypr] and Personal have partnered up! Current Golden Frog customers can sign up to receive a free license to Personal’s Personal Cloud & Data Vault.”

So, you get a free subscription from Personal to originate and protect your most important information, see Golden Frog’s Privacy Marketplace for details.

If you have multiple devices, as many of us do, you should know that you can run VyprVPN on Macs, PCs, phones, Android devices, and even routers and there is a VPN for business option available too.

They also provide excellent technical support – we’ve used them several times. And, in case you are wondering, we installed VyprVPN after we upgraded to Windows 10 and it worked flawlessly.

Check out our other posts related to VPNs on Surface tablets:

Cheers and happy surfing!

Weekly Surface News Roundup: August, 8th 2015

Since the fervor of the Windows 10 release has died down a bit, it was easier to find some interesting Surface related news. Here’s a rundown of the crop this week:

  • Surface on the sidelines and “Next Gen Stats”
  • More details about Windows RT Update 3
  • Infiniti and Surface 3
  • Windows 10 Wins Design Award
  • Microsoft Office holds “Sway”

Let’s get started.

First up, the NFL (or for you folks across the pond, “American Armored Imitation Rugby” 😉 )

Weekly Surface News Roundup: Surface on the sidelines and “Next Gen Stats”

One year after introducing the Surface Pro 2 to the NFL sidelines, Microsoft is upgrading the coaches and players to a rugged and weatherproof  Surface Pro 3. In addition, they’re now supplying the officials with Surface Pro 3 tablets so they no longer need to “go under the hood” to review instant replays.

On top of the upgrade, Microsoft is putting RFID chips into the player’s shoulderpads. As a result, fans will be able to track a player stats’s such as velocity, speed total distance ran from video highlights of certain plays via what they’re calling “Next Gen Stats”.

Related: NY Times, Geek wire, PCMag


Weekly Surface News Roundup: Details about Windows RT Update 3

While there not a lot of information about what the update will include, yet, Microsoft did update the Windows 10 FAQ to include the following…

“If you’re running Windows RT, your device won’t upgrade to Windows 10. We will have an update available in September 2015 that will improve the Start menu and lock screen. Check Windows Update on your Windows RT device to make sure it is ready to download the update when available.”

With that comment it appears, at a minimum, that RT owners will be getting an updated lock screen and Start Menu.

Related: Microsoft News


Weekly Surface News Roundup: Infiniti and Surface 3

Microsoft’s Matt Chapman spoke to Brendan Norman from Infiniti’s UK retail group about adopting the Surface 3 and if it has changed the way that his team does business. Here’s Brendan’s response:

“Surface 3 has revolutionized the way we are selling. This thing just blows away the iPad. Surface 3’s gorgeous, the cars are gorgeous, the mall is gorgeous…it all fits perfectly. Since adopting Surface 3, Infiniti retail group UK has seen a significant increase in sales from earlier in the year.”

So, if you can afford a new Infinity and you’re in the UK, you can expect the sales person to be using a Surface 3 as a sales tool to get you behind the wheel.

Related: Winbeta, Surface Blog


Weekly Surface News Roundup: Windows 10 Wins Design Award

The Windows 10 Start Menu has won the IDSA Award for digital design. Not everyone seems to like the redesign that came with Windows 10 but apparently the critics at IDSA do.

Related: Craxworld, IDSA


Weekly Surface News Roundup: Microsoft Office Holds “Sway”

If you’re not familiar with Sway, it’s a next-generation presentation tool from Microsoft that is now free from the Windows Store. Microsoft has described Sway as a “digital storytelling app”, but it’s basically just an app that allows you to create and share presentations and other content.

Sway is considered part of Microsoft Office but is not intended to replace Power Point, rather it is to become a new way to create multi-user presentations and interactive content.

Related: Microsoft(sway.com), Dispatch Times


That’s it for this week’s Surface News Roundup. I’ll be back once again next week with a fresh crop of Surface news for your enjoyment and information.

Tim

Delete the Windows.old Folder After Windows 10 Upgrade

After the upgrade to Windows 10, you may have noticed a Windows.old folder taking up a lot of space on your Surface’s hard drive.

Since hard drive space is always at a premium on a Surface, you may have even tried to delete the Windows.old folder from your drive only to get an access denied message. So, how can you get your precious drive space back?

I have three methods you can try. All three are pretty straightforward, so pick the method that works best for you.

Delete the Windows.old Folder: What Is The Windows.old Folder?

The Windows.old folder contains the files required to Surface. So, make absolutely sure that you’re happy with Windows 10 before you remove this folder.

This is actually the reason Microsoft prevents you from simply deleting the folder, even with admin rights. It’s been “set aside” by Windows as a special system folder to prevent someone deleting it, if they didn’t know what it contained.

If you’re planning on sticking with Windows 10,  read on to learn how to remove it. If you’re still thinking about going back to Windows 8.1, you might want to hang onto the Windows.old folder until you make a final decision. However, as I’ll cover in Option 1, you only have 30 days from the date you upgraded to make that decision.

Delete the Windows.old Folder: Removal Option 1 (Wait)

You could just wait and do nothing – 30 days after you upgrade to Windows 10, a built-in utility called Disk Cleanup will go through your hard drive and remove the Windows.old folder automatically. After it does that, you will no longer be able to rollback to Windows 8.1 without completely rebuilding your Surface. Oh, did I say that already?

This is by far the easiest option if you can spare the drive space but it means some of your Surface’s drive will be tied up until Disk Cleanup runs.

Delete the Windows.old Folder: Removal Option 2 (Disk Cleanup)

If waiting isn’t an option and you need the space back now, you can manually trigger the Disk Cleanup program to clean the Windows.old folder from your drive and reclaim the drive.

To use Disk Cleanup, follow these steps:

  • Do a search for Disk Cleanup and select Disk Cleanup from the results.
  • When the Disk Cleanup program starts, press the Clean Up System Files button.
  • The program will restart, it may take some time while it searches your drive for data it can clean from your drive.
  • Scroll down the list until you find Previous Windows Installation(s) and Temporary Windows Installation Files check the boxes next to each of them. then tap OK (don’t worry about the other checked boxes).

  • You’ll get an “are you sure” prompt, select Delete Files.

The Disk Cleanup program will now remove the Windows.old folder from your Surface’s drive. It might take a few minutes, so be patient. You will not need to restart after it’s finished.

Delete the Windows.old Folder: Removal Option 3 (Elevated RD Command)

If for some reason, Disk Cleanup won’t work on your Surface, you can try deleting the Windows.old folder using the Remove Directory (RD) command from an elevated command prompt.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Attach a keyboard if you have one (it’s just easier to do this with a keyboard).
  • Start an elevated command prompt by right-clicking the Start Button (tap and hold) and selecting Command Prompt (Admin) from the menu.
  • In the Command Prompt window, type “RD /S /Q c:\windows.old” (without the quotes)

  • Press Enter.

Technically, there is a forth option you can use to delete the Windows.old folder. Basically it’s just the second option performed from the recovery environment. Fortunately, it’s very unlikely you should ever have to do that with a Surface. You’re more likely going to need to use that method with a desktop or a machine that was upgraded from Windows 7.

And that’s it. You should have recovered quite a bit of disk space by removing the Windows.old folder (I got back 22GB). Just remember that you won’t be able to roll back to Windows 8.1 without completely rebuilding your Surface with a recovery drive.

Tim