Highlights From Surface Team AMA On Reddit


Microsoft Surface team which introduced Surface 3 device earlier this week is having an AmA on Reddit. Here are some highlights from the session. Keep refreshing as we include more replies from Surface team.

Why micro/full sized USB over USB-C?

micro USB … enables charging through all the chargers out there today. Optimized for charger (13W) in box.

Full size USB…no adapters needed for everything in market today.

What does the surface team think the most significant improvement is between the surface 3 and surface 2?

There are a bunch of things – but I’d highlight a few that are really all about taking the best of Pro and bringing it to Surface 3: 1. full windows – run all apps. 2. screen and aspect ratio – 3:2 makes a big difference in height for using as a laptop and width when using as a note taker which gets us to … 3. PEN. Also love that we have a dock.

Does Surface 3 support Always On Always Connected (Connected Standby)?

Behavior is just like Surface Pro 3. 4 hours of connected standby, then into hibernate.

Any chance we can get an updated video driver for the SP3? Windows 10 has destroyed the stability of the displayport out, making the device kinda useless in my case.

We are so aware of this.. drivers are under test. When we have one working to our satisfaction, we will make it available. We dogfood the same stuff, and we are feeling the same pain.

Why did the team decide to ditch the Surface text logo for the Microsoft logo?

We realized that a Surface contains all of what we as Microsoft has to offer. It is the physical extension of a software experience. To reflect that, we thought it was more appropriate to carry the Microsoft mark. And we all liked this idea 🙂

Can we convert the charging micro-USB port to a full-size USB port with an adapter, and then plug in any USB device to it?

Yes! The micro-USB port charging port also handles USB data

On limited LTE model availability,

We are doing an unlocked LTE version. can’t say where it will be available yet, but we hear you and in many markets we will have it available. stay tuned for more!

Will there be a trade-in program for those loyal fans with orphan devices (RT/Surface 2)? 

they aren’t orphans! they are great – my kids and my mom are still using them and love them. there will be an update from Windows for them and they will continue to work great.

we’ll definitely think about trade-ins. we don’t have plans right now. will also see what retailers are thinking – those are often done by the retailers themselves.

Does the S3 support 4k displays at 60Hz?

4K at 30Hz with Intel X7 Gen8 engine.

About switching to 3:2 aspect ratio screen,

Hey this is StevieB.. in the earlier versions of Surface we wanted to highlight the horizontal interaction mode of new Windows. Hence the 16:9. As Pen become more predominate and we saw huge interest and uptake with the pen, portrait mode became just as important. So like the Pro3 we really focused on the screen in surface 3.. and how its form really would amplify its function. We wanted something even more compact than pro3 but yet but still very productive and functional. Something that would enable both landscape in keyboard mode and portrait in tablet and pen mode. So that is why we moved to the 3:2 aspect ratio in the Surface line, following to what we did with the Surface Pro line. If you map out the aspect ratio all the digital content of the world, books, movies, productivity apps, digital pictures, magazines, and games, then the 3:2 aspect ratio ends up being the perfect balance of maximizing the use of your screen real estate.. Maximizing the use of the screen area is critical for creating a compact, mobile, yet functionally effective device. We wanted a form that people were already comfortable with, a book, so the new screen in Surface 3 is exactly 9×6 inches. 9×6 (Octavo paper size) is one of the most common modern book formats (not to mention digital photos). So for student putting pen to screen will feel more natural… viewing digital content will fit. The new screen while compact shows 20% more content on screen than previous surface line…awesome right!! Off course the screen is just as beautiful as pro 3, being in plane switching, really high contrast, 100%SRGB, and individually calibrated on the line. I hope you love the screen and the new formfactor… the display team really worked hard on it.

Does Surface 3 comes with GPS?

yes, the LTE versions have a GPS chip.

Do you see a revolution or evolutionary change in the next 2 years of the Surface and Surface Pro?

we’re going to keep pushing the envelope. we definitely don ‘t look at the next two years and say “I think we’ve pretty much nailed this. let’s just iterate and be evolutionary.” 🙂

Why no continuous kickstand like SP3?

This was a key decision for Surface 3 to keep the product affordable (and thin and light). We know from research the most important angles from Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2, and then we added the 3rd most shallow angle based on feedback from Surface Pro 3. Overall, keeping price as a priority while giving large range of angles was the goal.

Can I use Surface 3 for video editing? About performance.

Yes. x86 machine, so apps will run. Best reference point is PC Mark 8 Creative Benchmark which includes video editing performance that is 85% of SP3 i3.

Surface 3 still uses a 3:2 ratio but is in the 10″ range. Does that divert from design cues from SP3?

3:2 ratio, this is the future. Once you put this product in your hands you feel the benefits of Windows scaling to 3:2, you will also love the weight distribution on the device as you hold it in portrait to use it to write and read.

I was wondering whether the Surface 3 would be compatible with previous type covers?

yes, previous covers work with Surface 3. the size is a little different, though with the new 3:2 aspect ratio, so if you use your Type cover 2 it just won’t cover the whole screen.

I’m interested in how the pressure sensitivity performs with Ntrig drivers for apps that need them on the new Surface 3. The community has been vocal about performance issues when drawing slowly. Output is wavy as opposed to straight lines.

Hey this is StevieB, if I understand your question correctly what you are seeing is a linearization issue.. and has nothing to do with the pressure sensor. This artifact likely happens only when you draw really slow and across the diagonal. Most touch sensors are oriented as a grid, when you draw across the diagonal the touch controller has to interpolate position of the pen and linearize its path. As for active capacitive digitizer we do the best out there, but we can do better. We do so by boosting the signal from the Pen and the bettering the controller… Surface 3 takes a step in that direction. Other pen technologies have other artifacts that have their own issues.. every technique has a compromise.. Pen is really important to us, and our best people are really focused on making and maintaining it to be awesome and the most realistic digital pen experience in any tablet.

Are you planning to release Surface 3 and Surface Pro 3 in other regions?

we don’t have plans for more regions right now. sorry!

Wouldn’t it be more fair to compare the S3 to the new MacBook as opposed to the iPad for price point? There were recent posts about the new MacBook being equivalent to the 2011 MacBook Air’s. Can you compare the quad core chip in the S3 to a lower end i3?

we think lots of people are going to pick a surface 3 versus an ipad. the opening price points (for the regular ipad, not the mini) are very similar, but with a Surface you get 64GB of storage and can use it as a tablet and a laptop.

Why was the choice made to go with the atom x7 cpu vs an intel core m cpu?

The key to Surface 3 was to give great performance, but to also keep the device thin and light. We benefit from this latest quad core processor from Intel in a couple ways: First, we get great performance with a new burst mode feature where the chip will run up to 2.4GHz. However, when performance is not needed, it throttles down to 1.6GHz saving power so we can keep the battery as small as possible (keeping the devices as thin and light as possible.

Will the Surface 3 support two 1440p displays via daisy-chained DisplayPort connections? My i5 SP3 handles this great but don’t know if this would work with the S3.

Hey – The Surface 3 does not support daisy chaining monitors over DisplayPort. The Pro line is great for folks who need this.

As the owner of a Surface RT, does the Surface 3 have the same satisfying click sound when opening/closing the kickstand? It’s definitely not a dealbreaker if it doesn’t, but… man that sound is just so satisfying for some reason.

Absolutely! On Surface 3 we defined the sound before we engineered the parts. The sound is created by the materials of the foot snapping onto the magnesium. The hinge snaps the kickstand to the Surface body and imbedded magnets hold it perfectly flat. …. which gives it the perfect sound.

Will there be an LTE model compatible with AT&T in the US?

not saying anything more today other than that we will be available working with T-Mobile and Verizon. we’re excited about that. we will have more news later…

Does the Surface 3 have the thermal threshold for CPU cutoff like the SP3? I enjoy playing Dota 2 for a couple of hours and this was the one thing I did not want happening, at the already low settings required to play it.

Yes we do thermally throttle on S3. DOTA2 not specifically tested. We did test Civ5 and with 4G SKU at 25+ FPS. Another reference point is 3D Mark Cloud Gate shows S3 at ~70% performance of SP3 i3.

Have you ever considered having a different design to the surface line than the current one? Like in your early mockups and prototypes etc.?

Yes, we always consider how the next product should evolve. The design of a Surface is the result of how we want it to be used. It is the result of how it works, in so many ways. The magnesium material influences the final shape, as well as the tech inside. We always push new materials and tech. New technology will allow our products to be used differently, which will influence how these products look. To me, design is how a product works. Everything else is mere styling 🙂

There has been a lot of reporting from artists (including myself) who use the SP3 of a distinct “jitter” to the Pen when trying to make slow careful passes.

Hey this is StevieB, working on it… we noticed this happening in a very specific instance. Likely when you draw really slow and across the diagonal of the screen… so it is quote a specific instance specific. It is really hard to a draw a straight line without the use of a ruler or the digitizer picking up the jitter in your hands… so that is why people use a ruler to do this test.. but the ruler messes up the signal as it capacitivly couples . Most touch sensors are oriented as a grid, when you draw across the diagonal the touch controller has to interpolate position of the pen and linearize its path. As for active capacitive digitizer we’re the best out there! But we can do better. One of the improvement just involves boosting the voltage of the pen. So I cannot give you a timeline, but just know things are in the hopper. Other digitizer techs have other artifacts and issues, they don’t do linearization as well, and have accuracy issues. Pen is really important to us, and our best people are really focused on making and maintaining it to be awesome and the most realistic digital pen experience in any tablet! We can boost the signal and the pen to fix 🙂 !! stay tuned 🙂

How is the eMMC performance in comparaison to the SP3 SSD? Is it a significant difference?

S3 eMMC is about 50% of SP3 SSD. If your workload involves heavy file transfers (like video editing) recommendation is SP3.

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