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June 12, 2013

The latest updates and improvements to Surface

Spoiler alert, we’re sharing some more updates to Surface that will make it even better. Before your eyes glaze over at the thought of installing updates and trying to understand them, remember that these updates show up of their own accord via Windows Update. So while it’s important to us that you know the work that’s being done, there is not a lot of homework for you here.

Our last post on updates and improvements was back in March, and since then we’ve been hard at work on a number of things that will impact the way you use your Surface.

The natural place to begin is the improvement to WiFi connectivity. As anyone who has ever reset a router or called their cable company in a moment of darkness knows, WiFi connectivity is not the product of a single thing, but the interaction between the connection coming in from a service provider, the network hardware (cable modem or router, or cable modem with an integrated router), the operating system, and the device you’re using to access the internet. There were improvements back in the March update that reduced the instances of limited connectivity, and we’ve gone further since then to minimize these events from the Surface side. We take the ability to get and stay connected very seriously and hope that you’ve noticed the improvement.

We’ve also published a new driver for the Surface USB to Ethernet adaptor for Surface Pro to allow direct Ethernet connection to a wired network, including the ability to PXE boot (PXE stands for Preboot eXecution Environment it means you can boot from the network).

The convenience of always having a great keyboard (and the click) is one of the things that truly sets Surface apart, and we continue to refine the typing experience on Touch and Type Cover. Those of you that really take your Surface everywhere will appreciate an update that improves typing performance when you don’t have a hard surface to work on meaning Touch and Type Cover are now even better at catching every single keystroke wherever you’re typing.

I mentioned an expanded list of keyboard shortcuts in a post last week, but I’m going to call them out again since updates we published yesterday make these available on either Touch or Type Cover with Surface RT as well as Surface Pro. Not everyone aspires to be a master of keyboard shortcuts, but for those who do the productivity gain is pretty great and you will garner the respect and admiration of those who watch you work.

  Fn + Caps: Locks F1-F12 into being function keys. Do it again and you get the charms, volume, Home, End, etc. if you are in the function lock mode, you can get the inverse options by pressing the Fn key, naturally
  Fn + <spacebar>: Print Screen
  Fn + <spacebar> + Alt: Print Screen for the in-focus App only
  Fn + Del: Brightness Up
  Fn + Backspace: Brightness Down
  Fn + <left>: Home
  Fn + <right>: End
  Fn + <up>: Page Up
  Fn + <down>: Page Down

Also in the vein of making sure your Surface serves you well in a wide variety of settings we published an update to the LifeCam driver on Surface Pro that will enhance image clarity in low light conditions, this update also improves performance and reliability when you switch between the integrated camera and an external camera.

Lastly, a firmware update has boosted the volume of the speakers on your Surface RT. Depending on what I’m doing I might plug in a headset or use external Bluetooth speakers, but day-to-day I do use the speakers on the device more than either of these. The boost in volume is great for games, videos, Lync, and Skype calls.

We are committed to continually improving Surface. I mentioned last week that there’s a lot coming with the Windows 8.1 update later this year (read more on that here in case you missed it) and we’re constantly working to ensure that Surface really is the one device for work and play.

Brian Hall
General Manager- Microsoft Surface