Surface Pro or still surfacing?

Microsoft have finally begun to understand that there is value in the integrated user environment, the hallowed “seamless experience”. Copy Apple and we all can now welcome the Surface, Surface Pro and a host of versions with a plethora of operating systems Windows 8.0, 8.1 and 10. Microsoft Hardware with Microsoft software – one vendor, one place to call.  However, no two surface/pro’s are alike and trying to find out what you have (apart from the receipt) is akin to educated guesswork.

Here is a brief visual guide to tell what version you may have:

Surface Pro 4

Surface Pro 4 Front
Surface Pro 4 Front
Surface Pro 4 Rear
Surface Pro 4 Rear

Surface Pro 3

Surface Pro 3 Front
Surface Pro 3 Front
Surface Pro 3 Rear
Surface Pro 3 Rear

Surface Pro and Pro 2

Surface Pro / Pro 2 Front
Surface Pro / Pro2 Front
Surface Pro / Pro 2 rear
Surface Pro / Pro 2 rear
Surface RT Rear
Surface Pro Rear – Earlier Intel Versions such as Model 1514

Surface 3

Surface 3 Front
Surface 3 Front
Surface 3 Rear
Surface 3 Rear

Surface 2

Surface 2 Front
Surface 2 Front
Surface 2 Rear
Surface 2 Rear

Surface RT

Surface RT Front
Surface RT Front
Surface RT Rear
Surface RT Rear (some could be the Surface Pro Intel version!!)

 

 

 

 

 

So why this story?

Well, a good friend has moved to Surface Pro’s at their office and I kindly offered to help, wanting to understand the new Microsoft product. Task – Upgrade all units, unify logins and apps, get running on the business network – typical things you’d want to do. In one summary all I can say is the Surface experience is not consistent. The O/S between hardware models may be similar but hardware errors, update issues etc… vary between the models and there is no one path to success. It seems Microsoft will need to copy more from Apple to get this (very promising) product suitable of non IT persons.

So after some work across some models of surface; I made this post as a typical workflow to bring a worst case Surface Pro with Win 8.0 upto date with Win10. Without using typical enterprise ISO flashing ad focusing on the “upgrade path” typically done at home and in an SME. Hopefully this helps you, if you are not IT minded – you will get there with Surface eventually 🙂

Updating from Win 8.0 to Win 8.1

  • Ensure your current Win 8.0 is already fully updated (about 160 upgrades)
  • Go the the “Store”, select the 8.1 Free Upgrade (you need 4Gb free to install)
    • Don’t use the “Add features to Windows 8.x” as even though the machine know’s its own product key, this button asks for you to enter the product key again. You will get nowhere fast…. It is a programmed “Do While Loop”, while you are wasting your time it will keep asking you.
  • Wait half the day whilst 8.1 is downloaded and installed
  • Now update with another 155 odd patches, fixes etc…
  • Wait half the day
  • Congratulations! You have Win 8.1
  • There are now 13 “optional” updates still available – don’t do these to avoid potential Wi-Fi issues later on!!

Getting Wi-fi to run on Surface Pro with Win8.1

So you undertook the 13 optional updates? And now you have now found yourself without a working Wi-Fi (i.e windows seems to have lost the inbuilt hardware – apparently its no longer connected?), you will be hard pressed to follow the typical help suggestions in the Microsoft self help area of “update”  Why? – Perhaps without the Wi-Fi you can’t get on the internet, thats why! So with another PC at hand (or a Mac) download the Wi-Fi drivers to install manually for the Surface Pro (not 3 or 4). Download and Instructions here:

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=49038

If that doesn’t work, roll back the last 13 updates (the optional ones).

Whatever you do, don’t install third party software from a self help website!

I get the idea that even though wifi and bluetooth connectivity issues are well known, no one thought to update the software patches with the correct drivers at Microsoft – so this issue will simply rinse and repeat for many surface pro owners.I suppose Microsoft can’t 100% copy Apple and test before release, that would make the product predictable and usable by non-IT-embedded persons…..

From Win8.1 to Win 10 (not possible for the Surface RT!)

You may see in your updates a link to take on Win 10, most likely however, this won’t happen, especially on the older models. You can use the Microsoft tool:http://windows.microsoft.com/en-au/windows-10/help-upgrade-windows-10. Or, to elbow your way through and force the Win 10 update:

  • Make sure you are set for automatic updates in Windows Update.
  • Navigate to C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution\Download and delete everything in it. This removes all prior downloaded updates, some could be stopping Windows 10 from downloading.
  • Press Win-R to bring up the Run box. In it, type cmd. A command prompt window will appear.
  • Type wuauclt.exe/updatenow and press Enter. Windows Update should now be downloading Win10.
  • Double check in Windows Update and you should see that it’s downloading Windows 10.

If upgrading to Win 10 again stops the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth from functioning maybe you had some third party VPN software? Try releasing the interface from the vpn software by following these KnowledgeBase instructions: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/3084164

If however, that doesn’t solve the issue, welcome to calling for support. you have now spent nearly 20hrs monitoring updates and patching errors and you are not yet finished…. As a small business you may have just exceeded your cost base whereby buying new was actually cheaper….

One particularly stubborn Surface Pro (intel) machine needed a clean restore back to Win 8.0….. all required updates applied (not the optional ones) then subsequent upgrades to 8.1 then 10….

This product experience inconsistency is one of the very reasons enterprise build with SOE and flash ISO images of the operating systems. SME and Home user on the other hand will need to develop a keen sense of patience whilst enable their “Inner-IT”.

Overall?

Surface is a very good concept with the idea of touch screen, keyboard and pen, but importantly a complete O/S compared to say the iPad with its apps. So for the business with a Windows environment it may be very well suited as keyboards do tend to make word doc editing easier than screen touch…….  Sadly though, it is a product that lends itself to needing IT support, it is inconsistent in its update and software faults and is only workable if you are patient and willing to learn IT or have the budget to hire the support. It is not yet an integrated and seamless user experience. The future will see improvements but as of today I won’t be changing from my Macbook Air anytime soon.

To find out all about your model of Surface: https://www.microsoft.com/surface/en-au/support

User Guides for each model: https://www.microsoft.com/surface/en-au/support/userguides?category=user-guides