Microsoft hits Reddit to address Surface Pro concerns

The head of the Surface team holds an Ask Me Anything session, addressing some of the more pressing issues with the Surface tablet that runs Windows 8 Pro, including disk space and battery life.

Brooke Crothers Former CNET contributor
Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.
Brooke Crothers
3 min read
Microsoft's Surface Pro has come under a lot of scrutiny in reviews over the last 24 hours.  Microsoft tried to address some of the issues that have been brought up.
Microsoft's Surface Pro has come under a lot of scrutiny in reviews over the last 24 hours. Microsoft tried to address some of the issues that have been brought up. Brooke Crothers

Microsoft addressed Surface Pro issues with disk space and battery life, among other topics, in a Reddit AMA today.

The discussion was led by Panos Panay, head of the Surface team at Microsoft. He provided relatively lengthy responses to two issues that have emerged as shortcomings with the company's newest tablet-laptop hybrid that runs Windows 8 Pro (and is scheduled to go on sale Saturday).

What follows are some excerpts from Panay's as well as other team members' responses.

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 put 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 2 lbs.... While these trade-offs are challenges as much as they are opportunities, we think given the performance and experience you will be getting, it is an exciting product.

And Panay addressed disk space, saying that Microsoft has freed up an additional 7GB to 8GB for users. In other words, about 30GB will now be available to the user on the 64GB version and 90GB on the 128GB model.

Storage Space and Pro 64GB model: 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.... Initial reports out regarding available disk space were conservative (e.g., 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.... There have also been questions about why [Microsoft decided to include] 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.

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.

And there were questions about display size scaling. In particular, one participant was concerned about Surface Pro's high resolution (1,920x1,080) being scaled to 150 percent on the desktop.

"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?"

And the Surface team responded.

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.

And the Surface team addressed Wi-Fi issues too.

Wi-Fi connection robustness has been improved with the Feb. 12 Windows Update. Another version is in the works and will release March 12.

And the speakers are different compared to those on the Surface RT.

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.

And what about those mysterious connectors on the bottom of the Surface Pro that aren't on Surface RT?

It's too early to say, but we'd love to get your suggestions.

Any plans for a dock? -- another participant asked.

We don't have a dock in the plans, but there are USB3.0 HUBS that offer viable solutions.