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Fighting with Microsoft Surface

I recently purchased a refurbished Microsoft Surface. Why? I don’t have a tablet I regularly use, and the price seemed right (about $100, including keyboard and one-year warranty). Reviews said that the screen was nice. And, as long as I sometimes have to help Michelle with Windows, it seemed like a good idea to have a Windows-lite machine to play with.

I’ve been using it for the past few days and I’m reminded about how different my thinking is than Microsoft’s [1]. Just now, I was trying to connect to a wireless network. I did what I thought made sense: I opened PC Settings, I clicked on Network, and I clicked on the Wireless icon. But all I got was information on the wireless card, and a button to copy the information. I ended up doing a Web search [2] on my laptop, and learned that I had to choose a different Settings, the one I get from dragging left from the right edge. Why are there two different kinds of settings?

I was also doing a lot of working with a large PDF file today, adding notes as I went. Whatever the Surface uses to read PDFs crashed, erasing all of my notes. So I tried again, this time saving every few minutes [3]. The notes stayed, but I would find that one of the major notes would regularly revert to an old version for no clear reason. Unfortunately, that’s one of my normal experiences with Microsoftware; it changes things for no clear reason.

Now, I’ll admit that there were parts of the PDF reader that I really liked. I could swipe in and see an easy-to-navigate overview of page thumbnails. The screen is nice, so it was easy to read. The onscreen keyboard didn’t suck. But none of that makes up for losing the notes I’ve typed.

I also find myself frustrated with the Microsoft table UI [4]. It’s surprisingly hard to double click a file to open it if I have them in view by name (which is normally how I have them arranged). I seem to get the wrong thing happening more often than I have the right thing happening. I know that I’m not particularly competent with technology, but this makes me feel particularly non-competent.

I’ve been working on updating it [5]. But the update process is counterintuitive, too. I select PC Settings => Update and Recovery => Windows Update => Check for Updates. It takes a long long [6] time to check. There’s no way to cancel, at least none that I can see. When it’s done, it suggests that updates are available, but there’s no clear way to install them, just a message that it plans to install them at some point tonight. My Mac would say Click here to install updates. I had to figure out that I needed to click something like View Available Updates and then click Update. Why is the extra step necessary?

So, is there anything I like about the Surface? Certainly not the keyboard, which has completely non-clicky keys. But I do like the display, which is nice and bright and clear. I like that it seems to have a reasonably good battery life. I like that the Windows applications are pre-installed. I wouldn’t buy one new, but for the $100 or so I spent, I think it’s worth having.

[1] My thinking is also different than Apple’s, but I’m better at figuring things out. After all, I’ve used Macs for over thirty years.

[2] Google, not Bing.

[3] Drag up from the bottom, click More, click Save.

[4] I think it runs Windows 8.1 RT.

[5] I think it should be upgradable to Window 8.1 RT Update 3.

[6] long

Version 1.0 of 2017-03-19.