The Surface Pro 3 and the Surface Pro 4 Head to Head

I was recently fortunate enough to have an extended hands on with a friends, Surface Pro 4…

Over the past ten (10) months, I’ve been working with a Surface Pro 3. It’s been a good supplemental work PC for me, in that I can use it to take hand written notes in meetings… that is, when I can get it to do that without the ink disappearing.

The Surface Pro 3 is a GREAT machine (again, when it works correctly and when it has a stable OS, but I most certainly digress. That’s a rant for another day, another time…), but nearly everyone is wondering if the Surface Pro 4 is compelling enough for those that own the Surface Pro 3 to upgrade.

Again, I’ve been fortunate enough to be friends with someone in the office who has purchased a Surface Pro 4. I was able to place the two devices head to head today and have the following to report.

Pen
These are general pen observations and comments. I was able to use the Surface Pen 4 on the Surface Pro 3 without any kind of pairing or other convincing. I just took the device in hand and was able to tap, select and ink with it. It worked very well.

The Surface Pen 4 is nice, and it will stick to the Surface Pro 3, but only on either the left device side or the right device side. Unfortunately, these are at spots where the Pen really wasn’t meant to sit – like on top of the power port, covering it up. This is problematic, as there really doesn’t seem to be a good spot for the Surface Pen 4 on the Surface Pro 3.

The following are additional observations I was able to make about the Surface Pen 4.

  • Magnet is strong, but not strong enough
  • Doesn’t stick on all sides of the device
  • Can be knocked off without you really knowing it
  • Surface Pen 4 only has a single button along its magnetic strip
  • Surface Pen 4 has an “eraser” function on the top button of the pen
  • Surface Pen 4 has a top button that starts OneNote when clicked
  • Surface Pen 3 has a top button that makes a sound when it clicks (grrr… this should work, Microsoft. It did under Windows 8.1)

Keyboard
The keyboard works with Surface Pro 4 and Surface Pro 3, but there seem to be driver issues with the Surface Pro 3, especially with Fast Ring Insider Builds on it. It was just a bit more than a tad quirky.

For example, when I tried to bring up the device’s About screen (All Settings –System – About), Settings froze. I tried to close Settings and relaunch it, but Settings wouldn’t restart; and I had to bounce the device. Bounding the device produced the same results. Ultimately, I had to remove the Surface Pro 4 keyboard from my Surface Pro 3 in order to get All Settings – System – About to display.

I noticed that when I originally attached the Surface Pro 4 keyboard to my Surface Pro 3, a “You must restart your computer for these hardware changes to take place,” dialog appeared, indicating that the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Pro 3 keyboard drivers are different. Since I’ve got the latest Fast Ring Insider’s Build installed on my Surface Pro 3, I think there might be a driver issue here…

By far, this is – or will be when the driver issues I noted above are resolved – the biggest, best overall hands, on, noticeable improvement on the device. Now, before you go losing your mind wondering what about the better, upgraded processor, and other enhanced guts the Surface Pro 4 has over the Surface Pro 3, you have to admit, that all things being equal between the two devices, the keyboard is the best reason to upgrade. However, if that isn’t compelling enough on its own (and it’s not, at least not in my opinion…) then you can always go and purchase the Surface Pro 4 keyboard and use it with your Surface Pro 3.

The following are additional observations I was able to make about the Surface Pro 4 keyboard.

  • Biggest hands on improvement
  • Same overall size as the SP3 keyboard
  • Keys are “island-styled” and set further apart. The Surface Pro 4 keyboard offers better key travel
  • Better overall typing experience
  • Trackpad is bigger than the one on the Surface Pro 3 Type Cover
  • Better trackpad experience, as its more responsive and has a different overall feel
  • Issues when working with SP3. All Settings – About wouldn’t display until I removed the keyboard, indicating some level of driver incompatibility (perhaps with the latest Windows 10 Fast Ring Build…??)

The Devices
Unfortunately, my friend wasn’t too amenable to me taking the device for a couple of weeks so that I could review it… and I really can’t blame him. I love my Surface Pro 3. If I had a Surface Pro 4 or Surface Book, I wouldn’t want to part with it for very long, either. The point to all of this, is that you should take the following with a grain of salt. I didn’t have a lot of time with the device… only about an hour or so.

Screenshot (1) Screenshot (1) SP3
The Settings – System – About screen for the Surface Pro 4 The Settings – System – About screen for the Surface Pro 3

The two devices weren’t completely identical. The most glaring being the difference in processors and the amount of device RAM each had. The Surface Pro 4 had 8GB, twice the amount of my Surface Pro 3. I think that, more than anything, would through the task comparisons between the two off; and… quite honestly, it did. Everything on the Surface Pro 4 was much smoother and more natural.

Aside from the external, physical differences – and there are a few – for example,

  • The bezel on the Surface Pro 3 is a tad larger on all four sides,
  • The Surface Pro 4 doesn’t have a haptic-enabled Windows button on the bezel,
  • The volume rocker on the Surface Pro 4 is on the top to make room for the Surface Pen 4 on its left, landscape-oriented side

the devices are nearly identical. Telling them apart is difficult without a real, hard look at the two. Once you know what to look for, telling them apart is fairly easy. The point is, however, that the devices are very similar.

The following are additional observations I was able to make about the Surface Pro 4.

  • Surface Pro 3 seems slightly bigger
  • Left edge, top edge device variations to allow for pen placement (volume rocker moved to the top)
  • Ports don’t align exactly
  • No active Windows button on the device bezel of the Surface Pro 4

 

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Head to Head! SP3 & SP4 left edges, vertical with Kickstand Left Edge – SP4 on top
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Top Edge – SP4 on top Right Edge – SP4 on Top Bottom Edge – SP4 on Top
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Notice the slight size difference – SP4 on top Keyboards – SP4 keyboard on the right SP3 keyboard up close
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SP4 keyboard up close

 

Conclusion
I think it’s pretty obvious… The Surface Pro 4 is a great device and worthy of a purchase – if you don’t have a Surface Pro 3. If you have a Surface Pro 3, then the Surface Pro 4 keyboard is the best and most value added way to get perhaps, an additional year or more out of the device, especially if (theoretically) you purchase the new Type Cover with the Windows Hello compatible finger print sensor.

Between now and the time that Threshold 2 is released (as the Windows 10 Fall Update), I would wait. There are driver issues with the new keyboards, that even with the released version of Windows 10, may cause issues. However, after that, the keyboards should be 100% compatible with Surface Pro 3, as Microsoft indicates.

Do you have a Surface Pro 3? Have you considered purchasing either a Surface Pro 4 (to replace your Surface Pro 3 or as a new device), or the new Surface Pro 4 Type Cover as an upgrade for your Surface Pro 3? If you have the Surface Pro 4, what are your thoughts on the device? Why don’t you meet me in the Discussion area, below, and give me your thoughts on the subject?

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Unboxing the Henge Docks Horizontal Dock for 15″ MacBook Pro Retina

It’s here! It’s here! It’s here! It’s just like Christmas!!

I’ve been waiting for this product for well over three years. The Henge Docks Horizontal Dock for 15″ MacBook Pro has finally been released to Henge Docks Early Adopter program users.

The unboxing, shown above, goes over a few key features of the Horizontal Dock as well as gives a brief background on the project’s timeline. Here are some interesting elements I’ve learned after using the Dock for a short period of time and after having an Apple FaceTime call with Henge Docks itself:

  1. You can’t use any kind of hard shell case with version 1.0 Horizontal Dock Hardware
    Cases vary too much, and there was no way to insure that the dock would line up all of the ports when any kind of hard shell case is used
  2. The Dock’s button doesn’t turn the Mac on
    Apple doesn’t permit access to power through any of its ports, according to Henge Docks, so you have to dock the Mac, then open it up to turn it on, then close the lid if you want to run your Mac with ONLY external displays
  3. Dock App is very basic right now
    It doesn’t do much, but it should with additional releases of the app and with Dock firmware updates, scheduled for the coming weeks

I’ll have a full review of the Henge Dock’s Horizontal Dock for 15″ MacBook Pro Retina in the coming days and weeks. I’d like to wait until I’ve had a chance to get into the Dock a bit and Henge Docks has released a new version of Dock App and perhaps a new Dock firmware.

Between now and then, you can watch the unboxing or you can check out the pictures of my before and after setup, below.

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All the cords… The desk… A better view of the desk…
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All the plug and chug When its all turned on The end result…

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Release-a-palooza – Apple Releases Multiple OS Updates

Today Apple released updates to watchOS, iOS and OS X.

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I knew things were close to being done for all three of these releases, but I wasn’t certain when Apple would greenlight changes to watchOS 2.0.1, iOS 9.1 and OS X 10.11.1.  Today, Apple released all three of these updates to a much awaiting public.  The big news (as far as the OS carrousel, though) is the fact nearly no one saw the release of watchOS 2.0.1 coming. Apple didn’t announce or release it to its Developer Community at all.

I’m going to run down all of the changes for each and then I’ll have a bit to say on the changes overall, before I wrap it all up.

watchOS 2.0.1

watchOS 2.0.1 is now available to download via the official Apple Watch app on iPhone. It weighs in between  62.8 to 68.4 megabytes.
watchOS 2.0.1Apple’s new watchOS update features support for the latest emoji characters also found in iOS 9.1 and OS X 10.11.1. They include unicorn, taco, burrito, and middle finger emoji’s.
Changes from Apple in watchOS 2.0.1 include:

  • A fix for an issue that could cause software updates to stall
  • A fix for issues that were impacting battery life and performance
  • A fix that resolves an issue that prevented a managed iPhone from synching iOS Calendar events to Apple Watch
  • A fix that Addresses an issue that could prevent location information from properly updating
  • A fix for an issue that could cause Digital Touch to send from an email address instead of from a phone number
  • A fix that addresses an issue that could cause instability when using a Live Photo as a watch face
  • A fix that resolves an issue that allows a sensor to stay on indefinitely, when using Siri to measure your heart rate

Additional information and details can be found here.

IOS 9.1

iOS 9.1 is now available for download for iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch either over the air (OTA) or through iTunes on a Mac or PC. According to Apple, the update includes new features, improvements and bug fixes.

Changes from Apple in iOS 9.1 include:

  • A fix to Live Photos so they now intelligently sense when you raise or lower your iPhone, so that Live Photos will automatically not record those movements
  • Over 150 new emoji characters will full support for Unicode 7.0 and 8.0 emoji’s
  • Support for the 4th generation Apple TV
  • Support for the iPad Pro
  • An update to the iOS virtual keyboard that improved the shift key icon, making it easier to see when the shift key has been pressed, or double tapped (for CAPS Lock).
  • New device wallpapers of Mars, Jupiter and Neptune

Emoji’s seem to be the order of the day. All three of the updates noted in this article have huge emoji updates in them.  Like watchOS 2.0.1, iOS 9.1 includes new emoji’s for a taco, burrito, hot dog, cheese, popping champagne bottle, ice hockey, ping pong, archery, and even a middle finger.

The big thing to note in iOS 9.1 is that this is the version that is required for the iPad Pro.  The biggest change here for it, has to do with multi-tasking and the Apple Pencil; but that’s old news, and I’m not going to go into the virtues or lack thereof, of the iPad Pro.

Release notes for iOS 9.1 can be found here.

OS X 10.11.1

OS X 10.11.1 is now available as a free download on the Mac App Store. In the release notes, Apple states that the update improves the stability, compatibility, and security of a user’s Mac.

Specific changes made in OS X 10.11.1, according to Apple, include:

  • Improves installer reliability when upgrading to OS X El Capitan
  • Improves compatibility with Microsoft Office 2016
  • Fixes an issue where outgoing server information may be missing from Mail
  • Resolves an issue that prevented display of messages and mailboxes in Mail
  • Resolves an issue that prevents certain Audio Unit plug-ins from functioning properly
  • Improves Voice Over reliability
  • Adds over 150 new emoji characters with full Unicode 7.0 and 8.0 support

The big item of note here is Office 2016 compatibility. I’ve held off updating any of the Macs in the house until Microsoft and Apple got their respective acts together as it relates to Office 2016.  I use Office 2016 for all of my writing and other productivity tasks, and so do my daughter and her husband. They need it for all of their school work.  Without this, any move to El Capitan would have been very premature on our parts.  Now that this is resolved, we should be good to go.

UPDATE:  As I was writing this, I updated my MacBook Pro to El Capitan, and the Office 2016 apps that I use (Word, Excel and PowerPoint… Outlook is still – and will continue to be – a train wreck until they get a better handle on some of its data store issues.  It’s also NOT a feature parity with Outlook for Windows and I can’t help but wonder WHY at this point…but that’s another story entirely and I don’t really need to get started on that here…)

Release notes for OS X 10.11.1 can be found here.

There’s a lot here. If you’re an Apple user on any level, today was a day of updates for you.  I’ve updated nearly all of my gear, including my Apple Watch (that’s a link to Part 4 of my four part review.  It’s got links to the other three parts, in case you haven’t seen it).

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Microsoft Redefines Surface

Microsoft has redefined their Surface Pro line of devices

The big Microsoft hardware announcement was 2015-10-06. Everyone and their brother was anticipating the unveiling of the two new flagship Windows Mobile 10 devices (the 950 and the 950XL) as well as a Surface Pro 4. Based on what I’ve seen so far, I think everyone got a little bit more than we initially thought we were going to get.

The flagship class phones were desperately needed. Microsoft hasn’t released a flagship classed phone in – literally – years. So both the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950-XL are very well received. Features that include the Continuum Dock, provide for a complete mobile to desktop experience. Something like that might work very well in an existing desktop, and would make it a lot easier to use existing equipment with your current notebook setup.

Honestly, I have doubts about how useful its going to be, given that the current computing paradigm hasn’t completely changed over to Mobile… at least not yet; and at least not in the enterprise (where this may have the best opportunity for success).

surface book

The Microsoft Surface Book (shown off in a video by Microsoft on YouTube, here) is a really neat ultrabook. Unlike the Surface Pro line of devices, the Surface Book is marketed as a laptop, and not a tablet. In fact, the tablet isn’t called a tablet, it’s called a “clip board.” It has touch and while the device will come away from its keyboard, its clearly NOT meant to be used as a slate device, without its keyboard (containing extra battery and discrete graphics adapter – at least in the higher end models) for an extended period of time. It only has three (3) hours of battery life as a clip board device.

The table above compares the Surface Book to both the MacBook Pro and the Dell XPS 13. The Dell is a decent computer; but it’s clearly outclassed by both the MacBook Pro and the Surface Book. The only REAL thing that it has going for it is affordability, due in large part to the premium price tags of both the MacBook Pro and the Surface Book.

There’s something to be said for that.

Build and component quality on the Dell may be far below the other two, but it IS approximately half the price of both, making it much more likely to end up in a work situation near you. The MacBook Pro is a premium laptop. Its components and build materials are high quality, and Macs have been known to last for seven to ten years – if well cared for – before having to be replaced due to breakage or parts simply wearing out. The Dell doesn’t have a snowball’s chance of having that happen. Its components are composites and plastics.

The build quality on the Surface Book may be on par with the MacBook Pro; but I haven’t really had a chance to put my hands on one, so I really don’t know for certain. However, there are serious issues when it comes to the Surface Book and its price point.

  1. Microsoft is NOT Apple
    Bluntly put, there’s no way this device is worth a maximum of $3,200 ($3462.92 after tax in Chicago, IL). Microsoft products don’t have the same level of build quality or longevity that Apple products do. Based on this point alone, the Surface Book is seen by many to be grossly overpriced.
  2. The Surface Book is a New Class of MS Device
    The main idea behind the Surface line of products was for Microsoft to show the capabilities of Surface, hoping that OEM’s would build similar features into their own products. While that’s morphed a bit with the release of Surface Pro 2, Surface Pro 3 and Surface 3 – they’re more finished products than Surface RT/2 and Surface Pro 1/ 2 – Surface Book is a 1.0 product. If it follows the same product strategy, then the Surface Book is grossly overpriced. No other Windows PC (that I’m thinking of/ aware of) is priced this high (and those that may be aren’t selling well or aren’t targeted at the consumer market).

Microsoft needs to reevaluate the price points around Surface Book before the device actually hits the streets. It could have a much bigger launch and a vastly more successful product line if the price point was cut in half. I’d certainly buy one at half the current price without thinking twice… However, at its current price point, Surface Book will never see the inside of my office.

My original intent with this article was to discuss both Surface Book and Surface Pro 4, however, Surface Pro 4 is really nothing more than an evolutionary update of Surface Pro 3. From what I’ve been able to see, while it gets a nice performance boost, it’s really a “meh” kind of update. Surface Book took all of Surface Pro 4’s thunder. It’s unfortunate, but it is what it is.

Microsoft did, however, produce a cool vide on the new product. You can see it, here.

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The Henge Docks Horizontal Dock is Coming!

It’s the realization of a three year old dream…

henge_horizontal_dock1-100024094-orig

Earlier this year I made mention to a new docking station that I had ordered for my 15″ MacBook Pro Retina. The docking station is the Hendocks Horizontal Dock and as I eluded to above, the organization is now shipping those docks to its Early Adopter Team.

You’ll notice that the ship date/ timeframe I refer to in that article was, at the time of publication, about five and a half months ago.

Yeah… about that.

Boy, it’s been a long time in coming; and there’s a lot of background information here that you – and likely most of the internet – didn’t have access to. Some of this I’m going to relate in this article, as its going to likely come up in the review. Some of it I won’t divulge, as there are confidences with the folks over at Henge Docks that I’d rather not break.

What I will say about all of that, up front – because it’s VERY important – the folks over at Henge Docks are totally awesome. They’ve been all over the many issues that were encountered in bringing this product to market like white on rice, from the very beginning.

A Brief Product Lifecycle Review
Now, this isn’t going to be completely factual, in large part because I’m doing this from memory; but the project (at least publicly) kicked off in the 2011 time frame. I, and a number of MacBook Pro users who were looking for a docking station for their Macs had limited choices. There were one or two Thunderbolt docks available during 2012, but they were REALLY expensive and definitely NOT the form factor I was looking for. Much of what was available were things like the Belkin Thunderbolt 2 Express Dock or the Startech Thunderbolt Dock .

I hate any docking station that works like these.

These things look like meta bricks with a shoelace sticking out of them. With these, I have to plug a cable into my computer. I’d rather attach my PC to a stationary dock. Unfortunately, (until now) nothing like that was available.

When I heard about the Horizontal Dock from Henge Docks, I jumped on early. There wasn’t much on the site at the time, and honestly over the next year or so (into late 2012 and early 2013), you couldn’t do much more other than sign up for an email list that got you on an internal pre-order list.

I honestly think I signed up like three times… That was partially due to the fact that so little information was available on the product, and there were large gaps of time in between the times that I checked.

During this time, there were many milestone and availability dates that came and went with little to no reported progress. In fact, looking back at it all, (and I’m certain I’ll say this more than once here) this has really been a 4-5 YEAR journey from the point of dock announcement to dock shipping and receipt.

However, in late 2014, we were told that orders would open up in early to mid-January 2014. At this point, you had a choice. Henge Docks announced their Early Adopters program.

With the Early Adopters program, users could, for an additional fee of $50, join the program. The Early Adopter program got you the Dock at least three months before everyone else and also got you access to pre-release versions of the Dock’s firmware as well as its desktop control app. The Dock would also have a limited edition, customized base plate identifying it as an Early Adopter unit, and (I think) would be numbered.

I ordered my Dock on 2015-01-14. Early Adopter units were scheduled to ship in March of 2015, with GA units (general availability) shipping in June. Both of those milestone dates came and went. The date for Early Adopter units was pushed to May, then July, and then (I think) August. All of those dates came and went as well.

At that point, I had already started a very frank dialog with Henge Docks’ CEO, Matt Vroom.

Matt… is an awesome guy. He was frank, open and as transparent as he possibly could be. Henge Docks had opened their Early Adopter Portal and at the time, it echoed in there. There was little to NO participation there; and honestly, in retrospect, it’s not surprising.

The Portal was designed to be a gathering place for Early Adopters to share views, usage, insight, suggestions, etc., about the Horizontal Dock. With the Dock behind schedule, there was no need for any activity about the dock.

Where We are Today
However, without laboring too much on the issues and problems surrounding engineering, manufacturing and dock certifications (and believe me, there were challenges at nearly every step of the Dock’s journey, I instead want to fast forward to where we are today.

My Horizontal Dock is on a truck and should be delivered to me today (2015-10-20)!

This is a huge deal, as it is the culmination of a three year journey. After at least two trips to China, at least one year of brainstorming and preliminary design, and three years of engineering, design, reengineering and redesign, vendor selection and management, tooling, manufacturing, inspections, software design, coding, testing and finally product certifications with both Apple AND Intel, my Dock will be arriving today.

I will having an unboxing video shot this evening. I’ve also got a call scheduled with Matt Vroom and another executive at Henge Docks scheduled for Wednesday evening 2015-10-21. I’ll have write ups on both out as soon as I can.

In the meantime, I have to go and hit the tracking number on my shipping email again and look at the words, “on truck for delivery today,” again.

Are docking stations a big deal to anyone anymore? Do you really need one for your Mac or PC? Is the classic office setup – wired keyboard, wired or wireless mouse, wired LAN connection, wired speakers, and a full sized, desktop monitor (or two) obsolete? Is everything going wireless? Does the traditional office setup make sense to anyone, or has that gone the way of the local coffee shop?

Why don’t you meet me in the discussion area below and tell me about your computing set up and whether or not you use a docking station of any type?

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Microsoft Releases Windows 10 Build 10565 to Fast Ring Insiders

Build 10565 is the latest build to hit the streets for Fast Ring Insiders

Introduction
It’s been a while since you’ve heard me say much about Windows 10. Quite honestly, I haven’t been too happy with the way things have developed. I recently updated everyone on the status of the disappearing ink bug. It hasn’t been an easy go of things. Even with all of the potential fixes installed, the problem still remains.

It’s been very frustrating for me, and I know that there have been a number of others who have indicated that this particular issue has reduced the amount of value received from the device to near zero. They purchased the device because it was supposed to work so well with OneNote. (if you remember, the Surface Pen’s top button – the one that looks like an eraser at the end of the pen – actually opens OneNote. However, that’s not working right, especially under Windows 10; and as I said, ink is still disappearing.

windows-10-build-10565

My level of confidence in the overall stability and quality of the OS has fallen since its launch on 2015-07-29. With Threshold 2 set to deploy to production sometime before the end of October 2015 – and TH2 represents the FULL vision of what Windows 10 was originally supposed to be when released – my level of confidence isn’t very high. In fact, I’m quite disappointed… but that’s another conversation entirely.

In the quest to get us closer to the final TH2 milestone, Microsoft has announced the release of Build 10565 to Windows Insiders on the Fast Ring. As with all pre-release builds, There are a number of release note items that you need to be aware of. While there are bugs and known issues that need your acknowledgement, the current build of Windows 10 isn’t feature complete. As such, Microsoft has also released a number of new features for testing to Fast Ring Insiders as well. I’ve got a run-down of both, below, for your consideration.

Bugs & Known Issues
Bugs and known issues are part of every prerelease (read: beta) software build or release and as someone testing or evaluating the software, you should be aware of these. These are the issues that Microsoft is currently working to resolve (or at least, the ones that they’re willing to admit to. Notice, my disappearing ink bug isn’t in this list). If you bump into any of these issues, then its assumed that you wouldn’t submit any kind of feedback about those.

Bugs

  • You should no longer see a warning message in the Settings app – Update & Security – Windows Update, regarding changed ring settings for preview builds unless you actually change your ring settings. (From Fast to Slow, or vice-versa.)
  • Background audio playback works again when apps like Groove are minimized.
  • Microsoft fixed the issue where clicking on the system icons in the notification area quickly results in Windows Shell blocking the launch of fly-outs like Audio, Networking, etc.
  • After Build 10525, Microsoft heard a lot of feedback that some context menus were too big for mouse. Therefore, they made adjustments to many of the context menus to make them smaller for using them with a mouse.
  • You can now pin contacts to the Start menu from the People app.
  • Certain apps won’t appear twice anymore when pinned to the taskbar.
  • Hiding desktop icons via context menu on the desktop now works.
  • Windows Store apps should now be updating automatically.

Known Issues

  • The search box does not work if you are in a locale where Cortana is not available. Microsoft is currently investigating workarounds.
  • The Xbox app for Windows 10 will consume gigabytes of memory on your PC if you have any Win32 games (non -Windows Store games) installed on your PC that have been identified as games or added by you in the Xbox app. Closing the Xbox app will release your PC’s memory.
  • WebM and VP9 have been temporarily removed from the flight builds. Microsoft continues to develop a VP9 implementation that we intend to ship in Windows. Expect VP9 to return soon in a future release.
  • Small form-factor devices, like the Dell Venue 8 Pro, that boot with rotation or virtual mode screen size set larger than the physical screen size will experience a bluescreen on upgrade and will roll back to the previous build.

New Features
As Microsoft moves closer towards the release of Threshold 2 – again, scheduled for release sometime during the month of October 2015 – additional, planned features are finally making it out to testers. Here are some of the newer and/ or enhanced features that you can expect to find in Windows 10 build 10565.
Skype
Skype will now offer integration at the OS level in Windows 10 Build 10565. The new app allows you to respond directly within Windows without having to open the actual Skype app. The integration will also appear in Windows 10 Mobile when an updated build is released to Insiders testing that OS on supported devices.

Microsoft Edge
Slow and steady wins the race. Microsoft Edge is making incremental improvements with every update and every new Windows 10 Build. Build 10565 gives Microsoft Edge the ability to show webpage thumbnail previews when users hover over a tabbed browser page. This build of Edge also introduces Favorite and Reading List synching to users. While the feature isn’t fully implemented in Build 10565, it’s definitely a start.

Cortana
Cortana is one of the more intelligent digital assistants. In Windows 10 Build 10565, Cortana has been updated to allow tracking of your free time activities, like movies and other event reminders. Cortana can scrape this information through email notifications, and will notify you of an upcoming event up to two hours prior to the start of the event.

If your Windows 10 PC has a touch screen, Cortana can also read your inked notes and will set reminders based on your location, the times in your notes and the information you write.

User Interface Enhancements
Build 10565 can now change the color of your window’s title bars to match your selected theme. Users interested in this type of customization can check out Settings – Personalization – Colors to check out the feature. Microsoft has also added new icons and improved context menus in Build 10565.

win-start

Those that are interested in customizing the tiles on their Start Menu will appreciate this next update. A fourth column of tiles has been added to the Start Menu to allow users to place two large or two wide tiles side by side.

Finally, Microsoft has also made it easier for users to clean install the OS, if they choose. All you’ll need is your valid Windows 7 or Windows 8.x product key, and you can do a clean install.

Conclusion
This latest build of Windows 10, Build 10565, is available to Fast Ring Insiders now. I’m still not showing the build as available yet, but that’s somewhat to be expected. Microsoft rolls new builds out incrementally. If you don’t see it now, keep trying. It will eventually show up, provided you’re registered as a Windows Insider, and you’re on the Fast Ring.

Interestingly enough, Slow Ring really is slow. They haven’t seen a new build for quite some time. Honestly, I’m not certain what the last build was (extra points to the reader who can tell me in the Discussion area, below).

How is Windows 10 holding up for you? Are you on the Fast Ring? Have you installed Build 10565 yet? Why don’t you meet me in the discussion area below, and let me know? While you’re at it, give me your thoughts on the overall stability of Windows 10 on your PC’s. Is Windows 10 working better for you or was your PC better under Windows 7 or Windows 8.x?

Do you have a Surface Pro 3? Do you have the disappearing ink bug? How bad is it for you? Have any of the fixes worked for you? Again, tell me all about it in the Discussion area, below. I’d love to hear how things are working for you.

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UPDATE – OneNote 2013 and Windows 10 – Potentially Lethal

It’s been a long time coming, but there finally seems to be light at the end of the tunnel…

onenote and windows 10

I’ve been using the Surface Pro 3 at the office since December of 2014.  Prior to that, I used a Surface Pro 1 for a couple of years. It was the best and easiest way to really organize work at the office; and I say this to any and everyone who asks why I use it:

  1. It’s the best digital notepad (with OneNote) I’ve ever been to find and use
  2. With OneNote on the web and/ or OneNote’s sync capabilities, you have access to your notes nearly everywhere you have a device with internet access
  3. Paper notepads, notebooks and portfolios get lost. You’re never going to leave a tablet in a conference or meeting room (they’re too expensive to forget)

It’s a nearly flawless system, and it’s one of the best out there. Other software and hardware tools just don’t have the same capabilities or use cases due to one limitation or another.

When the Surface Pro 3 was released, I knew it was worth the upgrade from my Surface Pro 1, so off it went toGazelle, and over to the Microsoft Store I went.  While Windows 8.1 wasn’t as optimal a notebook experience as I wanted, and while (in my opinion) Windows still doesn’t know if it wants to be a desktop or tablet OS (even with Windows 10); with either Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 (and the right utilities, like Start8  from Stardock Software) it can still be a very productive tool in either an corporate or academic setting.

Until, however, you move to Windows 10 and you bump into the problems I mentioned in March of 2015.  The Disappearing Ink Bug is a huge problem for users of the Surface Pro 3.

It completely negates nearly all the value out of the device.

The reliability of the inking system is nearly gone. You never know when you’re going to lose anything you’ve written down, as the bug is completely random, and in end, you’re left with two very real choices – downgrade from Windows 10 to Windows 8.1 or take your chances with Windows 10, the bug, and maybe you lose some notes or maybe you don’t.

Well, I have a bit of an update for you.  There appears to be, what may be, a final fix for this problem.  There are two very active threads on this issue over at the Microsoft Support Community (here and here).

Microsoft has released KB3093266 in response to disappearing ink on the Surface Pro 3 running Windows 10.  This cumulative update addresses not only disappearing ink, but tap becomes right click as well.  Both of these issues were contributing factors to the conditions being experienced (where ink would vanish in OneNote on a Surface Pro 3 running Windows 10).

The cumulative update available via Windows Update on your Windows 10 PC, may take a while to appear on your Windows 10 PC. Like all Windows Updates, Microsoft rolls them out in batches.

Unfortunately, I haven’t had it show up for me yet.

However, one really good point came up out of (this support thread. I wish that I could take credit for it, but I really can’t.  Credit for that goes to Clayton Dittman

“Can you possibly tell the Windows OS team to check with the surface team and tell the surface team to check with your team before releasing an Operating System which breaks core functionality of your Staple Devices?

I cannot in good conscious use a Surface (Pro or not) again because of the way this migration to Windows 10 was handled in lieu of Office 2016 and the Surface Pro 4.

I want to trust Windows, I want to depend on you guys for quality control and solutions my customers can trust. I just can’t…”

While it seems obvious, the reliability and trustability of Windows 10 for many users has greatly diminished.  It’s not just this issue, there are still huge privacy, stability and (other) reliability concerns.  You can check just about any and every Windows blog on the internet today and find at least 2-3 articles covering all that.

The cumulative update I mentioned may resolve the disappearing ink issue… it may not.  KB3093266 is not the first fix that was released to address the issue.  There were individual updates made to Windows 10, OneNote 2013/2016 as well as Office 2016 that failed to resolve the problems between May and September of 2015.

Results from those that have received this update have been generally positive, though somewhat mixed.  Generally, it seems to be working; but like Dittman noted above, how much damage has TRULY occurred for the Windows and Surface Pro brands?

How easily Microsoft can recover from this is going to depend on a couple of things:

  1. Does the cumulative update truly resolve the bug for all users of both the Surface Pro 3 and the Surface 3 (its actually experienced on nearly all Surface Pro devices as well as the Surface 3)
  2. How well the Surface Pro 4 is received
  3. How well the bug stays resolved (especially on the Surface Pro 4)

Every time Microsoft releases a cumulative update or a new build, this issue is going to have to be retested. It’s very possible given the depth and severity of the problem(s) that Microsoft may resurrect the issue in future builds and updates. While that’s not ideal and certainly won’t be intentional, it does happen quite often with software development. It’s simply the nature of the beast – sometimes, it comes back.

The Surface Pro 4 has been anticipated for many months now. While there’s no real evidence that any industry pundit can provide regarding a credible rumor on the device’s ACTUAL existence, it is said that Microsoft will announce something next week (2015-10-05 to 2015-10-09) with an actual release date also rumored to be SOMETIME this month (October 2015).  While it totally misses Back to School, it should hit the 2015 Holiday Buying Season, provided its already being manufactured.

Do you have a Surface Pro device (1, 2 or 3)?  Do you have a Surface 3?  Are you using OneNote and the Surface Pen to take notes?  Are you experiencing issues with floating and disappearing ink?  Have you been following any of the Microsoft support threads I mentioned (here or here)?  Have you received the Windows 10 Cumulative Update (KB3093266) that I mentioned?

If you have, do, etc. and have received the update, I would REALLY appreciate hearing back from you on this.  Please provide the appropriate comments and/ or information in the Discussion area, below, so that I can get your information back to Microsoft.  This is a huge bug, and really needs to be resolved once and for all.

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IPhone 6s Plus Unboxing

Let’s take a look at the new iPhone 6s

This is the new iPhone 6s Plus. The device comes in four color choices, Silver, Gold, Space Gray and Rose Gold. You have a choice of 16GB, 64GB or 128GB of on-board storage space. The 6s Plus, like the 6 Plus, has a 5.5″ LED-backlit widescreen display with 1920-by-1080-pixel resolution at 401 ppi, and a 1300:1 contrast ratio.

The new rear camera packs 12MP into its new sensor and features the same five element, f/2.2 aperture lens under its sapphire crystal lens cover. The biggest camera-based advantage in the 6s Plus vs. the 6s is the inclusion of OIS (optical image stabilization), that helps keep picture motion to a minimum while you take stills and more importantly, video. Since this is the camera that you have with you all day, every day, this is a huge addition and a clear advantage if you can live with the larger screen size.

The iPhone 6s/6s Plus also include 3D Touch. 3D Touch is an entirely new way to interact with your iPhone. The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus can sense how much pressure you apply to the display. Based on the amount of pressure you apply, the phone assigns different system events to that pressure. You get all of the familiar multi-touch gestures that your used to like tap, swipe, pinch, etc.; but now, you also get Peek and Pop.

3D Touch completely changes the way you interact with your iPhone. It completely changes the entire iOS user interface. I’ll have a great deal more on this in the review that I will be publishing on the iPhone 6s Plus later in the Month of October. I will also have some information on it in the first impressions document that I’m currently compiling that will compare, to an extent, the iPhone 6 hardware to the iPhone 6s Plus hardware (excluding the size difference, of course).

Did you get a new iPhone 6s or iPhone 6s Plus? How did you purchase it – via the Apple Upgrade Program, from your Carrier, or from Apple, but via a carrier upgrade? Did you purchase it new or as an upgrade?

What are you most interested in with the iPhone 6s/ iPhone 6s Plus? Is it the camera, 3D Touch, the improved specs and performance, a combination of these or other features? Meet me in the discussion area below, and let me know what’s got you interested in the latest flagship smartphone from Apple.

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