Microsoft Surface Pro 3 Overview, Part 1 Windows

I wanted a tablet that would help me type. I am a journalist and hoped to have the ability of a tablet to handle it. To be able to fact check online, get emails, and use a word processor was what I hoped this tablet would be able to do. To decide if this tablet was enough I read a hardware review.

This is an overview of the Surface tablet: I created a recovery drive, tested the hardware, customized some setup options, and give my thoughts of it.

OEM OS backup and restore

Windows 10 is created to protect itself. For necessary situations it has the ability to refresh or be reset by the user. For instances with updates, they can be rolled-back within 10 days. The prior OS 10 tools are still there (system imaging, restore point) for the meta-detailer, however, I will trust the Windows 10 tools to be able to handle recovery. I also have a year warranty so that helps out too.

File backups are encouraged. For files there is File History in Settings > Backup that will backup personal files on a regular basis.

Recovery drive creation

My tablet has a recovery partition that has Windows RE (Recovery Environment) on it. Windows RE is for resetting or repairing Windows 10.

I wanted to have a failsafe and I created a Windows RE on a USB flash recovery drive. The USB creation utility can be opened in the Start menu by typing Create a recovery drive. I unchecked the option to copy the system files as the plain recovery drive has all the tools I need. (A microSD card can be used here too.)

If there is ever a need to recover Windows later this page has more details.

Recovery drive image

The USB flash drive I needed for other tasks. I imaged the drive so I can restore it later if needed¹. I used msys2 to do so:

# size get from Drive properties 357 MB for me (+1 MiB for partion table, etc)
cat /proc/partitions
dd if=/dev/sdX count=182784 bs=2048 | pv | xz > surface_$(date +%F)_winre-usb.img.xz
# recovery drive image restore
xzcat surface_DATE_winre-usb.img.xz | pv | dd of=/dev/sdX bs=2048
# tested working

For Windows to recognize the USB flash drive properly again after Recovery drive creation it has to be re-partitioned and re-formatted. Type diskpart in the Start menu and then:

# Start menu `diskpart`
list disk
select disk X
online disk
convert gpt
create partition primary
select part 1
format fs=ntfs label=Backup quick
assign letter X

Hardware tests

Windows touch-ups

Windows 10 on this tablet was pretty much ready to go out of the box. I did a few appearance touch-ups and added a few programs.

  • Desktop scaling increase to make images and text larger for the higher than previously typical DPI. It needs to be a little larger than the default 150% and the next in the basic setup is too large (175%). Using a custom scaling number is alright though recommended otherwise. The only instance where there is trouble is apps that can’t rescale an image down again to its 100% for something like a gamma correction test: Control Panel > Appearance and Personalization > Display: make text and… > set custom scaling level, I use 162.
  • display color calibrate—type this and use the guide to balace the colors levels
  • sleep time extend for computer as is 10 minutes default—listening to audio and … I extended it to a hour, type Edit power plan in Start menu
  • recycle bin move Quick Access as I organize in the File Explorer—drag RB to File Explorer Quick Access, and remove from Desktop: Show or hide common items on the Desktop
  • drive lettering order that makes sense to me: C:\ Windows, P:\PNYFLASH S:\ SDXC; this is also he order they are hardware recognized
  • hibernation in Start Menu add, because I put this in my backpack I want to be sure it stays at a cool temperature: Power Options > Choose what the power buttons do > Change settings that are currently unavailable > add Hibernate

Programs I installed:

  • 7-zip
  • notepad++
  • msys2

Surface and Windows 10 thoughts

Microsoft has been nice to me. This process started with Surface User Guide I got online. It was very helpful; I got to learn the hardware and the OS with it.

The 4GB RAM the Surface has, I wondered if it would be enough. I email, web browse, and word processor busily; these first two weeks the tablet has been running proficiently. The GPU plays videos smoothly. On other GPU intense tasks with some programs on lower settings it can do enough. Windows 10 appears to use memory efficiently and the 1408MiB page file has remained at that level.

Windows does updates in the background smoothly now and is patient to reboot. It also handles the firmware.

The Edge browser is nice. It is just the basics and has run efficiently. Microsoft. To save a page for offline I use the print to XPS option.