Microsoft Go 2: The Day After

Posted on May 7, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Microsoft Surface with 0 Comments

Reviewers weren’t given enough time to evaluate Surface Go 2 before we could write about the experience. So here’s a quick follow-up with some notes based on a bit more time with the device.

I know that Surface Go 2 performance is a key concern. And while it’s not really possible for me to effectively compare the review unit, with its Core m3-8100Y processor, to the lower-end Pentium Gold-based models, I would at least like to understand how well it works when used in the manner for which it was designed. That is, it should be able to handle Microsoft Office applications, Microsoft Edge, and similar applications reasonably well.

I’ve only had Surface Go 2 for a few days, and I struggle with its tiny keyboard. But I’ve not noticed any performance issues at all, and I’ve found, in the past, that questionable hardware—earlier Y-series processors, for example, or Windows 10 on ARM systems—usually betray their performance issues pretty quickly. But the only slowness I’ve seen, and this is unrelated to day-to-day usage, is that the initial download of Microsoft Store updates—nearly 30 of them—took an unusually long time.

I’m writing this article on Surface Go 2, and while the small keyboard has caused more than my usual number of typing errors, the performance in Microsoft Word is excellent. If a Core m3 could somehow just be the processor in all Surface Go 2 models, along with SSD storage, any conversation about this device would be far more positive.

There are many other things to like, of course. Surface Go 2 absolutely has the level of build quality we’ve come to expect from the more premium Surface offerings. And you can see—and feel—it everywhere, from the attractive magnesium body to the elegant multi-position kickstand to the Signature Type Cover. Surface Go 2 is a cost-reduced Surface Pro, of course. But it just looks and feels like a miniature Surface Pro, not a cheap knock-off.

In my initial write-up, which was based on just a small amount of time with the device, I noted that while the Type Cover supports two typing positions—flat and up at an angle—like Surface Pro, it didn’t appear that there were magnets holding it up in the latter position. As it turns out, the Type Cover is just stiff out of the box, and if you use it enough in the angled position, the tension disappears and it starts to hold better. (I actually flexed it manually at the crease for a while to de-stiffen it.)

I also mentioned in my earlier write-up that the Default Apps interface in Settings was missing a Web browser option, and that I thought it was perhaps related to the new Microsoft Edge being preinstalled and that I signed in initially with a local account. To test my theory, I signed in with a different Microsoft account but the issue is present in that profile too. Microsoft screwed something up: If you look in “Set defaults by app” > Microsoft Edge, you can see that legacy Edge still has some defaults. Oops.

I’m going to try and leave the PC in S mode if possible. I feel that this will ultimately prove futile, but what the heck.

I obviously don’t have a handle on battery life yet, and I’m not sure how I can fairly measure it. The issue is that this device should be used as a tablet and/or as a laptop, in the latter case while using the Type Cover. But the Type Cover is too small for my huge hands—I can feel the onset of carpal tunnel as I write this, not kidding—and if I’m going to use it like a mini productivity PC, I feel like I’d need to use a full-sized Bluetooth keyboard instead. And that would skew the results.

The alternative is to try and replace my iPad with this device for a while and basically use it as a consumption device. This is interesting, but since I’m not traveling, I only use the iPad to read these days. And that kind of usage probably wouldn’t result in any useful battery life data.

I want to be fair in testing this device. Let me know what you think is reasonable.

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