Ask Paul: Surface Pro 3 and Hyper-V

Posted on April 4, 2015 by Paul Thurrott in Microsoft Surface with 0

Ask Paul: Surface Pro 3 and Hyper-V

A recent email about Surface Pro 3 power management issues reminded me of the ramifications of using Hyper-V with Microsoft’s high-end tablet. If you use Surface Pro 3, this is good to know.

Andrew F. writes:

I cannot get InstantGo to work with Surface Pro 3.

My initial reply (sensing the issue):

Did you install Hyper-V?

Andrew F. replies:

Yes I do have Hyper-V installed. I bet that is why there is no ‘Sleep’ option in my power settings.

My reply:

Yes, that is why. Hyper-V disables InstantGo and reverts Surface Pro 3 to Hibernation only. But you can disable and enable Hyper-V on the fly to get InstantGo back if you want.

To disable Hyper-V and restore InstantGo, type the following command using an administrator command line:

bcdedit /set hypervisorlaunchtype off

To re-enable Hyper-V when you need it (and thus disable InstantGo again):

bcdedit /set hypervisorlaunchtype auto

Unfortunately you also need to reboot after each change. But it does work.

A bit more explanation

Hyper-V is of course the Windows virtualization platform. It debuted on Windows Server, and is now included in client versions (Pro and higher) of Windows as well, as an optional feature install.

Surface Pro 3 doesn’t offer the wide range of power plans you see in most PCs. Instead, as an InstantGo-based system (InstantGo was previously called Connected Standby), Surface Pro 3 only offers a single power plan that triggers InstantGo—an enhanced version of Sleep—automatically when you turn it off or stop using it. This lets Surface Pro 3—which is really a powerful, high-end PC—behave like a simpler device, with instant on and off functionality.

But if you leave Surface Pro 3 alone for several hours, it will then automatically transition to Hibernation, which saves the machine state but fully turns of Surface Pro 3 to save battery life. In this usage, Surface Pro 3 more closely resembles a standard PC.

To see what’s happening with power management on Surface Pro 3 (or any other PC), open a command line and type the following command:

powercfg /a

This will display a list of the available sleep states. Normally, Surface Pro 3 will show Standby Connected (which is InstantGo), Hibernate and Fast Startup.


But if you enable Hyper-V on Surface Pro 3, you will see only Hibernate and Fast Startup.


I haven’t yet tested whether the version of Hyper-V in Windows 10 supports InstantGo, and of course even if it doesn’t now, that could change by the final release.

Also, I assume Surface 3 will work identically, though of course using Hyper-V on a 2 GB or 4 GB system is not optimal regardless.

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