Complete Guide to Surface Book

Posted on November 8, 2015 by Paul Thurrott in Microsoft Surface with 0 Comments

Complete Guide to Surface Book

After years of dabbling in tablets, Microsoft’s Surface team has finally unleashed the ultimate laptop, Surface Book. I’ve switched to using this device as my full-time PC at home and on the go, and this guide–a complete collection of all of my how-to articles about Surface Book—can help you do the same.

More soon! I will keep this guide updated as I write more Surface Book content.

Reviews, overviews and commentary

Microsoft Surface Book (Core i5/8 GB/256 GB) Review

With its new Surface Book, the Surface team is back to defining new product categories with a unique 2-in-1 PC that really delivers on both performance and good looks. But Surface Book is also a first-generation and untested product, and it comes with a heady price tag. So you’ve got some serious thinking to do.

Microsoft Surface Book Preview

While it wasn’t a complete surprise—I tweeted the basics of this device a few days back—Microsoft’s new Surface Book takes the firm’s tablet line into new territory with a unique 2-in-1 design.

Analysis: Thunderstruck by Microsoft’s Premium Hardware Push

After wasting a precious year foisting low-end Lumias on an uninterested customer base, Microsoft is taking a different tack. And it’s not just phones: With its Band fitness wearable and, most important, its new Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book hybrids, Microsoft is shooting for the high-end of the market. And in doing so, it is providing a much-missed sense of leadership.

No USB-C on Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book is a Real Problem

Microsoft is pushing its new Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book as premium devices, an excellent strategy that should take some more steam out of Apple’s momentum in the PC market. But for premium devices, Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book are missing a few premium and forward-leaning features. And the most problematic is USB-C.

Getting started

Microsoft Offers a Surface Trade-In Program

The Microsoft Store online is now offering a Surface trade-in program that can net you up to $700 towards the purchase of a new Surface. That could just be enough to put a new Surface Book within reach.

Register Your Device and Optionally Extend Its Warranty

Once you’re up and running with your new Surface Book, you should consider registering it with Microsoft so you’re ready should you ever need to request service or an accessory replacement. You should also consider extending the warranty from one year to two.

Day to day

Master Your Device Charging Options

You can charge your Surface Book using the power adapter that came with the device, or with Surface Dock. But you can’t use previous Surface Pro chargers, Microsoft says.

Adjust the Screen Brightness with the Keyboard

I recently lamented the fact that Microsoft doesn’t include dedicated screen brightness keys on Surface Book’s keyboard. But as it turns out, Surface Book does support this functionality via secret keyboard shortcuts.

Master the Keyboard

Microsoft’s new Surface Book marks a major departure from previous Surface devices, thanks in large part to its first-ever laptop form factor. Key among the changes is a new keyboard, which offers both a superior typing experience and a new Surface keyboard layout.

Adjust the Screen Brightness with the Keyboard

I recently lamented the fact that Microsoft doesn’t include dedicated screen brightness keys on Surface Book’s keyboard. But as it turns out, Surface Book does support this functionality via secret keyboard shortcuts.

Master the Touchpad

Like the previous few Surface devices, Surface Book ships with a precision touchpad. However, unlike all previous Surface devices, the touchpad on Surface Book is a near-perfect pointing device, so you can finally leave that mouse at home. Before doing so, you should master how it works.

Detach and Reconfigure the Screen

Microsoft bills Surface Book as “the ultimate laptop,” but it features a removable screen that can be configured as a portable clipboard or a creative canvas. But before you can use this versatile device in these other configurations, you need to know how you can detach, reconfigure, and then re-attach the screen.

Internal hardware and expansion

Access the Firmware

When Microsoft posted a Windows Update that made Surface Book and other Secure Boot-enabled PCs unbootable last week, I was reminded to bone up on my troubleshooting skills. And a key skill with any device is understanding how to access its system firmware.

Manage the Discrete GPU

While the NVIDIA discrete GPU found in some Surface Book models is still somewhat mysterious, those who go this route gain some unique additional capabilities. Here are two of them.

Master Storage Expansion

Microsoft’s new Surface Book handles storage expansion quite a bit differently than all previous Surface models. This time around, we get a full-sized SD slot rather than microSD. And it comes with a major disadvantage: You can’t fully insert a card into the slot.

Multiple displays

Use External Displays

Microsoft’s new Surface Book is an incredible laptop, but you can also expand its capabilities by attaching one or more external displays. Here are your options.

Surface Pen

Master Surface Pen’s Eraser Button

Surface Book—Microsoft’s “ultimate laptop”—comes with the new Surface Pen, which can be used when the device is in portable clipboard or creative canvas mode. But what you may not realize is that the new eraser button on Surface Pen works differently than previous Pens.

Microsoft Surface Dock Preview

Where previous Surface docks were overly-complex devices that were custom-fitted for only certain Surface tablets, Microsoft has finally come up with the right design for the new Surface Dock. This new dock works across any Surface that includes what is now called the SurfaceConnect port, including Surface Book, Surface Pro 4, and Surface Pro 3.

Customize Surface Pen with Pen Tips

Surface Book ships with the new Surface Pen, which provides a number of improvements over preview Pens. Among them is the ability to swap out the Pen tip with your choice of tips courtesy of the new Surface Pen Tip Kit.

Surface Dock

Hands-On with Surface Dock

Microsoft’s new Surface Dock is in some ways the most exciting hardware device the firm announced this month: With this affordable peripheral, you can transform a Surface Pro 3, Pro 4, or Surface Book from a 2-in-1 into a 3-in-1, making it a truly powerful desktop PC too.

Microsoft Surface Dock Preview

Where previous Surface docks were overly-complex devices that were custom-fitted for only certain Surface tablets, Microsoft has finally come up with the right design for the new Surface Dock. This new dock works across any Surface that includes what is now called the SurfaceConnect port, including Surface Book, Surface Pro 4, and Surface Pro 3.

Turn Your Device Into a Desktop PC with Surface Dock

Surface Book can transform into a desktop PC with the help of Surface Dock, a versatile new accessory that comes with a few challenges.

Windows 10 features

Enable Windows Hello Sign-In

While there are many reasons to consider a Surface Book, its integration with useful new Windows 10 features is pretty high on the list. And key among these features is Windows Hello, a new way to sign-in to Surface Book, in this case with facial recognition.

Enable Tablet Mode

Despite its detachable design, Surface Book does not behave like other 2-in-1s and let you access Tablet mode when you detach its keyboard base. This is a rare bit of bad design for Surface Book, and it runs contrary to Windows 10’s default behavior. Fortunately, you can easily fix this.

Fix the Context Menus

While Microsoft bills Surface Book as the ultimate laptop, its detachable screen makes it a 2-in-1, and as such Windows 10 configures certain UI elements for multi-touch and pen. But if you really are going to use Surface Book as a laptop, one of these changes, in particular, can be quite annoying: When you right-click, the context menu that pops-up displays to the left of the mouse cursor instead of to the right.

Firmware updates

November 3, 2015: Surface Book and Pro 4 Firmware Update Fixes Screen Flickering, Improves Stability

(By Brad Sams) Microsoft has released a new firmware update for the Surface Book that address some of the key issues of the device since it went on sale last week; the Surface Pro 4 is also receiving an update as well that addresses the same issue.

October 28, 2015: Microsoft Delivers Firmware Updates for Surface Book, Pro 4, and Pro 3

Microsoft delivered firmware updates to all three of its current “pro” Surface devices—Surface Book, Surface Pro 4, and Surface Pro 3—but it originally declined to document the changes. Today, finally, that changed.

 

Tagged with