Microsoft is expected to unveil the second generation of its Surface tablets Monday morning in New York City. It’s a chance for redemption, or at least a fresh start, following lackluster sales of the first generation of the device.

surfaceThere have been many leaks that provide a sense for what to expect — including upgraded processors, a two-position built-in kickstand, and new accessories such as a docking station and a “power cover” that serves as both keyboard and spare battery, according to reports by Paul Thurrott of Windows SuperSite and Mary Jo Foley of ZDNet. Thurrott says Microsoft is also planning to announce a “Surface Mini” at a later date.

That stuff sounds fine, but I have my own list: Things my family wants.

This list is based on our real-world use of the Surface RT (and Surface Pro) for much of the past year. In a moment of bold decisiveness, I spent my family’s iPad budget on a Surface RT last year, just for the experience. After all, it was a historic device in many ways, as Microsoft’s first real computer. I also used a Surface Pro review unit from Microsoft extensively.

So the Surface is a familiar site in my house. It gets used every day, and as a family we have some opinions about what Microsoft needs to do in this second generation. Here are some of them.

d90ea52e-25ff-49c6-9039-a6bc9952289d1) Fix the power port. This might not seem like a big deal, but wow, is it a pain point. It frequently takes multiple tries to attach the power adapter securely to the device. The port is badly shaped, and the magnetic pull isn’t strong enough. It’s completely awkward, and frustrating. Please fix this, Microsoft, so that no one else will have to suffer.

2) Make the device friendlier in the hand and more usable in portrait mode. The existing Surface tablets have hard edges and a harsh horizontal orientation, making them uncomfortable to hold for long periods of time, and almost laughable to use vertically. Smoother corners and a more conventional aspect ratio would really help. Unfortunately, the reports say that the second-generation hardware will be very similar to the first.

surfacepro3) Improve the battery life in the Surface Pro. I’ve been lucky to get 4 hours, which isn’t that bad, but this is the workhorse tablet, and something closer to all-day would be ideal. Mary Jo Foley says the Intel “Haswell” processor in the new version will allegedly extend the Surface Pro to seven hours of battery life.

4) Make it easier to use the Surface Pro as a desktop machine. The new dock sounds good. Here’s hoping Microsoft delivers it as promised, for a reasonable price.

5) Make the Surface RT more powerful. Until recently, one of our phones was an old iPhone 3S, and at times it would load apps and sites faster than the Surface RT would. Hopefully the upgrade to a TEGRA 4 ARM processor will help.

6) Apps: I actually wasn’t going to include this — it’s a cliché at this point, right? — but when I asked my iPhone-using wife to name the top thing she wished she could change about the Surface, she said she wished it had all the apps that she uses on her phone.

So there you have it — one family’s opinions. Tune in Monday to see what Microsoft does.

Like what you're reading? Subscribe to GeekWire's free newsletters to catch every headline


  • Arch Stanton

    1) It is a bit awkward, but what I really appreciate is the low profile. You can use the Surface connected to power and the cord doesn’t interfere so much, even if you rest the connected edge against your body. The cord badly needs to be longer.
    2) I really don’t get this one. Portrait mode leaves some actual page real estate left over when using on screen keyboard, and widescreen is a no brainer for movies. “Almost laughable to use vertically” is a good example of hyperbole. Softening the edges is valid, but I find that holding with the touch cover flipped back provides the soft edge you are looking for.
    3) Definitely agree
    4) You asked, they listened.
    5) Hasn’t been a problem, but hard to argue against upping the specs.
    6) Yes it is cliché. Thanks to exclusives, no device will ever have “all the apps” of whatever other OS specific device you might pick. A more constructive rendering of the question might be “What task was not able to be accomplished because of a lack of apps?”.

  • Cain69

    1. The cord is perfect. I have never had an issue connecting the pro, but for some reason RT is not as easy. I like that it does not stick out an inch like most cords do. I have even laid it on the cord side while connected without it falling over. It may need a little stronger magnetic connection, but reformatting it would kill the minimal design I love.
    2. Since I got it in Feb, I have used it more and more as my primary laptop. Just a couple of weeks ago I sold my 17″ Razer Blade and Pro is all I use now. I use it as a tablet and laptop at work and at home…more than 10-12 hours a day. I have never had an issue holding my Pro (or my son’s RT) – in any direction.
    3. I get 4-5 hours with brightness set to less than 30% and auto-screen off at 3 min. It lasts me until lunch; it charges for the hour or so and is ready to go the rest of the day. I would LOVE to have more battery life. I think the new CPU should help with that.
    4. I personally do not need the dock, but I can see how it would be great for others.
    5. My son uses his RT for school and fun – has not had an issue with speed or crashes.
    6. What apps do people need? I hear this a lot, but I am not sure what people are talking about. I have yet to wish I had some app…maybe I do not do enough play stuff on my computers, I guess.
    I personally want more SSD and RAM – 512 GB and 16GB would be great. I would love for the thing to be a little thinner…but I think it is pretty thin as is. Better integration of touch and pen in MS products, i.e. Office/IE…currently it is ok, but it could be A LOT better. May be come out with Touch/Pen version of Office/IE. The desktop could be touch friendlier too. There are many times selecting with touch is pain.

  • Jason Farris

    There have been docks out for some time now; a number of folks in my office use their Surface pro as a full desktop, driving multiple monitors, keyboard, mouse, etc.
    The only problem is after using a Surface for a few weeks they find themselves trying to touch control the desk monitors. ;)

  • Jason Farris

    My biggest gripe is that the pen falls off too easily. I hope the next Pro has a better pen storage mechanic. I use the pen all the time but I’ve lost a couple of them now. Good thing the folks at the MS store are so nice about it…

  • CarbonRiver

    I’ve had issues with the power cord connection on our RT as well. It seems harder than it should be to line the dumb thing up right so that it connects properly. Seems fine once you make that connection but it would be nice if there was a deeper etching in the body or something that would guide the plug in to a snug fit. Biggest issue with RT though has been that it seems sluggish at times, hopefully the new version is quicker.

  • Out For Justice

    Got bloatware?

  • Maria

    Surface 2 PRO it’s a good choise

Job Listings on GeekWork