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Microsoft promotes Surface Pro 3's musical software tool support

Surface Pro 3
Surface Pro 3 (Image credit: Windows Central)

Microsoft has been promoting the Surface Pro 3 as a laptop replacement for people like students and professionals, but in the company's latest blog post it tries to show that musicians can also benefit from using the 12-inch tablet as a powerful piece of hardware to run their music software tools.

Microsoft states:

"Most of the music we hear in the car, in the movies, and on our devices is created using powerful music software – full, real deal, workhorse programs like Pro Tools, Ableton Live, Cubase, Reason, Sibelius, and Finale. Musicians love Surface Pro 3 because it runs all the tools they depend on to create music in a form that's portable enough to travel with them everywhere they go. They can write a full orchestra score with Sibelius in the attic, record virtual instruments with Ableton Live on the train, and mix tracks with Pro Tools in the studio. Surface is a powerful mobile music studio that can travel with a Musician everywhere music takes them."

There's even a fan website called Surface Pro Audio which shows how advanced music software tools can be used with the Surface Pro 3. What sort of high end software applications do you use on a Surface Pro 3 that are not normally used by consumers?

Source: Surface blog

116 Comments
  • Been using Ableton on mine since the day I got it. Came in handy when I did some live DJing for a few parties and a wedding too. Love this device.
  • NICE!!!
  • Hell yeah! Loving my Ableton and my LaunchPad, and got plenty of VSTs!
  • Awesome! Which version of the Surface Pro 3 do you have?
  • i3 model. I didn't need it to replace my desktop and its performance has been great for live mixing.
  • Cool. It helps that Live is so great with CPU utilization.
  • How about a f'n Zune software replacement? Or make the XBM WP rewrite compatible with the old one.
  • How about NO? I've used Ableton Live and Protools on it. It works great to begin track ideas.
  • How about backing off your submission for the moron awards as what I said has absolutely not a fucking to do with that software.
  • And today's winner is Novron, for posting comments unrelated to the article in question. Novron now that you won, what do you want to do next? Ooo sorry we're out of time.
  • Microsoft trying to make a name for itself in the music side of things.  Sorry, it's not entirely about 3rd party applications.  Tough shit, suck it up.
  • There is no need to be rude. Your comment about the Zune software has nothing to do with this article. You can't use Zune for professional audio such as Dj-ink.  Zune is dead give it up!  
  • That's what I keep telling my friend. He's not a fan of MS but he loved Zune. It is dead, its like trying to have a conversation with Johann Gutenberg, its not gonna happen.
  • I wish the MS store would have more and better SW to show off the pro 3's chops.
  • For example ?
  • He might mean Apple's *ahem giggle* garage band :P
  • No. What about "beatmaker"? I had an iphone and that app was amazing! Much better than anything in the windows store. http://intua.net/products/beatmaker2/
  • Du haust mein furor, Microsoft! Zeig heil!
  • So forget mac
  • I guess for music desktop is preferred or iMac
  • I'd kill to get a great Metro app for music.  I hate the desktop.  I love Sonar X2, but really wish there was a Metro version.
  • Real artists use MacBooks
  • Define 'real' and your comment could be took more seriously
  • I think you meant to say real iSheep artists use MacBooks.
  • Actually it is easier cause of the compatibility isues that many recording devices and other hw have with Windows...it doesnt often work plug and play as it supposed to...
  • I've never had this issue. I call bullshit. Don't be an itard.
  • I call bullshit too.  If anything, it's the other way around.
  • I have to say, that comment was ridiculous. I only use Windows in my studio. I grew up using Windows and for me it is much easier to record something and get it mixed on Windows instead of Mac. I haven't run into any compatibility issues with any interfaces or midi devices
  • I'm the same way.  Windows-only in my studio, never ran into compatibility issues.  I thoroughly expect that to no longer be the case, however, with Windows 10.  I hate it.
  • You're running the technical preview at your business?
  • I use windows, FL Studio, Native Instruments Komplete 9 Ultimate, Nexus and a slew more of plugins and effects. I've been producing/engineering for 7yrs all on Windows really no problems. Check me out! Soundcloud.com/mdbgg
  • Macbooks running Windows :)
  • I have had compatibility issues with my Presonus stuff because they optimize it to run off Apple. I went through 5 FireWire cards to find one that was compatible, I guess since apple only uses a couple different ones those are the ones guaranteed to work. They make a killer iPad app for the StudioLive, of course not for windows. But never had an issue with the StudioOne software on windows.
  • I know this is anecdotal, but alot of times I hear that professionals only use the Mac to appear more professional to their clients, and that they do all their real work on a Windows PC. They complain that they can't get work done on a Mac.
  • Yeah, so as a musician, I can tell you this is completely untrue. In 25 years of semi-professional musicianhood, I've never seen a recording studio use windows software. It's an apple mac world. I'm not saying one platform is better than the other. I'm saying in my observation, I've not seen any windows software in any recording studios.
  • ​Some people do complex audio processing on a PC. Some people just applying preset on an iMac. We can't judge the Brainware by looking at the Hardware or Software. ​ ​ ​ ​ ​
  • Best one yet
  • Utter rubbish.  I own 4 recording studios in Asia - where all the people are.  We quietly retired our Mac several years ago since they did exactly the same thing as PCs but not as quite as fast and at 2 - 3 times the price.
  • Two producers above just rendered your statement false.
  • It's far more complicated than that. One of the biggest issues on PC used to be latency in the sound sub-system. 2ms latency vs 4ms is huge when you're trying to click track. However, that was mostly an argument for 10 years ago as hardware has gotten much better, and we have more overhead. The truth is that most "pro's" use several computers for several different things. What you use as a soft-synth, vs recording, vs mixing... They all have different requirements. Some reply heavily on the conversion DAC (recording), raw HDD speed (mixing), or DSP for soft-synth/effects. If you just want to run Reaper or Garage band OOB, Apple generally has higher quality DSPs with lower latency. If you have an extrnal DSP, as most pro's do, the choice of OS/Machine is trivial. It's a matter of what you're used to.
  • Look everyone, I found a list of fake artists: http://www.image-line.com/flstudio/powerusers.php
  • Post links to your stuff so we can see what art you create with your gear.
  • Well, for quickly creating a nice-sounding composition you can't beat a Mac. Beyond that good luck.
  • Why? There is no reason why a Windows PC can't do the same, if not better and more efficiently than a Mac.
  • When using a DAW, they are all pretty much the same.  The big difference is 3rd party plug-ins for special purposes - the difference between pro and amateur.  In this area the PC simply blows the Mac well out of the water as there are tens of thousands more plugins for PCs than for Macs.  Trust me, I use both.
  • QFT ^  PC and Mac are just tools.  Buying a Mac doesn't increase your artist status.
  • Real artists work on their Macs in Starbucks. And listen to music with beats headphones.
  • Cool story bro.  I've been a graphic designer professionally for the last 10 years and I use Windows. I don't need to prove I'm an artist by the brand of computer I use.  Most people I saw in school or otherwise that buy Macs to 'become an artist' never get beyond making one thing in built in software before giving up.  There are plenty of great artists that use either Windows or Mac because both are just a powerful tool, neither is a right of passage.
  • This rubbish comment make me want to sell my macs. Real wankers elevate the tool over what they are creating , Jealousy is natural when we see the innovation coming from microsoft
  • Targeting the music industry, eh? How about making an updated Remix Cover (The music cover they unveiled with the SP2 and Surface 2) for the SP3, and reviving the "Click In: Do More" campaign? There's so much potential there, such a shame Microsoft isn't acting upon it. They really need to let third parties make their own covers for Surface devices.
  • ^^^This! I was one of the "lucky" 500 winners of the #projectremix contest and won a Surface 2 with the "Music Kit" (Music remix Blade/cover and app) and since it has been sitting and collecting dust.. no updates, no new news or anything. The "click in and do more" campaign was just a proof of concept evidently, and I think they were counting on 3rd party developers to jump on board and make new hardware (blades?) and apps... but apparently, the whole idea just kinda died.
  • Had they ever actually released the blade for sale I would have bought a pro 2. Here's to hoping they have the evolution of this idea planned for pro 3
  • Agree!! Need to have more surface compatible accessories
  • I have reason 7 on my surface pro O.G. Works like a charm. I just need that power keyboard so I can get 11 hrs of battery life!
  • You better upgrade it to Reason 8. The new interface is awesome for touch!
  • Finale, Adobe Audition, Indesign, PhotoShop, Illustrator I'm a composer for band and orchestra, and these are the *must have* tools for music creation and output. I don't do the DAW thing, but I've been told SP3 handles that nicely as well.
  • Any recommendations to the best free music production program that I can use on my tablet? Cubase is pricey, sibelius is a little bit classical and the one in using now (fl studio groove) is a little dumbed down
  • Fl Studio is pretty cheap yeah.
  • Anything out there that is free? I have an after school club that wants to make music on computers.
  • Garageband on IOS and OSX. FL studio 11 lite for Windows.
  • Basicly : Get cubase . Costs around 400bugs but it allows You to run and install it on 4-5 Computers all at The Same time ;) high quallity for not mich money
  • Presonus StudioOne is what I use, from recording to mastering and creating your cd you get it all for $399... They also have a pretty powerful free version, I used that for years.
  • Reaper 4, you get 60 days trial but you can use it no restriction after that also but you will be obligated to buy it. 50 60$ . Been using it as my studio DAW software for a long time. Best choice
  • Reaper Is the Best Kept Secret In The Music Industry.  Love it!  
  • FL Studio isn't dumbed down, it's just not as clunky as other DAWs.  Don't get me wrong tho; jumping in for the first time will be overwhelming but basically the big difference is FL is just more intuitive than the competition.  The pricing is fair too.
  • I use Sonar X2 Producer on my SP3 and also there's software that allows me to program my Roland XV-2020 and my M-Audio Keystation Pro 88 that you cannot find on either iOS or Android.  And the MIDI support is fantastic.  And, while not a requirement, I was surprised to find that the built-in speakers of the SP3 were much better sounding than I expected.
  • Witch video editors software can be run on the surface pro 3? Now proud user if mbp retina 2012. In use with Final cut pro, motion and aftereffects cc package.
  • Camtasia got an app
  • And adobe suit should have a win 8 Version too
  • The witches and wizards are all on Apple. The surface is a holy ground. Any WITCH that tries to establish itself on surface will be burnt ALIVE. S/@-;)
  • I use Sony Vegas professional. About as powerful as video editing gets. Runs surprisingly well on the sp3.
  • I use Pinnacle Studio 16.  Works like a charm.  Only issue is the size of the screen. Obviously.
  • Sony vegas pro...
  • The whole Adobe suite runs on Surface Pro, which means you now have the best tools available for video and graphics work.
  • I've used almost all of the Adobe Creative Suite on my Pro 2 and it ran like a dream. Can't beat the portability, either.
  • When I first seen the surface I thought it would be the perfect center for portable studio work but after getting the specs it falls a bit short. The biggest issue and clearly a complete oversight is the lack of ports. Music making requires midi controllers, audio interfaces, synthesizers etc. Yeah you can use a hub but a lot of pro music gear doesn't play kindly with hubs. They need direct connections to ensure minimal audio latency.
  • ^^^^^ this.
  • The SP3 has a USB3 port, not a USB2 port, so latency isn't much of an issue.  I've never noticed an latency issues using a Orico USB3 hub on my SP2.  SP3 might be even better.
  • Can Microsoft improve sp3's audio quality first? It's no where good for its price point
  • No one using the sp3 for audio production should be using the built in speakers anyway.
  • There's not a computer on the market that have any right using built in speakers for audio production.  Get headphones and a pair of studio monitors.
  • Ii love using "Movie Edit Pro 2014 Plus" and "Photostory 2014 Deluxe" by MAGIX on mine
  • Sonar X3 is probably the best for the surface pro 3 because of the built in multi touch capabilities.​
  • Soundtweaker, how many live inputs have you seen it handle at once, and how many tracks / effects have you seen it able to handle during editing? If Surface Pro 3 w/ Sonar X3 Producer can comfortably push 16 live inputs and hold the weight of editing with effects (within reason, of course) I'm ON that!
  • I don't do live, but I've had upwards of 20 tracks - each driving VSTi software synths - mixing down on Sonar X3 with zero problems to date. The touch interface isn't as good as it could be but it;s heading in the right direction.
  • I thought this was related to the music oriented touch controller they released alongside the Surface 2. Wouldn't that work with a Surface 3? I think it could be really cool to help use it with a DAW.
  • I plan on grabbing pro tools for my surface and record my tracks direct to the device.
  • Is Ableton Live touch-optimized yet?
  • How many tracks are you guys maxing out with the SP3?
  • ^^^This question! 8 inputs would be the minimum. 16 would make the $ale!!!
  • Since no one has mentioned it: Reaper.fm. A brilliant piece of programming; great company philosophy.
  • Actually I only just downloaded this yesterday but haven't had a chance to play around with it but it looks the goods
  • Give it a good look. I'm a professional; I replaced pro tools with Reaper ten years ago and am still amazed by its flexibility.
  • I'm a songwriter looking for some new recording software... What's good for Windows and price points? Also, do I need an interface or just direct? Thank you!
  • I was a big ProTools user for 10 years, but after I paid $300 to upgrade from PT8 to PT9, Avid decided to upgrade again for PT10 not even 12 months later. Instead, I purchase PreSonus Studio One. Best decision ever! It also works with touch screens too
  • Thts right go for the music creators who get macs for that purpose
  • Microsoft surface pro 3 ad spotted on THE ELCLASSICO match
  • I know people who have iPads just for Garage Band. Take that!
  • Anyone using Fl Studio in the surface ?
    How good is it for music making ?
  • I'm not using Surface but FL Studio is as good as other popular DAW's. Can't wait for FLS12 with it's gorgeous vectorial design
  • A thread about Surface Pro 3 as a Digital Audio Workstation? EUREKA! Got a question. Current (long overdue for an upgrade) set-up is... OS: Vista | Software: Sonar 8.5 Producer | Devices: Tascam FW-1804 (Firewire) & a slave with another 8 inputs for a total of 16 live audio inputs. Looking forward to how the new Sonar versions support touch interface. Question: Any feedback/experience with Sonar X3 Producer on a Surface Pro 3 handling up to 16 live inputs at once? Also, how many tracks / effects can it handle during editing? If there is a better forum for this feel free to point me to it. Also, BTW, proud Lumia Icon & Surface Pro 2 owner right here!
  • On the Surface Pro 2 I've had projects with around 20 audio tracks with various effects running perfectly at 24 bit / 48 khz. I'm using Cubase. 
  • I've had a Sonar file with more than 20 tracks - only a few tracks of live audio, the rest mostly VSTi instruments.  I've never had a problem.  AND I've been doing this with a Surface Pro 2.  I'll be buying more SP3s in the new year. FYI:  I also do 3D graphics and have had no problems to date with Cinema4D and Adobe After Effects with Element 3D.  These are GREAT little computers and not simply big phones like iPad or Android tablets.
  • It's pretty smart for Microsoft to go after professional markets with the Surface Pro, they are a more likely group to easily afford one as a trial piece of hardware. With a good experience comes a good vibe towards the brand, and we might see a trickle-down brand recognition. By the way, it made my day to see John's post title not include "Microsoft TV commercial shows off Surface Pro 3's musical software tool support" :P
  • How can I get this awesome background ?  
  • I'm an Architect, and there couldn't be a more perfect device for me. I use my SP3 as a digital notebook/sketchbook. I also run Autodesk AutoCAD, Revit, and Sketchbook Pro. 3D modeling software like Sketchup, or Rhino also work flawlessly. Don't forget Adobe Creative Suite..... The versatility of the SP3 is unmatched. If you want to run Revit on a Macbook, you need to run in parallels, and have to sacrifice half the RAM...... Deal breaker. I have even done some light rendering in the SP3.... The beauty of the tablet is that everything runs natively. I couldn't recommend it enough! Little off the music topic, but professional software nonetheless
  • I am a producer and use use both a mac and Surface Pro 3 with Pro Tools, works a treat when I need to be more mobile.
  • Can you please tell me where you got that amazing wallpaper?
  • It's not the high end tools we need more of, though more are welcome. It's the more easy to use simpler music tools and sound generators we need more of.
  • I've been using Cakewalk SONAR on a Surface Pro 2 for a number of months now and it's well up to the job. I also have an extensive collection of VSTi software synthesizers, some of which date back ten years or more. Sure there's always the problem that many of them were never designed for touch, but at least they all play. This is certainly an area where Surface simply blows the competition away.  Especially iPretend. 
  • It's very simple.  A mouse with 2 buttons is ALWAYS going to be quicker and easier to use than a mouse with one button.  Unless you want to use 2 hands. 
  • I love the power of Surface Pro 3 to run these desktop apps. I do use Adobe Audition for some basic recording stuff. However, I would love to see more touch-friendly options -- trying to work precise interface on the surface screen is tedious as best.  Ditto for Adobe products.  It is promising to see Adobe start to turn on more "touch" features to their desktop PhotoShop and Illustrator. Hopefully the trend continues. It would be nice to be able to easly do quick/essential functions in a format that is touch friendly...but still have all the desktop app power when I drop it into it's dock and can see everything on two large screens.  That's the real selling point of the Surface Pro 3 IMHO. We're just not quite there yet.  By the way, whatever happened to the cool Surface Music Kit? 
  • As drummer i am afraid ill have too purchase a Mac sometime i want back tracks too play on and record my drums. But u only see Apples doing this. A friend of my working as sound engineer swears on it. There is a long way too go for microsoft on this i'm not convinced here.
  • Are you kidding?  Windows has been doing this for eons with all of the best audio apps on the market.  There isn't a single DAW or audio software that's worth it's own weight that isn't on Windows.
  • After putting Sibelius on my SP3, I must say that impressed is not a word that I would conjure for the expirience. Scaling is a real issue in many programs, but Sibelius provides a cliche'd example of it; nothing is scaled correctly, half of the options are blurry beyond releif, and there is virtually zero touch friendliness about the whole thing. I hope and wish that Microsoft can fix these issues in a similar manner to Adobe's suites.
  • How well does the Surface Pro 3 works with the Novation Impulse Midi Keyboard? Can you do a review for that? Please?