Panos Panay and the Surface team just finished their Reddit AMA, here are the highlights

Panos Panay and the Surface have just wrapped up their AMA on Reddit. That’s the informal Q&A session with the community at Reddit. The focus was of course the newly announced Surface Pro 3, but the team also fielded questions about Surface in general.

Below we’ve pulled out all the info that Panos and team shared from the AMA. Just sit back and read all his answers right here.

What’s output resolution for the Surface Pro 3 without the dock?     

“Hi, this is Pete from the Surface Team. The mDP port on the device can drive a 4K display - this is true for the i7, i5, and i3 - while still running the Surface Pro 3 display.” (Source)

What’s the number one thing you’ll say to someone asking why they should get the Surface Pro 3 over this laptop and that tablet?

"Great question- high level, our statement says it all. It is the tablet that can replace the laptop. This is the one product you need to do it all. It acts as a tablet, and can be used as a laptop. It is great in both scenarios. There is no product out there that compares. Too many times folks are stuck in the middle, have to carry two devices, or don't want to lug around the weight.” (Source)

What happened to the Blades concept? Will we see any unique covers or 3rd parties making covers?

“The ability to click in is something that was part of Surface from the very beginning. With the new Type Cover for Surface Pro 3, we take productivity to the next level with the double fold hinge adding magnetic stability and a much larger track pad for even more accurate 'mousing'. As for any additional covers, you'll just have to wait and see.” (Source)

Does the omission of a non-Pro Surface during last week's presentation mean the end of the product and Windows RT?

“Windows on ARM continues to be an important part of the Windows strategy. The Surface 2 (which runs Windows RT) is a great choice for both play and getting work done. Windows on ARM got even better with recent additions including third-party MDM, workplace join and Outlook, which is preinstalled along with the other Microsoft Office apps (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote), with the Windows RT 8.1 update.” (Source)             

Is the battery tradeoff for the performance of the Intel Core i7 model of the Surface Pro 3?

“The battery performance is the same across the i3, i5, and i7. The i7 will see benchmark scores appx. 15-20% better than the SP3 i5.” (Source)

Does the surface touchpad have gestures like the Macbooks have?

“Yes the track pad supports both edge gestures and two finger gestures for scrolling and zooming.” (Source)

Have you done anything to improve the keyboard plastic so that it does not tear off?

“We have done a ton of research and design work in the new Type Covers. All materials have improved. We have a team that focusses on materials design exclusively. The whole construction of the Type Cover is redesigned to be more robust and more productive.” (Source)

Will it be possible to have the top pen button open the desktop version of OneNote or anything else?

“Glad to hear you love the new pen! With regards to OneNote metro -- we are making it configurable to launch the classic desktop for users who want that experience. With regards to general configurability of the top buton -- at this point, we are not planning to make it generally configurable. Eraser on the top button -- great feedback.” (Source)

Why is it so difficult in the Windows ecosystem to create a touchpad experience as good as the one found in Apple MacBooks?

“A couple of things that we have done with the new TypeCover. 60%+ larger trackpad area, embedded glass beads for smoother feel, and a mechanical button...provides greatly improved feel. Trackpad also support Precision Track Pad features with Windows to support gestures including; Edgy, Pan, & Pinch/Zoom.” (Source)

As a student already invested in Microsoft's ecosystem (with Windows, Office, OneDrive and Xbox), what benefits does the Surface Pro 3 bring me as opposed to another Windows Hybrid with Office included for free?

“Thanks for the questions. Few things I'd call out based on spending a bunch of time with students using Surface today. First thing is the device itself. It is super thin, much lighter than earlier versions of Surface Pro and as a student, you will love the note-taking experience.” (Source)

Is the i5 128gb model of the Surface Pro 3 powerful enough for me to run Microsoft Office software, Visual Studio Ultimate and other processor intensive software that I may need for 6th form?

“The i5 is definitely powerful enough to run Office, Visual Studio Ultimate and other powerful software. If you missed the launch video, we showcased Surface Pro 3 running Revit (powerful building modeling software from Autodesk), Adobe Photoshop and other cool software and apps.” (Source)

How good honestly is the new trackpad on the Type cover 3? Because my laptop trackpad is perfect (because it has real clickable buttons), and the Type cover 2 is almost unusable for my needs.

“You will love the new trackpad. We reduced friction by 78% vs. our previous trackpads, it is 60% bigger than the previous Surface Pro. This is as good as trackpads you will find on some of the best laptops.” (Source)

Which is best, the black type cover or the royal blue one? Because the royal blue one looks so sweet.

“The best Type Cover is whatever color you like best. The blue one is awesome IMO, but I'm writing on a purple right now.” (Source)Bottom of Form

Is there any possibility a firmware update bringing Connected Standby on Surface Pro 2 in a near future?

“The Pro2 was not designed for Connected Standby. Pro3 is.” (Source)

How long does it take for the Surface Pro 3 to come out of Standby when pressing the button? Is it several seconds like previous Surface Pros?

“Pro 3 is a Connected Standby system, it will wake up in half a second. If you do not touch the system for more than 4 hours, it will go to hibernate, and then deep sleep to go to single digit miliwatts. At that point it will take longer, like a pro2 coming out of hibernate.” (Source)

What is Microsoft doing to encourage partners to make everything from cases to chargers to nifty gadgets for the Surface Pro 3?

“We're working with a bunch of partners to get great accessories out there. You’ll see cases more quickly than other things, but you'll see mounts, protective cases, etc.” (Source)

What happened and why can't I buy a Surface Remix blade at a Microsoft Store?

“The ability to click in is something that was part of Surface from the very beginning. We're always exploring new products that will make Surface awesome for our customers. Stay tuned for more.” (Source)

How is it possible to call the Surface Pro 3 a laptop killer when the device does not come with a keyboard?

“When we first launched Surface, we sold it only in a bundle format. The top feedback we got was that people loved the color covers and wanted full choice (but stores wouldn't sell all color bundles) and some people definitely wanted to buy without cover.” (Source)

How long does it take to fully charge the SP3?

“SP3 will charge from 0% to 80% in 2 hours and to 100% in 4 hours.” (Source)

What’s the longevity of the batteries in the Surface Pro 3?

“The batteries on our Surface products are designed with some of the highest charge cycles for consumer electronic devices. This means that the battery can get charged daily (5 days a week) for over 4.5 years and still maintain 80% capacity.” (Source)

Can the battery be replaced on the Surface Pro 3?

“The battery can be replaced, but not by the user. The process would be to contact support and send the device in to have it replaced.The response above that "the battery can get charged daily (5 days a week) for over 4.5 years and still maintain 80% capacity." reflects the testing we've done on the battery. If the battery life becomes an issue you should contact Microsoft support.Bottom of Form” (Source)

How much does the battery cost to replace?

“IF the battery fails during the warranty period, we’ll replace the battery. IF the battery fails after the warranty period, you’ll call Microsoft support and arrange for the battery to be replaced. The cost will be $200 USD.” (Source)

Are there future plans on changing the graphics controller, giving that you have more space in the new larger layout?

“Hi, the i7 has Intel HD graphics 5000, the i5 has Intel HD Graphics 4400, and the i3 has Intel HD Graphics 4200.” (Source)

Will there be any way to quickly enable/disable the functionality of the Windows button on the Surface Pro 3 so it does not get accidentally pressed while using the stylus?

“When we made Surface Pro 3, we wanted a device that worked not only in landscape mode, but worked beautifully in portrait mode. This is super important for things like reading, annotating docs, etc. Putting the home button where it is in SP3 makes working in portrait natural. Now that said, we also invested a ton of effort into ensuring that when working in landscape mode, you don't trigger the button by accident. This includes things like palm rejection, guard sensors that prevent inadvertent hits, etc. Mike (Gabe) is one of our favorite Surface fans, so we're working closely with him to understand and address the issues he is specifically having.” (Source)

Can we control power setting? What happened to High Performance Mode on Surface Pro 3 it appears we cannot change it. Is this a Thermal issue?

"Not a thermal decision, related to connected standby. We are continuing to review options.” (Source)

Has the Wi-Fi been Improved over the Pro2, Throughput / Range?

“Pro3 has 802.11ac -- if you have an 802.11ac access point, you will see much higher throughput.” (Source)

When will we be able to demo the Surface Pro 3 in store?

“Demo units will be showing up on June 6th in Best Buy stores.” (Source)

When Windows 9 comes around, will we be able to upgrade to it on the Surface Pro 3?

“Yes. Whatever the next version is called.” (Source)

Why won't you release a white Type Cover?

“Not many people were buying white, so we did not launch it this time around.” (Source)                                                                 

What considerations have stopped mobile SIM card/3G/LTE support being directly included in any of the Surface Pro series?

“It’s not in the roadmap right now, but we hear the requests. We have USB so lots of people are using those and "mifi" tethering solutions. Battery certainly has been a consideration to date...” (Source)

“When you buy your Surface Pro 3, do me a favor, and take a close look at the power connector." (Source)

What happened to the darker color on Surface devices?

“The dark titanium was great. We spent a lot of time to study and develop extremely scratch resistant finishes. The magnesium, Surface is made from has a silver sheen and we decided to have it shine through the semi clear top coat of Surface Pro 3.” (Source)

Photographers use full size SD cards and for those with micro cards there are adapters, what was the thinking behind only offering the micro option?

“One of the goals with Surface Pro 3 is thin. Space inside the device is critical and always a valued resource. SD functionality was important for us and has been since the first products introduced. Options are the adapter you mention or connecting your camera directly to full size USB.” (Source)

What are the reasons behind the 3:2 aspect ratio in the Surface Pro 3?

“We chose 3:2 cause it works great both in landscape and portrait. It is a 1.5 aspect ratio... vs. 16:9 which 1.77 is really geared more towards landscape. 3:2 is also more a kin to paper… something natural and familiar for people. Given we wanted to build a device that worked well in all 4 modes of input: it had to be wide enough to house a full keyboard, tall enough in landscape so you can see all your emails lists.. Facebook posts, etc… and it had to be balanced in your hand to hold it in portrait so you could write like you would on a notepad and touch the screen. We mapped a lot of the available digital content… took their aspect ratios... and the aspect ratio that was a balanced fit for all.. was 3:2. I really like 3:2... Cause when you divide 3:2 in half in landscape... you get two 4:3 screens in portrait. So Pro3 in split screen mode is like running to 8” 4:3 screen side by side... pretty cool! The other reason why we like 3:2.. is cause of its kinship with paper. 8.5x11 piece of paper is 1.33 ratio... but once you take into account the margins... about 1.25” on both sides... and 1” top and bottom (various standards).. means an “Active area” of 9”x6”.. that is where 9x6 comes from.. now take 9/6 and reduce the fraction.. (divide by 3).. and your 3:2 J . For the flexibility in experience we have designed pro 3 for... typing, mousing, touch, and pen: 3:2 is a great choice... hits a sweet spot in productivity, is compact and easy to carry, and adapts to both landscape and portrait well.” (Source)

Please confirm on the processor + GPU specs for all models - helps in decision making.

“Here you go: i3 – 4020Y - 1.50GHz with Intel HD graphics 4200 I5 - 4300U - 1.6GHz with Intel Turbo Boost up to 2.90GHz with Intel HD Graphics 4400 i7 – 4650U – 1.7GHz Intel Turbo Boost up to 3.3GHz with Intel HD graphics 5000.” (Source)

While the double-fold definitely looks like it adds a lot to "lapable" stability and balance, does the extra hinge on the cover also help minimize any slight "bowing" of the keyboard when on an uneven surface?

“We looked at many different options to address 'lapability', both how much space on the lap and more stability. The 'fold' addressed both of these pieces. When you try it, try it both with fold down and fold up striking improvement. Another element we included was to change the substrate on the keyboard to a honeycomb structure. This let us take weight out, make thinner, and increase stability.” (Source)

Is there some kind of anti-fingerprint coating on the SP3's display?

"Ya.. we use an oleophobic coating." (Source)

And that's a wrap. Have any other questions about the Surface Pro 3? Sound off below. Don't forget to check out some killer Surface Pro 3 articles linked below.

  • I won't one
  • Yes, I won't be getting one either.
  • I won't be doing the same because I want one. Just have other priorities before I can actually get it.
  • I believe you wanted to say " I want one" xD
  • I understand him dodging the question about bundled keyboards, but it falls flat, IMO. This is billed as a laptop replacement, but the keyboard is an extra purchase. Yes, he said when they initially bundled, people wanted choices. Here is the very simple solution: Every purchase of a SP3 includes a voucher that the customer can redeem at the time of sale for a type cover of their choice. Done. What nobody will admit is it's about profit. Don't get me wrong, I'm going to slap down the Visa like everyone else, but it sure would be nice if that $1,299 price-point included all necessary to replace my other laptops... Also, he referred to "metro." I thought that was a dead term to Microsoft due to some litigation or something?
  • any idea how much it cost them to make the keyboard? how do you know how much profit  they make for each keyboard sale?  i see this point being made and i would like to get the inside scoop.  thanks in advance.
  • I have no clue. I'm sure they are costly to produce, just like the SP3 is. My point is the average joe-blow reads an article about the SP3, says "hmm, laptop replacement - I'M IN!" then they stop cold at realizing $799/$999/1,299, watever is really $130+tax more. I know, they will just give in and buy it, but will they? Microsoft couldn't keep these on the shelf if the keyboard was included. That's my opinion anyway. Of course they will still sell tons of them, but if they really want to smash the market, it would be a wise move from a marketing standpoint. You know, that it will replace a MBA or whatever in one purchase. In it's current form, it cannot. Again, I'm a huge fan and placed my order on day one, but it is a bit confusing how it's marketed vs. what's in the box. I know the SP1/SP2 were no different, but the SP3 has squarely marketed itself as a consolidation device. Not possible without a seperate purchase.
  • They should surprise all the pre orders with free keyboards. Just for blindly trusting Microsoft and sp3 without even touching or seeing our knowing much about it.
    Didn't somebody did something like that before? Nokia gave free wireless chargers our something???
  • I'm one of the ones that don't really want or need a keyboard with the Surface... when I'm on the move I'm more than happy to use the on-screen keyboard. When I sit down at a desk I'm more than likely going to plug in a full keyboard, mouse and monitor. Laptop keyboards are irritating at best over longer periods of time and I currently always use a full keyboard + mouse when doing anything that requires extended amounts of typing or mousing.
  • There were articles in the past for the original versions that put their manufacturing costs at about $18 if I remember correctly.
  • oh how I hate this. "it only costs $X to make it, why does it sell for >$X?" because you are only thinking about gross margin. you are forgetting about R&D costs, marketing costs, all other sorts of costs that a company has to account for in order to turn a profit. would they sell more if they gave it away? sure.
  • I get your point, but at the same time you can get an HP Pavilion 11 x2 with a similar 4GB of ram, 128GB ssd, and i5 processor for $630... and it includes a keyboard with a touchpad, battery, and hinges. Granted the HP case is cheap plastic, has no pen/Wacom, and has a lower quality/res screen... but if HP can make profit at $630, I am at a loss as to how MS sells largely the same thing for $1200 ($1000 Pro 2, and $200 powered keyboard) and still manages to loose money. Surely the housing, pen, and display do not add $570 to the cost. Something is horribly off here.
  • Your logic. Miniturisation costs a lot of money.
  • I work for a US retailer and the markup on the keyboards (at least the previous models) is significant, while there is no markup on the tablets themselves. Unfortunately this is a common practice on most electronics. I don't want to get into specific costs but I couldn't see the keyboards costing more than 40-50 dollars to manufacture.
  • Being that this is also a legitimate tablet on it's own, and like every single other tablet on the market, third party keyboards are the only option. Price competition with Ipads, feature and size competition with MacBook Air's, power competition with Mac Book Pro's. And all that with one device. I don't have any problem with this approach to their product.  The Surface Pro 3 offers a category of it's own and nothing on the market at the moment is close.  Especially in considering this is the same device with the exact same OS for the "laptop" and tablet.
  • I personally don't have a problem buying the keyboard seperately (outside of it being aggravating) but I'm willing to be the average consumer is ticked by it. That's my only point. Geeks will do so without hesitation, average joes will pause and go from there - which will result in turned away customers, for sure. Hell, offer a 50% discount if you buy it at the time you do the SP3. Just an idea to lessen the sting for Aunt Betty who wants to get rid of her iPad and 17" boat anchor HP junker.
  • I dont really understand the angst here. If it had automatically come bundled with a keyboard at a higher price point, you'd be complaining that MS was forcing it on everyone. This way, everyone gets to choose color and whether they even want one at all. God forbid, you have to add two numbers together to get the total cost...
  • Exactly. You just can't win. I am sure they'd love to give the keyboards away to increase sales, but they need to recoup some of their costs and pay their staff. Plus you know they are well made and are pretty much worth it. Some people will buy it and use a bluetooth or wired keyboard and buy the snap-on cover later. Or maybe wait and see what 3rd party covers come out. MS are giving people choice, no idea why people are moaning.
  • This epitomizes Microsoft's preference for consumer choice, but at what point does choice hinder a sale vs. help it?  If you give people too much choice, they can get overwhelmed and will hold off or just buy whatever is simpler. This is why Apple tries to keep their product lines as straightforward as possible.   In this case, when realizing the SP3 doesn't include the cool keyboard, how many consumers will just buy an iPad or MBA instead?  Keep in mind that a good chunk of any tablet buying audience might already be in the Apple ecosystem via an iPhone or older iPad, making another Apple purchase more compelling.
  • Anything larger than 9.75" is not a legitimate tablet.
  • Until Apple comes out with the iPad pro, right?
  • Or instead of a voucher, have Microsoft Stores sell it included, and choose color at checkout. Have it available for purchase separately at other reatil stores and leave it up to the store whether or not a "price-match" for the free cover will apply. Would be a great way to sell surfaces and promote Microsoft stores too.
  • As usual, an MS has a true feature that no other device from no other company has and people have to find ways to make it more of an inconvenience. Sad part is one ass says it, then everywhere you look someone else is regurgitating the same things. "How can it be a replacement for a laptop with no keyboard"... well how come it isn't... because you're not used to seeing it like that?
  • Seriously. Sometimes I get exhausted hearing the same complaint over and over. Instead of simply saying the PRICE is what they are unwilling to pay for, at which point that becomes an individual choice, somehow people make it look like it's a bad decision to sell the keyboard separately! Its not like the keyboard is scarce or anything is it? People, if the SP3 + keyboard is beyond your budget, no big deal! There are lots of other less expensive computing devices out there! Myself I'd love to have the SP3 but can't afford one now, so what? I'd also like a Mercedes, and a house by the beach too! There's no crime in relatively expensive premium products. These devices are not cheap to make. It is unfair to demand them at much lower price points, that's why we have alternatives to fit most pockets right?
  • The very simple solution actually is to leave the system exactly as it is. Build a complicated voucher system that other retailers would have to support vs just buy it separately. This situation isn't much different than buying a desktop that doesn't have a monitor included. Is Dell or hp screwing over customers when they show a desktop with a monitor while including the "monitor sold separately" fine print? The Aunt Bettys you are concerned about will learn about the Surface Pro 3 on TV, where the fine print about it being sold separately is right there.
  • The Surface is priced in line with MacBook pricing when you include the keyboard, so it wouldnt be any cheaper if they bundled it together. Personally when I bought my SP2 the fact that it didnt come bundled with a keyboard was perfect as I chose an origional touch cover saving around £60 at the time. Maybe to keep everyone happy they should just add keyboards to the Surface device page on the Microsoft store so that it looks like its bundled. That way you can choose with or without keyboard as well as a colour. Obviously the price would be exactly the same and in reality they would still send you 2 boxs but at least they would have a bundle price.
  • They turned that around quickly. It was embarrassing at first, but they made it ok by the end.
  • yeah, but that performance does make me second guess whether to buy a SP3.  I think the points that were made re: the keyboard were on do you expect to replace a laptop without one?  I also think that the trackpad answer was awful, and deserves a straight up answer on why its not as good, and how to fix it.    
  • Why not a nvidia video Card?
  • Because that would literally double the TDP
  • are you really asking that?........
    wow, do you understand intel chips now have the cpu and gpu in same chip?
    adding nvidia or amd, would add weight and cost and of course thickness.
    Better ask intel to start using money and get good at gpus.
  • cost, battery life, heat...I'm not even counting the dimension change to accomodate the chip and a fan to cool it.
  • Some of them didn't feel like answers, but just promoting their product...
  • He also dodged the question regarding the possibility of dedicated graphics controller. He just listed what they're currently offering.
    I think the i7 paired with a half decent graphics card could even be an amazing desktop replacement for us semi pro PhotoShoppers & AE/Premier users.
  • They seemed to avoid answering some of the questions directly. Interesting...... And I wonder what this means: “When you buy your Surface Pro 3, do me a favor, and take a close look at the power connector."
  • I'm wondering if the dock you can get for it might have a Thunderbolt connection - seems he was pointing to that somehow having the bandwidth for that type of connection.
  • “When you buy your Surface Pro 3, do me a favor, and take a close look at the power connector."   I'm very curious about this comment as well....
  • Same.
  • Wow, Americans really don't get sarcasm.
  • I'm not 'MURICAN, and there was no '/s' to indicate sarcasm.
  • Was pretty excited to see that and had noticed this before. If you look at the power connector on the SP3 itself, it has a ton of extra connection points. It was mentioned in context with thunderbolt, so could we be seeing some future additional accessories.... maybe external gpu, like mentioned... who knows. :)
  • Reminds me of when the Surface Pro was released, and everyone noticed new connectors on the bottom where the keyboard snaps in. We later found out it was for the Power cover. It's been mentioned that the Surface Pro 3 dock isn't a pass-through like the Pro 2 dock, and it's connections come from the power connector on the side of the Pro 3. If that's the case, this connection must be a higher bandwidth port in order to support the docks three USB 3 ports, two USB 2 ports, Gigabit ethernet, and a 4k mini-display port.  Perhaps it is Thunderbolt, and in the future, we'll have a different dock or peripherals like external graphics cards. 
  • That wasn't fair how that one guy won a Surface Pro 3. ):[
  • Where is the thunderbolt link? You could have external GPU's and make it a desktop replacement, I thought the "ultrabook" standard included thunderbolt?
    “When you buy your Surface Pro 3, do me a favor, and take a close look at the power connector."
    I wonder what this means??
  • Seems pretty obvious to me. Stop demanding to have someone hold your hand and think about it.
  • He probably was being sarcastic. I wouldn't read to much into that.