Why I Ultimately Dumped my Surface Pro 3

There comes a time when enough, is just enough…

Surface pro 3

Its hard to know where to start with this one.  I’ve been a Windows guy for so long – nearly 20 years – that in the end… I feel like I abandoned my post, or something.  However, there comes a time when you know you’ve fought the good fight and that you just can’t fight any more. I never thought I would ever say this, but personally, I really think I’m done with Windows and Windows 10. So much so, that I’ve sold my Surface Pro 3.

Over the past year, I’ve written a bit on how much of a problem OneNote and Windows 10 can be together. Funny thing is, I thought it was limited to Office 2013.  Unfortunately, its not.

Even with OneNote 2016 ink still disappears on all Surface Pro tablets running both Windows 10 and OneNote.

I’ve also noticed that while things should be getting more and more stable on Windows 10, they aren’t.  They just aren’t.  Not on my Surface Pro 3.

And to be quite honest, I was willing to live with it. I was going to figure out some way to work through it. I wasn’t going to be easy, but I was resigned to it, in a sense.

That is until I found this thread.

This is not going to end during the life cycle of this device. Period.

The problem exists on the Surface Pro 4. Though it’s a bit different, it’s the same type of problem.

It became clear to me after reading through that thread, that its not going to end. So… I sold my Surface Pro 3. What have I replaced it with?

Nothing yet.

Honestly, I’m not certain what I should do at this point.

The Surface Pro line is proving to be a bit unstable and honestly, unreliable for what I need it to do.  Its also a bit more expensive than I want or need it to be.  I am looking for a way to take hand written, notes in meetings.  The Surface Pro 3 was perfect for that, to a point. It ran OneNote 2013 well enough.

So why not return my Surface Pro 3 to Windows 8.1?  That’s a fair question…

There are really two big issues here:

  1. Windows 8.1 is Clumsy
    Windows 8.1 still has the Windows 8 UI. While there are apps like Start8 and ModernMix that can help hide some of the issues and problems; but its really just a coat of paint for both the Start Screen and ModernUI based apps, nothing more.
  2. Windows 10 isn’t Going Away
    Microsoft is getting aggressive with Windows 10. Their Windows 10 upgrade stub that installs as part of a Windows Update component.  While you can defer it for a while, its going to do its best to assert itself on your computer. I’m not entirely certain you can say no forever. I may be wrong – I hope I am – but it may be true.The OS has been downloading to computers without the consent of their owners. It could install itself overnight, also without their consent.

I thought long and hard about just taking my Surface Pro 3 back to Windows 8.1 and just using Office 2013 or Office 2016 (and ultimately OneNote) there. However, in the end, I decided against that, largely because of number 2, above.

So, out the door it went.  I just wasn’t willing to deal with its problems and issues any longer. I had had enough.

At the end, when I went to take my Surface Pro 3 back to Factory fresh with Windows 10, I had all sorts of trouble, too. Windows 10 would not reset itself on my Surface Pro 3.  Most of the time, it prepped itself and then simply restarted and went back to my Windows 10 account. When I tried to use the Advanced Restart Settings – which booted to the UEFI where you can also refresh, reset and even wipe the drive if you wanted – my Surface Pro 3 froze when trying to reset itself… more than once (I know because it sat at that screen for over three hours each time I tried. I tried three times…).

I had to pull the Windows 8.1 recovery USB I made many months ago and use it; and even then, it wasn’t smooth sailing with that either. I had trouble resetting the device with that too. I had to try ore than once with it, and then ultimately I had to wipe the drive to get MY data off when it sold.

What does this mean for you?

Probably not too much, unless you’re having similar ink and stability issues with Windows 10 on your Surface Pro device (the thread that I’ve been referencing with disappearing ink has a couple posts in it which indicate that it also happens with the original Surface Pro and the Surface Pro 2 as well).

If you are, then you have some kind of decision to make – either put up with it, stay on or move back to Windows 8.1, or sell yours, like I did.

Do you have a Surface Pro device?  Are you having issues with disappearing ink?  Is yours unstable?  Are you using Windows 8.1 or Windows 10? Are you using Office 2013 or Office 2016? Why don’t you meet me in the discussion area below and give me your thoughts on this and tell me what you think you’re going to do?

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  • Ovidiu Lazar

    I never had any problems with my Surface Pro 2… actually.. the windows is impressively stable ( sometimes I forget that I have a mac for working ).. and the ink never disappeared – must be a bug with one note..

    • Christopher Spera

      Consider yourself lucky. There are some that do, some that don’t. I’m not entirely certain what the differentiation is, because I’ve asked, and I can’t seem to figure it out, either.

      I’m not certain how this will ultimately work out for the OneNote Team or for Microsoft in general. These are huge issues, and it seems to be happening to enough people to get some real attention.

      I’m not certain what’s preventing Microsoft from ultimately resolving this issue; but it has to be huge…

  • i really get what you went through, I have the same struggle with onenote, the desktop version have disappearing ink, the store version have jumping ink (issue specific to people who use RTL, so I have to switch the devices language to English even my mother device) and on android onenote don’t even display Arabic texts, the ios version is kind of the most complete to me (no ink issue, and can display Arabic texts, funny that what makes it the most complete is basic features that should work on all versions )

    I think the onenote need to stop developing new features and for half a year just focus on fixing the basics issues

    • Christopher Spera

      The OneNote Team has been working hard on this bug. The two support threads that exist on Disappearing Ink in Windows 10 + OneNote have a lot of information in them about what that team is doing to try to squash this bug. Unfortunately, none of it has removed or resolved this bug.

  • Morayloon

    I’ve never had a problem running Win 10 and Office 2016 on my Surface Pro 3 and using ink. Ink notes made on Surface sync with desktop and table and phone no bother at all. Maybe it’s because I’m a lucky guy 😎 The weird thing for me is that Excel 2016 works fine on Surface, wee tablet but keeps having fits on my desktop.

  • Wow! Talk about over-reacting. Certainly there are some severe issues with poor quality patches right now both for Windows 10 and Office. I think Microsoft are trying to do far too much, too quickly and need to slow down slightly. They certainly need to get their teams together and give them a serious talking to.

    To Ditch the Surface and Windows for a few (even major) issues though?! Where will you turn. Do you really think that both Mac’s and Linux don’t go through exactly the same cycles? Of course they do! Often! Generally just after major OS updates just like with W10 TH2.

    The Surface Pro 3 is far from perfect of course, but it is still the best laptop I’ve EVER used in my 35 years+ of IT. (no laptops or even PC’s at all for the first few years of course!).

    Today I had terrible problems with Outlook 2013 – cursor going all over the place, thought I had a virus to begin with. Took a couple of reboots to fix. A couple of days ago, I had to totally reinstall Office (PowerQuery in Excel refused to start). I’m repeatedly getting Outlook hangs. And more. Of course I’m not your average user with loads of rubbish on and off my PC all the time. I keep getting crashing video drivers (few times a week).

    It’s a bad time, no doubt about it. But it will get better again. And other platforms are certainly no better.

    BTW, I’ve not seen the OneNote drawing bug and I use it all the time.

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