Microsoft Surface Go 2 – Two-week in review

18 months I did a review of the original Surface Go since I was immediately impressed at just how well suited this was as a secondary device and how for many role it was the perfect front line worker or education device.

One of the confusing factors about the original Surface Go, was really where it fitted in with the rest of the Surface family for business and who the target audience was. I certainly found that many of my customers sometimes struggled between whether their users needed a lightweight, cost effective Surface Go or whether they needed the big brother – the Surface Pro. 

Tech reviewers often slated the Surface Go (despite its sales success) as they would compare the processor and other tech-spec items, namely the (sluggish at times) Intel-Gold processor and larger than necessary screen bezel which, depending on the use and workload you put it through they were right!

The new Surface Go 2 addresses every “issue” the first model had, so long as you don’t need a mobile power-horse of a laptop of course. 

Introduction the Surface Go 2

The Surface Go 2 (I have the Intel M3/8Gb/128GB LTE version) in my opinion, and through a couple a weeks of using it as my daily driver – this upgraded version has perfectly sufficient processing power, RAM and storage for everyday use – which for me is internet browsing,  Office 365 apps (Word, PowerPoint etc) photos viewing and basic editing and consuming content like Netflix etc., and is a compelling and affordable alternative to a traditional laptop.  

SurfaceGo 2 unboxed
Surface Go 2 with Type Cover and Pen

Great Look and Feel

There are some subtle but important changes to the Surface Go 2, which make it look a lot more like an iPad Pro than the Surface Go, which is due to the smaller bezels. Overall the, dimensions of the Surface Go 2 are unchanged, but by slimming down the edges around the screen, Microsoft has managed to upgrade the screen size by 1/2 an inch which, though it doesn’t sound lot, gives the Surface Go 2 a much more modern look

SurfaceGo2 vs SurfaceGo
Image of original Surface Go screen vs new Surface Go 2 with thinner bezels

 

Specifications, Speeds and Feeds!

Looking purely at the spec sheet, the Surface Go 2 is still only a baby in terms of not only size, but performance, with a less powerful processor, smaller screen and of course, smaller keyboard but, just like the first generation, it is, however, in my opinion, great bit of modern workplace kit and deserves serious consideration when looking at future 2-in-1 purchases for both home and work.

Most of the real improvements to Surface Go 2 are tucked away under the hood.

  • Much-improved battery life. The original Surface Go was really let down by its battery life and despite the advertised “up to 9 hours“, I never got it to last more than about six. So far in testing, the Surface Go 2 has managed to serve me all day (8.5 hours) with a “normal” workload – Word, some PowerPoint, Teams Calls (I do a lot of these), and of course Outlook and some web browsing.  I did do a “how far can you go” test by setting to screen brightness to 70% and attended an all-day Teams “Live Event”, and my Surface Go 2 still had some juice in it after nine hours which I was really impressed with to be honest!
  • USB-C Charging – for when you do need more juice, the Surface Go 2 supports charging via USB-C and I could even charge it with my USB battery pack – it was quite a “trickle” charge to be fair but it charged so great for when it’s in your back-pack! 
  • 5 Mega Pixel Front Facing Camera – The Surface Go 2 has a much better front camera to what you’d expect and is better than most laptops that I come across.  This is vital of course for all those Microsoft Teams or Zoom Calls you might be doing as we all adjust to life during and after lock-down. 
  • Fast 4G (LTE) – One thing i haven’t had much use for due to COVID-19 lockdown is mobile data which is another thing that I love about the Surface Go 2. Popping a SIM into the device means you are connected all the time and for someone that “usually” spends a lots of time traveling and between meetings, being connected on the go (as well as being able to charge on the go) are great assets for the mobile modern workplace
  • It is faster. The internals, like I mentioned, have been upgraded (the higher models anyway). The model I have has the newer Intel Core M3 chip, 8Gb RAM and a 128 Gb solid state drive along with LTE (mobile data).
SurfaceGo2 Showing Mobile Data
Using Mobile Data

What about cost?

Surface Go 2 starts from just £399 (inc VAT) and as always with Surface devices, specification options, regional variations, promotions and volume, and accessories all affect the end price.

Note: Surface Go doesn’t ship by default with a Pen or the Type Cover Keyboard which to me are what makes a Surface a Surface.

Without these promos the price for commercial organisations is around:

Model Typical Price (inc. VAT)
Surface Go 2: Pentium Gold/4G/64Gb (no extras) £379
Surface Go 2: M3 / 128Gb / 8Gb with Type Cover and Pen £790
Surface Go 2 LTE: M3 / 128Gb / 8Gb with Type Cover and Pen £895 

I know what you are thinking…. Apple iPad Pro right?

Well, to be honest, an 11-inch iPad Pro with 128Gb Storage, Apple’s new Smart Keyboard and Pencil is well over £1,250 (inc. VAT).

Windows 10 May 2020 Update – My top 5 new features

The next update to Windows 10 (called cleverly “May 2020 Update” will be out next month (May 2020) as is available in the Release Preview #WindowsInsider Ring if you want to try it safely before it officially lands.

As this is the release preview (or release candidate as it used to be known), this should be  the final version of the Windows 10 May 2020 Update, which means, so long as no major bugs are detected or reported, the update should be available early next month for all Windows 10 users.

Unlike Windows XP, 7 and 8, Windows 10 is delivered as a service which means that as well as releasing security updates and patches as required, Microsoft provides major updates to Windows 10 twice a year – once in the spring and again in the autumn. These bi-annual updates are usually big feature updates and this latest version update will be the Windows 10 May 2020 Update.

To make it easy for users and enterprise admins to check the global status of known application compatibility and bug reports, Microsoft has a Windows release health dashboard that offers a status on the rollout and any known issues for the May 2020 Update. This is Microsoft’s way of being more cautious and transparent about updates following the October 2018 Update that caused file deletion issues.

Windows 10 health info

What’s new in the May 2020 Update?

As you’d expect, Microsoft provides detailed information about all the changes and new features in each release/update to Windows 10 which you can see here.  There are loads – some major and some minor and some simple performance and other behind the scenes updates. I’ve provided a summary of my top 5 below. 

1. You can now label your Virtual Desktops

In case you didn’t know, Windows 10 allows you have separate desktop instances to help keep your personal and work life separate or to simply organise your desktop for different projects for example.

To get to and add additional Windows 10’s virtual desktops, you simply head over to the Task View interface (by pressing Windows+Tab on your keyboard). Whereas these were previous just labelled “Desktop 1″, “Desktop 2,” etc.  you can now rename them.

Virtual Desktop Dialogues

To do this, just click the name of each virtual desktop at the top of the Task View interface and then type a name. What is nice is that these names can even use emoji (press Windows+. to get emoji picker).

2. New Disk type and GPU temperature in Task Manager

Task Manager now displays your disk type, whether it’s SSD or HDD, which makes it much easier to see the type of hardware in your device. These details are displayed on the Performance tab which you can get to by opening Task Manager (Ctrl+Shift+Esc) and then clicking “More Details”.

The Task Manager’s performance tab also now displays your GPU temperature. To get to this, go to your GPU’s status page under the Performance tab. This works with dedicated graphics cards only.

3. Faster (and working) Windows Search

Last years’ Windows 10 May 2019 Update fixed the Start menu search by taking advantage of the old Windows search indexer. Unfortunately, reports from users, admins and #WindowsInsiders of excessive disk and CPU usage and other overall performance issues, meant many simply turned off the search indexer.

Microsoft says this is now fixed, since the search indexer now detects peak usage times so it can better optimise when the indexer runs and can also pause if the device gets busy again while indexer is running. 

4. Re-install from the Cloud

In this build, Microsoft has introduced a new re-install from Cloud option in the recovery section of settings, which can be used when resetting your PC to a new default Windows build.

To do this, go to Settings > Update and Security > Recovery and choose to reset your PC and remove everything, and then you can tell Windows to use “Cloud Download”, instead of reinstalling Windows 10 from the files on your local system or needing to provide a USB with the Windows 10 media on. This is much like the way iOS and Android devices now work.

This method is also expected to come to Enterprise imaging and update tools like System Centre and Intune very soon.

5. Improved Network Status pane

The network status page which can be found at Settings > Network & Internet > Status has been had an overhaul and new lick of paint in this update. This is much easier to navigate and now the main network status at the top of the page.

Windows 10 Network Status Settings
Windows 10 Network Status Settings

This layout doesn’t add anything new but makes provides better and more relevant information without having to click through loads of options – its also easier to access the trouble-shooters. 

I do find it frustrating that tasks like renaming adaptors for example, still opens the legacy Control Panel settings!!  – Microsoft are gradually retiring of these, however.

6. Native Support for Network Cameras

Ok, so I said top 5 – but this one almost made the list so thought I’d talk about it. 

In this release – Windows 10 is adding support for IP-based cameras.  With this, it will now be possible to add network-based cameras by going to Settings > Devices > Bluetooth and other devices > Add Bluetooth or another device.

If there’s a supported camera on your local network, Windows 10 will be able to find it, or you can add it to your system in one simple click.

Once done, you will then be able to use the native, built-in Camera application to access the network camera without needing to use a third-party app.