The Surface had a blowout. The computer went to sleep and when I tried to wake it up, the Type Cover wasn’t responsive. Hardware bugging out isn’t strange to me, so I restarted the computer. It didn’t work. I finally found a troubleshooting document that looked promising. So I followed the steps for “Nothing on my Cover works”:

I swabbed the connections with alcohol, still broken.

I performed a Power > Restart, still broken.

I paused at the next step. A full system restore? Ugh.

Note: I’m on the Windows Insider Fast Track, so it’s not unheard of that a computer could crash using pre-beta software. I quit doing iOS betas becuase I’ve lost a few entire vacations worth of photos before. But I’ve been having other problems, probably related to #davegoeswindows and me installing and testing out umpteen thousand different little apps. I feel like I’ve abused the Surface in its short life. My most favorite WTF was every time I logged in Windows, it tried to open my C:\Users\Dave Rupert\ directory.

So… with great reluctance… I pushed the Restore button.

One thing that’s cool is that Windows gives you two options for a system Restore.

  1. Delete all apps, but keep all my files.
  2. Full system wipe.

I chose option 1. I’m fine to wipe out all my apps, but I’d rather not re-download my entire Dropbox and Github repos from the Cloud. This process was actually relatively painless and pretty quick. The system restored and was even better than when I got it. It even had Candy Crush! After a few month of installing everything on the Internet, it was actually quite refreshing to clean house.

Don’t get me wrong, reinstalling all my apps for something that’s not my fault is a pain in the ass, but thankfully because I’ve been documenting every step of the way with #davegoeswindows, I was able to get the computer back in working order in about 2 hours while holding a newborn in my arms.

With a freshly restored system, I plugged in the Type Cover and … still broken.

I DM’d Rey Bango for help. Rey suggested that I head to the Microsoft Store in Austin to try another Type Cover. Might be a known issue? Maybe there are replacements. Who knows. So I headed up to the Microsoft Store.

The Microsoft Store

I guess the running joke is the Microsoft Store is just like the Apple Store, only empty. This sort of was the case. Inside the store, there’s actually quite a bit of nice hardware and accessories. I got to try the new SP4 Type Cover, which solves all the “cramped space” problems I have with the current generation. I will most likely buy it. I like that I can upgrade my keyboard without updating my entire laptop. But I have to get Type Covers working first.

I plugged my Surface into a mint-condition Type Cover from the store… still broken.

I immediately got assigned a technician and was handed a water bottle while I waited. I perused the Windows Phone and Xbox sections of the store. A technician quickly met with me and the first thing they did was hold down the Power button + Volume Up button for 12 seconds to perform a hard restart to get to a Boot Screen… It worked.

A super hard reset was all it took.

So the Microsoft Store worked. Albeit, I drove 30+ minutes across town for the most basic of fixes, but it was a rewarding experience. The staff there is really helpful. Seeing the good-looking hardware Microsoft is pushing helps break your schema of ancient Dell and Thinkpad laptops.

Dearest Microsoft

Please don’t recommend a System Restore in your documentation unless it’s super, super necessary. That’s like the most aggressive time consuming thing. Please include things like a Super Hard Reset in the Reset Step of your docs.

Your Users

On a more serious note, I think “Troubleshooting and Support” will be Microsoft’s Bunker Hill. And when I say “Troubleshooting and Support”, I mean making it as non-existent as possible. A recent stat from IBM has come to light that “Only 5% of Mac users at IBM need help desk support, compared to 40% of PC users”. Now that data could be a self-selecting bias (Tech savvy choose to use Apple), but in order for Microsoft to make business sense, it must eliminate bugs, crashes, random Type Cover ejections, and make itself a sturdier platform going forward.

I’ve had a few BSODs (Blue Screens of Death) over the last few months. It’s a much friendlier experience, has a smiley face, and all crash data is automatically reported to Microsoft. My usual response is, “Darn.” That said, in an ideal world, those would be so few and far between, reserved for such serious occasions that they cause a wave horror to run down my spine.

I’m sure this is all on Microsoft’s radar and bound to improve as evergreen updates roll out. It’s interesting to think that it might be the quality of apps and features that will make or break a product like Windows, not quantity.