Why I Upgraded to Microsoft Surface Book 3?

My Surface Book 3


I have been using a full operating system (OS) hybrid 2-in-1 laptop since 2011 with the launch of Microsoft Surface Pro 3. Some of the reasons for my preference is:

  • Powerful hardware configuration whether the display, keyboard, portability, handwriting recognition, memory expansion using micro SD cards
  • 3 inch high-res screen display that can tilt 170 degrees
  • Fan less cooling and therefore no-noise while operating
  • Really lap compatible
  • Light weight – around 800 gms
  • Great set of high-quality accessories
  • Full integration with the Windows OS and other apps such as OneNote, Office, etc
  • Handwriting and editing of the documents using the Surface Pen on Drawboard PDF on Acrobat PDF files
  • Illustration, annotation, handwriting to text recognition capabilities by using the Surface Pen
  • Light weight and carry it along as a note taking device
  • Long battery back-up of 10-12 hours initially!!!
  • Collaboration with my team using One Note
  • Accurate voice commands by voice training
  • Read aloud functions across apps that helped me not to look at the screen constantly and hence multi task if required.

Although Microsoft Surface product line is expensive as compared to other similar 2-in-1 hybrid products, I stuck with Surface Pro all these years by refreshing and trading in with upgraded Microsoft Surface Pro every few years. My last upgrade was the Surface Pro 6 in mid-2017. This one served me through the Covid Pandemic and beyond.

Need for Upgrade

While Microsoft kept on introducing several new products since 2017 when I upgraded to Surface Pro 6 (Surface Pro 7 was introduced 6 months later in India). These included:

  • Surface Pro: A versatile 2-in-1 device that can be used as a tablet or laptop.
  • Surface Laptop: A traditional laptop with a sleek design and powerful performance.
  • Surface Book: A high-performance laptop with a detachable screen that can be used as a tablet.
  • Surface Go: A compact and affordable tablet that is ideal for on-the-go productivity.
  • Surface Studio: An all-in-one desktop computer designed for creative professionals.
  • Surface Studio Laptop: The next generation which combines the benefits of Surface Book and Surface Studio as a portable device

During Covid and the lockdown, I kept working in the office from April 2020, being in healthcare and in came Microsoft Teams for virtual collaboration. Then came the Windows 11 Beta program which I upgraded to in Mid-2021 Windows 11 | Kapil Khandelwal KK. I added curved screen external high-res monitor, external keyboard and mouse for a immertive experience on my desk top in mid-2020 when I started my podcast show QuoteUnquote with KK QuoteUnQuote With KK | Kapil Khandelwal KK.

My working needs of the Surface Pro increased from regular emails, presentations, document writing and editing and excel sheets workings, virtual collaboration and conferencing to audio and video editing for my podcast. Around 4 months ago, the Windows 11 beta update started draining the Surface Pro 6 battery quickly. From 7 to 9 hours the battery of the Surface Pro 6 would last 3 to 4 hours. Also the device was becoming a bit slower. It was time to upgrade to a new 2 in 1 hybrid.

The Options

So amongst the options available in the Microsoft Surface products, I wanted to continue with Surface Pro 6 replacement as it would lead to continuity with the existing accessories such as the Surface Dock 2, Keyboards, Surface Pens, etc. But the upgrade to Surface Pro 7 was the redline for me as after this Microsoft has removed the MicroSD expansion slot. The latest Surface Studio Laptop is not a detachable although with latest chip and specs. Portability is an issue for me.

So here are the options shortlisted by me.

Device Surface Pro 6 Surface Book 3 Dell XPS 2-in-1
Processor 8th generation Intel Core processor 10th generation Intel Core processor 12th generation Intel Core processors
RAM Up to 16GB Up to 32GB Up to 32GB LPDDR4x
Storage 217 GB SSD SSD 256 GB PCIe SSD 512 GB M.2, PCIe NVMe, SSD
Graphics Intel® UHD Graphics 620 Intel Iris Intel Iris
Display 12.3” PixelSenseTM Display Resolution: )  Screen: 13.5” PixelSense™ Display 13″, GorillaGlass Victus,  500-Nit Display
2736 x 1824 (267 PPI)  3000 x 2000 (267 PPI) 2880×1920 (3K)
Aspect ratio: 3:2 Aspect ratio: 3:2 Aspect ratio: 3:2
Touch: 10 point multi-touch Touch: 10 point multi-touch G5 Touch; AR+AS
Battery Up to 13.5 hours Up to 15.5 hours of typical device usage Worked for 9 hours in my test
Ports 1 x full-size USB 2 x USB-A (version 3.1 Gen 2) 2 Thunderbolt™ 4 (USB Type-C™) with DisplayPort and Power Delivery
1x 3.0  Mini DisplayPort 1 x USB-C® (version 3.1 Gen 2 with USB Power Delivery revision 3.0) 1 USB-C to USB-A v3.0 adapter (included in the box)
3.5 mm headphone jack 3.5mm headphone jack 1 USB-C to 3.5mm headset adapter (included in the box)
 1 x Surface Connect port Surface Type Cover port 2 x Surface Connect ports (one on base, one on tablet) nil
MicroSDXC card reader Full-size SDXC card reader Nil
Weight 770 gams 1,534 grams 736 grams 

Dell was kind enough to let me explore and try out their Dell XPS 2-in1 for over a month. Inspite of the latest Intel chip, I did not feel the speed rush of the chip speed. Also, the keyboard had only 2 viewing angles which was very restrictive. Moreover, Dell needs to work on its pen technology that was still to mature. Moreover, many of the drivers were Dell proprietary. Some of the native Microsoft apps do not function seamlessly and do not provide the experience like the Microsoft Surface products which are well integrated with the Microsoft Software. These were additional investments. Although Dell’s specs were high-end, the screen and video conferencing immersive experience was not that great despite of downloading some of the Microsoft drivers. The speakers on both Dell and Microsoft products needs much more improvement. If I had to move to Dell, then I would have to invest into a ton of accessories apart from the upgrade to Windows 11 Pro (the boxed product comes with Windows 11 Home). Though Dell has a solid product in hand, it will perhaps catch up with the Surface product line in a few iterations.

Kapil Khandelwal KK with Dell XPS Product Specialist
Kapil Khandelwal KK with Dell XPS Product Specialist

The Surface Book 3 Experience

After the exercise, I have now the proud owner of a Surface Book 3. There have been hick ups though. Firstly, the product arrived dead and had to be replaced. In addition, some other accessories that I added. These included the Surface Slim Pen 2 with an external charger, a case with a hinge for the screen panel so that it will give me a Surface Pro like experience when detached from the Surface keyboard. Overall, a great experience and continuity of a Microsoft Surface product.

Also See: Microsoft Event 2023

Windows 11 for Healthcare: Cosmetic Surgery But the Chronic Aliments Still Persist

Windows 11

Happy Doctor’s Day!


Last week, Microsoft showcased their latest Operating System (OS), The Windows 11. This is the new OS that will upgrade the Windows 10 that runs billions of computers globally. While talking to the analysts, Satya Nadela, the CEO and Chairman of Microsoft envisioned Windows 11 to be the ‘center’ of all the operating ecosystems. I downloaded the developers version on one of my tablet, Lenovo’s Yogabook, to test out the initial impressions of the new Windows 11 and does it meet the vision of Microsoft’s CEO and Chairman

Teething issues with the update to Windows 11

Microsoft has certain minimum hardware and security requirements which prevent existing systems to upgrade to Windows 11. Security enhancements in the new OS, requires TPM 2.0 (Trusted Platform Module) as well as Secure Boot, both security technologies, to run perfectly. This is why Microsoft has not listed Windows 11 support for a huge list of processors that do not come with these technologies. After many workarounds and system checks, I was able to get the Window 11 developer’s version update. This whole exercise took away over 11 hours of time from start to finish! Microsoft views to this is that its part of making more secure as a platform. However, unlike earlier upgrades to Windows 10, where many users complained that their files were deleted, this was not the case this time round.

Windows 11 minimum system requirements

Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster with 2 or more cores on a compatible 64-bit processor or System on a Chip (SoC)
RAM: 4 gigabyte (GB)
Storage: 64 GB or larger storage device
System firmware: UEFI, Secure Boot capable
TPM: Trusted Platform Module (TPM) version 2.0
Graphics card: Compatible with DirectX 12 or later with WDDM 2.0 driver
Display: High definition (720p) display that is greater than 9” diagonally, 8 bits per color channel
Internet connection and Microsoft accounts: Windows 11 Home edition requires internet connectivity and a Microsoft account to complete device setup on first use.

Cosmetic Surgery in the Windows 11 Operating System

There are a few positives in the first look at Windows 11 OS, the user interface is much cleaner, intuitive and clears all the patchwork of interfaces from earlier Windows OS in Windows 10. There is a feeling of an immersive experience. When I attached my system to external high-end curved monitor, the experience was very fabulous. For the doctors who want to view the radiological images, this would be a plus.

Windows 11 Desktop on External Monitor
Windows 11 Desktop on External Monitor

Chronic Aliments Still Persists

Moving on to congratulating Microsoft on their efforts, let me critique Microsoft on the issues that still persist from the previous OS that it need to really work and iron out for the new OS to be a real clinical workplace productivity enhancer. Some of these options are very easy for Microsoft to incorporate with its final release of Windows 11 to the world at large. Here are some of my views, I will add more as I do use the new OS in the next few weeks to come.

Windows Dictation and Read Aloud Tools

I have been using Windows dictation tool to get many of my documents typed out. However when I say certain medical terms under ICD 10 or names of molecules or medications, there is a typo returned in the typed output. I have seen a demo of Microsoft Azure tools for healthcare that are available to enterprise cloud and app developers of Microsoft, why should it be so difficult to roll this out for students, medical workers on their retail license of Windows 11? After setting the regional setting to India, Indian accents and Hinglish is still not available. Microsoft keyboard on my android phone has been trained for the last 2 years, Windows 11 can take the same from the information stored on their Keyboard App on Android and use those to train the dictation tool. Read Aloud Tool still has a Caucasian woman and cannot Hinglish words well or recognize them.

IoT Device Integration

There are several devices that the doctor can control right from his desktop in his clinic without having to get up and switch or off during diagnosis. Amazon and Google has been working perfectly with on IoT devices through Alexa and Google Assistant. Cortana is still lagging on the same functionality and experience. Unless the Microsoft CEO and Chairman in his statement on being in the center meant that we may have to use the Windows 11 desktop and get over to Google Assistant (on the Android App or browser) or Alexa to command the IoT devices connected to the network.

Pen Writing and Annotation

There are enhancements in the pen settings. However the current handwriting recognition is same as the Windows 10. Fast scribbles of the prescription still show as typos. The auto completion of medical terms still give garbles. The pen annotation of radiological reports still need to give micro-level pinpointing at 10x zoom. Still the same experience continues from Windows 10.

Microsoft Teams Integration

Microsoft Teams which was more for enterprise customer as a video conferencing and virtual collaboration app is now fully integrated into Windows 11. This means the doctors and their patients can freely teleconsult through their desktops

Multiple Desktops

This was a feature in the MacOS for years is now introduced in Windows 11. Doctors can now have multiple desktops for their outpatients, inpatients, personal and other work and personal workplace segregation.

Android Apps in App Store

This is just a feature in the App store. We still have to see the power of running these app on the Windows OS run systems. One of the main reasons for updating the developer version was to check the apps compatibility on Windows 11 desktop.

The Rhythm of Blues

As the Windows 11 is a developer version of the OS. Please be prepared for the system to crash and show you blue screen a few times in a day.

Not Everyones OS for Healthcare in India

Microsoft has bumped up the minimum requirements for upgrading to Windows 11. As per Microsoft their justification is 3-fold

  • Security: Windows 11 requires hardware that can enable protections like Windows Hello, Device Encryption, virtualization-based security (VBS), hypervisor-protected code integrity (HVCI) and Secure Boot. The combination of these features has been shown to reduce malware by 60% on tested devices. To meet the principle, all Windows 11 supported CPUs have an embedded TPM, support secure boot, and support VBS and specific VBS capabilities.
  • Reliability:  Windows 11 will now be in a supported and reliable state. By choosing CPUs that have adopted the new Windows Driver model and are supported by our OEM and silicon partners who are achieving a 99.8% crash free experience.
  • Compatibility: Windows 11 is compatible with the apps you use. It has the fundamentals of >1GHz, 2-core processors, 4GB memory, and 64GB of storage, aligning with our minimum system requirements for Office and Microsoft Teams.

IT hardware asset refresh cycles in India are not driven by change of operating systems requirements. As many of the old desktops and laptops will not be meeting the minimum criteria laid out by Microsoft, many of the older systems will be running on Windows 10 till they are refreshed in healthcare and their consumers. Let’s understand, Indians don’t buy new phones or desktops and laptops every year because there is a new model (as Apple assumes it to be).

I will continue to add over here as I come across the good, the bad, the ugly about Windows 11 as I test the OS futher.

Statutory Disclaimer: folks wishing to download it can do so from the Microsoft Insider website. However, people other than developers are highly recommended not to download the build as of now. This is because such early beta testing versions are full of bugs that are only ironed out as and when beta testers report them to Microsoft.