Maybe Microsoft’s entertaining holiday themed commercials enticed you to buy a Surface Pro 3 or maybe a very generous family member gifted one. Now it’s time to set it up and get ready to use this versatile and fun tablet/laptop. We’ll share with readers some basic steps that will help users get the most out of the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 2-in-1 Windows 8 machine. These tips will help users enjoy one of the best mobile machines available today with Windows 8.
Get Familiar with the Hardware
The Surface Pro 3 comes with the Surface Pen and should come with the Surface Type Cover, but instead Microsoft charges an extra $129.99. Most people buy the Type Cover to use with the Surface Pro 3.
Unbox the Surface Pro 3 and plug in the excellent magnetic charger to make sure the battery gets fully charged before extensive use.
Unpack the Type Cover keyboard cover and snap it to the bottom of the Surface Pro 3. The bottom is the edge opposite the power button. On the back you’ll find the kickstand. At first it feels stiff as the user pulls it out to set up the tablet. It will loosen a bit after use, but not too much.
The Surface Pro 3 Type Cover comes with an adhesive loop that Microsoft intends for people to stick to the edge of the keyboard cover. However, it’s more convenient to attach it to the tablet itself. That way, if the user ever takes the Surface Pro 3 with them without the keyboard cover, they still can use the Surface Pen. A company called Cleanint makes a better solution for holding the pen. More on that later when we discuss accessories.
Set Up Windows and the Surface Pro 3 Login Account
The first time the owner boots their Surface Pro 3, the operating system will take the user through steps to set up their computer’s OS. Here are the steps required:
- Press the power button to turn on the tablet.
- Set the OS language, user-interface color and pick a name for the tablet – something like “Kevin’s Surface.”
- Accept the license terms.
- Pair the Surface Pen with the Surface Pro 3 by pressing and holding down the top button until the light on the side of the pen flashes. It should pair using Bluetooth and you’ll see “Your device is connected.”
- Set the Wi-Fi network up by tapping on Connect with the pen, the Type Cover trackpad or a finger.
- Type the Wi-Fi network password, if needed.
- Choose settings on the next screen selecting from Use express settings or Customize. We’ll assume you’re picking the express settings.
Now it’s time to connect a Microsoft Account with Windows. For those who already use Hotmail, Outlook.com, Live, OneDrive, Xbox, Windows Phone or some other Microsoft account with an email and password already set up, use that account. It makes life less complicated. Enter the email address and password to connect the device to that account. For those with more than one Microsoft account, pick one at this point and then add the other one later.
People who don’t already use a Microsoft account can set one up now. Use an email address of your choice and then create a new password. Microsoft recommends using an Outlook.com email address. To do that choose Sign up for a new email address via Sign in to your PC screen. Pick a name for the Outlook.com email address and follow the rest of the instructions.
Some people already own a Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 PC with settings they like on that machine. The set up process lets them add those settings to their Surface Pro 3 as well. Follow Microsoft’s guide to do so.
People who don’t own another Windows 8 machine already will need to set up their OneDrive settings/account. To do this, head over to Microsoft’s helpful guide to setting up the Surface Pro 3 and scroll to the bottom to find those steps.
Please see 10 Surface Pro 3 Tips & Tricks
Download All Updates for the Surface Pro 3
Microsoft updates Windows often, so a new Surface Pro 3 will likely need a slew of updates to patch security or stability issues. To update the tablet’s firmware or operating system, head over to Windows Update using the following steps:
- Slide in from the ridge edge of the screen to show the Charms Bar.
- Tap on Settings at the bottom.
- Tap on Change PC settings at the bottom of the settings window that slides in from the right.
- On the new settings screen, find Update and recovery at the bottom of the list on the left.
- The Windows Update screen appears and checks for updates. If needed, tap on the Check now button to make sure it searched for the latest updates.
- After a short wait, the operating system will inform the user it it found updates. If it does, it will offer to install them or inform you that the OS will install them soon. To force the installation now tap on View details.
- Check any updates that Windows should install and then tap on Install, or tap on the Details link next to each update to learn more about them, and then tap on the Install button.
- Wait for the updates to install and then restart the computer, even if the updates don’t require it. A newly updated system usually runs better after a reboot.
Protect Your Surface Pro 3 from Malware
Windows 8 comes with limited malware protection built-in, but it’s not that great. Microsoft calls it Windows Defender and it’s better than nothing.
Recently AV-TEST.org did a review of free antivirus solutions and found two that scored high: Avira Antivirus and Kaspersky Security Scan. These did a good job of finding viruses. A third solution scored well in finding other kinds of malware, like Spyware. It comes from Panda.
Activate Your Microsoft Office 365 Account
Unlike some Windows tablets, The Microsoft Surface Pro 3 doesn’t come with Office 365 free. Search around and you can usually find it for less than the retail price of $99.99 for Office 365 for Home, which includes Office for up to 5 users. There’s also Office 365 Personal for $69.99, which a user can install on a single computer and on a tablet. We’ve seen both of them as much as 25% off those prices.
The program comes pre-installed on the Surface Pro 3 and lets the user try it out for a short time. Don’t buy it directly on the Surface Pro 3 or you will pay full price. Instead, shop around and find a discounted price and then enter the activation code from that purchase. For example, we found it on Amazon for under $60 from a third-party retailer.
Opening the program will install it quickly. The installer lets the user use the program while it’s still adding features in the background.
Find Great Windows Store Apps
After getting Windows and Office up and running, adding some apps from the Microsoft App Store adds even more functionality. Compared to other app stores on Android, iOS or Mac OS X, the Windows App Store doesn’t offer as much and the same apps found on those devices often offer less functionality on Windows 8 than they do on iOS, Android or the Mac. Fortunately, users can also download apps directly from those sites. Things like Dropbox, Evernote and more make a lot of sense for users. Get them directly from those sites, because their Windows Store apps don’t measure up. Also consider installing Google Chrome or Firefox, much better browsers than Internet Explorer, which comes in Windows 8.
Surface Hub, an essential app that should come pre-installed on the device, helps users customize their Surface Pen functions. Get it first. Use it to customize the ink pressure sensitivity and the pen buttons (in the future it will hopefully do more).
Here’s a list of some other 10 great free apps also available in the Windows App store.
- Facebook – the behemoth social network that everyone loves to hate
- Twitter – social networking in 140 characters or less
- Netflix – watch movies and TV shows
- Adobe Photoshop Express – simplified version of the photo editing powerhouse
- Skype – video calls
- Amazon Kindle – read your Kindle books on the Surface Pro 3
- Fotor – great simple photo editor
- Khan Academy – awesome collection of education videos for students of most ages and most school subjects
- Bamboo Paper – great for drawing with the Surface Pen
Not all the great apps in the Windows Store come free. Here’s a list of 5 paid apps and games that users should consider buying from the Windows Store, because they’re worth the cash.
- Plex ($4.99)- a great tool for streaming videos from another machine even over the Internet
- Tweetium ($2.99) – the best Windows 8 modern/metro style Twitter client
- MetaMoji Note ($7.99) – the best note taking app on any platform that syncs with the cloud and offers versions for Android and iOS too
- Halo: Spartan Assault ($4.99) – touch based version of the fun game and even works with wired Xbox controller
- Machinarium ($4.99) – beautiful and fun adventure game that’s touch optimized for Windows 8
Bring Back the Start Menu
Many people love the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 hardware but hate Windows 8’s user interface and especially the Start Screen that replaced the Windows 7 and the earlier Start Menu. It’s easy to bring back the start menu with a free 3rd-party app like Classic Shell. It offers three looks. A Windows 7 version and a two-column version look similar (see the Windows 7 version above), while the old Windows XP version will remind people of the flat design that preceded Windows 7 (see below).
In addition to a classic version of the Start Menu, they also offer a classic Windows Explorer. Users who don’t want it should take care when installing Classic Shell. Uncheck Classic Explorer during installation.
Protect Your Surface Pen from Loss
As mentioned above, the terrible Microsoft Type Cover pen loop will keep the pen attached to the tablet temporarily. However, the pen easily gets snagged on things and pulls off, often without the user knowing it before it’s gone for good (and who knows where?). Plenty of Surface Pro 3 users lose their $50 Surface Pen thanks to this terrible loop.
We found a great product from Cleanint. The Clean Stylus for Surface Pro 3 ($19.95) is the pen holder Microsoft should have made. It attaches to the Surface Pro corners by clamping onto the tablet. Some adhesive keeps it there without attaching it so securely that it won’t come off. The design keeps it out of the way of ports or buttons on either of the top left or right corners, and keeps the Surface Pen intact so it won’t come off easily. It’s simple, inexpensive and necessary.
Please see 5 Essential Microsoft Surface Pro 3 Accessories for more on the Surface Pro 3 accessories.
Get Some Awesome Accessories
In addition to the above Clean Stylus holder, make sure to grab a few other accessories to make the Surface Pro 3 even more enjoyable. Here’s a list of the products that owners should consider.
- Surface Pro 3 docking station – lets users turn their Surface into a desktop ($199.99)
- eTuaro DP USB Charger – a more portable dock that adds four USB 3.0 ports, a mini-Display port and weighs only 3 ounces ($84.95 + $19.95 for car charger and AC adapter)
- Surface Pro 3 cases from Waterfield Designs – well made and beautiful looking cases (starting at $49)
- Logitech Ultrathin Touch Mouse – a thin and small mouse with touch on the top ($50 on Amazon)
- Mini Display Port to HDMI adapter – excellent for hooking up to a projector, TV or external display ($10 from Amazon)
- Mini Display Port to VGA adapter – same as above but for older displays/projectors with only VGA ($15 from Amazon)
- Actiontec ScreenBeam Pro Wireless Display Adapter – great for wirelessly sending the video signal to an external HDMI display ($70 from Amazon)
- Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter – like the ScreenBeam but simpler to use and $10 less ($59.95 from Microsoft Store) but not as versatile since the ScreenBeam offers a USB dongle for use with other Windows computers that don’t support wireless display (Wi-Di)