Category Archives: Surface

Sign PDF Documents with the Surface Pen

In my occasional series on Microsoft Surface-related posts, I thought I’d just do a quick one on signing a document. This seems like the type of thing you’d want to use the Surface pen for, right? Well it’s probably the single most useful thing I would want to use it for anyway. The trouble is, by default at least, when you open a PDF it opens up in Edge and you are unable to use the pen to sign with…

You’ll also probably find it doesn’t seem to work in Adobe Reader and many other PDF readers. However not to worry – there is a built in reader app that can help with this very task! I feel a little stupid for only just realising this but try opening the app in Drawboard PDF and you can make adjustments with your pen to your heart’s content – and then save them. Great.

You’re probably thinking I can’t believe he only just found that out and frankly, after owning my Surface for 10 months I’m kind of thinking the same. I can only assume that I’m not the only one to realise this late in the day and hopefully I can help others see the light.

May 2016 Surface Pro drivers WTF? SurfacePro4_Win10_160901_1

OK so Microsoft have released another set of firmware updates which are always welcome. I’ll admit I installed them and haven’t noticed a great deal of difference although possibly there maybe an improvement in battery life. Jury’s out on that but it’s a definite possibility. I am a heavy user with several VMs regularly running under Hyper-V in the background, usually a DC plus an SCCM server with all the roles installed and maybe a workstation client too. I am used to bad battery life and I think it may have improved.

I digress. I’m sure there’s plenty of extra stability goodness included in the new update but I am here (unapologetically) for a moan. This post is really an update on my previous Surface post ( regarding the Samsung SSD. If you’ve not read it already then I suggest you do but the crux of it is this: the Surface 4 usually comes with a Samsung SSD which by default has fairly slow write times. When I say slow, up to 150 MB/s. For an SSD on a laptop type device this is rubbish. I explain in the linked post that this can be fixed with a driver update (and I have published a new link to this driver as it no longer seems to be accessible from the Samsung site).  In any case here is my issue:  The new update pack (May 2016) seems to revert the write speeds back to default , ie sub 150 MB/s.

Not sure what’s going on here but if you re-run the firmware update we’re back in business. Might be something to think about testing for all future firmware releases.

Surface Pro 4 (and Samsung SSD woes)

So I finally received the long awaited delivery of my Surface Pro 4 i7 16GB 512SSD. Once accompanying products have been purchased (keyboard, mouse, etc) this was a purchase in excess of £2K. I justified this to myself because this could realistically support a mini Hyper-V and dev environment on a device which really was truly portable. A proper OS makes this a truly useful and exciting device.

My excitement was however short-lived when I discovered the performance of the SSD was awful. Worse, in fact, than the Surface 3! If I’m paying top dollar I want top spec and was set to send my Surface back to Microsoft. I then read on various forums that Microsoft had sourced their SSDs for the top-end models from two different manufacturers, Samsung and Toshiba. Unfortunately it appears most people have received hardware with the Samsung drives in which are slower. These drives, while reasonably fast to read (1200+ MB/s) were exceptionally slow to write (average around ~150MB/s). Compare this with the Toshiba drive or Surface Pro 3 which was around five times faster!

Anyway, following some digging it appears Samsung have released a firmware update for their SSD which brings it back into line. For typical bench scores after the applied update, see below. In short, this is a must-have update, almost as important as the various stability updates around. Download here.


The link above seems to be constantly ‘busy’. I fortunately still have a copy of the driver which you should be able to access here. Also, if you have downloaded the May 2016 drivers, I have written an update post.Benchmark