How to: Disable the Windows button on Surface Pro 3

If you have a Surface Pro 3, there is a good chance you may have accidently hit the Windows key with the palm of your hand once or twice. For us, the placement of the key has not been a huge issue but we know that there are some of you who want to know how to disable the button. Thankfully, you can now do so and it's not hard to disable/enable the button.

To disable or enable the Windows button, perform the following steps:

  1. Open up Windows Device Manager - an easy way to do this is to open the Charms bar and search "Device Manager"
  2. Select "System Devices"
  3. Click on the "Surface Home Button" item in the list
  4. On the "Surface Home Button Properties" dialog box, select the "Driver" tab
  5. Click the "Disable" button"

After you perform those steps, the button will be disabled, although the haptic style feedback will still be on; but the button will no long function. If you want to turn the button back on, follow the steps again but click 'Enable' instead of 'Disable' in the Device Manager and the button will be turned back on.

It is worth noting that disabling the Windows button will also disable the volume buttons and power button. If you do not have a Type cover attached, this is can be issue as you cannot wake the device with the power button disabled. If you do not have a Type cover, attach the power connector to the device as this will wake up the Surface. If you have a Type cover, press any key to wake the device.

It's as simple as that and if the Windows key had been giving you fits, your solution has arrived.

Thanks for the tip Don!

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17 Comments

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Ugh! It shouldn't be such a convoluted process!

It should be simple, like this mockup I just did: http://twitter.com/prettyconfusd/status/500023930779086848

Such a terrible UX to expect users to do that, and figure out how to do that. Surface Pro has so many cool aspects to it and all these features other hardware doesn't have yet they all seem to be controlled by command line or reg hacks and the like instead of neatly integrated into settings or into a nice Surface Pro app that can control everything. One Microsoft, anyone?

prettyconfusd said,
Ugh! It shouldn't be such a convoluted process!

As far as fixes and such go, this is pretty simple. (I've seen (and done) things much more convoluted than this.) The Device Manager is the one-stop shop place for information about anything connected to, or included with, your computer. When it comes to disabling a hardware component, this would be the first place I'd look.

Of course, not the average user knows how to get to this, which is the issue here. Something like a little applet or something like your mockup that disables the button in a different (less dirty) way would be a better solution, for sure.

Sorry for nitpicking. ^_^;

"an easy way to do this is to open the Charms bar and search "Device Manager""

Know what an easier way is? Right-click the start button and select Device Manager. Or long-touch the start button and select Device Manager. Or press Windows-X and select Device Manager.

Too many people don't seem to know about the power-menu you get from RIGHT-clicking the start button (or that long-touching is the same as right-clicking, or that Windows-X is the hot-key for the menu).

The Win+X menu is my favourite feature in Windows 8. I would love to have an official way to customise it and roll out for specific accounts.

pmbAustin said,
... what Wi-Fi issues? I haven't had any Wi-Fi issues at all.

Sometimes when waking up the SP3 has issues connecting to a known network at full speed. There is a fix available from MS but it does not solve all the problems with quite a few users still experiencing the problem especially with some older wireless routers.

Ah, I use a brand new Wireless "ac" router so I'm probably not seeing it.

I searched around and read that fixes are supposed to be forthcoming very soon...

s/solution/workaround

Disabling a hardware key because of placement is a horrible suggestion. Truly, imo, the biggest drawback of the Surface Pro 3

Zidane said,
s/solution/workaround

Disabling a hardware key because of placement is a horrible suggestion. Truly, imo, the biggest drawback of the Surface Pro 3

Using a SP3 last week I am split over this. 95% of the time it isn't an issue at all however in that tiny 5% it is frustrating as hell. I can't understand how this was not picked up in UAT because I had the problem within the first hour of using the SP3 for the first time. It is pretty incredible that it was missed. I wouldn't say it makes the SP3 a do-not-buy but it is certainly something to be aware of if you intend to use the tablet with the pen a lot.

MS really need to get a proper fix out there. A systray utility to allow you to enable/disable it on demand and with a couple of defaults such as when the tablet is being used as a tablet, etc.

This is really the kind of annoying user experience thing you except when using cheapo hardware but not what MS should be putting out there.

I agree, this is a horrible idea. No way to wake the machine without the keyboard cover is just... bad.

Microsoft is aware of the issue and I'm sure a future update will provide a toggle for the button.

Thankfully, I've only ever hit it accidentally a couple of times, and just hitting it again gets me back where I was, so it's certainly not bad enough to do something this drastic.