Surface Pro 3 - The front button placement saga

Microsoft's Surface Pro 3 changed up many attributes about the device including its size and also the location of the 'Windows' key. Previously, the Windows key was located along the bottom of the device but thanks to the new dual-hinged Type cover 3 design, the location of the button had to be moved. 

So where did Microsoft move the key too? Of course, they put it on the right side of the device, conveniently located next to your right thumb. Logically, this seems like a perfect place for the button, but in practicality, it is raising some concern. By looking at the placement of the key, you can begin to see why it could be an issue: accidental engagement seems highly likely.

Now, for us, it hasn't been a big deal. Yes, we have had a few mis-hits that have caused unwanted actions but we thought it might be a good idea to bring this issue to your attention as we know for some users, like graphics artists, this could be a deal-breaker. 

Here's the deal, any time you are writing on the device, the palm of your right hand comes close to resting on the button which can cause it to engage and initiate an unwanted action. So, if you are thinking, "why not turn the device around" so the button is on the other side, well, then the kickstand does not work properly. When you use the Type cover, the button location is not an issue and even when holding the device in your hand, for the most part, accidental engagement is rare. But, it's when taking notes that it becomes an issue and one we feel that Microsoft will likely address in several ways with software updates.

The issue has a simple remedy. For one, if the pen is within proximity of the display, Microsoft could disable the button entirely and require the user to use the Charms bar to access the Windows key. Or, allow the user to turn off the button entirely via Windows 8.1. Fortunately, both of these are remedies are software based and should be easy options for Microsoft to push down to Pro 3 users, if they so choose to do so. 

We'd like to think that Microsoft was already aware of this issue, seeing that the device didn't come off the assembly-line last week and was thoroughly vetted inside the walls of Redmond before given the green-light. But, seeing that a fix, or at least a sensible set of options are not present for the user at this time, we can only speculate that maybe it was not thought to be a design consideration. Keep in mind that the devices are only in the hands of a few at this time so it's hardly a 'consumer' product until June 20th. This means any software update before it reaches consumers is still certainly a viable option.

If you are looking for an achilles-heel for the Pro 3, this isn't it. In fact, it's a relatively small, but still baffling issue, that some may experience while using the device. Is it deal-breaking? Hardly not, but in the interest of wanting to make sure our readers know of something that could affect your Pro 3 use habits, it is a point of interest.

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