Wednesday, April 09, 2014

It IS A Microsoft Product, After All…

So after getting more use out of my Surface Pro 2, I’ve encountered a few more problems beyond the scaling issue.
For what it’s worth, Windows 8.1 supposedly does have independent scaling, in theory, but it just doesn’t work, or at least doesn’t work in a way that yields the kind of results I want.
Basically, if you uncheck the box for choosing one scaling level for all displays, you can choose from a sliding scale that will give you more options for scaling levels.  In theory, you can try to find a sweet spot that will look okay on both displays – say 125%, for example – and when connected to an external display, the Surface will adjust the scaling accordingly.
Or something, though despite calling it that, that doesn’t sound like independent scaling to me.
It also seems to be tied to some sort of autodetect of the pixel density of your display in some fashion, though I don’t really understand the details, and I don’t see how it makes a difference, as you can’t actually select independent scaling anyway.
In practice, it doesn’t actually appear to do anything any differently from simply choosing one scaling level for all displays.
In any case, that isn’t the biggest complaint I have.
The complaint I have goes back to something that was an issue with the first generation Surface Pro:  a lack of pressure sensitivity in Photoshop.
That was kind of a huge oversight on the part of Microsoft.  After all, you’ve got a full-fledged computer that’s capable of running Photoshop, and a nice Wacom active digitizer, so naturally people are going to want to use it in Photoshop, and they’re going to expect pressure sensitivity.
Eventually, sometime before the release of the Surface Pro 2, Wacom put out some drivers that would enable pressure sensitivity in Photoshop.
What made this especially frustrating is that pressure sensitivity worked in other applications, such as Sketchbook Pro, Manga Studio, and various Windows 8 applications – of the legacy x86 variety, such as Microsoft’s One Note, and of the “modern” Windows Store variety, such as Fresh Paint – thanks to built-in drivers for the Wacom active digitizer.
Photoshop, however, doesn’t utilize those drivers, and requires a different set of drivers entirely.
One can choose to blame either Microsoft, Adobe, or both for this, but frankly, I don’t care who’s to blame; shit should just work.
In any case, Photoshop still requires those other drivers in order to recognize pressure sensitivity, so I downloaded and installed them, and, as a result, gained pressure sensitivity in Photoshop.  (I already had it in Manga Studio, as it can use either driver)
However, once I brought it back upstairs and dropped it into its docking station, I ran into a problem:  my mouse stopped working.
My mouse and keyboard are from Microsoft, and both connect to the Surface Pro via the same USB wireless dongle.  The keyboard worked fine, but the mouse wouldn’t.
Uninstalling the Wacom drivers restored the function of the mouse.
After trying the install of the Wacom drivers again, I plugged in some random old wired mouse and it worked with no issues.  Looking at the Device Manager, I noted that there was an entry for a Wacom device that had an exclamation point on it, indicating that there was some problem with it.
From what I can determine, installing the Wacom drivers somehow replaces the drivers for the Microsoft mouse with some random Wacom drivers, which, not being the correct drivers, won’t allow the Microsoft mouse to work.
I even reinstalled the keyboard and mouse software, and in the resulting setup screen that appeared after the install, it only showed the keyboard as being installed – it doesn’t see the mouse at all.
So my options are to either have pressure sensitivity in Photoshop, or have a working mouse.
Overall, as I’m largely using the Surface Pro in its docking station as a desktop computer, the need for a mouse wins out, but I have to say that it’s pretty goddamn annoying.
After all, neither the Surface Pro 2 nor Photoshop is cheap.  Hell, even the mouse and keyboard were relatively pricey.  I should be able to get my money’s worth.  And, again, I don’t care who’s at fault here*; someone needs to fix it.
For what little it’s worth, I’m not the only person who has this problem.  That’s not worth much, because no one has a solution.
Of course, there are other problems with mouse support anyway.  Upon initially docking the Surface Pro 2, the mouse cursor is invisible.  It will only reappear after undocking and re-docking.
Which, again, is shitty, and, again, I’m not the only person with that problem.  At least in this case there’s something I can do.  It’s annoying, but it works, unlike the Wacom driver issue.
So, yeah.
Still, it is a product from Microsoft, so it’s not like I dropped all that cash on the thing without expecting to have some kind of problems.
But seriously, Microsoft and/or Adobe:  get your shit together.

*That said, I do tend to blame Adobe just a little bit more than Microsoft.  After all, other software vendors – who make much less expensive products – are perfectly capable of getting their products to work with the standard driver that comes with the Surface Pro 2.


Merlin T Wizard said...

So...have you contacted customer support (he asks, already knowing the answer.) I imagine the greater number of people that complain will correlate to the greater chance of one of the companies actually doing something about it.

Jon-Paul Maki said...

As can be seen in my most recent post, I found a solution.
If I hadn't, I probably would have contacted them today, because it is a pretty big deal for me. After all, not only does pressure sensitivity not work in Photoshop without the Wacom WinTab drivers, the pen's eraser doesn't work either, and that's an even bigger deal for me.