Surface Hub is a stylus configuration app that's more trouble than it's worth

surface hub launch screen
Credit: Microsoft

Rarely does Microsoft release an app that isn’t worth your time. For now, however, Surface Hub probably falls into that category.

Released over the weekend, Surface Hub is apparently built on a recent Surface Pro 3 update that paved the way for additional pen sensitivity. The app is extremely basic: Users can adjust the sensitivity curve of the pen and change the behavior of the launch button at the top of the pen. That’s it.

Surface Hub is just an odd app, in general. The launch screen trumpets “GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR SURFACE,” but then you have to find the two menu items that hang off the right edge of that screen, requiring you to slide right.

surface hub config screen Microsoft

Surface Huib offers the basics and not much more.

There, you can adjust the sensitivity curve or the launch button. I’m no artist, but the differences in the curve change the thickness of the Surface Pro 3’s pen minimally, at best.

A small improvement is the option to change the app that launches when you click the button on top of the pen—either the modern OneNote app, or the desktop version. There’s still no way to change what the buttons on the side of the stylus do, however.

Both functions worked as expected. But unfortunately, after launching the app, my input devices began acting up. Although I was able to launch OneNote (or the desktop version of OneNote) as expected, I switched back to my Web browser. When I tried to type in a new Web address, however, the PC seemed to think I was trying to search for a particular file and opened up the search Charm instead. Concerned that I might have inadvertently tapped a keyboard shortcut or hotkey, I rebooted. 

Microsoft Surface Pro 3 docking station Mark Hachman

So far, you can’t change the functionality of the two buttons modway down the Surface Pro 3 stylus. 

At that point, however, my mouse refused to work, as did the touchpad. Since I had set my Windows 8.1 desktop to open on my (non-touch-enabled) standalone monitor, I had to tap the Windows key + X to allow me to enter the desktop via the menu. At that point, the mouse began working again. User error may have played a role, but it was also annoying for an app to begin behaving unexpectedly, when it already did so very little.

Many users have already begun complaining that the app itself refuses to recognize their stylii, so it appears there are other problems I didn’t experience. In any event, you might want to check back after Surface Hub gets updated.

Why this matters: The bottom line is that it seems Surface Hub is more trouble than it’s worth at the moment. But if Microsoft updates it to allow you to configure its buttons and sensitivity—say, like a mouse—then it may prove to be a useful utility. So why didn’t Microsoft release it when all these capabilities were included?

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