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Configuring Surface Shell Time-Out Durations

The Microsoft Surface software uses timers to track touch contact changes in various situations. If the device made for Surface does not detect a touch contact for a specified time, several actions occur that eventually close a user session and return the device made for Surface to the Attract application. These session time-out conditions have default settings that you can change.

Time-Out Process

The following flow describes the timers and what occurs when their maximum setting is reached. All of these timers start immediately after a touch input and restart with any subsequent touch input.

  1. A user touches the center access point in the Attract application.

    The attract application
  2. When Launcher appears, the Exploration clock starts.

    Launcher

    If the Exploration time-out is reached, Surface Shell displays the Start Over screen. (See the illustration in step 4.)

  3. If a user selects an application before the Exploration time-out, the application appears.

    The Scatter Puzzle application.
  4. When an application opens, the AppWasLaunched clock starts. If the AppWasLaunched time-out is reached, the Start Over screen appears.

    Start over screen.

  5. When the Start Over screen appears, the InactivityUI clock starts. If the InactivityUI time-out is reached, it is equivalent to a user tapping the Start Over icon. Surface Shell closes all open applications and displays the Attract application. (See the illustration in step 1.)

In detail, time-outs can occur in the following situations:

  • Exploration scenario: A user taps the center access point on the Attract application and Launcher appears. But then the user does not interact with Surface for a while, so Surface Shell displays the Start Over screen.

    The time-out duration for this scenario is specified by the Exploration registry entry. The default value is 60 seconds.

  • AppWasLaunched scenario: A user opens an application from Launcher and interacts with the application. But then the user does not interact with Surface for a while, so the Surface software sends an event to each open application and asks the application if it wants to time out and close. If none of the applications ask to cancel this event, the Start Over screen appears and asks the user if they want to:

    • Continue their activity. If the user touches the Continue icon, the previous application reappears and the user can continue to interact with the application.

    • Start a new experience. If the user touches the Start Over icon, the Surface software closes all running applications and shows the Attract application (that is, it starts a new user session).

    The time-out duration for this scenario is specified by the AppWasLaunched registry entry. The default value is 120 seconds.

  • InactivityUI scenario: The InactivityUI timer starts when one of the following occurs:

    • The Exploration time-out expires

    • The AppWasLaunched time-out expires

    • The user touches the Start Over screen, but does not continue their activity or restart their Surface session.

    The time-out duration for this scenario is specified by the InactivityUI registry entry. The default value is 60 seconds.

    noteNote
    Some applications might be programmed to cancel the no-touch event if, for example, the application plays a movie or a song.

Changing time-out settings

Time-outs on Surface are account profile-dependent. You can change the default duration of every time-out except the time-out that applies to an application that does not dismiss the loading screen while it starts. The default time-out values should be appropriate for most scenarios and applications. However, there might be situations when you want a shorter or longer time-out, such as the following situations:

  • Personal information is displayed on the Surface screen after a user walks away from the device made for Surface. (Personal information might be a name or alias, drink selection, or point of interest information that was downloaded to a device.) In this case, you might want to shorten the appropriate time-out durations.

  • The device made for Surface is located in a crowded venue, such as a convention or trade show, and you anticipate that many users will interact with the device made for Surface for very short periods of time. In this case, you might want to shorten the appropriate time-out durations.

  • The device made for Surface is located in a venue with smaller crowds, your application does not request or expose any sensitive user information, and casual conversation often momentarily distracts users from the device made for Surface. In this case, users want a more leisurely Surface experience, so you should extend the appropriate time-out durations.

The following table summarizes the registry entries that you can change to set the time-out duration and behavior.

 

Registry entry Default value Possible values

Exploration

60 seconds

0 (no time-out), or 10–3,600 seconds

AppWasLaunched

120 seconds

0 (no time-out), or 10–3,600 seconds

InactivityUI

60 seconds

0 (no time-out), or 10–3,600 seconds

To change the time-out registry entries

  1. Click Start, type regedit, and press Enter.

  2. In the left pane, expand HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE, expand SOFTWARE, expand Wow6432Node, expand Microsoft, expand Surface, expand v2.0, expand Profiles, expand the appropriate account profile, and then click InactivityTimer. If the InactivityTimer registry subkey is not there, you must add it. For more information about this subkey, see Profiles InactivityTimer Subkey.

  3. In the right pane, right-click the entry that you want to change (from the preceding table), and then click Modify. If the entries are not there, you must add them. For more information about these entries, see Profiles InactivityTimer Subkey.

  4. In the Value data box, type the new value for the entry, and then click OK.

For more information about account profiles, see Account Profiles and Surface Registry Keys.

noteNote
If you want to change the time-out setting for all profiles, create the registry entry under HKLM\Software\Wow6432Node\Microsoft\Surface\V2.0\Global\InactivityTimer.

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