Microsoft January Surface firmware updates revisited: What users got and when

Microsoft January Surface firmware updates revisited: What users got and when

Summary: As January comes to a close, here's another attempt at making sense of the firmware updates Microsoft delivered this month for ARM-and Intel-based Surfaces.

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January 2014 wasn't the best month for Microsoft Surface users trying to make sense of which updates arrived for their devices.

mssurfacejanupdates

Patch Tuesday came and went without any word on expected firmware updates. Shortly thereafter, various updates, some marked as firmware, some labeled as "hardware" updates and others as more mundane reliability and performance fixes, began arriving via Windows Update on users' devices.

I've heard from Surface Pro 2 users who've been plagued by what seems to be the same firmware update being delivered to their machines repeatedly, despite the fact that they seem to have successfully updated with the latest firmware release. (This may be a Windows Update problem, rather than a Surface Pro 2 problem, I'm hearing.) And even though Microsoft's Surface Update History Page claimed until some time in the past few days that there was no Surface RT firmware update this month, those of us with the original ARM-based Surface know we did get a firmware update.

So let's go back to the drawing board.

As of January 28, here's what Microsoft's Surface Update History pages are now indicating that the company delivered this month to its various Surface users:

Surface Pro 2 (running Windows 8.1)

Updated UEFI firmware, version 2.04.0350, to resolve behavior where the Surface failed to enter sleep while idle, negatively impacting battery life. Yes, this is the fix to the faulty December 2013 firmware update. And yes, those who managed to apply the faulty December firmware update received a separate firmware update that supposedly also was a replacement for the faulty December update.

There's also now a cumulative driver/firmware Surface Pro 2 update available for download via the Microsoft Download Center, dated January 27.

I've asked Microsoft execs about the "hardware" update some Surface Pro 2 users have received and have yet to hear back on what that is.

Surface Pro (running Windows 8.1)

January 15 updates: Surface Type Cover 2 and Touch Cover 2 firmware updates for improving touchpad performance and product stability. Also updated Wi-Fi and Bluetooth driver version 14.69.24049.160 now supports additional Miracast functionality and increased Wi-Fi stability.

There's a Surface Pro firmware and driver update pack available on the Microsoft Download Center (dated January 27) that is a cumulative update of fixes and includes both drivers and firmware. It's not clear whether this duplicates what's in the January 15 update or goes beyond it from the description on the download site.

Surface Pro (running Windows 8.0)

January 14 updates: Surface Type Cover 2 and Touch Cover 2 firmware updates for improving touchpad performance and overall product stability.

Surface 2 (running Windows 8.1)

January 6 update: Resolves issue with BitLocker recovery key prompt when you restart your Surface 2.

Surface RT (running Windows 8.1)

Surface Type Cover 2 and Touch Cover 2 firmware updates for improving touchpad performance and overall product stability.

Surface RT (running Windows 8.0)

No product updates released.

Updating four devices running several different versions of Windows 8 is not trivial. (Nor is trying to keep up with all the questions from Surface users about which updates they're getting and why.) But with even more Surfi supposedly coming -- an LTE-friendly Surface 2, plus the rumored Surface Mini -- it's key that Microsoft make frequent, regular updates a Surface selling point, not a hinderance.

Any more questions about past, present or possible future Surface updates? Share them below and I'll try to see if I can get more info.

Topics: Microsoft Surface, Microsoft, Tablets, ARM, Business Intelligence, Windows 8

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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14 comments
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  • Surface 2 Pro working better

    Just wanted to throw in my 2 cents and say that since I've applied the firmware update on my S2P, the tablet no longer turns itself on, the battery life is MUCH better and I've had no mysterious drop outs on my Touch keyboard. Essentially, the fix has the device working as expected. I should be happy, I suppose but MS needs to do a better job with the patches.
    alsw
  • Not a horrible experience generally

    I had an RT from day one, traded it for a Surface 2, and got a Pro 2. Wife has a Surface 2, and my old Pro. So, between us we have 4. The December debacle was unfortunate, but overall the update/upgrade process has been very reasonable. I was fortunate in not installing the Dec on my Pro2 before it was pulled. I think for most users, these updates just show up, notify of their existence when you log in, and provide the opportunity to apply right then. The Surface updates are amazingly fast when compared with previous OS versions. For the average consumer, with one of these things, I don't think the monthly update, plus the occasional out-of-cycle push is a stressful event.
    sj53
    • my personal problem with devices like the surface pro

      and other full windows tablets is that unlike many of you who love to feel like you've got full windows under the hood making it a real potential workhorse, I know that such a device will be totally underutilized in actual usage for most people. This makes it feel very inefficient and wasteful. I would much rather just have an iPad, which is optimal for the tablet consumption only form factor, and then a powerful desktop system, or big laptop if it must be portable. This is another reason, being more of a linux fan, I have never installed ubuntu on any android tablet. So I am not saying this to criticize specifically windows, I am just stating my opinion about desktop OSs on tablets.
      drwong
      • iPad?

        can your ipad run Photoshop? Office? Steam games? I get that you prefer a desktop unit, but some of us like the option of having both portability and a full OS in a tablet form factor. Don't just assume things - some of us actually do know what we have under the hood and use it. The Surface Pro is a great device for some people, maybe not for you but it should not be compared to an ipad by any means.
        yourmomz
  • Only geeks care about that stuff

    Users don't try to make sense of what updates they receive, they expect the device to just work. Only geeks care about that stuff.
    pepe12
  • YOU WOULD HAVE TO BE A COMPLETE FOOL TO BUY ANY MS HARDWARE...

    MS never learned how to write decent software, now these people are trusting their hardware, after being in the business for barely a couple years?

    Sad!

    It's bad enough to have to run Windows 8.

    Thank God for mobile. I've wasted years of my life monkeying around with Microsoft's crap.
    orandy
    • You use it

      Your completely clueless and you dont even realize that you use Microsoft products every day. This website probably runs on MS Servers. You banking websites, eCommerce sites, forums, and many other behind the scenes products use MS tech.
      Sean Foley
    • You dont have to run Win8

      Run Win7 if you prefer or install Linux or buy a Mac.

      You do have choices. Nobody is holding a gun to your head.
      bitcrazed
    • Cluck, Cluck, Cluck.

      That's what your posts sound like to many of us.

      Just a lot of mindless noise, nothing more...
      William.Farrel
  • surface 2 bitlocker fixed

    I can confirm mine is fixed, no longer seeing Bitlocker prompts in the last month.
    erichon99
  • Surface Pro (running Windows 8.1) download link

    The date for that file is now 1/28/2014 more changes?
    swestcott@...
  • Pro 2 running like a champ

    Thanks for keeping this all straight. This article was helpful for me in finally getting the last piece of the puzzle working for my SP2. I screwed up on something apart from the December firmware update problem and was able to fix it using the new driver pack. Thanks again. My Pro 2 is a monster again.
    yourmomz
  • Surface Pro Ethernet Adapter now added back in!

    We have disabled our Windows clients going to windows update to pull updates after some devices where updating IE causing issues with out LOB apps.

    Also disabled on Tablets so we can test drivers before our customers install them

    Turns out MS in their wisdom did not include the ethernet adapter in the driver pack, it was in the Octorber2013SurfaceProWin8.0.zip release but then removed from the 8.1 release of the same name

    In a nut shell I kindly let our TAM know that the product group should add it back in, now it seems to be back...

    Im still an MS fan but enterprise deployment with this OS has been changeling to say the least..
    Pete_AUS
  • Thought my surface was fixed but gotta wait a bit longer to be sure

    Like most, my Surface Pro 2 seems to be back to its good old excellent self. Just managed to get myself out of the habit of shutting it down every night.
    So I decided to buy a microsdx 64GB card today and while driving home listening to the Windows Weekly podcast, I hear that my new acquisition may reintroduce recent problems.?? Is this true?
    JustNoLaw