Surface Pro 4, Surface Book updates: Still no fix for nagging sleep-mode bug

Microsoft has released firmware updates for its flagship hardware. But they don't fix the devices' power-management problems.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Some Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book owners have experienced a persistent power-management bug.

Image: Microsoft

Microsoft has finally rolled out firmware updates for the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book but hasn't addressed its battery-crippling sleep-mode issues.

Microsoft closed 2015 with an apology to Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book owners for the "less than perfect experience" with its flagship hardware.

It also promised that in early 2016 it would fix a nagging power-management bug that has been around since October, preventing some devices from properly entering sleep-mode and, as a result, draining battery reserves.

Adding insult to injury, Microsoft's support technicians appeared to have admitted the company knew about the power-management issues, which are thought to stem from its Skylake system on chips, before it sold the devices.

That apparent admission sparked recent calls by Microsoft-watcher Paul Thurrott for a six-month extension to the warranty and some form of compensation.

Yesterday, Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book owners were offered the prospect of a solution in the form of Microsoft's January firmware updates, though as Thurrott noted the updates do not address the power-management problem.

According to Microsoft, the update for the Surface Pro 4 does include a new Surface Embedded Controller Firmware, v103.899.256.0, which "adds battery-charging enhancements and thermal tuning".

It also delivers an updated Surface Fingerprint Sensor driver, v2.2.10.6, that should improve its accuracy, as well as a Wireless Network Controller and Bluetooth driver update, v15.68.9037.59, which "improves access-point compatibility and throughput on 5GHz networks".

The January firmware update for Surface Book devices has the same Surface Embedded Controller Firmware and Wireless Network Controller and Bluetooth driver updates, as well as a Surface DTX driver update, v1.3.202.0, which "improves detection of the Surface keyboard to the clipboard".

Surface Book customers who opted for the Nvidia GeForce GPU also received an update in v10.18.13.5914 that should improve the graphics chip's stability.

Despite its promise to do better for Surface owners, Microsoft made a rough start to 2016.

The company only last week recalled some Surface Pro power cables and admitted to botching its Surface 3 and Surface Pro 3 updates with Surface Pen drivers intended for the Surface Pro 4, forcing some devices into a blue screen of death (BSOD).

Microsoft on Wednesday rereleased the Surface System Update from 1/19/2016 and has now offered an explanation for the Surface 3 problems.

"Today we rereleased the Surface System Update from 1/19/2016. This update now includes a Surface Pen Settings driver (version dated 1/23/2016). Installing the System Hardware Update 1/19/2016 will remove the 10.0.302.0 version of the Surface Pen Settings driver if it is installed on your Surface," Jerry, a Microsoft support technician wrote.

"The 10.0.302.0 version resulted in "DRIVER_POWER_STATE_FAILURE" BSOD issue as well as Surface randomly waking from sleep and long boot times associated with this driver being installed.

"Installing the System Firmware Update - 1/19/2016 or System Hardware Update - 1/19/2016 and then restarting (not shutdown) Surface should resolve these issues if it was associated with the Surface Pen Settings driver," he added.

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