Latest Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book firmware update gets mixed reviews

Early feedback on the firmware update is mildly positive, but there are also reports of problems persisting

Latest Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book firmware update gets mixed reviews
Credit: pialhovik

On Wednesday afternoon Microsoft released the long-anticipated firmware updates for the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book, with an additional patch for the Surface Book's optional discrete graphics chip.

Although it's still too early to tell if the patches alleviate the mess surrounding Microsoft's flagship devices -- Windows guru Paul Thurrott calls it "Surfacegate" -- a few intrepid upgraders have reported on their experiences. Their tales aren't entirely positive.

The Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book were released last October and have had six firmware updates in three months.

The latest firmware fix for the Surface Pro 4 includes:

  • Surface Embedded Controller Firmware (v103.899.256.0) adds battery charging enhancements and thermal tuning.
  • Surface Fingerprint Sensor driver update (v2.2.10.6) improves accuracy.
  • Wireless Network Controller and Bluetooth driver update (v15.68.9037.59) improves access point compatibility and throughput on 5GHz networks.

The fixes for the Surface Book are listed as:

  • Surface Embedded Controller Firmware (v88.899.256.0) adds battery charging enhancements and thermal tuning.
  • Wireless Network Controller and Bluetooth driver update (v15.68.9037.59) improves access point compatibility and throughput on 5GHz networks.
  • Surface DTX driver update (v1.3.202.0) improves detection of the Surface keyboard to the clipboard.

In addition, for those users with Surface Books that have the discrete video chip in the keyboard, there's an additional fix:

  • Nvidia GeForce GPU update (v10.18.13.5914) improves stability.

The patches seem to address the leading causes of pain for SP4/SB owners: excessive battery drain and overheating, especially on hibernate and when shut down; Wi-Fi and Bluetooth throughput, especially on 5GHz connections; all sorts of keyboard oddities; screen disconnects and other video problems, including a shrunk sign-on screen.

While most of the online chatter this morning is at least mildly positive, there are still reports of problems after the firmware was updated.

Thepandaback on Reddit: "For me the sleep fan problem is not solved either. When my surface is running with 1-5% CPU even and I close the lid, while plugged in, the fans are on full blast."

Stefanof on Reddit: "Icons, etc. do not scale properly when I switch from the internal to the external display… Microsoft Solitaire still crashes just after launching."

Mark Virtue on Neowin: "My Wi-Fi adapter died after about 3 minutes of uptime. Each reboot was the same: the Wi-Fi would work for about 3 minutes then die. The adapter (in the Network Centre) was "disabled" and couldn't be re-enabled. Eventually I fixed it by reinstalling the driver for the Wi-Fi adapter."

Paulo Reichert on Winbeta: "The fan on my SP4 still seems to be kicking in as often as it did before so not sure what thermal management improvements they've made, charging times seem similar and as other people have noted below, power consumption on sleep doesn't seem to have changed."

Heatlessun on Winbeta: "Did an hour long sleep test, drained 4% in an hour."

Jeffm201 on Windows Central: "I got happy when I saw the update to 5Ghz networks. I have 300 Mbps internet but was only getting around 60-100 Mbps. Tested after the update and still the same."

Kapiten Fox on Windows Central: "I'm on an i7 Surface Book (dGPU) and it basically borked my ability to connect to WiFi... I think I fixed my issue by uninstalling the Avastar driver in device manager, then rebooting."

In an unusual move -- people tend to complain immediately online and the compliments come much later, if at all -- Igor1968 on the Microsoft Answers forum says:

It seems that Microsoft has done a great job with this update. The computer became faster, less warm and so far works stably. But this is just a first impression, let's see what will happen next. Thanks Microsoft!

Let's see how things shake out.

To comment on this article and other InfoWorld content, visit InfoWorld's LinkedIn page, Facebook page and Twitter stream.
From CIO: 8 Free Online Courses to Grow Your Tech Skills
Notice to our Readers
We're now using social media to take your comments and feedback. Learn more about this here.