Surface Pro 3 Wi-Fi problems persist despite a new update

Early reports on yesterday's Surface Pro 3 firmware updates aren't good -- but Microsoft promises yet another one on July 16

Microsoft started shipping the brand-spanking-new i5-based Surface Pro 3 on June 19. That same day, Microsoft released a firmware update for the Surface Pro 3. Almost immediately, customers started complaining about crippled Wi-Fi connection speeds -- particularly with 802.11ac and 802.11n connections, but also with 802.11b and g -- as well as repeated Blue Screens and a hodgepodge of Wi-Fi related wake-from-sleep lockups and bugs.

Yesterday, Microsoft released a new firmware update for the Surface Pro 3, System Firmware Update - 7/8/2014, which includes fixes that are supposed to reduce power consumption, improve stability, increase efficiency and reliability in low power states, make the onscreen keyboard appear and disappear at the appropriate times, and improve trackpad reliability.

Microsoft's update history site says the firmware patch includes a new "Wireless Network Controller and Bluetooth (v. 15.68.3042.79), enhancing system stability, reducing power consumption in low power states, and improving some Wi-Fi connection scenarios." Many had hopes that System Firmware Update 7/8/2014 would tackle some of the problems we've seen with the Surface Pro 3 documented on the Microsoft Answers forum. As of this point, it doesn't look like the worst Wi-Fi-crippling problems have been solved, as best as I can tell.

What kinds of problems? Answers Forum poster davidb1234 gives a laundry list:

My Surface does not consistently wake or sleep properly when closing or opening the cover (exchanged 3 times). It does not recover Wi-Fi after going in to this connected standby when the screen darkens even though my power settings say to stay awake for 2 hours -- when plugged in my screen still goes dark after 10 minutes because of a screen saver setting. This causes Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to stop working. As soon as I unlock the device, I see the VPN and Wi-Fi attempt to reconnect. I have about 1 hard freeze per 1-3 days on the lock screen. My SP3 does not always go to sleep when I close it and it will overheat in the bag. it also does not turn on the screen when I open the keyboard but the keyboard keys light up. I am forced to push the power button to engage the screen. Also I have not been able to connect to ANY 5GHz network, only 2.4GHz.

Lots and lots of issues. I have exchanged my SP3 multiple times. I am an IT infrastructure manager in the Milwaukee area and I have worked with the local Microsoft store multiple times on these issues. They just keep exchanging the devices and nothing helps. Obviously some driver work needs to be done here or Microsoft is going to have a revolt on their hands and a lot of bad press and returned products.

ON PAPER this product is amazing. In reality it is VERY buggy and not a desktop replacement as advertised. I can't deploy these to our mobile sales force until this is resolved.

What's wrong with the current firmware update? Answers Forum poster AnthonyMeluso says:

The drivers were built on June 3rd. Which basically means it was before the Surface Pro 3 shipped. So I doubt this update contains any real updates. Maybe the one in mid July but most likely August.

Microsoft's update history site goes on to promise, "We will also issue an update on Wednesday, July 16, to further improve Wi-Fi connection and throughput scenarios."

Given its track record, one can only hope.

Some day, somebody at Microsoft will have the guts to say, "The July 8 firmware update doesn't solve the worst Wi-Fi slowdowns and crashes you folks have encountered, but we're going to get a fix out on July 16." Imagine how much time, energy, angst, and customer ill-will could be saved if someone at Microsoft would just speak the truth, plainly.

This story, "Surface Pro 3 Wi-Fi problems persist despite a new update," was originally published at Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow on Twitter.

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