With the holiday shopping season quickly approaching, Microsoft is finally moving to fix one of the biggest issues plaguing its hardware line-up this holiday season. A new Surface Book and Surface Pro 4 Firmware Update has arrived that many say fixes the display issues users have struggled through since the devices arrived on store shelves.
Microsoft quietly released the System Hardware Update 12/2/2015 late yesterday. The company began selling the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book on October 26th. Both devices are aimed at users who want a Windows 2-in-1. The Surface Pro 4 is a tablet that can replace a notebook or Desktop PC. The Surface Book is aimed at laptop buyers who need great performance and a tablet sometimes.
The update itself doesn’t do a great job of explaining what it’s designed to address. Neither does Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book update history pages online. Members of the community website r/Surface on Reddit have determined that the update provides both devices with the Intel Driver 18.104.22.16826. That’s very important as it’s said that the Intel drivers that help power the display in both of these new devices are faulty. Thurrott reports that a refreshed Surface Display Calibration driver is also contained within this Firmware Update 12/2/2015. Drivers are small updatable pieces of code that tell Windows how to interact with the different pieces of hardware, like cameras and displays.
Since release day, error messages have aggravated buyers to no end. The screen on both devices will go black, almost appearing as if the devices have completely locked up. Within a few seconds the screens spring back to life, only there’s a notice at the bottom of the screen informing users that their Display Driver has stopped working and that Windows restarted it so that they could keep working.
It’s been frustrating to live through. Every new Surface Book and Surface Pro 4 suffers from the issue, making it very, very likely that Microsoft knew about the problem before it ever released either to the public. Gotta Be Mobile published a list of Surface Pro 4 problems early last month. That list included the display driver issues, plus problems with the Surface Pro 4 recognizing its Type Cover. The Surface Pro 4 would also randomly lock-up, forcing users to perform a hard restart on the device. Surface Pro 4 problems were so bad that we generally advised users to wait on purchasing the device.
Luckily, Microsoft seems to have turned almost everything around. Firmware Updates over the last three weeks have stopped the lock-ups. The Surface Type Cover reliability issues also seem fixed. With this update possibly addressing the display issue permanently, the only other problems left are related to battery life drain while the Surface Book and Surface Pro 4 are asleep. Some report their battery draining by 10% when they’ve placed their devices in sleep. Microsoft has yet to publicly comment on the issue.
To its credit, Microsoft is addressing more than just the issues of Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book buyers. Every device running Windows 10 is getting a Cumulative Update for the operating system beginning this week.
Windows 10 will download any updates from Microsoft on its own, provided that it has a decent internet connection. Remember that Windows 10 only allows users to defer updates, not to skip them entirely. Updates can be started manually from the Settings app, in the System area.
The Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book are available for sale now. The Surface Pro 4 starts at $899. The Surface Book starts at $1,499.