New Surface Book and Surface Pro 4 firmware updates cause more problems than they solve

Dell XPS 13 (2015)
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

Microsoft’s Surface Book and Surface Pro 4 continue to suffer odd firmware issues. Some of them are fairly innocent, like Wi-Fi drops, or the cursor disappearing. Some are more problematic. For example, the Surface Book sometimes won’t go to sleep when closed, and will instead drain its battery and heat up while sitting in a laptop sleeve. Microsoft today rolled out its first firmware update of 2016, but it seems to have caused more issues, rather than resolve old ones.

Before we get to that, let’s see what Microsoft has to say for itself. There are two separate updates, one for the Surface Pro 4, and the other for the Surface Book.

At first glance, it might appear that “battery charging enhancements and thermal tuning” would relate to the sleep and battery drain issues. While there are early anecdotal reports that this is not the case, it’s too early to say for sure whether the problems have all been solved. The Wi-Fi update is promising as well, but makes no mention of intermittent failures, only of improving speed and compatibility.

Of course, some of the more prevalent issues were appearing on the Surface Book, Microsoft’s first laptop. The Surface Book I’ve been using has issues falling asleep when I close it, turning back on when I open it, and sometimes will stop responding to touch and mouse input, forcing me to perform a hard reset.

Once again the vague “battery charging enhancements and thermal tuning” pops up, and it’s unclear if it’s actually resolved any problems. The DTX driver update is already malfunctioning. After the update, I’m no longer able to detach the Surface Book’s screen at all, with the system presenting a dialog that says “Elevated processes” are preventing the screen from detaching.

The screen also no longer recognizes the pen as a touch device, but clicking the eraser still opens OneNote, indicating the pen is still paired and functioning properly.

Only time will tell how much of an impact the newest firmware update has on the buggy Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book. Whatever the case may be, it’s clear this is only a small first step towards the fixes Microsoft assured us were coming after apologizing in December.