It seems like Microsoft has finally, completely solved its long-standing power problems with the Surface Book and Surface Pro 4. At least that’s the message its sending with a new firmware update that was released today.
According to Microsoft, the firmware update released Wednesday fixes an issue whereby both the Surface Book and Surface Pro 4 failed to go into a low-power “sleep” state. That’s resulted in less-than-expected battery life for both devices.
“Today’s updates include a set of Microsoft and Intel driver and firmware updates for Surface Book and Surface Pro 4 that will help you get the most of the power management options that Surface is designed to offer and continue to make your Surface more productive,” said Panos Panay in a blog post. Panay, the former chief of Microsoft’s Surface business, moved to a higher-level engineering role last year.
Why this matters: Someone of Panay’s rank wouldn’t normally be communicating a firmware update, but this is no ordinary patch: Complaints about the Book and SP4’s power issues have flooded Microsoft’s forums since last year. Early on, Microsoft executives said a fix was coming in 2016, which did not sit well with owners of the affected devices. Then when Microsoft released its Surface firmware in January, excitement quickly turned to disappointment when it lacked the expected power updates.
Panay said he’s conscious of the user feedback.
“Building devices people love is what drives our team,” Panay wrote. “It’s why we come in to work every morning and it’s what keeps us up at night. And feedback from our customers is really important to the team and to me personally. I read the blogs, I read the comments, I read social media, I read the forums…and so does the team. We love the energy. We’re listening and channeling that feedback directly into our products. Today we’re releasing an update to continue to address that feedback.”
The list of issues the update solves is a doozy:
- Surface Management Engine update (v126.96.36.1992) improves system stability.
- Surface System Aggregator Firmware update (v88.1081.257.0) improves accuracy of battery status and battery life during sleep.
- Surface UEFI update (v104.1085.768.0) improves battery life and improves stability during power state transition changes into and out of sleep states.
- Intel Precise Touch Device driver update (v188.8.131.52) improves stability during power state transition changes into and out of sleep states.
- Intel HD Graphics 520 driver update (v184.108.40.20664) improves display stability, system stability and battery life.
- Intel Display Audio driver update (v220.127.116.115) supports compatibility with the updated graphics driver.
- Realtek High Definition Audio(SST) driver update (v18.104.22.16834) improves system stability.
- Intel Smart Sound Technology (Intel® SST) Audio Controller driver update (v22.214.171.1246) improves system stability.
- Intel Smart Sound Technology (Intel® SST) OED driver update (v126.96.36.1996) improves system stability.
- Intel Management Engine Interface driver update (v188.8.131.526) improves system stability.
- Intel Serial IO GPIO Host Controller driver update (v30.63.1603.5) improves auto rotation reliability when tablet mode is turned off.
- Intel Serial IO I2C Host Controller driver update (v30.63.1603.5) improves auto rotation reliability when tablet mode is turned off.
- Surface Book Base Firmware driver update (v184.108.40.206) improves battery life during sleep.
Personally, I’ve reset my Surface Book twice, most recently about a week ago. That’s helped with most of the stability issues, although I still have a “zombie” problem, whereby if I leave the Surface Book on and untouched overnight, it will essentially be frozen in the morning.
For those who have downloaded the firmware update—has it solved your problem? Let us know in the comments.
Updated at 3:22 PM with a list of the issues that the Surface Book and Surface Pro update addresses.