Microsoft has just delivered a firmware update to Surface Book and Surface Pro 4 users, though it’s probably not the one they’ve been waiting for.
With the January 2016 update, both devices are getting improvements to battery charging, thermal tuning, wireless access point compatibility, and 5GHz Wi-Fi network throughput. For the Surface Book, keyboard detection issues are also being fixed, and models with dedicated Nvidia graphics cards should be more stable. The Surface Pro 4’s fingerprint sensor is getting an update to improve accuracy as well.
Unfortunately, neither update addresses an issue where the device fails to properly fall asleep, causing battery drain. It’s arguably the biggest glitch that Surface users are facing, yet Microsoft has been fairly quiet about it. The company last acknowledged user complaints in a forum post last month, saying that it is “a very hard computer science problem to solve especially with new silicon,” and that it would have an update “soon in the new year.”
With January’s firmware now available automatically through Windows Update, it sounds like users will have to wait until at least next month for resolution on the sleep issue.
Why this matters: Microsoft has impressed in recent years with its Surface hardware, but the company has repeatedly stumbled with firmware-related problems. With the Surface Pro 2, for instance, a botched firmware update introduced major battery drain problems that weren’t fixed for a month, and the Surface Pro 3 shipped with a wide range of show-stopping glitches. As the Surface Book and Pro 4’s battery issues wear on, it’s getting harder to place faith in Microsoft’s hardware efforts, especially when the company spends more time talking about NFL product placement snafus than problems facing ordinary users.