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Surface 2 Pro owners: Where's our @#$%&! firmware update?

Gregg Keizer | Jan. 21, 2014
After a month-long wait, some owners of Microsoft's Surface Pro 2 tablet this weekend said that they received a fix for a faulty firmware update that exhausted their batteries and caused sleep mode problems.

"Parsing these Microsoft statements calls upon the skills used in Talmudic analysis and Kremlinology," observed Mickey Segal, referring to the company's claim that an update had been released.

While many wondered if Microsoft was rolling out the update in stages — not an uncommon tactic by vendors, who after one fumble are leery of another and so hope to limit damage if the worst happens — sources close to the company said that wasn't the case.

"Why do we have to guess what Microsoft is doing with this firmware fix?" asked dgg4. "Doesn't being a paying customer entitle you to the company answering your questions honestly? Or at all?"

Microsoft said it has more work to do to rectify the December screw-up. "We are working hard to deliver the rest of the December update to those customers who had not received it prior to it being removed from distribution," the company spokeswoman said.

To some, however, the drawn-out glitch had soured them on the Surface Pro 2, something Microsoft can ill afford.

"At present I have a working device, although I am currently using it only lightly and mostly on mains power," said Roy_C on Sunday in a support forum message. "But I am getting very weary of this nonsense and Microsoft's disgraceful lack of clarification. It's certainly not something I'd rely on for critical mobile use. I surely wouldn't recommend it to anyone."

The firmware snafu has been an embarrassment to Microsoft, which has switched to a strategy that relies on selling services and devices, the latter including the Surface line, which was its first-ever homegrown computing device.

While Microsoft has been able to spread blame for past problems in Windows to its hardware partners and point to the huge and diverse PC ecosystem as reasons for issues, that's not possible with the Surface, which only the Redmond, Wash. company can fix on a firmware level.

Firmware updates are especially hazardous if they go wrong, as the code stored on a device's non-volatile memory — the "firmware" — is required to successfully boot the hardware and control aspects of the machine or device before, during and after the operating system loads. A faulty firmware update can easily "brick" a device, or cause lesser trouble like that experienced by Surface Pro 2 owners.

"It's the evening of 20 Jan. here — and still nothing new in Windows Update," ranted a frustrated user identified as KerrinY on the Surface Pro 2 support forum. "Microsoft need to act more like Apple, i.e. release pre-release [updates] quietly to their MSDN/TechNet users game enough to try it, and then release to the public when they make the public announcement."

 

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