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Microsoft Issues Another Fix for Surface Pro 3 Battery Problem

Microsoft this week quietly issued yet another firmware fix for Surface Pro 3 devices experiencing battery-charge reporting problems that have led to degraded performance over time.

The latest system firmware update, version 38.11.50.0, was issued on Nov. 7 and is described as addressing a problem "where the full charge capacity of the battery is misreported to the operating system and device firmware," according to the Surface Pro 3 update history page. This new firmware release sounds much like an Aug. 29 firmware update (version 38.10.90.0) that also was designed to fix this problem.

It turns out that Microsoft likely isn't patching its previous firmware update with this new release. Instead, the two firmware update releases (August and November) are fixing software problems that affect two different batteries used in Surface Pro 3 devices. The August firmware patch was for Simplo batteries, while the November patch is for LGC batteries, according to a forum post explanation by Microsoft MVP Barb Bowman.

Surface Pro 3 users had reported having battery issues even after the August firmware update was released, so the explanation for those continued problems could be that there were two battery makes to fix and just one got patched, assuming that Bowman's explanation is correct. She noted that her forum comments were just unofficial information summarized from an unnamed "Surface contact."

Bowman added that the latest firmware update has some quirks before it can successfully install. For instance, the operating system "must think that the battery is at 40% charge or greater" for the patch to take effect. That circumstance could be a barrier for some Surface Pro 3 users, and Bowman said that she didn't know how to trick the OS into seeing the battery charged at 40 percent. If the firmware update still doesn't fix the problem, Surface Pro 3 users, at best, can pay $29 for Microsoft support, she added.

Microsoft has specific instructions regarding the installation of this new firmware update. It shouldn't be installed using the Surface Docking Station. Instead, users should just power the machine using "the standard AC power adapter." Users also should disconnect USB devices and external monitors before applying the firmware update.

After applying the firmware update, it takes "several charge and discharges" for the battery information to start getting properly reported, according to Microsoft's FAQ on the Surface Pro 3 Battery.

Microsoft has claimed that the battery charge issue was just a problem for a small number of Surface Pro 3 users. It's not supposed to have affected other Surface models.

In other Surface news, Microsoft today announced that its "most powerful" Surface Book with Performance Base product and its Surface Dial navigation device for graphics designers are now available at retail outlets. Both devices were first announced as part of Microsoft event held in New York City in late October that showcased the Surface as a creative graphics tool. The Surface Book with Performance Base literally refers the bottom half of the device, but Microsoft doesn't sell it separately from the removable screen, as noted in a Thurrott.com article by reporter Brad Sams.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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