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Surface Pro 3 Is Now Available with Day-1 Firmware Patch

A month after introducing the new Surface Pro 3 -- which Microsoft advertises as the tablet designed to replace your laptop -- the device is now available for purchase at select retail locations. But the first batch of units will require a quick firmware update to address an issue where Surface Pro 3 would occasionally fail to boot up even when fully charged.

After spending a month with the Surface Pro 3, I can say the device is a real impressive improvement over the first two versions. It's bigger yet still portable, weighing 1.76 pounds with a much thinner form factor. And it has a much more usable keyboard. See my take, which appears in the forthcoming July issue of Redmond magazine.

I didn't mention the problem booting up because I hadn't experienced it when my review went to press. In recent weeks, I have experience the bug quite regularly. When the problem occurs, typically when Windows goes into sleep mode, I have eventually managed to boot it up, though it has taken anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes to do so.  Microsoft last week shared a tip on how to do it faster. It requires a strange combination of pressing the volume button in the up position and holding the power button for 10 seconds with the power adapter plugged in. I initially thought I had a flawed unit but Microsoft said it was a common problem and the firmware upgrade currently available aims to fix that.

The firmware update fixes the power problem. It's easy enough to install the update. Just go to the Settings Charm, touch or click Update and Recovery and then check for a Windows Update. I attempted to run it last night but I received an error message saying to make sure the system is fully charged and try again. I did so this morning without incident. It's too early to say that the patch worked for me.

Microsoft also issued an update which lets the Surface Pen users double click to capture and save screen grabs, which should be welcome since there's no Print Screen button on the keyboard. This requires the installation of the June 10 Windows and OneNote updates. With the included Surface Pen, users can also use it to boot the machine right into OneNote to start taking notes.

In my evaluation of the test unit, I noted that I experienced occasional problems with the system failing to find a network connection, which I did mention in my first look article. In fact, it would sometimes indicate in the device manager that there is no network adapter. It wasn't clear if this problem was unique to my test unit or a universal problem -- it turns out there are reports of others who have experienced this issue as well, Microsoft confirmed. The way to fix that is to reboot but a spokeswoman for Microsoft said a patch for that problem is forthcoming.

Units with the Intel Core i5 processors are available at Best Buy stores and the Microsoft Store (both in retail locations and online). Versions with i3 and i7 processors will ship in August, with preorders open now. The i7 model is good if you'll be using the Adobe Creative Cloud Suite, part of which the company this week optimized for photographers using the Surface Pro 3. The i5 will appeal to most mainstream workers who don't want or need to use it for any complex photo or video editing or computer aided design (CAD) work.

If you get to a Best Buy or Microsoft Store near you, check it out and share your thoughts.


Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 06/20/2014 at 10:32 AM


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