Windows Enterprise Desktop

Nov 11 2016   1:57PM GMT

Heed SP3 Firmware Update Warning!

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel

Tags:
firmware update
Surface Pro
Windows 10

I’ve owned and enjoyed my Surface Pro 3 hybrid laptop/tablet since I purchased it in late October 2014. Though there’s been some recent controversy over battery life for this device, it’s always worked reliably for me. In fact, it’s never let me down when I needed it. All that may be about to change, though, thanks to an 11/7/2016 Firmware update. That update came without any advance warning at all. Sadly, that meant I personally had no chance to “heed SP3 firmware update warning”  as this blog post tells its readers..

Let me explain with a snippet from this November 9 story by Andy Weir for Neowin.net. It’s entitled “Microsoft says it’s fixed the latest Surface Pro 3 battery issues with new firmware update.” Here it is:

Before installing, you should ensure that your Surface Pro 3 is plugged into AC power directly, not via the Surface Docking Station, and that all USB devices and external monitors are disconnected. Microsoft warns that you should “not disconnect from AC power while the system firmware update is being applied.” Once the update is installed, you’ll be returned to Windows, but Microsoft adds that “you’ll need to do another restart for the new battery logic to take effect.”

heed sp3 firmware update warning

The firmware item is the one that bit me…

How Could I Heed SP3 Firmware Update Warning?

There’s one small problem with this overall scenario. When updates arrive via Windows Update — especially Surface Pro firmware updates — I usually apply them the same day. MS itself included no warning to disconnect from the Surface Dock, and use the brick for A/C instead. And because I keep my SP3 docked when it’s in the office, guess what? I fired off that update while the unit was docked.

I must say: this really, really ticks me off. Currently Battery Bar tells me that the SP3 battery is good for 3:00 or so. That value should be 8:00 and the new firmware fix is supposed to push it in that direction. If accidental docking prevents me from realizing battery life improvements, I’ll be even more upset.

The Current WU Model Is Broken

Right now, WU users don’t get to choose which updates to download and which ones to skip. To pick and choose, they must use a tool like the Windows Update Minitool or WSUS Offline Update instead. (I described both in my 10/27/2016 blog). I didn’t take either option when I last updated the SP3 updates. But I definitely would have, had I known that the firmware item required me to use the brick instead of the dock. Alas, MS provided no advance warning, so I didn’t know the usual automatic update strategy from WU was the wrong one to use.

These kinds of things happen from time to time. Thus, this problem shows a terrible flaw in the current “forced update” model for Windows 10. There will be times, like this one, where special considerations may apply or configuration changes need made before applying certain updates. MS needs to change its model so it can warn people about such things, and give them the option to delay or defer such items, instead of forcing all updates, all the time!

I don’t know what this means for my SP3 PC battery. I’m running it through a series of full discharge cycles (and will use the brick, not the dock, to recharge — though I can’t understand why that has to be) and can only hope my battery life will start climbing if and when the new firmware starts doing its thing. Sigh.

[Note: As the device is starting to discharge down to zilch, which I’m doing intentionally right now, battery life is starting to climb. It’s up from 2:49 (169 min) to 3:14 (194 min), or 13% in dropping from a full charge to what currently registers as 61% charge. I’ll report back at the end of the cycle, and after the next charge/discharge cycle as well. Maybe there’s hope!]

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