One of the fun things about owning a new device is working through the bugs and quirks. Okay, maybe fun is not the right word, more like voodoo science.
Some interesting threads on Reddit and our forums have raised an issue about outdated battery drivers on the Surface Book and Surface Pro 4. Fact or fiction?
For some reason, both devices are shipping with generic Microsoft battery drivers from 2006. Once updated they are now properly labeled NEC drivers from 2013.
Does it matter?
Maybe. After all, drivers exist for a reason. The bigger question is will this fix battery drain issues in Connected Standby aka InstantGo?
Maybe, maybe not. Results from some Reddit users suggest yes, it can make a difference while for some people there is no change:
"Fix seems to work. I have a SB I7/8/256/dGPU. Updated the battery drivers in the device manager. With Windows Hello enabled, sleep is no longer burning through my battery faster than when it's fully on and idle." – Funkmobile, Reddit
"Before when I had the Surface Book in sleep mode and put it in my laptop bag, it would get warm when I took it out. Now, it's cool as a cucumber! Thank you so much for finding this out!" – kusmog, Reddit
"I did this last night and put the machine to sleep while plugged in. Normally, my discharge rate has been 10-20%/hour while in sleep...doing nothing. Today, it has been no more than 5%/hour doing nothing. So it has done something, but it's still 100% worse than any other laptop I've owned." – enixon, Windows Central
And yet others have had more issues:
"What's worse is that now my battery is WORSE. I only got 4 hours out of it today and after having only used it an hour just now from 100% it's gone to 67%." - Coasterfreak212, Windows Central
"I did this and then my computer froze twice within an hour of updating those drivers. Rolled the drivers back - no more freezing..." – ncxcstud, Windows Central
Just as odd are people with older Surfaces also finding that they have older drivers installed. That calls into question this fixing anything.
Because of the mixed results, we are not quite ready to endorse this as a solution. Moreover, it is not clear what this newer driver does compared to the old one. Still, if you would like to update your driver here is how it's done. (You can always rollback)
How to update Surface Book/Surface Pro 4 battery driver
1. Device Manager
Right-click on the Start menu and choose Device Manager
Double-click ACIP-Compliant Control Method Battery. (Note: Surface Book owners will have two of these as there are two batteries to update on that device)
Under the battery's properties choose the Driver tab. Here you should see the current driver installed, and it likely says Microsoft and is dated 6/21/2006.
4. Update Driver
If your driver says 2006, just hit the Update Driver button
Choose Search automatically for updated driver software. This tool uses the Microsoft database to install the proper driver for that hardware. This is not a 'hack', but a legitimate way to update system drivers. Usually, Windows Update catches them, but not always.
You should see a Windows has successfully updated your driver software message. You can then hit Close and verify the driver as **NEC Personal Computers, Ltd., dated 6/20/2013 and version number 18.104.22.168.
Remember, if you are on a Surface Book, you need to do this process twice. The AC Adapter will not have a new driver, so just choose Battery.
With new drivers, it is always good to restart the OS.
Will any of this matter? We have no idea but we are skeptical. We are not calling this a fix although your experience may vary. All we can confirm is that on our new Surfaces we had the 2006 drivers and now have 2013 ones. Nothing more.
To learn more about Microsoft's Sleep Study to understand your Surface's battery usage see our previous coverage (Only for devices with Connected Standby e.g. Surface Pro 3, Pro 4 and Surface Book)