Major Surface Pro 3 glitch fixed, but no release date yet.

Microsoft readying some fixes for the Surface Pro 3 ahead of launch

With the Surface Pro 3 shipping by the end of the week, it looks like Microsoft engineers are readying some fixes that will improve the experience of using the tablet . Asking for user feedback, a digital artist suggests that the home button was too easily activated when in use and that there is a little bit of pen lag. Microsoft listened and it looks like fixes are incoming for both issues.

Over at Penny Arcade, writer Gabe said that the Redmond, Washington team invited him out to observe how he interacted with the Surface. "Within the first thirty seconds they realised how frustrating the home button placement was," Gabe wrote, also adding the issue with pen lag that wasn't apparent on the Surface Pro 2.

In a week's time since Gabe was observed, Microsoft's design team had implemented some fixes. For the home button, when the pen is in contact with the screen, the capacitive touch button would be deactivated so that a user won't accidentally brush across it and activate the command. Though it seems that the fix is ready, Microsoft still hasn't decided yet how to roll it out.

As to pen lag issue, Microsoft is still working on that and may be using custom pressure curves to help make the Surface Pro 3 more responsive.

Source: Penny Arcade


Reader comments

Major Surface Pro 3 glitch fixed, but no release date yet.


This isn't a glitch. A glitch is an error that isn't noticed. The issue here was that the programmers didn't realize that button placement interfers with the way artist use it. Gabe gave them feedback and they are trying to fix it by disabling the button when the pen is being used. This is just microsoft being responsive to a usability issue.

I'm not comlaining. I'm just saying I'm glad they got to implement these fixes before shipping the product, or it would've looked really bad

So, Microsoft solves a usability problem that would affect a small % of user, in one week, and BEFORE the product has been released... and that is a fail for Microsoft. Sure, sure.... U^_^u

Then I wonder what was the "home screen sudden reboot" problem that plagued iOS 7.0 during 6 months before it was fixed. I mean, if the MS problem is a "big issue", then that should be a "total pooch screw" (quoting True Lies) at very least.

By the way, I mentioned that particular iOS bug because it is the first that came to my mind, I have nothing special against Apple. All companies have bad bugs sometimes. My point is that there is a scale for bugs and problems, and that the MS Surface 3 one is NOT BIG by any standars.) :-)


actualy, the button being in a stupid position is very much a hardware problem. Their software workaround is just as good a fix as they can. the proper fix is to move the button to where it was before in surface pro 4.

I think a better fix would be to use a physical button instead of a capacitive one. In the instance when I'm not using a stylus, but my hand accidentally brushes over the start button, regardless of placement, because I will hold it in different ways, I'll still be annoyed. It's a stupid problem to have and I can't believe Microsoft hadn't picked up on this issue with a prototype.

Because all of the hardware is implemented with software. Without software a CPU is just a lump of silicon, after all.

hardware is not implemented in software silly. software makes hardware useful but hardware is implemented by an industrial process on physical materials.

Because the hardware is simply giving input to the software. Hardware does nothing but provide and/or process information, the software decides what to do with said information.

In the case of the Start button: They're updating the software to ignore information from the Start button, should pen input be detected.

Hardware doesn't provide or process information - software does that. Software includes anything with programmatic logic - operating system, bios, drivers, etc. (which covers even those things that are hardware specific)

Hardware is just a physical medium allowing the user to interact with a computative environment

The hardware works correctly. The issue is that the placement of the button makes it prone to being pushed accidentily while drawing. So, they disable the button when the pen is detected. Lag issues are usually fixed by increasing the responsiveness of the software.

having used SP3, it isn't just artists who have a problem. I handed over the tablet to somebody and guess what is the button everybody presses by accident?

this NEVER happened with SP1 and 2. this button issue is going to prove an annoyance for any owners until they return to the proper answer: either make it a software button or move it to the proper horitontal center like it was.

Pen lag!? Isn't the inclusion of a pen testament to how much a manufacturer has focused on pen aspects...and lag is present? This is not really acceptable. But after all said and done, quick responses do allow them some merit

Based on my sampling at my local store, the pen works stupendously with OneNote. From what I've heard, the issue lies with third party desktop applications that have only optimized for Wacom styli.

It goes back to Microsoft's modern-era struggle: Developers. While Microsoft can do a few things to alleviate the issue, unless application developers get their stuff to play nice with other standards, Microsoft's power is limited.

Pen input doesn't lag. It's there "hover" that may lag visually when the pen is not pressed on screen.

Same, but I don't think I need it. Based on my experience with my SP2, and playing with the SP3 for a good 45 minutes at my local Microsoft Store this weekend, I KNOW this device is PERFECT for me.

Really excited for when I get enough $$$ to purchase one!

You lot are lucky to have MS stores to try out the SP3 now lol. Have to wait till end of August - middle of September to even get a hands-on try out of the SP3...

Seriously how could that have missed the home button issue during their testing? Did they not do market research on this thing or what?

For most people it doesn't matter. I think it's great that they listen either way and since its not out yet I see no problem with it a fix coming real soon.

I agree. As soon as I saw that button, I thought "Wrong side of the screen".

But I like how they've made it less annoying (I won't call it a fix).

Exactly, this kinda blows my mind they didn't pick this up during testing. Within the first 30secs of and outsider using it haha wtf. Why couldn't they have left the home button where it was? So what if the keyboard covers it, if you have the keyboard attached then you don't need to use it

Well, seeing as the 3 is designed to be far more portrait friendly: Having the button placed on the right side makes a lot of sense.

I think they should just get rid of it entirely.  You can already swipe from the right to bring up the virtual button.  It was never really needed in the first place.

In my opinion, most people wouldn't have this problem -- it depends on how you hold the pen and how you use it. It's also the kind of idiosyncrasy that most people would probably "get used to" and never report. I could easily see how something like this would be missed -- assuming it actually needs fixing anyway.

Probably becasue they were concentrating on the writing aspect. They figured people would hold in portrait mode, just like a piece of paper. In this usage case, the button isn't an issue. I guess they didn't test it with artist. They did give it to Gabe and he gave them feedback and they responded really fast.

Wouldn't bother a lefty like me. Here's a tip. Flip the tablet the other way, righties ; ) I think. It was foolish to move it, but they would have these complaints if they has sent Heidi Klum to hold the buton for us all.

Well then you have an issue with the kickstand when you flip it around, I guess I will learn to write with my left hand while I'm job hunting :P.

Not foolish at all. If they left it at the bottom then the keyboard would cover it when snapped against the screen.

What if you temporarily lift the pen while you're thinking about what to write next? Would it still bump the start button? Or does "contact" simply mean when the pen is close enough to register on-screen?

Unfortunately, I don't think the 3's pen technology supports the "hovering" effect that Wacom styli have, so the device can only be aware the pen is present when it's actually making contact with the screen.

Not true. The pen is detected before it hits the screen -- otherwise palm rejection wouldn't work. I can't remember whether hover worked, but the table definitely knows when the pen is close by before it touches the screen.

Oh man oh man, check your facts... You can't just state something so false. Surface pro's pens have hovering although the pro 3's hovering is slower than previous generations, it is faster and more accurate when actually writing...

I'd imagine a number of things are going to change between now and AUGUST when the i3 version of the Surface Pro 3 is finally available.  <sigh>

Ok! So I have a serious question, I'm considering to buy the SP3, but since I'm from India I have to get it imported here, which will cost me about 1800-1900 dollars for the ( 999 dollars model + the typecover) I have my college starting in a month and I'm doing software engineer, so software programming and note taking will be basic necessity which will be covers with a powerful i5 processor and a great pen experience! And it'll be fine for some softcore gaming and the surface scored heavily on the entertainment department, so my question is that should I pay around 800 dollars extra just for Surface or should I buy some ultrabook available here? (I'm really interested in buying surface can't take my mind off it, I'm 100% sure I'll buy it, but still looking for other peoples opinion about it)

I think spending almost as much money shipping the tablet as the tablet itself is worth.... Is a bit much (; Get an ultrabook

gaming laptops will be thicker, heavier, and will have a shorter battery life. If you are considering a surface, I don't think you will really want a gaming laptop as a second option. As far as ultrabooks go the acer s7 is nice.  The samsung series 9 is also very nice.The lenova thinkpad yoga is also a nice option for someone considering a surface since it can be used as a (heavy) tablet.

While I would normally say yes to a 3, due to high import costs that are making it a LOT more expensive, it's up to you.

I personally think the Surface Pro 3 is THE perfect device for school, but at that price, it's just too much of a luxury item, for me at least.

You'll have to evaluate how much you value the Surface experience and all it offers. I personally can't swallow that price, but maybe you're economic situation leave you better off than I.

At that extra cost, it's probably better to just spend a few hundred more and take a plane here and pick it up yourself. At least you'll get a cool vacation out of it.

I still prefer the old placement of the windows button. I never hold my surface vertically. I'm also not an artist. So I guess we will see what happens on sp4.

I liked it better too, but it's a fair compromise to have the tilt in the type cover.  Don't forget the magnetic cover attaches to the bottom bezel where the windows button used to be.

In no way is this a "major glitch". It's one more example of my headline: "Microsoft Releases Surface Pro 3 - Tech Media Struggles to Find Fault".

Haha! True! It's a minor annoyance, if anything. Doesn't critically impair the device at all. Annoying and should be addressed? Absolutely! But a "major glitch?" If you say yes, then you have some impossibly high standards, my friend.

You've noticed that too huh?  Almost every tech site has given the device to their resident Apple gadget person and even they've had trouble.  I read one article where the only fault she could find involved sitting on a chair, with no table, with the SP3 on her lap while crossing her legs and lifting the one leg up high enough that the SP3 flipped shut.  Who the hell uses their laptop that way?!  She provided an animated gif of the problem.  All I got out of it is she had great legs.

Not a huge issue but IMO, they need to disable the windows button altogether. Make it just a light.

I think the button should not have been in the middle of anywhere. towards a corner would have been better then you only press it if u mean to. like a lot of people have commented on if they spent 3 years on this why is everyone obviously pointing to this when there testers didn't. I think if your left handed you be fine with the placement. One question I don't seem to have seen raised is can you actually disable the button, if so I doubt anyone would ever have it enable. I personly have never pressed it on a device ive had that's had it.

You can by disabling the drivers, but it unfortunately also disables all the other hardware buttons.

Good to know they're listening.

Despite my horrible experiences with Microsoft's Surface RT hardware I've decided to give them one last chance (you know...because I hate them so much?) and I'm having a SP3 brought over from the States in the end of July.

I'm hopping it really is as awesome as everyone paints it. I'm particularly interested in the pen input since so far the Surface pens were horrible for drawing. From what I've seen so far, this one is actually really good. So fix everything up so I don't get really mad.
And most of all...I hope the bloody thing doesn't die after 6 months!

Well, first it died after 6 months. Out of nowhere. Then I don't know what the hell Microsoft did, but an update f*cked up the type covers (I own both the original type cover and a type cover 2). And now, sometimes, the tablet doesn't turn on. It takes several attempts and connecting and disconnecting the keyboard for it to work.


So Surface RT, never again. I was going for the Nokia L2520 but the bloody thing is STILL not released around Europe. The recalling of the chargers still hasn't been solved. And honestly, I'm not too sure on the future of Windows RT devices. I'm not going to spend 500€ on an RT tablet that could be rendered useless in January 2015 because Microsoft drops RT (well, fuses it with WP) and doesn't support "old" hardware.


So, meh, I'll just give them another change but this time with a Pro device. Also, the pen input. I draw a lot and the reason I never went with the SP1 and SP2 was because the pens were horrible.

I also write a lot and the new position for the type cover is a great idea.

Oh that's messed.  We've had no trouble with our Surface 2 so far.  My wife loves it.  Loves it so much she's started calling it "her" tablet.  I was gonna use this as an excuse to buy an SP3, since "I" need one now, but I'm thinking I'll wait for the SP4.  They still have some tinkering to do on this design and I'm thinking Broadwell is going to be better suited anyway.

The headline does seem a little sensationalistic as the artist who found the problem even said himself that he was a very specialized user.

I was thinking that capacitive button - cool as it looks - is bad replacement for actual button. When single-hand typing on my Lumia 920, I occasionally press "Back" button with base of my thumb (I'm left-handed) if I'm not careful enough... so I can see myself having same issues with Surface Pro 3 home button.

That being said... at least MS is putting a good effort at improving this. What would be Apple's first reaction? "You are holding it wrong"? :)

Since this one actually bends almost completely, I think you could still work out the kickstand to a manageable position. Though it would be far from ideal, of course. 

Good to hear MS is working on a fix. I recently went to my local MS store and found the pro 2 was a lot smoother when using OneNote. The pen captured more subtle marks on the Pro 2 and I did notice the subtle lag on the SP3. I ordered mine weeks ago as this wasn't a deal breaker for me but it's awesome to hear the Surface team is working hard on these issues.

The same issue is there with the surface pro, thru pro 2 and now the pro 3 what a surprise. They should of eliminated the start button completely for a primary button or make it a regular button on top or side of the device. Besides how many times do people have to tell Microsoft about the issues before they fix it. The should have stayed with Wacom digitizer over the ntrig one. The ntrig pen is very touch hated it on my dell latitude xt.
I guess we will see what Microsoft does now. And I guess we see what happens with the windows rt since there is no release on another rt model.

Major glitch? I used the pen and OneNote for 10 minutes straight on an SP3 at the Microsoft Store and deliberately wrote in a way as to TRY to trigger the Home button and I wasn't able to set it off a single time. I also know one of the press members that received an SP3 at the launch event and he says it's not an issue at all.

Note he wasn't writing on OneNote, he was drawing with the pen. So he was using another problem. Which means, maybe OneNote does have that thing disabled but other apps don't. The option would be to have all the apps and programs updated to fix that...I think it's safe to assume it's easier for Microsoft to just generally disable that.

How very interesting. When some of us pointed out that the pen was clumsy and there was noticeable lag, we were bad mouthing this technological marvel. Now Microsoft is fixing the probléms and they are to be credited for fixing something they are releasing with a known defect. How about some around here acknowledge that people were not making things up?



How can you release a major product like this with "Pen Lag". If that's true, that's awful testing and QC.

TO The MICROSOFT TEAM, PLEASE, can you put office or your demo units at your stores and at BEST BUY stores so we can see how the units work with office and the pen please!!!!!

It is so irritating to go in there to test how well the pen works with word and PP docs and adobe if these things aren't loaded on them.

sorry but that button on the side made no sense at all. they are just hoping portrait will take off by doing this but it won't:

1) windows 8 doesn't work in portrait orientation. it has too much horizontal scrolling all over the place and it looks terrible. yes it renders. no, it doesn't work.

2) most app devs never bothered with portrait because it was silly for 16:9, therefore few at all have support for 3:2.

3) the button on the side doesn't actually make portrait any better. this is just an apple wannabe copy from a MSFT that will do well to stop looking at apple so much.

no software fix will work as welel has having left the button where it was. even with the new keyboard position, there was always a start button on the keyboard itself meaning SP4 should just return it to where it was.

If you have pre-ordered a Surface Pro 3 from a Microsoft store be sure to get to the store early.  An MS sales rep from the Scottsdale AZ just imformed me that the Pre-orders are first come first serve. 

"My manager said that it is first come first serve on the 20th. So if you are one of the first ones you will get your surface."