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Disabling Windows Hello may save you battery life on Surface Pro 4, Surface Book

File this under another interesting bug but some users are claiming that disabling the new Windows Hello facial recognition may save your battery in Standby and prevent the computer from heating (See our earlier report).

Several users have done before and after sleep tests and verified the result although it does not solve all battery drainage issues for everyone.

Indeed, we have seen our IR camera stay on a few times with our Surfaces along with some quirky behavior and have since disabled them with no issues. The problem may also explain why reviewers did not report widespread battery drainage problems as the firmware to enable Windows Hello was not released during the embargo review period.

The possible bug does not seem to impact those using the new Type Cover with fingerprint ID and Windows Hello.

We should remind readers that we are in the early stages of these devices and general release. Windows Hello and IR facial recognition cameras are very new and this is its first release on Windows. As such, there will be confusion, varying reports, and many factors affecting user experiences. In other words, some people are using Windows Hello and facial recognition with no issues, while others are supposedly experiencing them. Your experience may vary.

At the very least, we want to put it out there as a possible fix in case you are experiencing this problem.

If you have setup Windows Hello facial recognition it is very easy to remove:

  1. All Settings
  2. Accounts
  3. Sign-in Options
  4. Under Windows Hello hit the Remove button. You do not need to restart the computer.

Other potential workarounds include putting the computer into Hibernate directly, which we covered before. Some users also recommend disabling Wi-Fi when the device is in Sleep mode (Settings > System > Power & Sleep > Wi-Fi) also to save battery life.

Microsoft is set to release Windows 10 Threshold 2 in November as a semi-major update to the new OS and with that there will likely be new firmware and drivers for the new Surface PCs. We'll keep you posted on any further developments.

Has disabling Windows Hello worked for you? Let us know in comments.

Via: Reddit, Windows Central forums

More Info

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)

Daniel Rubino
Executive Editor

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

75 Comments
  • In the future MS should go for fingerprint readers(for both surfaces and phones) which is more practical and efficient IMO. 
  • Why is it more practical and efficient?
  • on phone fingerprint reader is very much practical cos you can unlock the phone much faster at any place without having to lift the phone upto your face every time you want to unlock the phone(which would also be awkward in public too).I might just want to check out my notifications but accidently the phones would recognize my face and unlock the phone every time i look at it.so for sure people would disable it after a while.with fingerprint readers i feel like i have control over it. fingerprint reader is efficient on both phone and pc cos windows hello(Irish scanner) needs to be always looking for your face which would definitely have some impact on battery life.
  • You don't really hold the phone up to your face, you just, like, look at the screen. I've used it and I'm guessing you haven't? Re: Looking at your lockscreen, you can change it so that you have to swipe away the screen. Hello can merely unlock it. Works like that on the Surface too. Seriously people, let's actually try the tech and review it when it's out instead of guessing from the comfort of our computers. Seeing a lot of armchair theorizing here about how this works and it's incorrect. I mean, have you used an iPhone? Fingerprint is so fast that you can no longer see notifications. You have to use the power button on the side to turn it on, read notifications, then use the FP button to unlock OR you have to use their kinda-crappy notification pulldown after you unlock. It's a mixed bag.
  • I agree. but if MS brings fingerprint to WPs no doubt that would be far better than that of iphones(without any notification issues that you mentioned). I haven't used windows hello on 950 but we all know how it works and it is easy to imagine some real life situations with common sense. with fingerprint I can checkout some stuffs quickly while the phone is on the table, or on the nightstand without taking the phone in hand. while driving it will be even easier if i have fingerprint rather than irish scanner. irish scanner or facial recognition are really advanced features and really fun to use but at the same time fingerprint reader is no less than any of these. 
  • I haven't used windows hello on 950 but we all know how it works
    No you don't.
    while driving it will be even easier if i have fingerprint rather than irish scanner.
    You definitely shouldn't be touching your phone or looking at it while you're driving.
     
  • I have tried the iPhone's fingerprint reader and Windows Hello facial recognition on the SP4 (not the Lumia's obviously). I strongly prefer Windows Hello facial recognition. Most of the time, it recognizes me and is signing me in faster than i could reach to the screen or keyboard to begin typing a pin. I have shown it to several people and they were all genuinely impressed. I never expected it to be so fast.
  • Have both fingerprint and hello so user can choose.
  • So what you're saying is that you don't look at your phone when you use it? You don't have to stick it an inch away from your eyeball to use it. Irish scanners, on the other hand... :P  
  • Have u used windows hello ? Or at least u saw the reviews ? Moderators shoud ban trolls
  • first go and read what windows hello is, then come here to talk about windows hello.finger print reader is also windows hello as we have on the new type cover.if you don't have any valid argument to state that FP is inferior to irish scaner/face recognition then come and argue.don't just pull crap.
  • What is this mythical Irish scanner? Can it scan Scottish people as well?
  • lol..well that is not me, that is my mobile's auto prediction.may be cos i use the word Irish a lot ;)
  • Haha
  • You don't know how the system works for phones, you're making an assumption. Also, iris scanners and face recognition are perfectly good ways to do this, youi might be falling in the "let's just follow Apple" mentality, let's not do that because it leads nowhere good.
  • I can give you 100s of examples where FP is superior to iris. instead of trying to act like a smartas** why don't you actually give some examples where iris is better than FP?is iris faster than FP? NO, is it battery friendly like FB? NO.is it more convenient in all real life situations?NO. just cos it is something new it doesn't mean it is advanced.people won't mindlessly fall for some fancy techs just like you do.You don't need to use it for years to understand the intricate iris scanning machanisms.simple common sense would do.You know very well FP is no less than iris scanner and thats why you can't even come up with one -ve point about it. iris is just a fancy feature on phone. but on PC sure facial recognition is great.iris scanner on phone is fun to use for sure but not necessarily better than FP. In fact it can be bit slower than FP reader.the point here is to unlock the phone quickly and energy efficiently. I can unlock the phone right in my pocket while taking it out. and talking of common sense, when you are in bed and want to check something quick on the phone while it is on a nightstand, if it is FP reader we can unlock the phone without even taking the phone from the nightstand, but with iris scanner would you pick up the phone and hold it up and wide open your tired eyes in the middle of the night or as you just wakeup in the morning to unlock the phone?it will be hard to recognize you with your squinty eyes. who would want to hold up the phone and look into the camera and wait till it recognizes while you can unlock the phone in an instant with FP?i'm pretty sure most people would disable it on phone as it would also drain the battery faster.​. again don't make the mistake to relate FP with apple.it makes you look like a fool. its not only apple that makes FP. and i am not an iphon user. I am a WP user. 
  • At least on the iPhone 6S the fingerprint reader is very fast. It already unlocks the phone while you grab it in your pocket to get it out. No need to watch into a sensor or camera. It speeds up routine tasks quite a lot. 
  • It is fast, but as I note above that brings its own problems including getting a notification and going to turn it on. It's too fast now so you have to then pull down the notification screen afterwards.
  • How do you know. Or just guessing? Or just trolling? To me face scanning is more practical, because your hands can be wet, dirty, in use, but a face is always available. and more secure. So more efficient too.
  • You also need the Type Cover for FP reader connected. Facial recognition works in tablet mode 100% of the time.
  • I don't think any of these people have actually used Hello. On the Surface Book it's really amazing. My suggestion is for people to stop making comments about how efficient it is until they have had the opportunity to use it... I think most will change their mind quickly if they ever try it.
  • "I don't think any of these people have actually used Hello. "
    Agree. Lots of people guessing on how it works and coming to conclusions. It's silly. Everyone who has used Hello is blown away by it.
  • I second that. I can't count the number of times I had to let people stare at my Book at the office this week, just so they could see that it indeed only unlocks for me without any tricks. Beside that, it's lightning fast. Wouldn't want to go back to anything else.
  • I can agree with you. It bums me out because people post their opinions about tech without even trying it out in the first place.
  • We'll see once it's available on Windows 10 Mobile. What about those rumors that it won't be available on the 950 and 950 XL on release? Must be cause it works so flawless and fantastic already ;)
  • Well, on Lumia (I do have 950XL) it is absolutely horrible. It does require to have phone really close to your face which is inconvenient and really awkward in public, which would be fine if it wouldn't take a few seconds to recognize you (granted I wear glasses very often, but that shouldn't be my problem, and yes I've spent quite some time on trying to improve the accuracy). Usually it is literally faster to just input the PIN. Then for some stupid reason it tries to do the recognition whenever the phone screen is on, be it by a power button (note that it happens when phone is not even locked yet) or if it's starts charging (I do have QI charger on my work desk), and in that case if you don't stick your face or turn it off manually - you'll get errors for too many failed Hello atempts, and obviously it drains the battery as it uses the infrared camera + tries to process images. The concept itself is not so convenient for phones as the FP reader and even with perfect implementation it would take longer, as with FP you could unlock the phone just by getting it to your hand (on the way from the pocket and etc.) So, no, not really blown away. In it's current implementation it sucks.  
  • "hands can be wet, dirty" you can use your face just for unlocking the device but not for operating the entire pc. you would definitely need your hands at some point. you can't just unlock the pc with your face and sit idle with your dirty or wet hands.
  • Well, one could use voice controlled Cortana :P
  • Actually there are a lot of situations where you don't have to use your hands after unlocking the phone. I, for example, sometimes need to unlock my phone when I'm sketching to view the pic that I'm sketching.
    Other examples include, viewing progress during exercise, viewing recipe during cooking etc.
    And like the other guy said, you can also use voice commands.
  • Why would you want or need to unlock your phone while you were not looking at it? Windows Hello has been a revelation for me. I can't wait to try it on the phone. I can imagine just picking up my phone and it unlocks. Awesome
  • Silly. I would look at the screen when i unlock the phone but don't want to pick it up all the time in my hand just to unlock it. for doing some quick stuff while the phone is on the table or on the nightstand while you are in bed, or while driving finger print will be much convenient. with fingerprint you can quickly unlock the phone wherever it is in.you can unlock the phone while taking it out from the pocket itself. still i wouldn't agree that irish scanner is better than finger print on phones. on PC sure but not on phones. 
  • You are too foolish to be convinced... You will stop this only when APPLE start using Iris scanning instead of FP and you will be like " That's Innovative " .. On one side you agree that Facial Recognition/Iris Scanning is the future... And on the other side you are praising FP ( only because Apple is using it ) .. Appreciated ( claps )
    ..
    Update : 'Irish' scanner* :D
  • indeed, fingerprint Reader it´s an Apple thing, and everybody is like awesome! Windows hello with iris-facial recognotion, i mean it´s like fiction, but it´s Microsoft not Apple...
  • No need to be an a**hole about it. I just stated that it is more practical to have FP on phones than irish scanner. I didn't even talk about apple and i don't even own their product.go through my comment again if you know how to read it. if you don't understand English then just don't come here and annoy people. god some nosy people. if you have any valid argument to prove that FP is dumb compared to irish then argue with me. otherwise just ..........
  • Iris*
  • You 'Irish' guy.. Don't even think about teaching me english... You are defending FP scanners and you are criticizing me for defending the much more advanced Facial Recognition and Iris Scanners.. Please have some common sense... You got to move your mind forward when technology is moving forward rather than staying in the past and talk like everything else is sh*t. ..
  • lol what a twat. still couldn't think of any witty comeback other than being an a**? why did you even talk about apple? didn't they even teach you to read? now if you can't just think of one valid shortcoming of FP on phones then shut your a** and bugger off. come back when you have something valid to argue.
  • iris scanner on phone is fun to use but not necessarily better than FP. In fact it can be bit slower than FP reader. I can unlock the phone right in my pocket while taking it out. and talking of common sense, when you are in bed and want to check something quick on the phone while it is on a nightstand, if it is FP reader we can unlock the phone without even taking the phone from the nightstand, but with iris scanner would you pick up the phone and hold it up and wide open your tired eyes in the middle of the night or as you just wakeup in the morning to unlock the phone?it will be hard to recognize you with your squinty eyes. and while driving would you hold the phone up in front of your face and look into the camera? that is one hell of a common sense you've got.lol. i'm pretty sure most people would disable it on phone as it would also drain the battery faster. But FP reader is battery friendly. on PC sure facial recognition will be great.but not on phones. who would want to hold up the phone and look into the camera and wait till it recognizes while you can unlock the phone in an instant with FP?is iris faster than FP? NO, is it battery friendly like FB? NO.is it more convenient in all real life situations?NO. just cos it is something new it doesn't mean it is advanced. moving forward with technology? it is in fact a step backward so not everyone would mindlessly move with it just like you do thinking it is advanced.
  • Hopefully they will fix this BEFORE they release the 950 and 950XL. If they don't, this might create a really annoying problem.
  • I don't think this is about 950&950xl. the problem seems to be with surface windows hello.
  • 950 will use pretty much the same Hello hardware. So if it applies to Surface, it will most likely apply to 950. But time will tell.
  • The hardware is vastly different. Surface = Facial Recognition. Lumia = Iris Scanning.
  • So they need to give shortcut to diasble or enable hello from action center.
  • That seems...dumb. Sorry.
  • Can't you pin individual settings to the Start screen already? There's your shortcut!
  • Just use hibernate. Even without Windows Hello I never use sleep. On, off, or hibernate is all for me. I set the laptop to do nothing when I close the lid, so for short trips down the hall or whatever it just stays on. Set the power button to hibernate si when you're leaving in a hurry you push the power button and go!
  • I have become too addicted to the convenience of hello. I also have not had any problems after a couple firmware updates and later fast insider build
  • It is super convenient and works well otherwise.
  • Sounds like you use it often. Have you had many issues with it unlocking? I'm kind of excited to use it in a few months (geeky excitement) hoping it's all I expect it to be.
  • Windows Hello is amazing on the Surface Book. I wish it was everywhere. It works incredibly fast and even in the dark. It's very consistent. Waiting for them to come out with a standalone camera so I can put it on my desktops.
  • Nice, thanks for the reply. I do want a decent stand alone for my desktop too, I'm sure ill want it more once I've tried it. I plan on doing a new build in 2017 so I'm sure there will be plenty of options by then.
  • Are you using insider build on SP4?
  • Surface Book
  • I downloaded the recovery image from Microsoft and installed it from USB. Fixed the battery drain for me.
  • I have the FP keyboard "just in case". But I am so impressed with the Facial Recognition experience. It is science-fiction awesome. I too am sold on it. Will be thrilled to have it on my phone too. (My Surface Mini LTE 950\XL)
  • My Creative F200 camera still hasn't worked properly. Driver updates keep me hopeful but it still has it's days where it recognizes me and days it just doesn't.
  • Geting my 950XL will save me a big headache.
  • With this amount of 'tricks' one have to pull to use new premium devices, I'm kinda confused about it's 'premium' value.
  • These are just temporary workarounds, but I'm sure a owner could be a little frustrated. As long as the long term fixes come no later than a week or two, otherwise it starts to look really bad for MS.
  • @luka Why don't you follow @iMore and count the amount of workarounds and tricks you get to see for the PREMIUM Apple devices..
  • They are called launch issues. Every device has them. I paid $11K of a TV. Guess what it had? Launch issues.
  • On an other note, disabling Cortana in the latest mobile build also helps a lot.
  • Cortana is a battery killer... Agreed
  • how about we disable everything on the Surface Pro 4 and install Windows 95
  • Windows Hello has been working fine for me on SP4, but I have been experiencing other annoying bugs. Just got it yesterday so I'm trying to give it time before I give up and get an exchange. Bugs- speaker popping, slow restart, slow intermittent internet browsing/connection despite fast access, screen flickering, intermittent unresponsive touch. Any solutions?
  • I've been noticing abnormal battery drain on my sp4 - this is my second one as the first had some odd light bleed round the screen. Hope MSFT get this sorted out.
  • The trick is to backup your SP4 and then install Windows 95
  • sigh... too mnay bugs preventing me to buy the SB...
  • Daniel, you crack me up, seriously. "that seems dumb.... Sorry.". That sorry is, "no offense, but your face reminds me off a donkey's ass... No offense."
  • Would this be a prob on 950/XL as well?
  • Windows Hello has been acting up for me lately. It has been working 60% of the time I would say. And when it doesnt work, it doesnt work. Idk if its my hair or what? But it just wont let me sign in with my face. Have to use pin. 
  • ...why do companies launch half baked products these days? I understand the will be a fix but this supposed to be the unique selling point and it's bad at this moment.
  • Because customers and shareholders have no patience and you never know what problems might crop up when putting a product out in the wild and having thousands of people trying it out. Also, there is no such thing as a complete piece of software.
  • Is it gonna be a battery issue for the upcoming Lumias???
  • Didn't the S5 sport the fingerprint scanner first yet no one even mentions that experience. Because apple makes such a big deal about there 'Iterations' of tech. I think hello is practical. Anyone who pulls his phone out of his pocket looks at it at a reasonable distance to view it. And is likely in range of windows hello. I do think that Cortana should respond to notification queries eg. Hey Cortana do I have any new messages. Do I have any new email from this contact. Etc. Then problem is solved if your phone is out of reach.