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What do early adopters think about the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book?

On October 26, 2015, the new Surface Book and Surface Pro 4 went on sale, and reviews across the internet began to pop up with hype and positive acceptance. Also, the way Microsoft advertised these new devices helped to make many people pre-order them right away, and they have become the must-have devices to run Windows 10.

While we have been talking about these new portable computing devices and how great they are as advertised, after a few days since they have been available on the market, many new customers are now part of the Surface experience -- some are newcomers, and others have upgraded from their previous version.

No doubt about it, these are great devices. On the left side, you have the Surface Pro 4, which is the fourth iteration of perhaps the most popular tablet to run Windows that can also replace your laptop. The new tablet features a slightly 12.3-inch PixelSense display with a thinner and lighter body that looks almost identical to the Surface Pro 3 design.

On the right side, you have the Surface Book, which is the first laptop built by Microsoft, which is being advertised as the "ultimate laptop." It features a 13.5-inch PixelSense display, the now unmistakable "dynamic fulcrum hinge" design with the "muscle wire lock" to release the display from the dock, and a discrete graphics processor that makes the laptop deliver performance on editing tasks and gaming.

It's been a few interesting days since both devices went on sale, as the reaction from customers has been largely very positive, but other customers came across some significant issues that made them doubt about their purchase.

We have decided to dig around and see how the new Surface Book and Surface Pro 4 are treating customers. While we always hear from many different channels what's going on in the world of technology, we focus our research on our forums, Microsoft Answers forums, and on Reddit to see the reactions and concerns from customers.

Concerns about the Surface Pro 4

  • Excessive battery drain browsing the web using Microsoft Edge: Some users are reporting that a full charge will only allow up to 2 hours of web browsing.
  • Microsoft Edge color rendering issue: Many customers are reporting a tone pink color or different colors while scrolling a web page.
  • Random fan problems: Fan kicks in often even though there isn't much going on the Task Manager.
  • Graphics driver: Display driver crashes suddenly during normal use or when using Microsoft Edge.
  • Low battery life: Many customers are also reporting 4-5 hours of battery life out the claimed 9 hours.
  • Brightness and black screen: There have been concerns about sudden loss of brightness and completely dark screen when scrolling.
  • Type Cover: When in tablet mode and attaching the Type Cover will make the trackpad stop working.
  • Windows Hello won't work: It works the first time when you wake the device, but after resuming the second time Windows Hello won't work.
  • Slow booting: Sometimes when booting up Surface Pro 4 will just get stuck in the Surface logo. Also booting up could take up to 5 minutes. Users have tried resetting the device to factory defaults, but after a while the problem keeps coming back.

Sources

Concerns about the Surface Book

  • Clipboard: Display detach mechanism not detaching or detach not being recognized when pressing the button, and it will result in an error that says "Latch did not release."
  • Setup problems: After the initial setup the Surface Book will freeze up every few minutes to the point that users need to hard reset the device to factory defaults.
  • Random blue screen of death: A number of users have experienced blue screen of death while using Microsoft Edge, detaching the screen from the base, and other reasons.
  • Trackpad issues: While the trackpad on Surface Book is great when it works, some users are experiencing slow response when using the mouse or the pointing simply disappearing. (see our how-to to temporary fix this issue)
  • Keyboard issue: In some cases, various keys will simply fail and reset won't fix the problem.

Sources

Complaints about the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book

  • Windows Hello causing fast battery drain and heat during sleep: It has been discovered that Windows Hello may not be working correctly blocking the device from going to sleep completely causing battery drain and produce more heat. (If this is an issue affecting your device, you can follow this guide to temporarily disable Windows Hello in your Surface Book or Surface Pro 4)
  • Screen flickering: Many users have noted of screen flickering on their Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book, and in many cases this would happen when Hyper-V is enabled.
  • Slow Wi-Fi connectivity: It appears that it a software problem that is causing slow wireless connectivity. This is a known issue and Microsoft is working on permanent fix. (In the meantime, you can use this workaround to fix the Wi-Fi issue)
  • Popping sound from speakers: Some users are also experiencing a "fairly loud pop" when using the device.
  • Surface Pen: The pen stops working frequently, pen driver won't reinstall, or it will not pair with the device.

Sources

Note: Please remember that even though, I have grouped the different issues per device, because the Surface Book and Surface Pro 4 have similar hardware there are chances that you may experience the same problems found in Surface Pro 4 on your Surface Book and vice versa.

It's worth saying that while these problems exist, they are not affecting everyone. Furthermore, on November 2nd, Microsoft has issued a firmware update for the Surface Book and Surface Pro 4 that addresses some of the key issues, such as:

  • HD Graphics 520 driver update (v20.19.15.4308) addresses some display issues, including some scenarios that result in screen flickering.
  • Display audio driver update (v8.20.0.659) supports compatibility with the updated graphics driver.
  • Surface Embedded Controller Firmware update (v88.855.257.0) improves system stability.
  • Surface Pen Settings driver (v10.0.302.0) adds support for future functionality on Windows 10.

And the company is also improving the trackpad experience with the Surface System Aggregator Firmware update (v88.853.258.0). However, the firmware update is just rolling out now, as such we'll have to wait a few days until we can see if the issues are clearly resolved.

If you own a new Surface, you can read-up more details on all the changes for Surface Book (opens in new tab) and Surface Pro 4 (opens in new tab) on the Surface Update history support pages.

Reactions from users

Although, there are a few things that aren't working correctly, the devices are still well received from customers.

Below you can read a number of statements from users about the new devices:

"Well, my wife and I got to the Microsoft store this afternoon to look at the SP4. Love the new keyboard and the way the pen sticks to the side and the new screen and, well everything. We ended up pre-ordering 2 of them, I7/16Gb/256." -- Talldog (Windows Central forums)"The keyboard is SUPERB. As an SP3 user since the beginning, the keyboard just feels more like a laptop keyboard. The tablet still feels the Same weight tho." -- Onysi (Windows Central forums)"For me, the SP3 keyboard has always been typos-waiting-to-happen. It was very much a compromise. But the new keyboard is completely different. Very close to a quality laptop keyboard."The pen is also amazing. I have always spoke highly of the SP3 pen, but they managed to make it miles better by transforming the feel of the pen to more of a real writing-on-paper experience. Fantastic job by MS." -- Ytrewq (Windows Central forums)"Build quality is excellent," " The pen magnet on the side of the clipboard is really well done.", "This display is amazing.", "Great touchpad, very solid." "The fulcrum hinge is great." -- Surfacethrow (Reddit)"The Surface book is a lot smaller than I imagined. The gap is pretty tiny. I love how it looks." "Keyboard feels great to use. Touchpad is equally awesome." " Windows Hello is pretty damn cool. Seems to recognize me almost instantly." -- JonSArt (Reddit)"I pre-ordered an i7/256/dGPU. […] I absolutely have zero regrets and love this device. I can say that I did NOT feel this way when I received my SP3. Damn, I love this device. Gaming is awesome too. Freakin awesome. I got way higher unity benchmarks than that guy posted the other day too." -- Dazzlepuzzle (Reddit)"The screen does wobble when it's on my lap, and I'm typing. It's very slight buts it's there." -- Art9681 (Reddit)"Windows Hello is a delight to use." "The controversial screen bounce/wobbly when touching hasn't been anywhere even close to a deal breaker for me." "The weight and thinness of the clipboard... wow. Just excellent." "I never thought the day would come when I'd be proud to have a computer with a big Microsoft logo on the back of it." -- Jodacola (Reddit)

Protection plan?

Microsoft has been doing Surface tablets for a few years, and the company has learned a lot from each iteration, but as you can see today, nothing is always perfect. Also, even though the Surface Book is based on the Surface Pro 4, the tablet remains a version 1.0 device. As such, whenever possible, you might be better off buying the device you like with a protection plan.

The Microsoft Complete Accident Protection for Surface Pro (opens in new tab) costs $149, and the Microsoft Complete Accident Protection for Surface Book (opens in new tab) costs $249, in both cases you get two years protection from accidental damages, including drops and spills, and you also get two years coverage from hardware defects or malfunctions.

Remember that you have 45 days to purchase a protection plan since the day you bought the device, if you have already bought one.

Of course, as any new device you purchase, both Surface devices come with one-year warranty from the manufacturer.

Wrapping things up

While customers shouldn't have to go through this kind of problems out of the box when they're are paying a premium, what we are seeing today seem to be more firmware and software-related problems, something that Microsoft should be able to fix by releasing new updates. Also, it doesn't yet appear that Microsoft will have to recall devices because of defective hardware. Even though, many people have reported that after spending hours with the support they have been issued a replacement, and many other customers had to get replacements more than once in a very short period of time.

Microsoft seems to be proactively working to solve all the big problems. Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book began to ship across the United States and Canada on October 26th, and on October 27th, the software maker released its first wave of firmware updates for both devices, which fixed a lot of problems. Then, only six days after, on November 2nd, the company rolled out a new firmware update fixing some key issues on Surface Book and Surface Pro 4.

Finally, as expected, as I was digging through long comments threads on different forums around the web, I will always come across the same main issues. The stories and details obviously were different, but the display flickering and screen color rendering problem, battery life issues, and Microsoft Edge performance problems were always the main concerns, which suggests that even though these problems aren't affecting everyone equally, they are significant isues Microsoft has to address very soon to avoid a big number of returns.

Do you own one of the new Surface devices? Are you having any issues? Did the November firmware update fixed some of the issues for you? Let us your experience in the comments below.

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Mauro Huculak is technical writer for WindowsCentral.com. His primary focus is to write comprehensive how-tos to help users get the most out of Windows 10 and its many related technologies. He has an IT background with professional certifications from Microsoft, Cisco, and CompTIA, and he's a recognized member of the Microsoft MVP community.

175 Comments
  • Most of these issues i get on my surface pro3 since installing windows 10, seriously thinking of reverting back to 8.1 on most of my machines.
    Very disapointed with windows 10
  • Agreed. Windows 8.1 performed better and was much more stable on my SP3, nothing but issues on Windows 10.
  • Windows 10 works great on my SP3 and on a crappy Toshiba laptop that I have.
  • I have none of these reported issues either on my SP3
  • yep same here my SP3 runs great win Win10.
  • No problems?  Are you guys actually turning on your SP3s after installing 10? If so count yourselves as lucky.
  • or....count yourself as unlucky?  
  • No problems here too with w10 and sp3 after I think 3-4 firmware updates.
  • No problem at all. My SP3 came with W 10 already preinstalled (late buy). The thing didn't need 1 reset so far. So cool, so fast... Loving it!
  • I've been using 10 on a SP2. Initially I had issues with battery drain and the device not sleeping when the cover was closed. That has since been fixed. No major issues now. I do miss a few of the touch gestures that were availabe in 8.1, but have not had too much trouble adjusting to win 10 ui. I use it in tablet mode and it works fine.
  • Same here.  My SP3 with W10 is like its on steroid. Wife and our older daughter use it with their profile and its a Gem.... FYI, Nothing will make me leave W10, It has grown on me so much, I simply can not think of leaving it for win8.1 as good and stable it is.
  • My mom has had nothing but problems on her Samsung laptop. She called me yesterday yelling at me that she hates Windows 10 because she has to reboot the machine 10 times a day because it hangs and everything freezes. Never had an issue with 8.1. She is the average, non-Tech consumer, and these bad impressions are what Microsoft has to fix and overcome. Not doing a good job so far, hence Windows 10 installs have slowed rapidly.
  • Well most of the issues are the 3rd party drivers which isn't really Microsoft's issue but there is guilt by association. 
  • In her case I think it's mostly Edge. But I agree. Unfortunately, the average user doesn't know about drivers and such. They blame it on Microsoft and the OS.
  • 8.1rt is pretty buggy too! at least in recent weeks its had lots of crashes and games seem to jerk and drop frames!
  • I have upgraded to Windows 10 on Dell XPS and there is no problem whatsoever. It's high time that people understand that making good hardware is a different game all together. Here experience comes into play. Hence Dell laptops are better than surface and I will prefer Dell XPS 15 over surface book, atleast for now!
  • Just ordered the new XPS 15. That thing is a beast
  • Well Dell only dsigns the hardware they don't make any of it. The ODM's in taiwan take the design and the laptop with Intel, Seagate, ATI and realtec type components and stamp Dell's name on it.
  • I've had no issue with the actual OS itself on my sp3, but Edge has a lot of work that needs doing to it. E.g. When browsing my subscriptions on YouTube, I will generally just open each video in a new tab and pause the video, rinse and repeat till all have been opened. Usually resulting in about 15-20 tabs being open. This will send the sp3 into hardcore overdrive mode making the fan go mental draining the battery. So its safe to assume that Edge cannot handle a lot of tabs being opened at the same time rendering it useless for me. I'm sure this is different for others, but I can only comment on my experience with the browser.
  • Wow... 20 open paused YouTube videos is enough to bring any system to it's knees. I would seriously consider altering the very strange way that you watch!
  • Well Edge is designed for new websites (HTML5) and IE for legacy. They have an option to open a webiste it IE instead inside of Edge. Edge won't be getting the ability to use extensions until 2016 :(    
  • I reverted back to 8.1 yesterday on my SP3. It was completely unusable. Low battery life. High memory issues causing it to be unresponsive. Fans on full blast. W10 is definitely a beta as usual. 
  • You may wanna consider installing the latest insider preview build. After installing it on my pro 4 I don't have any of the issues anymore, whereas before I would get the audio popping, and display driver crashes all the time on the current public build.
  • Eh?  I have the i3 model... Zero issues. Odd?
  • Surface Pro 3 and Surface Pro 4 appear to be the same Random fan problems: Fan kicks in often even though there isn't much going on the Task Manager. Low battery life: Many customers are also reporting 4-5 hours of battery life out the claimed 9 hours.
  • It's windows defender. I stopped it on my laptop and now the fan doesn't kick a often.
  • Threshold 2 should fix most of these, some drivers here since drivers there and all fixed
  • "The next update should fix all previous issues" how many times have I heard that before
  • Everytime you update your iPhone?
  • The battle cry of the MDDF! :)
  • Because that's software for you. There are always problems and the company will update their software to fix issues.
  • Saying I learned in computer school "Software is never finished. It's just released."  
  • yup. i am having major reboot issues ever since i installed Windows 10. takes 3 to 5 minutes sometimes to boot to login screen. i reverted to windows 8.1 in between and dint have this problem at all. now am back on Windows 10 and the problem has come back. Sometimes the screen would go blank and flicker randomly. never happened with 8.1. had to disable the error reporting to stop the flickering issue. go figure. Windows 10 is not as polished as windows 8.1 or 8. it is good but still needs plenty of polishing
  • I have this issue with my VAIO Flip 15 as well after upgrading to Windows 10. And to the complaints in the comments and in the article. Edge is a CPU hungry App that NEVER suspends no matter if its minimized. It's constantly eating CPU cycles
  • The official VAIO support says: Do not upgrade to Windows 10! There must be reasons....
  • I upgrades to win10 the sooneat that i could, and ive no major problems except for the wifi where sometimes i could not connect immediately. Thats all, soooo loving win10.
  • Of course there are reasons... Sony doesn't want to provide updated drivers or support for people who are reinstalling their OS.
  • Have you tried a clean Windows 10 install from USB/DVD? I have a Surface Pro (Gen 1) and created the USB install media to do a clean install on the surface and have not had any issues.
  • It's a brand new device!
  • I think the original comment (by Ravi Anand) and the response was regarding Win10 on a machine that had Win8.1. I installed Win10 on my home desktop (my own build) and Win10 is much, much better than Win7 (and Win 8.1) in terms of performance and stability. Much, Much! I am on the Fast Ring Insider Preview. They just need to convert all those legacy Control Panel apps.  
  • I had everything working except for older games (kept crashing or give a black screen of death) ... So I did a clean install and after that old games worked with no isseus but now the backlight of my keyboard doesn't work anymore which used to Be fine after the upgrade.
    So a clean install doesnt fix everything all the time ;-) for me it fixed one big problem but give me back a little annoyance which I cant fix (I have tried it)
  • Btw my pc is a: 17inch ASUS laptop from 2014 Intel i7 4710HQ 2.5ghz
    8gb RAM
    NVIDIA GEFORCE GTX 850M
    256gb ssd
    1tb hd Type nr: N751JK - T7129H
  • Why on earth would someone expect Windows 10 to be as polished and bug free as Windows 8.1?? It's only been out a few months versus years. It literally couldn't happen, unless Microsoft screwed up Windows 8 and never bothered to fix it.
  • Let me guess there mad about onedrive lol
  • Yup. Definitely onedrive. They will all be returning their devices after they hear about onedrive.
  • I don't own a Surface but nevertheless am mad about OneDrive. From 30G to 5G... Feels like Back to the future, only this is Back to the past :(
  • the firmware update from yesterday fixed the discoloration issue on my SP4 but the GPU still hangs and crashes. The good news is most of these issues are software/driver related and Microsoft seems to be moving quickly to resolve them (as the update yesterday would suggest at least)
  • Wow! I know they have some issues but I didn't even expect this many. It also shows how many Microsoft Edge related problems here, which makes Edge really premature browser for public use. It seems that this could be a partial result from lay-offs of several people from the QA department. The quality of their software seems quite erratic these days, quite ironic for the name Microsoft which is now better at making high-quality hardware than high-quality software. Good thing though so far there isn't any defective hardware reported (maybe it's not mentioned here and missed) which makes these issues temporary since they can push patches to fix these. They're really quite fast also on trying to fixing it. Still they have to learn this and makes the next release won't deal with the same situation as we have now. There is no assurance for faultless release but it still need to make those issues virtually non-existent next time.
  • Most of these issues appear to be software or firmware related. It is surprising that Microsoft, being the king of software with lots of expert engineers let these problems un-addressed before release of the devices!
  • King of software?
    --MacOS is better than W10 where it really counts - system stability.
    --iOS IS better than WP8.1...and probably better than W10M
    --Dropbox IS better than OneDrive.
    --Everything is better than Skype in the mobile space
    Office is the one shining light.
    Literally the only thing that keeps me hoping for MS to do well is that in the lower price bands, it's either Android or Windows Phone. & Windows Phone is far more stylish and coherent.
    Come on MS. Stop rushing everything. Make a plan....stick to it - and get some quality assurance workers instead of palming everything off to Windows Insiders!
  • MacOS? Hahahahahhhahahhahaha
    Ios? Hahahahahahahhaahhahahaha
  • MacOS just works...
    Windows will work as promised with the next update (or the one after...or the one after that!).
  • Go signature when buying a PC. Boom! stability.
  • Signature? Haha!
    I bought a 'signature' Acer Switch 11 from the UK MS Store.
    It was not possible to do a standard upgrade to Windows 10...so myself and others spent a fair while troubleshooting the issue.
    Turns out the Acer partition structure on the Switch 11 was simply unable to be upgraded to Windows 10. It required a clean USB install of 8.1 (wiping away all prior partitions in the process). This was made all the more troublesome because the keyboard dock and touchscreen barely worked under a fresh install...and neither did the WiFi.
    Acer also didn't offer all the drivers required on their website - so we had to go hunting for alternatives.
    For any normal consumer, that Acer Switch 11 'Signature Edition' was an absolute lemon!
  • Everything you just listed was Acer. How is Windows 10 to blame for that?
  • You shouldn't have said MacOS "just works".  You should have said MacOS "barely works".  For a so-called OS, it doesn't actually do much.  Then again, if Apple keep improving it at the current rate, it'll only take five or six years before MacOS catches up with Windows XP.
  • What doesn't OS X do?
  • @Steve78UK: What doesn't OS X do? Come pre-installed on a multitude of hardware designed to meet my needs as opposed to forcing my needs to meet the hardware...   Though that aside, honestly, OSX suffers the same issues W10M does. Simply the app gap. Maybe the apps you want are available, but its not that way for everybody.
  • Hahahaha? Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah.
  • MacOS is a simple OS, it doesn't have to work with thousands upon thousands of accessories and devices via plug and play. Everything better than skype, where is Everything on my Xbox one, only skype... IOS being better than wp is subjective. Dropbox being better than OneDrive is also subjective.
  • Windows 7 has to work with the same myriad of devices as Windows 10..
    It does so without the glitches and frustrations of Windows 10.
    Let's face it - Microsoft has been rushing products to market all year. Surface Book/Surface 4 have issues that should have been fully resolved before it was even released. Windows 10 continues to have growing pains months after its release.
    Microsoft have flipflopped disastrously over OneDrive storage limits....and the Xbox One continues to fight an uphill battle of Microsoft's own creation.
    Let's not even talk about the TERRIBLE lack of commitment MS has shown to Windows Phone, or the intrusive way that they are trying to get all and sundry to upgrade to Windows 10 via their adware.
    These are not good attributes for a company that needs people to be able to trust it.
    (I say this as the owner of an Asus T100, Lumia 820/1020 and an Xbox 360!)
  • every single device has software issues. every single one of them. althought i have not run into any problems with my sp4
  • You know NOTHING of software development. Please don't speak again. Ever.
    I'm serious.
  • obviously you dont know what software is or what issues are. every single device has had software issues
  • I would love for you to give us one example of a device that had 0 issues upon launch? Even whimpy little iPhones with their stripped down OS and abilities have TONS of issues upon launch. EVERY company RUSHES devices out so they can reach a target group or date. They count on people updating their devices. If people never updated their devices, every OEM would be out of business because most bugs are so big that no one would buy them unless they are fixed in a near future event. So they work on hardware and then software since software can be fixed, but hardware cannot via an OTA update :P
  • How is iOS better than WP8.1? The user interface is so dull, as if it's made for old people and young children who get too worked up when there's anything going on.
  • Actionable notifications, an app store that actually has quality apps, an incredibly fast camera, FULL system backups via iTunes...but mainly, the apps!
  • IOS ecosystem is better than WP... app store and apps are not part of the OS... when u consider the stability, fluidness, and features of the OS, WP can be argued as better than iOS. I can say: Live Tiles based UI is much much better than that in iOS home screen UI Cortna is better than Siri? (arguable) Local search (quick and easy to find stuff around) I have seen my folks on iOS taking time to find stuff around, which I was able to do real quick (either they do not know, or its not as easy as compared to that in WP) Beter image quality (camera is fast on iOS, but I prefer better IQ)  
    So, you see we can easily make a list of things which are better in WP than iOS... you may like a super fast camera, I like a camera which takes better IQ photos, and possibly get good prints from the photos (because of high Mp... 20Mp)   FYI: I checked out Lumia 950XL, its camera is very fast... so soon that fastness-gap between cameras will also be reduced.  
  • Windows 10 has actionable notifications as well.
  • Questionable actions, that is :P
  • Thanks for the observation.  Since iOS is better and more stable, I must be imagining all the problems I'm finding with my iPhone and iPad which continue even with the frequent iOS 9 updates.  I have a Dropbox account, but all my devices just seem to work so well with OneDrive that I never use it.  Oh, and as for MacOS ... well maybe it's just habit, but I can usually resolve anything with Windows in just a couple of minutes, but some of the MacOS troubleshooting takes hours, and defies any logic in finding the root cause.  As someone who actually works in both worlds, I'm sure a whole lot more comfortable with my Wi