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Rolling back the Surface Pen Settings driver allegedly fixes BSODs on Surface Pro 3

A temporary workaround may have been found for recent instability issues with the Surface Pro 3. Yesterday, when we reported the changelog for the new Surface 3 and Surface Pro 3 firmware we noted that some users were complaining of instability, BSODs and more.

Now, some digging by users experiencing the problem have found that rolling back the Surface Pen Settings driver from October 2015 to March 2015 fixes most of the recently experienced issues. Interestingly enough, that means something in this week's firmware triggered an incompatibility with the October-based Pen Settings.

A few users chimed in after rolling back the driver:

"Rolling back the "Surface Pen Settings" driver in device manager > human interface devices seems to have stopped the BSOD. Rolling back that driver seems to have helped with sleep and battery life issues I was having since the 19/01/2016 firmware update too.""Rolling back the "Surface pen settings" driver from October 2015 to March 2015 has fixed the "takes forever to reboot" issue. Too early to tell, but since all the issues appeared together, this should fix the crashes, too.""Rolling back the Surface Pen Settings Driver fixed all the issues for me (black screen on reboot, random BSOD, random wakes from sleep) so thanks for that.""Excellent work! This (rolling back the Surface Pen Settings driver) seems to have fixed all of the shutdown/restart/BSOD/battery issues after the this update here as well (SP3 w/ 10586.63/successful update)."

It should be mentioned that the problem and fix appear only to apply for the Surface Pro 3. It is not clear if the Surface 3 is also in the camp and there is no evidence that the Surface Pro 4 or Book suffer from this same issue either.

To roll back the driver

  1. Right-click on the Start Menu
  2. Choose Device Manager
  3. Select Human Interface Devices
  4. Scroll down and open Surface Pen Settings
  5. Navigate to the Driver tab and select Rollback driver

Hopefully, Microsoft is reading the same forums and taking notes on a fix. It is not clear if there is any correlation between these new Surface Pro 3 problems and ones on the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book. We'll keep you posted if Microsoft releases any fixes.

Source: Microsoft Community (opens in new tab); Thanks, Simon H. for the tip

Daniel Rubino
Daniel Rubino

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.

51 Comments
  • MS bashing comments in 3 2 1....
  • Stop the hate please, spread peace instead
  • Thank you. What else would you expect. That's where lack of all scenario testing comes in.
  • Listen, I'm MS all the way, I've been on windows phone since day 1 back in December 2010, bought a sp3 i7 day 1, and been a windows user since 3.0. That said, MS botching some basic ****. They've gone from quality software, to the typical ship now, fix later mentality. And I kind of done blame them, they have to in order to keep up with everyone else's release cycles. But but it's getting hard to defend them now. My boy bought an iPad pro as he's an apple fanboy. We were debating all the pros and cons, and I was trying to bring up the point that iPad can't do much and is overpriced for the limited functionality. But he's like, but I like how apple **** just works. When he said that, I thought of all the time I've spent trying to fix my WiFi or display drivers on sp3, all the bugs I've experienced on my new 950xl and so on. These things don't bother me much as I'm in the software industry and can typically trouble shoot issues myself, but what about the average person? My buddy had a point. I can only imagine how many ms products have been returned due to buggy behaviour . Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to the ms store to try and exchange a ms branded 9000mah portable charger for a third unit. First one I had stopped receiving a charge from the wall, the second one now doesnt wanna charge my 950xl without stopping for a spit second every 15 seconds or so. Sigh...
  • The Apple "it just works" mantra is an illusion:   http://fortune.com/2016/01/21/apple-ios-9-bug-fix/   How can you say it just works when it takes 2 years to fix a Security Bug and they release iOS9 to fix many issues with iOS8 - many of these have been listed on the internet and forums.   ​So, I do not subscribe to this naive and childish mantra.  
  • People should really know that all os have bugs. Saying that windows is s**t and apple/android is great makes no sense.
  •   Yah it's really chance is all.  Or someone just has this specific setup/configuration that will cause them issues and going to apple they luck out and it doesn't cause them issues with similar settings.  My parents had 2 samsung tv's go bad on them, and never any problems after going LG.  I use LG for TV's as well, but I'm sure there are people who have issues with LG tv's.  A factory that produces phones has an error rate no doubt.  It's catching those errors that's tough.  So something goes wrong in the tv after a week and bam it dies.  Apple had the whole fiasco with battery issues recently where they used 2 different manufacturers for their chips.  Not sure if the recent ios has fixed this, but battery life was quite different on some units than others.  So there are just so many things that come to play.  My phone was built in vietnam, it might have been a great batch and possibly there are other batches that aren't as great, or they come from a different factory.  There are different hardware revision numbers in the field too.  And I got mine pretty early on but seem to have one of the newer revisions.  Woops started rambling :D
  • I am with you on that. I don't care about us insiders, but as an example, my wife's Lumia 950 started acting up within a couple of weeks. It was losing battery like crazy. We couldn't return it because it was past the 14 days exchange period.
    I hard reset the phone for her. That fixed it. But, why did I need to do that? Not everyone will hard reset their brand new phone.
  • Did you download the new firmware? It fixed 95% of the problems for me.
  • How about the camera? Did it fix the focusing issues during video? I noticed issues with photos too last night. I am waiting on ATT to lush the firmware for no Ms store near me had neither phone model and my beloved 1520 display quit, so what else to do? God, I miss me 1520. I was not going to "upgrade" but had to. Lastly, I am tired of auto correct giving me nit instead of not, wtf man? Think MS could figure that out by now.
  • I had no such problems, but the update did fix the battery problems.
  • Nobody on AT&T is receiving the new firmware. So, the disgust and disappointment with the 950 continue.
  • Im with you on "I thought of all the time I've spent trying to fix my WiFi or display drivers on sp3, all the bugs I've experienced on my new 950xl and so ​". I don't know anything about the iPad and I don't really care.
  • Apple 'Just Works' hasn't just worked for many many years now. Take the time when they released aun iOS update and the day they did it bricked practically every phone that tried to load it.
  • Oh how people loved their fancy iPod 6 and 6+ come iOS 8.0.1 Posted via the Windows Central App for Android on my Lumia 950 XL
  • To be fair, we are spending $hit tons of money on these devices.
  • There is absolutely no correlation between the amount of money a person spends on a luxury item and the probability of bugs cropping up once a product is out in the wild and being used in various day to day scenarios. Everyone has a different computer set up and when software bugs or driver problems crop up then MS/Apple/Google take a bow, say "thank you for your money", and work on fixing the problem in their own time
  • Ma'am, not true. The literature demonstrate a strong, direct correlation between customer satisfaction and customer service. Look it up. If you need references because you lack access to academic scholarly journals, let me know. You think a Ferrari or even a lowly Mercedes is gonna crap out as much as a Mazda or take as long to get serviced appropriately? There is a reason for premium for at least it gets fixed quick most of the time.
  • Not a valid comparison. A premium car and a premium computer are two separate things. One generally costs a few thousand dollars max and requires a great deal of programming to cover a number of different scenarios. The other can potentially cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and primarily requires the ability to go fast, accept commands from a driver, and look pretty. Of the two, only one has problems that can be fixed via software updates and will wind up in a far wider variety of hands and usage scenarios. Hint, not the car. Also, performing software updates is good customer service. You can complain if things break and stay broke or cannot be reverted.
  • No ma'am, there is a comparison. You buy a product, I don't care if it's canned horse piss, you expect good can of horse piss. If it isn't, you expect a fix. Those who sell premium canned horse piss, again according to the literature (don't take my word for it), tend to fix any problems asap. We are not getting that. Do I need to dumb it down further for you? I can.
  • You can quote literature to me as much as you'd like but it still won't change the fact that you are trying to make an apple to oranges comparison. Nor can it change the painfully obvious fact that you know nothing about software development. Fixing a software problem is not the same as taking your car in to a shop to get it fixed. Sometimes, it's the equivalent of taking your vehicle in to get your brake pads worked on only to have it cause your transmission to blow up, after which, you have to take the car apart and figure out how it happened and if the other parts in the car are problematic as well. This is me dumbing it down for you. You want a fast fix? Cool, that generally doesn't happen with ANY software unless the problem is critical and experienced by enough customers to get priority. That is the way things are. Sorry it doesn't happen the way you feel it should. I'm out.
  • Tl/dr, you are wrong. We have statistical measure for apples and oranges. I mistakenly presumed you knew this. I apologize. I can see logic can be frustrating for you. You said your out...gotta go to your corner, huh? I hope business is brisk.
  • there is no excuse for bad QA and lack of testing, MS should know that better as it has always been a enterprise focussed software company.
  • Interested in your source for the comparison on reliability between Mazda and Ferrari? LadyD is comparing the different computers/setups and this does not equate to Mazda and Ferrari. You sound like an internet warrior who bangs out ludicrous comments to try and impress their bias in everyone else.
  • Car and driver, multiple issues. Look it up. I'm not doing the leg work for you. Seems to be the MS way, let someone else provide a great service and product.
    ..
    By the way, I bang your mom like a warrior, son.
  • Thank you for that comment. My mother is actually dead so good luck with that and thank you for proving my point.
  • Save the day...#sp3
  • Well this did fix my issue....  for now
  • Rolling back the years - simply red
  • "...wasted all those years, nothing had a chance to be good..."
  • Rolling back removed the ability to configure the top button of the Surface Pen 4. And yes, it cured the problem I had with black screen on start up and restart.  
  • Sadly, My SP3 hung with the black and white progress bar at ~60% after the update was installed and it rebooted to commit the firmware. In the glass is half full category at least I haven't gotten a BSOD. ;-)
  • What happens when you have no QA. Microsoft loves failing.
  • Does anyone know what pen is the latest or should come with the surface pro 3? My pen does not have two buttons on it. It only has one button that.
  • Seems to be the Surface Pen 4. I have such a pen on my SP 3. But by rolling back you loose the ability to configure the top button of the Surface Pen 4. Hopefully MS will come up with a fix. I was also hoping that by rolling back the driver it would solve my problem of updating my SP3 to Insider 11102, but I'm still stuck at 32% 'installing features and drivers'. Bad luck.    
  • If you have an SD card installed try removing it before updating. I had a similar issue with amprevious update.
  • You made my day! Spot on.
  • This issue and defensive comments about nothing is wrong with this is everything wrong with Microsoft and it's community today
  • A pity this happened. Not exactly comforting trusting windows update this way.I thought the days of buggy updates were over with windows 10. Nothing changed. ​
  • Buggy updates will never be a thing of the past, no matter what device or company you choose. It's the nature of the beast.
  • Not acceptable and is a bad excuse for bad development, Unit testing, Integration testing, Regression testing etc are supposed to catch these kinds of errors, specially this is not expected from a company catering to enterprise, are they expecting their customer's IT teams to do all this testing for them?
  • Got the new firmware on a surface 3 LTE already. But the pen settings driver is still at March 2015. Will get a pen in a couple days, hope it's fully supported with that one?
  • Thankfully I am not experiencing these issues. At least not yet. But seriously Microsoft, you used to be better than this. Buggy updates used to be occasional, now they are as frequent as IOS, which is why I left that crapform, er platform
  • Microsoft - "Testing? Yeah, we've heard about it..."
  • Seriously doesn't Microsoft believe in Testing and QA anymore. They are doing a great job at ruining the Surface Brand.
    BSOD used to be a thing of the past, never seen in W7 or W8.X now W10 has renewed the BSOD reputation from Microsoft's own firmware updates.
  • exactly
  • I have couple of these devices at work. Looks like I have work to do on Monday.  Does MSFT not test this in-house for simple function check? WTF   Well, job security I guess. 
  • For me, no problems until now. My Surface Pro 3 is working like before last firmware and driver update. SP3 was acquired in july 2014 with Windows 8.1, upgraded to Windows 10 in july 2015. I'm not a insider, I'm using Windows 10 1511 10586.63 SP3 original pen and typecover The Surface Pen Settings driver version is 10.0.302.0 - 10/22/2015, this driver was installed by last firmware/driver update (01/22/2016).
  • I was seeing the black screen on reboot, dead battery and for some reason, it wasn't charging on my docking station, but would charge with the regular charger.  I rolled back the October pen update and it seems to be working now, but not sure.  It is now charging on my docking station.  My battery discharged on while it was connected to the docking station.  Restarting still seems a little slow, but at least this time it did reboot and come up wtih a black screen.
  • see this link from http://answers.microsoft.com on this issue.  Answer is in post #2..   http://http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/surface/forum/surfpro3-surfupdate/issues-after-updated-surface-pro-3-firmware/350beadc-d94d-4668-aae3-aae54e2431f7
  • My Surface 3 LTE has not fared too well. Closing the keyboard no longer puts the tablet to sleep. Pen settings did not change. Rebooting and shutnow no longer works. When waking from a long sleep WiFi frequently isn't working OR LTE is no longer working, meaning one or the other doesn't show up in the list of possible connections. Even the on/off slider is missing. This is the Win 8.1 Pro version of the tablet from AT&T. Even the touch screen and digitizer quits working more often. Not too happy about this firmware update.