New Surface Pro Has a Hibernation Problem

Posted on July 7, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Microsoft Surface with 88 Comments

New Surface Pro Has a Hibernation Problem

It looks like Microsoft has a new Surface reliability problem on its hands: According to hundreds of customers in its support forums, the new Surface Pro spontaneously shuts down, even when the device is in use.

Only a few readers have contacted me about this issue directly, and, to be fair, most of them were actually just curious if I had experienced the problem. I have not, and I used the new Surface Pro exclusively for a full week in The Netherlands, and in testing before and after that trip.

So I’m going to guess that this problem doesn’t impact all Surface Pros. But then that’s what makes reliability issues like this so painful: You never know what you’re going to get. With the infamous Skylake-based problems in Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book, one’s results were equally sporadic, with some people having nothing but problems and others reporting problem-free usage. (I had issues with all three Surface Books I tested, but my Surface Pro 4 never had any issues.)

Anyway, as Woody Leonhard and others have reported before me, the new Surface Pro is suffering from a number of complaints in Microsoft’s support forums.

“For some reason, my new Surface is shutting off randomly,” one user reported. “I check the setting and a few other things but [it] still randomly turns off without warning. I’m losing some of my school work because of it.”

To date, almost 300 people have confirmed that they’re seeing the same problem. But according to Microsoft, the Surface Pros are hibernating, not shutting down. That should at least help with data loss.

“We are aware of a small group of customers reporting a scenario with their new Surface Pro in which the device inadvertently hibernates,” a Microsoft statement notes. “We are investigating this issue.”

Microsoft MVP Barb Bowman recommends that customers who experience this issue return the device now, while it’s new. And she’s got a point: Microsoft hasn’t exactly done a great job fixing previous Surface issues.

“It has historically taken Microsoft months and months to identify issues and come out with a fix,” she writes. “[If you don’t exchange the device now] 6 months down the road, Microsoft will exchange for a refurb if they determine it is a hardware issue and the quality of the refurbs has not been consistent.”

“These devices should just work properly out of the box,” she adds. I can’t agree more.


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Comments (90)

90 responses to “New Surface Pro Has a Hibernation Problem”

  1. chrisrut

    Oh for cryin' out loud...

  2. Jaxidian

    Microsoft seems to be nailing the hard issues these days but screwing up what seems to have been "solved problems" a decade ago. :-/

  3. alf

    Windows PCs have had hibernation problems forever. Macs rarely have that issue, but constantly have issues with seeing other computers (PCs) on the network Pick a pill and take your poison. ;)

    I remember a period of about 10-12 years where Windows PCs couldn't get a USB port to work to save their lives. I don't know why Windows can't handle things like that, but it's a long-standing trend.

  4. Smidgerine

    This just seems like brand new hardware issues. Apple has it with new iPhone releases too. If you don't want to have these problems, wait a month or so and then buy. Right now, this seems like no big deal to me.

  5. hrlngrv

    Premium hardware, premium software, customers as testers. What could go wrong?

  6. fanchettes

    This is my issue with MSFT in a nutshell. I've become a stark raving fan of my SP3 - cannot imagine what I'd do without it. But my initial experience with the device was terrible. This is actually my third SP3 because the first 2 were defective and had to be returned. The upgrade to W10 gave me the hot bag issue, but once they ironed out those problems W10 has really brought out the power of my SP3. Its their MO - they eventually get things right but their fans have to suffer in the interim. Unfortunately most people won't get past the initial disappointments.

  7. glenn8878

    They are not repairable so why bother. This is not good for Microsoft.

  8. Waethorn

    Just a quick question:

    Has there been any good news about Microsoft in the last couple of weeks?

  9. dcdevito

    Windows laptops usually do. Thays why I keep it on a desktop, runs perfectly. I use a Chromebook if I need a laptop

  10. MutualCore

    At what point do people say 'enough' and just switch to Macs?

  11. rameshthanikodi

    Hard Computer Science Problem (tm)

  12. Darmok N Jalad

    Does the good ol "powercfg.exe /h off" help? Personally, I never cared much for hibernate. It seems like a bad solution for power management, especially now that SSDs are fairly common. It's not like you can trust it with unsaved data anyway, so why not make a save system state upon shutdown instead?

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to Darmok N Jalad:

      Hmmm. As described, the problem is that new Surface Pros hibernate at random. Maybe there's a firmware glitch which makes it appear battery is extremely low (wild guess, but consistent with problem description and how Windows power management works). If so, and if hibernation were disabled, would Windows keep running until the system had an uncontrolled shutdown due to lack of power, suspend/sleep instead (and still use battery), or would Windows try to protect itself and perform a full controlled shutdown guaranteed to lose any modifications in open files.

      For everyone it'd be better to fix this glitch. However, until it's fixed, I figure hibernate is a much better way to handle this than any alternative.

      • Darmok N Jalad

        In reply to hrlngrv:

        It's not like Windows can't handle being improperly shut down, as power failures on desktops have been a possibility forever. And does Windows sleep so poorly that a lack of hibernation drastically cut into standby battery life? It's a genuine question, cause something like an iPad can sleep for multiple days without running out of power, and no apps seem to have the ability to pull it out of suspend for any length of time to kill the battery.

  13. Lewk

    This has been happening to my Surface Pro 3 for over a year now. I think it's Windows 10 itself and not the hardware.

  14. bxlewi1

    I suffered through the SkyLake fiasco, but gave MS the benefit of the doubt with the KabyLake iteration. Sold the SP4 and spent a week with the new surface.

    Then I returned it.

    It's a sad commentary on MS when they ship hardware with such broken fundamentals. With the SP4, the constant refrain was 'Intel keeps giving us bad drivers'. After one and a half years with the SP4 prior to selling it, I can tell you that there is no use hoping for a solution. If it's not behaving as it should OUT OF THE BOX, return it and move on.

    Sometimes the only way to win is not to play...

  15. JC

    lol... I suppose that's what you get when you buy a premium device from MS. Hahaha...

  16. RobertJasiek

    Missing matte display, repairability and guaranteed battery exchange for 7 years at a reasonable price have prevented me from buying a Surface Pro 5 but now the hibernation Russian Roulette is another decisive factor. That a device just works is an absolute requirement. I skipped Skylake because of that. Even a low probability of being affected is too large. Work simply cannot rely on uncertainty. Every other manufacturer gets Kabylake firmware and hardware assembly right so Microsoft must learn this immediately (and not by abandoning workers). Skipping the 5 and just speaking of "the" Surface Pro has been premature (and stupid anyway) as we do not have the always working product Microsoft dreams of. Sad.

  17. tbsteph

    Buying a MS product seems to be a modern form of Russian Roulette.

  18. SDreamer

    Solution. iPad Pro, for most people anyways, and that's what I did, but I have a Mac Mini for backup for those "desktop needs." Noticed yesterday my Surface Pro 3 would just shut off without warning, had 100% batter, then wham. Thought this was fixed before, but apparently not. It's just typical Microsoft though, overpromise, under deliver.

    • Darmok N Jalad

      In reply to SDreamer:

      Yeah, the iPad is pretty darn stable. For the criticism of what it can't do, one thing it can do very well is sleep and wake, and when it sleeps, it uses virtually zero battery. I can usually get most of a week of casual evening use (1-2 hrs/day) without needing to plug in. I just might go with the Pro model in the next few months and see just how exclusive I can use it. My Air 2 can do virtually everything I need these days, including printing.

  19. Jurjen Kranenborg

    The issue has recently started to happen to me as well, but this is a Surface 3 (also: a two-year old non-Pro model). I cannot pinpoint exactly when it started to happen, but incidentally (say once a week) it occurred. I have also experienced a few lock-ups that forced me to shut down my S3 by keeping the power button pressed for ten seconds. So maybe this is a software issue, not a hardware one. These small things aside, my S3 is running flawlessly and is my constant companion ...

  20. SvenJ

    I understand power management is a hard computer science problem ;) Are these all stock OSs? I have some random shutdown issues with my insider devices. (None SP4)

  21. Tony Barrett

    New Surface, same old problems. Reliability issues have plagued all SP's and SB's. There will be more issues, I'm sure.

  22. rider2040

    I bought my Surface Pro on June 20. If this problem isn't fixed via software update before July 20, I'll return it. My other issue, is that if me Surface goes to sleep while plugged into the dock or directly to an external monitor, it will fail to resume properly and needs to be unplugged to get the display to work.The problem is that I already repurposed my old laptop and I'll be forced to go buy something else. I really love the Surface Pro, but stability and reliability are not acceptable for a $2000 setup (i7 Surface, Keyboard, Dock).

    • Darmok N Jalad

      In reply to rider2040:

      I tried my fair share of MS devices over the years. What is sad is that I have had better luck running Windows on non-MS hardware than I ever have on MS hardware. Band, Surface, heck, even Xbox and associated peripherals--odd physical or software issues. After going through a few Band 2s in less than 6 months, I decided to not go with any more MS products. I like their warranty service, but sadly I've had to use it multiple times.

    • pbeiler1

      In reply to rider2040:

      I have the same thing. The problem started when the last update was applied, kb022716. It looks like that release is no longer available thru the update but it is still showing up through Intune.

  23. jaredthegeek

    Shouldn't we be concerned if it did not have a hibernation issue? Has MS delivered a Surface product that does not have a hibernation issue.

  24. ToddKlindt

    This kind of issue is exactly why I didn't buy a Surface Pro 4. Not knowing whether you're going to have these kinds of problems on devices that cost as much as these do does not work for me.

    • bbold

      In reply to Todd Klindt:

      This issue in particular, as Paul stated, is being experienced by a small number of users, so far. I wouldn't condemn the whole line because of this, that's being a little dramatic. But, to each his own. I'm happier than I could be with my Surface devices and they have never let me down.

  25. wolters

    I hate to hear that. I've learned to live with my Surface Book "hot bag." It never resolved for me and I believe it has a lot to do with the "fulcrum hinge," In most cases, it will sleep if I set it flat on a table when done. If I put in a bag, it tends to stay awake.

  26. bbold

    Using base model new Surface Pro (2017) Core M model and loving it. It's not unnecessarily shutting down, but I presume a firmware update could fix this (similar to issues I had with my base model Surface Book, though, as I recall.) I'm sure this is an issue similar to hot bag issue that doesn't affect all users. If I had the issue, I'd def get a replacement or return it and then but another unit, as this doesn't seem to be a widespread issue. Problem solved!

    • dstrauss

      In reply to bbold: But that is EXACTLY the point. Every Surface tablet and the Surface Book dropped with some sort of power related issue, every one, especially sleep management issues, so by now you would think they would release one that works out of the box.

      • bbold

        In reply to dstrauss:

        The power related issues weren't with the devices themselves, but with new Intel drivers not being up to par. You're being a little dramatic. This hibernation issue is not the same as the widespread Intel issue with SP4 and SB's initial launch. The hibernation issue isn't affecting everyone, so it was not forseen, I'm sure MS will fix it as soon as possible with updates. The former Intel driver issues (hotbag, etc) must've been known about before they released the Surface Book to the masses.

        • dstrauss

          In reply to bbold:

          I beg to differ (about being a drama queen). Microsoft still has not released a device, nor a version of Windows 10, that can do what Panay claims it has been doing since Surface Pro 4 - close the lid (keyboard) and you don't lose a drop of battery. You've been able to do that with Mac's since at least the MacBook Air 2013, and the excuse has always been - "but Apple controls the software AND the hardware" - well that excuse is gone now, but the problem isn't.

  27. nbplopes

    I agree that devices should just work out of the box. Most the stuff I use does. Still I think its not uncommon to find products releases with one problem or another that good companies, fix quickly, sometimes in a week or so, at most a month. Companies not so good take months, if they ever fix it.

    From a quality perspective the only concerns I would voice here are:

    • Issues in this category are recurrent in the Surface line since inception. I had similar issues with SP2 and SP3. I saw reports of similar issues with SP4, Surface Book ... and now Surface Pro 5. I stress the word similar as in the same category.
    • MS usually takes quite a long time to resoled these issues entirely. SP3 as I remember took them around 6 months to get the Surface power state in order. For instance, my SP3 just went dark one day while I was working and would not boot up. Got replaced with a refurb that worked more or less in this context.

    Hopefully the users that bought the SP5 will not have to go through what I went. Especially to ones who bough the highest end units as I did.


  28. Waethorn

    "Microsoft MVP Barb Bowman recommends that customers who experience this issue return the device now, while it’s new."

    And now Microsoft's own representatives are telling you not to use Microsoft products.

    After Microsoft lays off their sales team, and their internal software testers....


    Can this get any funnier?

    Where does the Wow go now?

    • Stooks

      In reply to Waethorn:

      All companies give the "return the device" answer when they don't have an immediate fix. Apple does this all the time. It is a standard customer service reply.

    • lvthunder

      In reply to Waethorn:

      I took that to mean exchange it for a new one. I have heard of Apple wanting devices like this back so they can send them back to headquarters to figure out the issue.

    • nbplopes

      In reply to Waethorn:

      An MVP is not a MS representative by any means.

      Its an award given by MS to people that are influential in their tech. That is all.

      But It seams that Barb its not only a MVP. She is also a MS employee working in the company official support forums.


      • Waethorn

        In reply to nbplopes:

        An MVP is MOST DEFINITELY a representative of Microsoft. MVP's speak for Microsoft on support issues, and are mandated by them to put "hours" into community support. Microsoft gives them an MVP designation BECAUSE OF THAT. They are Microsoft's unpaid support channel and brand advocates.

        • SvenJ

          In reply to Waethorn: No, you are wrong. I am also an MVP and have been since 2003, in the mobile spaces. As was noted, it is an award for past performance, with no stipulation for any future performance. We have no obligation to continue doing whatever got us the designation. Not doing so will likely not get you re-awarded, but that is the individual's choice.
          I (We) do not speak for MS, in any capacity. During the award period, the year following the year for which you were awarded, there are some benefits, which are subject to NDA. Not that what the benefits are under NDA, but you are afforded some access to information that is under NDA. You can decline the NDA, and not take advantage of those benefits, but that does not invalidate the award.
          It's like father of the year. You are awarded for what you did last year, not for what they expect of you this coming year. Typically a good dad will continue to be a good dad. An MVP typically enjoys doing what got him awarded, and will continue to do that.
          MS employees are not eligible to be awarded MVP, and those that accept a position at MS are removed from the program. Barb Bowman may have some professional relationship with MS, but she is not an employee.

          • Waethorn

            In reply to SvenJ:

            I never said anything about future commitments. I stated that people that put in hours in community support are recognized, but it's still a mandate to have so many recognized solutions offered and/or comments marked "helpful" to be recognized.

            Much of Microsoft's support is just "community support", and that's delegated almost completely to MVP's.

            • Noteadviser

              In reply to Waethorn:
              "Much of Microsoft's support is just "community support", and that's delegated almost completely to MVP's."

              I could not disagree more ! Being a Microsoft MVP means you have technical skills, and you spend time, as a hobby, to share these skills through Blog, Conference (speaker)... and social media presence (Microsoft forum being one of them). As far as I am concerned, I don't spend much time in the Microsoft Community forum. In contrast, writing a blog post (with all the underlying "research" upfront) takes hours.

              Sure, it's a pity that the technical support is mostly done by volunteer (most of them are not MVP by the way...)...

              • Waethorn

                In reply to Noteadviser:

                MVP's get to approve comments marked as solutions. Volunteers don't.

                • SvenJ

                  In reply to Waethorn: Once again, no they don't. Moderators are empowered to mark solutions. There is an overlap between MVPs and Moderators, but one does not imply the other. MVPs are by default, volunteers. There are both employed and volunteer moderators, and there are lots of participants that answer questions as well.
                  As a matter of fact, doing a good job providing solutions as a basic participant, which is voluntary, goes a long way to your being recognized and awarded MVP. It may also have resulted in your being offered moderator status. Those are different designations, determined by different groups.

                • Waethorn

                  In reply to SvenJ:

                  I don't recall ever seeing any solutions marked as such until an MVP or employee engages in the topic.

                • SvenJ

                  In reply to Waethorn: They are marked as solutions by a Moderator, employee or volunteer. That volunteer may or may not be an MVP. That is not what allows the elevated privileges. I am a moderator in the mobile forums. I was an MVP well before that, and did not have moderator privileges based on that. Moderator is by invite and requires training attendance. It stands to reason that those that have been awarded MVP, are also likely to be offered moderator rights, but they are not equivalents. It is forum moderators that can mark posts as answers, move posts, combine, split, typical forum moderator permissions.

                  Once again, MVP is an award based on past performance, like an Oscar. It does not require or imply any further expectation. Moderator is a volunteer position that expects future performance, in that you get elevated permissions that allow you to do things in the future.

                • Waethorn

                  In reply to SvenJ:

                  Still, the number of forum posts marked with a solution that don't involve an MVP are few and far between.

                • SvenJ

                  In reply to Waethorn: Not sure what the point is anymore. MVPs do not get to mark posts as answers, moderators do. Being awarded MVP does not automatically make you a moderator.

  29. pesos

    First thing I do on any machine or rebuild is powercfg -h off

    Hibernation is the deeevviiilllllll!

    New SP has been fantastic so far (knock on wood) - battery life on my SP4 was awful (not to mention the first 3-4 months of using it were horrible due to skylake nastiness).

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