Microsoft Fixes Windows Hello Issue in Surface Pro 4

Posted on August 4, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Microsoft Surface with 17 Comments

Microsoft Fixes Windows Hello Issue in Surface Pro 4

Microsoft has issued a fix for a self-imposed problem with Windows Hello on Surface Pro 4.

Back on July 21, Microsoft issued one of its biggest-ever sets of firmware updates for Surface Pro 4, though the software giant declined to document what was in those updates until the following Monday.

And the emails started, with readers complaining that Windows Hello-based sign-ins using the Pro 4’s camera were no longer working. Which was odd, since Microsoft’s list of fixes never mentioned the camera.

But as Woody Leonard discovered, one of the fixes that Surface Pro 4s received in that set of updates—the vaguely-named “Surface – System – 7/21/2017 12:00:00 AM –”—was never even documented by Microsoft. And that update, apparently, included a camera driver that screwed up the device’s Windows Hello capabilities.

This is why people don’t trust Windows as a Service, Microsoft. Updates can really screw things up. Minimizing updates, and the impact of updates, should be a priority. But let me get off the soapbox.

Anyway, two weeks later, Microsoft has issued a fix for the problem they introduced by releasing a driver they never bothered to document. And as the Surface Pro 4 Update History website explains, Surface – System – “ resolves Windows Hello experience error.” And, yes, you will need to reboot. Because I don’t know why.

At least it’s fixed.


Tagged with

Join the discussion!


Don't have a login but want to join the conversation? Become a Thurrott Premium or Basic User to participate

Comments (17)

17 responses to “Microsoft Fixes Windows Hello Issue in Surface Pro 4”

  1. warpdesign

    This shows there is really a quality problem somewhere in the update process. This should not happen. And it's not like it's the first time something that was already fixed gets broken again...

    At least it's fixed... until the next update.

  2. zself

    No wonder the PC market continues to disappear. Not even the people who make PCs care enough about it to get it right.

    I can't find the article here , so perhaps it predates the current Thurrott site, but I'm pretty sure Paul wrote an article about one of Satya's changes that released all the employees who tested MS products before they went out the door. I want to say that the reason was to save costs by shifting that process to free labor in the form of insiders and users who would have to get used to getting crap first. The old way of developing OS and software, which was to get it right before it shipped, was no longer viable as a business model.

    So, here we are. Living with what our "innovators" and "transformers" think is the only viable business model. Which fact amazes me. Foisting updates that are needed in large part because the stupid thing wasn't really ready when it shipped. Or whatever we call the final product delivery event these days.

    It used to be that I used MS' products because they were better than the alternative. Now they resemble the alternative. I can't recommend MS to my friends anymore. Because "it just works" is ground conceded to the other company. MS products don't "just work" when they are released, nor do they just work years after release. They "kinda work, but only if you can be patient". What a slogan.

    Disappointing. Discouraging. I just want it to work right the first time.

    • lvthunder

      In reply to zself:

      I don't think it's fair to say they don't care. If they truly didn't care they wouldn't release any updates at all. There is one guy on the Standard Comments that said his Surface Pro 4 Hello system was faster with these updates and that it worked fine.

  3. jwpear

    I didn't notice a problem with my SP4 and I use Window Hello all day, every day. Is it possible that SP4's don't all use the same camera for Windows Hello?

    How can a company that makes both the hardware and the software not get this right? It's not like they have to call up an OEM and ask for a SP4 to test with. It would be interesting to understand what the issue was and what combination of software, drivers, and usage patterns contributed to the problem. And why didn't their testing process catch it?

  4. jgraebner

    I did have this problem on my SP4. Struggled with troubleshooting it for quite a while before word of the bad driver update started circulating. After rolling back the driver, Windows Hello started working again. The just-issued replacement driver does seem to work fine now.

    Although I've had a SP4 for about a year and a half, I had a hardware failure a couple weeks ago and had to exchange it at the local Microsoft Store under warranty. As a result, I'm running a fairly clean system that has never had Insider builds or anything overly unusual running on it.

  5. pjs37

    And here I thought I was just going nuts that Window Hello was getting worse for me.

  6. MikeGalos

    Odd. I never had that problem with Windows Hello after the firmware update on my Surface Pro 4. In fact, after that update my Windows Hello recognition was noticeably faster.

    I suspect the problem actually only showed up in one specific combination of driver and OS build and, likely, version of one specific controller chip since it was hardly universal to Surface Pro 4 devices.

  7. nightmare99

    Good job they have that release preview ring to make sure things like this get caught before going into the release ring!

  8. Gardner

    Microsoft seems yet to fundamentally understand that the more frequently they update things, the less they test them, and the more rapidly they release new versions (every 6 months now), the probability that they will issue broken fixes increases.

    The more broken fixes escape, the more the trust is broken.

    That these patches only breaks someone else's machine does not matter. Everyone, directly affected or not, will trust Microsoft less for each broken patch.

    And that Microsoft either hid the patch, or worse, didnt notice that it had not documented all its patches, further exacerbates the problem.

    Microsoft I no longer trust you to update my computer any more

    I no longer trust you to deliver when you announce a feature. It has gone from occasional (WinFS) to SOP, even now denying you promised each feature you announce.

    Microsoft, just slow down: one new release per year. one patch day per month. test your patches using real people and real machines. Make your employees run all patches before you release them to the public.

    Don't announce a feature without an agreement from engineering to develop it. Dont release a new version until all the announced features are present and working.

    • lvthunder

      In reply to gardner:

      You realize these are driver updates and not Windows updates correct.

      Do you think Microsoft employees have every configuration of every computer in the market?

      What if a announced feature turns out to be horrible? Should they ship it anyways. That doesn't make any sense. I think you need to adjust your thinking. When a company says we have this feature we are working on for this release just think of it as their goal. Or if you can't do that just ignore everything they say until the new version is released.