Microsoft Finally Fixes Surface Pro Pen Problems

Posted on August 10, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Microsoft Surface with 17 Comments

Barely a week after it was buried under a mountain of firmware updates, Microsoft’s latest Surface Pro is getting patched again.

The good news? This time, Microsoft is finally fixing an “intermittent pen inaccuracy when [one’s] hand is on the screen” issue that its customers first reported over a year ago.

“If my hand is not on the screen, the pen is perfectly accurate, even at an angle,” the original complaint explains. “About 50 percent of the time, if I begin a stroke with my hand already resting on the screen, there is a significant offset of the pen line to the actual tip position. This makes hand-writing nigh impossible.”

Well, Microsoft is listening. They’re just moving very slowly.

“As of [August 8, 2018], the fix to address this issue has completed testing and is now live, please go update your Surface Pro via Windows Update to get the latest download,” a Microsoft support rep chimed in on the complaint thread.

According to the Surface Pro Update History website, this latest set of firmware updates impacts all 2017 Surface Pros (models 1796 and 1807) running Windows 10 version 1703 or newer. The fixes address the holy trinity of security, reliability, and performance, and include:

  • Marvell AVASTAR Bluetooth Radio Adapter – Bluetooth 15.68.9125.57 improves system security.
  • Marvell AVASTAR Wireless-AC Network Controller – Network adapter 15.68.9125.57 improves system security.
  • Surface Integration Service Device – System devices 4.18.136.0 improves system stability.
  • Surface Touch Servicing ML – System devices 1.16.139.0 improves pen and touch performance.
  • Surface Touch – Firmware 429.0.1.10 improves pen and touch performance.
  • Surface UEFI – Firmware 234.2291.769.0 improves driver installation servicing.

I can only assume this was a difficult computer science problem.

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Comments (17)

17 responses to “Microsoft Finally Fixes Surface Pro Pen Problems”

  1. Tony Barrett

    These Surface devices are just so bug ridden it beggars belief. I just don't get how MS could struggle so badly with their own hardware running their own software.

    • TEAMSWITCHER

      In reply to ghostrider:

      It's simply not a part of Microsoft's DNA ... yet. People forget that Apple has been making computers since the 1970's. Todays MacBook Pro started out as the PowerBook G4 in January 2001, and the first PowerBook was introduced all the way back in 1991.


      Take heart.. the Surface Products are getting better, and I really think Microsoft needs to keep iterating on these designs. And maybe replace those AVASTAR wireless devices with something better. When I recommend laptops to people there are three products lines that I feel confident about. Apple's MacBooks, The Dell XPS series (13 and 15), and the Microsoft Surface Products. That's a great position for Microsoft considering they are relatively new to the market (looking strictly at mobile computers).

      • Stooks

        In reply to TEAMSWITCHER:

        As a owner of many Mac's over the years, and a current owner of loaded 2017 15inch Macbook Pro and a loaded 2015 Mac Mini (with 2013/2014 hardware). I would NO longer recommend a Macbook Pro to anyone.


        The keyboard sucks and I mean it sucks when it works perfectly fine as in no tiny dust particles jacking it up. It too shallow. The removal of the magsafe and all ports (besides USB-C) are a total fail. Lastly the touchbar is joke that I only use because the sounds and brightness buttons were removed.


        I would add Lenovo T-Series ThinkPad's to your list. I have a new T580 that I simply love. The keyboard is heaven. The port selection is perfect.

        • TEAMSWITCHER

          In reply to Stooks:

          I completely disagree. We've got two 12" MacBooks in our house and not one of them has suffered a keyboard issue, and my daughters put their make up on in front of them. The new 2018 MacBooks have a possible solution to the dust problem, and Apple will repair any keyboard even out of warranty.


          As for ports ... I'd take FOUR Thunderbolt-3 ports over any other combination. Try as I may, I can't think of a single dongle that I need. I use Apple bluetooth devices exclusively... The touch surface on the Magic Mouse is the best scrolling solution on the PLANET - crawl or flick with momentum ... it's brilliant! You'll never change my mind about that. I don't know how you people do it ... wheel mice are so 1990's.


          I don't have a Touch Bar MacBook Pro, but I soon will. I'm waiting to get my 6-core 2018 MacBook Pro when Mojave ships. I'm not as down on the feature as you are. I've never liked the nondescript function keys. I think Apple's replacement makes a ton of sense. I think that soon PC makers will copy this design .. just like the Android smart phone makers are adding "notches" to the top of their phones.

          • Stooks

            In reply to TEAMSWITCHER:

            My 2017 has not had the "keyboard" issue either (dust makes it repeat or not work).


            The travel, or lack of it, is my issue and many reviewers complain about this problem since the 12inch first came out in 2015.


            The fix in the 2018, which was not a listed fix by Apple, since admiting it is a fix admits there is a problem and gives all those lawsuits more info to win, is a membrane to block dust. It does NOTHING to fix the .5mm travel....all in the name of "thiness".


            "The touch surface on the Magic Mouse is the best scrolling solution on the PLANET" Ok that comment makes you a cult member.


            At work we have a box full of these not so magic mice. Our advertising/marketing department uses iMac's. They recently got refreshed, and universally (25 users?) rejected these mice. I have tried to use the and the very touchy scroll area simply does not work for me. Logitech M705 is what I use on all of my computers.


            I have a nice collection of Dongles, costing me over $200 because the lack of ports. I use USB flash drives on a regular basis to move stuff around. I am sure there are USB-C versions but that does not work for 99% of the people I share these things with. My Canon DSLR used SD cards so there is another dongle, or a USB-A cable to mini USB. Ethernet, I use it in my job, dongle. HDMI in confrence rooms.....dongle.


            Touchbar has been pretty much universally rejected by both reviewers and Mac fans....but I have no doubt that a cult member like your self will love it.


            " I'm waiting to get my 6-core 2018 THROTTLEBOOK Pro when Mojave ships" there fixed it for you. Why wait the update to Mojave is free?


            Oh and be carefull when you have that Throttelbook plugged in. If you trip over the wire, it will jerk the laptop off of whatever it is sitting on since Apple took away probably the single best Macbook feature ever.....the MagSafe.

            • TEAMSWITCHER

              In reply to Stooks:

              I have never been able to understand why people hate the Magic Mouse ... I must be using it differently ... I certainly know how to configure them in the Accessibility Settings. Maybe that's why I love it so much. How can you NOT like scrolling with momentum? I just don't understand it. Perhaps - I never will. It's just one of those legacy things that people just can't get over ... I GOT OVER IT.


              The 2018 MacBook Pro might throttle, but I'm not getting the i9 model, and I'm willing to give up a tiny bit of performance for better portability and macOS. I wouldn't carry around a fat Windows gaming laptop if someone gave one to me. They are $2000+ of worthless!!


              MagSafe was great back in the day , but it's time to move on... By eliminating MagSafe, Apple was able to deliver FOUR - THAT'S RIGHT FOUR - Thunderbolt-3 ports. Would it be nice to have .. sure .. but I'm over it.


              Finally , not everyone has your Dongle Problem. My Samsung T5 came with both a USB-A and Type-C cable. It's one accessory I can move to my new MacBook with ease. Our office is equipped with 802.11ac wireless - that's plenty fast enough for me. And I could always get a Thunderbolt-3 dock if I need it ... but I don't. USB Type-C to HDMI cables are easy to find on Amazon .. no dongle required for that either. Although I'd rather just Air Play to the Apple TV ... having to plug things in is so 1990s! Are you sure you understand technology at all?






              • Stooks

                In reply to TEAMSWITCHER:

                The problem with the Magic Mouse...is when you try to click, say left click and if your finger moves at all, not just straight down, but oh so very slightly left or right when clicking down the mouse can interrupt that as a swipe to the right or left. You have to back off and try again. With a dedicated scroll wheel...aka my Logitech...you do not have that issue. Not to mention almost any other mouse is more ergonomic than any Apple mouse.


                "I wouldn't carry around a fat Windows gaming laptop if someone gave one to me. They are $2000+ of worthless!!"


                You would not have too. Just watch the YouTube video followup from Dave Lee, post Apple patch. The Dell XPS and the Razor both "thin and light" outperformed the Throttlebook Pro in the same test where it throttled like crazy. In fact out of the 6 he tested the Macbook came in last place.


                Yes the gaming laptops, that are thicker, crushed the Macbook PRO (really a Pro machine?) in the same test. If I was doing video encoding on a laptop (not my first choice) because I had to be mobile I am certain I would be plugged in to the AC and sitting on a desk/table and I would want to get the advertised speed out of my expensive laptop. So yes for full power out of a laptop, as in advertised power of the I9, I would take a gaming laptop that cost at least a $1000 less than the i9 Macbook and crushes it in CPU intensive tasks, like Adobe Premier video rendering.


                As far as the ports on the Macbook Pro line, who really needs 4 USB-C thunderbolt 3 ports and no other ports? Seriously justify that!!!!


                Just a single USB-C port can be multiplied by a USB-C port expansion device.


                A better choice would have been to have two USB-C ports and then some legacy ports (1 USB-A, one HDMI, one SD Card). NO that just makes to much customer friendly sense.


                All of our confrence rooms at work have Apple TV's and a HDMI cable coming out of the table at work. AirPlay works great for things like power point slides. Or some application demostration. Try any video or audio, especially pulled down via wireless from the Internet then pushed to the Apple TV via wireless and you will get stutter and lag and a HDMI is the better way to go....or as they say in the networking field...Copper is King!


                The REAL reason Apple did not do this.......purely FORM over FUNCTION. They went for thiness/cool looking over function. They know that rabid cult fans like you will not only accept that decisions but champion it. It is amazing the loyalty that people have to these electronics comapines....or maybe just really weird?

    • CliffordSF

      In reply to ghostrider:

      Yeah, it took too long and wasn't as transparent as it should have been...but let's applaud them for fixing the problem...it's definitely not something all of the manufacturer's out there do. In fact, their level of follow-up is truly laudable. I've had such horrendous support from a couple of the top five vendors who stopped fixing their hardware/software issues within a few months of release (and no, they never acknowledge the problem nor admit they've even heard of it even though their support site is full of customer complaints). Because it happened on more than one occasion, I refuse to buy from these vendors again. And lets not forget that even Apple, who's been doing this forever, often releases products with issues, too. They all do. These things are just complex...no easy way around it. While a bug-free release is the holy grail, finding a company that fixes their problems rather than focusing on their next release and turning its back on its users, is something to cheer.

    • nbplopes

      In reply to ghostrider:

      We all got tooled for 30 years. I repeat, up until recentely this company did not knew how to build a fkn computer from the ground up, yet was ruling the personal computing space, and lecturing OEMs on how computers should be built.


      The evidence? Check the SP history, the first coimputers built and comercialized by them.


      I cannot and will not applaud their efforts.


      I remember PC guys not getting what an iPhone was and making jokes about it. When ithe jokes did not stick they started making jokes over the iPad being just a big iPhone. Yet these microsoftians were lead and were fascinated by company as I said, clearly did not knew how to make a PC to save their lifes. That is what the history of Surfaces teach us!!!!


      But now all of the sudden for these people the Surface Go seams to be great? A totally under par PC and tablet at $700?.


      PS: Can someone explain to me why they feel compelled to be directed by a company in such conditions? The only thing Bill Gates and Co got really right with a a huge amount of luck was the business model around PC, before the PC boom. That is basically the innovation they got in back in then day all things considered. Because technically if anyone recalls both Atari with the ST and Comoodore with the Amiga were technically superior to any PC in the market, but yeah, everyone got into build your own computer back in the day, but most actually did not, and bought Amstrads and ... well ..,


      This is not to say they haven’t done really good things in the enterprise side, trashing Oracle and IBM for instance. Distrupting the status quo. But when it comes to personal computing they pushed the things forward in the first decade or so, the other 2 decades they dragged innovation into a stall. They became the status quo ... time to move on!!!!!! As they are still trying to drag it into stall.


      Take the Surface Go for instance. It’s cute indeed. But when you get past the cuteness, it’s neither a good PC nor a good Tablet by any measure .... and its not cheap ($700 plus). The best thing it has, is .... it is as small as an iPad? Wtf?


      What is this thing that we suddenly got into .... having discussions around keyboard travel in 2018 and ... can I use in my lap 10 year later? Honestly guys, Wtf? Wtf?


      Tell it like it is!!!!!!

          • Stooks

            In reply to nbplopes:

            No deflecting at all. Your post was all over the place and did not seem very lucid to be honest.

            • nbplopes

              In reply to Stooks:

              Again, nice deflection.


              And I could almost bet you have no top of the line MacBook Pro from 2017. You also don’t use one for certain.


              Nothing you said makes sense and you contradict yourself at times. Watching too much videos on YouTube?


              Kids go figure.


              PS: I’m not a fan of the Magic Mouse. But its way out from working badly on a Mac. And I’ve used worst mouses at that price range. I like Logitech MX series, by the way.


              You know what? I work well with any mouse and keyboard precisely because I AM A PROFESSIONAL. I am getting tired of these new so called professionals that probably never went to the army making reviews .... “oh my god the key travel”. “oh cherry cherry, darling”. It’s worst than emoji, memoji .... because its disguised as professionalism.


              What kind of professionals we are training?


              EDIT: Core i9 on a laptop is way over the law of diminished returns. If you want Workstation class performance go Desktop. One gets far more for the price (unless one is talking Surface Studio of course).


              People that buy MacBook Pros are willing to sacrifice a wee bit of performance for silent operation and longevity. In case you don’t know. That has always been the case.


              The issue of experienced professionals that are used to Macs is actually in the desktop space!!!!!!!! The ability to upgrade graphic cards and disks is important in that space if course for people that need and actually know how to use the up most performance. These people are not definitely thinking Surface or MacBook Pro of any kind to take their workload everyday.

  2. glenn8878

    So this pen, a selling feature, was buggy for an entire year? Wow.

  3. michealpbs

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