Microsoft Issues New Surface Dock Firmware Update Tool

Posted on September 21, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Microsoft Surface with 20 Comments

Microsoft this week released a new Microsoft Surface Dock Firmware Update tool that supersedes the previous tool.

“Microsoft Surface Dock Firmware Update [is] newly redesigned to automatically update Surface Dock firmware while running in the background on your Surface device,” the Microsoft Docs website explains. “Once installed, it will update any Surface Dock attached to your Surface device.”

If only it were that easy.

This new tool, called Surface Dock Firmware Update, replaces the previous Surface Dock updater, which was called Microsoft Surface Dock Updater. (Yes, the old tool had an “r” at the end of its name and the new one doesn’t.) The old tool was previously available only via the Surface Tools for IT download package. (From what I can tell, that’s still true, but whatever.) The first version of this new tool is called Surface_Dock_FwUpdate_1.42.139_Win10_17134_19.084.31680_0.msi. Simple, right?

Wait, it gets worse.

According to Microsoft, to correctly install this tool and the latest firmware update for Surface Dock, you need to give the background service several seconds to check for updates; no prompt is provided. Then, disconnect the Surface Dock from the Surface PC and wait for 5 seconds before reconnecting. “The Surface Dock Firmware Update will [then] normally update the dock silently in background after you disconnect from the dock and reconnect,” Microsoft says. “The process can take a few minutes to complete and will continue even if interrupted.”

Yes, that’s the automatic process. If that’s not complicated enough, however, you can manually update the firmware instead. And this is where things get really crazy.

“Reconnect your Surface Dock for 2 minutes and then disconnect it from your device,” Microsoft explains. “The DisplayPort firmware update will be installed while the hardware is disconnected. The LED in the Ethernet port of the dock will blink while the update is in progress. Please wait until the LED stops blinking before you unplug your Surface Dock from power … You will need to disconnect and reconnect the dock twice before the update fully completes.”

Good luck!

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Comments (20)

20 responses to “Microsoft Issues New Surface Dock Firmware Update Tool”

  1. RussDW

    My wife uses the wired Ethernet port on her Surface Dock to get internet access in her office, and this port is very flaky and intermittent. I hope Microsoft fixes this. (Our workaround is to use a USB Ethernet dongle plugged into a USB port on the dock, which works fine but uses a USB port she'd like to use for something else.)

  2. notalawyer

    This can't be a real thing. Naturally, I want to keep my devices updated. But, should I even attempt this at this point? Is there any likelihood they will make this any more effective?

  3. mestiphal

    I wish more companies would install always running agents on my computer in the event that once a year they release an update for any of the attachments... /2

  4. Scsekaran

    This is quite ridiculous really. You don't expect or want consumers/average users to use Regedit to check the update status in a convoluted manner. Why can't it be a standalone app similar to Microsoft wireless display adaptor or integrate with Surface app in the store?

  5. justiciero

    OMG, what a circus. The link to download and install the SW package on the site leads to a page not found (the URL is missing en-us which if you manually adds, it works). OK, so after that snafu you get to the site and can download the SW. And it appears on my Book where it says it should: C:Program FilesSurfaceUpdate. Then it says "Start > All Apps > Microsoft Surface Dock Updater" THIS DOES NOT EXIST... What a horrible experience...

  6. Vladimir Carli

    How important is it to update the firmware? What does the update add?

  7. dexman335

    I must be missing something. I downloaded the new file and it installed in the specified default location. Now the next step is where I'm getting stuck. Start > All Apps > Microsoft Surface Dock Updater. I can't find such a path on my Surface Go, and, I don't see any app on the Start menu dropdown that looks remotely related to the update app. ?

  8. will

    Can we JUST have Thunderbolt 3 and let us choose what dock to use? CalDigit makes an amazing TB3 dock.

  9. infloop

    So it seems like it needs to load the update to the dock and have the dock be disconnected in order to update the firmware.

    But oh man, you need to disconnect and reconnect twice before the update can complete for the manual update procedure. I don't think I've heard of something that was that involved since perhaps the time before Plug and Play...

  10. navarac

    I see Microsoft is a world-class communicator. Again!

  11. RussDW

    Couldn't get past step 2 of their instructions. After running the installer, I could not locate the updater in Start menu, so I couldn't start it. Nothing in the /Program Files/SurfaceUpdate install directory would start the updater either.

  12. BruceR

    I did this yesterday and it's a confusing mess (e.g. specified log file doesn't exist).

  13. PeterC

    I had two of these docks and both were simply terrible, very unstable and constantly getting “confused” when used to dock my surface pro to a desktop set up. They we’re so bad I ended up buying a dedicated desktop set up 6 months ago, and now my surface gets much less used.

    Considering the cost of the docks I’d have been better buying something from Lenovo or Anker, but I kept one so will see if these updates make it better, but I think my days of using a surface device as my only go to device/desktop are over.

    • bluesman57

      In reply to PeterC: I used to have trouble with the old "clamp-in" docks, but the new ones have worked fine for me. I have two of them, one for my wife's SP3 and one for my new SP6. I just did this automatic update process, but I have no idea how to find out if it worked or not.

    • captobie

      In reply to PeterC:

      I’ve had one for a couple of years now and it’s been perfectly reliable. Never had any issues with it whatsoever.

      • PeterC

        In reply to captobie:

        Out of interest which surface type/ model do you dock? I ask as I docked an SP3 and SP5. I thought for some time that the problems must be surface firmware related, but after ditching the docks and using the SP5 on its own via WiFi I realised it was fine and the docks were the problem

  14. EugBeran

    And you get to dive deep in to the Registry to verify the firmware got applied to the dock. Good times!

  15. jwpear

    Holy batman! I think I need to hire someone to do this for me. It appears you need to be a NASA scientist or a magician to coax an update of the dock lest you want the thing to self-distruct because you failed to time the steps right.

    I think the old updater was easier to use and that was a bit of a stretch.

  16. bsd107

    I cannot get this to work, even following the manual instructions. I am checking the registry and one of the two checks does not verify that the dock has the new firmware.

    This is all ridiculous as an earlier version of this updater, from earlier in 2019, DID actually have a UI, prompts, etc. (I saw this on Windows Central).

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