Surface and the Power of Sleep

Posted on February 24, 2016 by Paul Thurrott in Microsoft Surface with 0

Surface and the Power of Sleep

My Surface Book did something unusual this morning: When I opened its lid, the device jumped to life, with the lock screen appearing almost instantaneously and the device ready for work. After four long months, the nightmare is over, at least for me: Thanks to a recent firmware update, Surface Book—and the nearly identical Surface Pro 4—can now sleep and wake up normally.

I was taking a few days off with my family when the Surface firmware updates hit last week. So when I arrived home on Friday, I immediately set out to update my sleep-challenged Surface Book to see whether the firmware update really fixed things.

(As I noted in Reassessing Microsoft Surface, the sleep issues that had ruined the Surface Book/Pro 4 experience for many users were not universal for reasons related to both computer science and black magic. So in my case, Surface Pro 4 has never had any issues. But the Surface Book could not be trusted to sleep at all, and would always “hot bag” it if I forgot to shut it down.)

My initial results weren’t great: When I tried to wake the fully-updated Surface Book after having had simply closed the lid to trigger sleep, the machine would come on, the Surface logo would appear onscreen and … nothing. It would just sit there, not booting, no matter how long I left it like that. After a reset—by holding down on the power button for 10-12 seconds—and a reboot, it would work fine again. Until it went to sleep.

That doesn’t sound promising, but there are two mitigating factors. One, as part of the series of installs and reboots that my Surface Book went through last Friday, the latest Insider build (14267) was also installed. And two, I get a lot of feedback from readers about Surface Book and Pro 4 issues. And no one was telling me that they were experiencing this problem.

So I did the logical thing: I copied off a few stray, non-backed up files and did a PC Reset, updating the resulting install to 1511, and then installing the latest firmware.

And then the waiting game began, made all the more difficult because I’ve become accustomed to not trusting the Surface Book. That is, I used it normally. And then I … let it sleep normally. Again, this was perhaps more difficult than you may understand. Every time I closed the lid with applications left running, I felt a weird pang of danger.

Naturally, I did this in fits and starts, purposefully, and only during the day when I could stay by the machine and see whether the tell-tale hissing sounds started. I would hover my hand over the closed Surface Book, trying to detect heat. And then I would open it up to see whether it actually woke up.

It seems to be fine.

No five days is enough time to overcome four months of bad times. And I know that my anecdotal experience with one Surface Book isn’t enough evidence to declare that this problem is fixed. But this is a device that simply could not and would not sleep normally. And now it does appear to be working normally.

So I’ll keep testing it, of course. I’ll take Surface Book on my next trip and hope for the best. And we’ll see what happens. But a properly sleeping Surface Book is a thing of beauty.

Fingers crossed.


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