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  • Windows 11, Surface, and Windows Copilot

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    ISSUE 20.39 • 2023-09-25


    Will Fastie

    By Will Fastie

    In case we didn’t realize it already, Microsoft told us where we are headed.

    Last week, Microsoft held an event in New York. The bulk of the presentation was about AI, specifically Windows Copilot. Not Copilot, but Windows Copilot.

    This is deeply significant.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (20.39.0, 2023-09-25).
    This story also appears in our public Newsletter.

  • Microsoft’s fall Surface event


    Will Fastie

    By Will Fastie

    For once, Microsoft pulls off a professional event.

    For those of you who follow my coverage of significant Microsoft announcements, you know I’ve had a somewhat negative opinion of the presentations. On October 12, the company conducted its fall event to announce new Surface models. The presentation may not have exceeded my expectations, but it at least met them.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (19.42.0, 2022-10-17).

  • Bulging batteries in Surface laptops are a growing issue


    Brian Livingston

    By Brian Livingston

    More and more users of Microsoft Surface 2-in-1 laptop computers are reporting a bent and battered screen that’s been curved by a dangerously bulging battery that protrudes from its frame.

    This was first covered in an AskWoody post on December 5, 2019. At that time, the post linked to 10 forum threads at Microsoft Answers, Reddit, and elsewhere. The forums contained dozens of stories describing similar-sounding problems.

    Read the full story in the AskWoody Plus Newsletter 18.44.0 (2021-11-15).

  • Windows 11 Surfaces


    Will Fastie

    By Will Fastie

    Microsoft’s September event showcased its updated Surface lineup and doubled down on the Duo 2.

    While Microsoft’s livestream presentation of September 2 was not tremendously exciting, it was a well-done description of the new Surface devices and was hosted by Panos Panay, in fine form.

    I won’t bore you with every detail, but here are some good sources of information.

    Read the full story in the AskWoody Plus Newsletter 18.37.0 (2021-09-27).

  • “Microsoft Reinvents the PC Keyboard with a Brand-New Button”

    Sorry. My cynicism is showing. But that’s a for-real headline.

    According to a great little item picked up by WalkingCat on Twitter, MS may put a new key on its keyboards, to the right of the right-Alt key, that invokes the emoji panel. You can see the same panel right now by holding down the Windows key and pressing the period.

    One more reason to buy Surface products, eh?

    Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

  • Microsoft Surface bulging batteries continue to anger and frustrate customers

    The bulging/expanded Surface battery issue has been growing. And it’s obvious that, while Microsoft won’t discuss this openly, that they are well aware of the issue. And trying to close the barn door after the horse has escaped. The issue starts for most customers with a yellowing of the screen which can eventually end up as a battery bulge. Reports of the issue started in November 2017 and it’s obvious from the more than 20,000 views of this thread that this is a problem. Typical of the problem is this post:

    Well, I’m having the same issue. My screen is yellowing and the battery is causing the display to bulge making this “premium Microsoft product” unsafe and unusable. 

    I contacted Microsoft support who let me know I’m outside the extended warranty period. Which was graciously extended because they know there’s a defect with these.

    Support offered me a same generation, refurbished model for CAD $1,000. So, another $1,000 for another Surface Book that will eventually have the same problem.

    This issue absolutely needs legal action.  ”

    Running a search on Microsoft Communities specific to Surface Book and bulging reveals multiple threads like where there are over 8600 views and 398 “me too’s” indicating others with the same issue who may not have posted in the thread. In this case, the original poster with multiple Surface Books with this issue writes:

    I now have multiple Surface Books (1st gen) that the batteries in the tablet part are swelling and warping the screen.  My Surface Book can’t even close the lid due to the battery being so large.  My screen is bulging out.

    We’ve already retired two Surface Books due to the screens peeling off and I have found 2 more where the screens are starting to curve.

    We are now looking at replacing all 15 remaining Surface Books due to potential fire hazards.

    What a shame.  It was such a nice piece of hardware.”

    Microsoft has locked a number of these threads, which results in new threads being created. And there are still customers unaware of the “issue” who start new threads like Carol’s below.

    Similarly, Surface Pro 4 owners are reporting this issue. Microsoft IS providing free, out of warranty refurbished Surface replacements for any customer with this issue, but only if within three years of the original purchase date. This would seem to indicate that the expected lifetime of a Surface device is three years and at this point, a majority of SP4 and Surface Book first generation customers are past the three years and fear that the refurbs they would have to pay for would develop the same issue.

    So what has Microsoft said and/or done about this issue? states battery expansion does not present a safety concern but also states “you should stop using the device” which seems contradictory, but similar language is used by HP:

    Here is Microsoft’s statement:

    Microsoft has recently (and very quietly) also introduced functionality for the newest Surface devices called “Lifespan Saver” that claims to reduce the risk of battery expansion. They’ve also added a “Battery Smart Charging” feature that also mentions battery expansion. It is impossible to determine from the release notes in the Surface Update History for Surface devices exactly when this feature was added. But they’ve obviously recognized the issue with battery bulging afflicting Surface Book (original) and Surface Pro 4 owners (yes, a few Surface 3’s and other devices can develop this issue – I’ve had to junk a Surface 3 myself because of this). More and more customers report that, since they are stuck working at home due to COVID-19 work from home scenarios, that they are using their personal Surface devices more than ever before and there are increasing reports of bulging batteries on the MS Forums and elsewhere. Even iFixit has weighed in on this issue

    Note that now documents the Lifespan Saver as follows (and the table on the bottom of the page pointedly states this feature is only available for Surface Pro 7, Surface Book 3, Surface Laptop 3, Surface ProX and Surface Go 2):

    Battery Lifespan Saver – Battery Lifespan Saver is a feature designed to help protect your battery from the cumulative negative effects of consistent and recurrent use at high temperatures or high states of charge. This feature complements Battery Smart Charging by monitoring battery conditions continuously. If these adverse conditions are detected, Battery Lifespan Saver implements a limited number of permanent reductions in charging voltage. Although this will result in a small incremental permanent loss to battery capacity, it will maximize the total lifespan of your battery by limiting conditions that would otherwise accelerate battery deterioration, significantly reduce battery capacity, or lead to battery expansion.

    Also now documented is Battery Smart Charging (but it is unknown as to when this feature was added as it is not specified in any of the release notes in Surface Update History and it applies to all devices except Surface 3):

    Battery Smart Charging – Battery Smart Charging is a feature that helps protect your battery from the effects of charging patterns and high temperatures that may accelerate battery deterioration or lead to expansion. Battery Smart Charging is always active and engages automatically to limit battery charging capacity when it detects your device is plugged in for prolonged periods and/or used at elevated temperatures. Battery smart charging is automatically deactivated when the battery is discharged below 20%.

    Charles Hill has an interesting theory

    When Microsoft figured out that the Battery Smart Charging wasn’t doing what they expected it to do (strike one) they instituted a firmware update called Battery Limit Mode (No one I know ever received notice that this had to be utilized in the UEFI) but this wasn’t done until 2018 which for most of us was 2 years or more from the date of purchase AND more then a year AFTER our warranties expired. AND, they never notified us that these batteries were prone to these types of actions because the Battery Smart Charging wasn’t performing as they thought it should (strike 2).  Incidentally, Microsoft instituted a new battery mode in the newest surfaces which leads me to believe either the Battery Limit Load isn’t working as they thought it would or they are afraid customers would balk at the possibility that once the customers found out they could only charge these batteries to 50% thus degrading the batteries quicker then normal and they wouldn’t buy the product (strike three).  Microsoft conveniently does not supply these documents with their systems AND does not notify it’s customers (remember that registration form you had to fill out the day you registered your Surface?) through any of the numerous means available from the registration forms…email, address, phone call about these problems or the solutions. It’s become a Con game with Microsoft and we the customers who have spent thousands of dollars have become the marks.

    He further goes on to say in I dig deeper into this fiasco I am finding more and more about the possible cause of these battery issues. Going over my battery report I am finding something very strange, first I see that for the first 58 weeks using the system I am seeing an average overcharge on the battery of 278 to 314 mWh and this stops once the May 2017 Firmware and UEFI (103.1684.256.0 improves battery life during sleep.and other Surface drivers) updates are installed in June of 2017. From here I can trace the degradation of the battery immediately after each and every Firmware and UEFI update to the day. The worst degradation I’ve noticed is immediately after the Aug 2019 Firmware update (Surface – Firmware – 103.2614.257.0) where within a matter of 2 weeks the mWh dropped from 34972 mWh to 28634 mWh and it has been staying within a few hundred mWh per week since then.  “

    The bulging battery issue is NOT unique to Surface devices.

    The big difference between Surface and most other devices is that the Surface batteries are NOT replaceable. Most people wouldn’t mind spending $150-200 for a replacement battery, but the out of warranty cost to replace a SP4 or Surface Book per is $599 USD, which is a lot of money to pay for a refurbished device that was released in 2015. The Surface Team actually stated in a Reddit AMA that the battery replacement cost for SP3 was $200 and “If the battery fails during the warranty period, we’ll replace the battery.” And many of the boxes that these devices came in suggest a replaceable battery (by an authorized service provider). I’ve seen this statement on several Surface Pro models myself.

    It’s certainly easy to see why afflicted Surface customers are upset.

  • Original Surface Books with Swollen Batteries, a Cautionary Story

    Microsoft’s Answers “Community Forum” for Surface Book (original) seems to be receiving a growing number of posts from unhappy customers whose $3000 computers have become a risk for fire or explosion because of lifted screens due to swollen batteries. And the issue is discussed in other online communities. Some of the images posted of these devices are frightening and appear in some of the threads below.

    While Microsoft won’t comment (other than “contact support”) on these issues, it seems that they decided that if these were within 3 years of original purchase, they’d replace free of charge (which can depend on which agent handles your case). The catch is that more and more of these devices are now beyond the three year from original purchase time frame, and phone and online support won’t budge on this “policy”. And sadly, some customers can’t be convinced of the danger of continuing to use the device.

    I’m a Microsoft MVP and a Volunteer Moderator in the Microsoft Surface Community Forum and I cringe every time I see a new report. Almost daily. (And there have been a few MVP’s and friends who have had this horrendous experience.)

    We think that the official Microsoft Retail Stores (at least in the USA) have more latitude to replace devices beyond the three year date, at least if a customer is able to go there, and make some noise. A lot of noise. Below is a tale of woe from a respected former MVP that speaks for itself. Should Microsoft replace these beyond three years? As a MSFT stockholder and MVP and Surface owner, my answer is a resounding yes. I expect my laptops to last more than 3 years, do YOU?

    Dian’s tale:

    Microsoft Annoyance!
    by Dian Chapman
    Retired Microsoft MVP 1995 – 2015

    In March 2016, hubby bought me a Microsoft Surface book computer because he recently bought one for himself and really liked it. I quickly fell in love with it, too.

    While he was traveling to TX on business, he realized the screen was being pushed away from the computer. He took it to a Microsoft office in TX and they replaced it on the spot. The employee there said, “Oh wow, yeah, we don’t want THOSE out there!” They imaged his current PC to a new one over a few days and he returned home with a new Surface book. His was two years into using it. He was also VERY glad it didn’t explode or start a fire while flying to/from IL/TX.

    A year later (2019), I started to notice that now MY Surface book was expanding and I could no longer close it because the bottom of the screen was being pushed away from the computer.

    Fearing a fire/explosion myself, I called the Schaumburg, IL Microsoft Store and was told that my computer was past the three year ‘swollen battery warranty!’ I didn’t realize MS had a warranty for crappy computers!

    He told me I would have to pay $599 to replace it at this time! Other fellow MVPs told me that they DID get theirs replaced after the three years, so I grabbed my computer and travelled the 1.5 hrs to the Schaumburg MS Store to try to get a replacement.

    Lilly was the employee who greeted me and asked I was I doing today. HA, NOT good! After telling me that I needed an appointment, she relented and made a ticket for me and listened to my argument regarding why I NEEDED a replacement from this defective computer that was broken and dangerous…through NO fault of my own.

    After about 20 mins of me explaining that I was NOT leaving without a new computer and that I would stand outside the store (in the mall) and tell anyone who listened why MS computers were defective…she went back to “check” with her manager.

    She returned a bit later to tell me that she did have one in stock to replace mine and told me that it would take several days to copy my data to the new system. I didn’t have time to be without my computer that long and I also did not look forward to driving 1.5 hrs (one way) back into the city to get it in a few days. So, I said I’d just F-Disk it. I found the reset to erase all the data and she said they’d do it a second time JUST to be sure it was cleared.

    I left with the new computer.

    Several people have had this problem and it’s REALLY pathetic that MS makes people go through this crap to get a new computer. MS is pretty good with software, but as the MS phone demonstrated…they’re NOT very good when it comes to hardware! They need to admit this series of PC has a SERIOUS problem and fix it without a hassle for those suffering with these DEFECTIVE systems.

    Let’s hope none cause a home or plane fire!


  • Reports of Surface Pro swamping \Temp folder with bogus .evtx files

    I don’t have many details at this point, but the most succinct description I can find is on the StackExchange forum, from Sam Axe:

    Every few seconds a new .evtx file and a new .txt file appear in c:\windows\temp. Each .evtx file has nearly identical content (except for timestamps), ditto the .txt files.
    The .evtx files are roughly 7 MB large and contain almost 3600 events each. As you can imagine, this is filling up the HDD rather quickly. We deleted ~30 GB worth of these files earlier today.

    He’s had some luck with this solution:

    We were able to resolve this by removing the “Surface” app via powershell:

    Get-AppxPackage *surface* | Remove-AppxPackage

    Completely removing the “Surface” app and rebooting appears to have solved the issue.

    In the same thread, Camile reports that it doesn’t work all the time:

    I’ve fixed 2 of these issues today by updating the windows to the latest 1903 build. The removal of the App worked on 1 but didn’t work for the other so just updated both.

    The twist: It looks like this problem occurs sporadically on several different kinds of Surface devices and may (or may not) be triggered by a specific Windows update.

    Anybody else hitting the problem? Does the Remove-AppxPackage solution work?

  • Bowman: How to update the Marvell driver for your Surface — without installing Win10 version 1909

    There’s a detailed, step-by-step explanation in this new video from Barb Bowman.

    There are quite a few folks desperate for fixed Marvell Wi-Fi drivers for Surface devices following bad drivers that were sent down through Windows Update in early August. The greatest impact seems to be on mesh type networks. You can, or course, roll back the bad driver. But if you need to test the “fixme” version, and intend to stay on 1903 until 1909 is “proven safe for mankind” (so to speak), there is an option.

    It seems possible to join the Insiders Preview Ring to get the “fixed” Marvell Wi-Fi drivers for Surface devices without being forced to download and install 1909 if you are already running 1903. 1909 “should” be offered as an optional update and I’ve made a short video explaining the steps, as there are multiple restarts in addition to the specific order of steps that need to be followed. I’ve tested this and it works for me. I can’t guarantee that it will work for you, but the worst that can happen is, if you are running 1903 and 1909 does install, you can open the classic Control Panel, Programs and Features, view Installed Updates, and UNINSTALL the 1909 update.

    Neat trick – and a safe way to get the drivers that’ll fix your WiFi.

  • Microsoft reps continue to recommend Surface Pro 6 owners install a beta version of Windows

    I started to write about this a week ago, but decided to let it ride. Now, it’s back again.

    The advice being doled out for Surface Pro 6 owners on the Microsoft Answers forum is bad advice. In a nutshell, MS moderators continue to tell people experiencing the 400 MHz throttling bug or the Marvel driver bug that they should move to the Insider Program, join the Release Preview Ring, and install the latest beta test version of Win10 version 1909.


    There’s a reason why it’s called a “beta,” folks.

    Barb’s two screenshots come from this moderator reply about the .4 GHz throttling problem and this moderator reply about the buggy Marvell driver.

    You may not realize it, but Surface owners who put their machines in the Insider program regularly receive firmware and driver updates that aren’t released to the public. Those firmware and driver updates can’t be uninstalled. Something else they didn’t tell you in Insider school, eh?

    As Barb says, this is no way to treat a paying customer! Telling people to install a version of Windows that’s still in testing, just to fix a Microsoft-created bug, is simply lousy advice:

    Business customers and careful consumers should NOT have to update their OS and join Windows Insiders. They need a Surface Insiders group separate from the OS where folks can test drivers or better yet, make them available as separate downloads

    16 million Insider guinea pigs, ripe for the plucking. If you don’t mind a mixed metaphor. Or a plucked pig.

    UPDATE from Bowman:

    If MS REALLY thinks that they are testing against production builds in release preview, that they are wrong and this means no one is widely testing against RELEASED builds. Microsoft needs a stand alone Insiders Ring for Surface testing so that IT folks can test on dedicated machines, etc. What is especially egregious is that the Marvel bug seems to impact Enterprise mesh networks/roaming more than consumer and you know that businesses don’t want to push to 1909 or ANY new release.

  • The sad saga of Surface problems continues

    You’re going to hear a lot about the shiny new Surface devices coming in the next few weeks.

    Should you be tempted to shell out your shekels, be aware of the problems we’ve hit with Surface devices recently — and how Microsoft has (or has not) responded to the complaints.

    Extensive details in Computerworld Woody on Windows.

    I’ve said it before… I won’t buy — or recommend — a Surface device until Microsoft cleans up its support.

    Thx Barb Bowman!

  • What I expect from today’s Microsoft Event

    As you probably know, most of the world’s leading English-language Microsoft pundits are gathered at this moment in New York, waiting for the 4 pm (Eastern) pony show, widely anticipated to be a launching ground for Windows 10 version 1809 and a handful of new Surface computers.

    Expect to see appropriately synchronized “oohs” and “aahs” from the folks who were paid to attend.

    Paul Thurrott, who’s on the scene with Brad Sams, has an anticipatory post on what he expects. My expectations are a bit lower.

    I expect to see minor upgrades to the existing Surface lineup with (gasp! ahhhhhhh!) a new black Surface. I expect Microsoft will mention, obliquely, the Consumer Reports re-instatement of the “Recommended” imprimatur for Surface, except for the totally lame Surface Go.

    Win10 1809 will likely become available to those who have the temerity to click “Check for Updates” — the Suckers, er, Seekers in the crowd. I haven’t seen anything particularly earth-shattering in Win10 1809 (although I do like the new clipboard, which has finally caught up with free add-ons that have been available for decades, and a phone notification synchronizer that works almost as well as Google Chrome’s MightyText).

    A new Surface Studio — that ultra-expensive all-in-one PC — will no doubt draw plenty of accolades, particularly if MS moves from 6th generation to 8th generation Intel chips. And some people may be able to use them. Sometimes.

    All in all, I doubt there’ll be much worth writing about tomorrow. But I may be pleasantly surprised.