Surface Book Hits a Stable Juncture with One Big Caveat

Surface Book Hits a Stable Juncture with One Big Caveat

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

Much has been said already about the lackluster performance of Microsoft’s latest Surface devices, the Surface Pro 4 and the Surface Book. Customers who flocked early were summarily disappointed to learn that the devices worked only half the time. Many had been tricked by journalists and reporters that gave the Surface Book glowing reviews directly out of the gate, once Microsoft has lifted the embargo on their stories. But, those reports were quickly squashed by all the problems, and one has to wonder how much and what type of actual testing went into those original reviews. Fortunately, reviewers worked to redeem themselves in follow-up reviews, but, really it surprised me the flaws weren’t noted right away. They surfaced online in the Microsoft forums almost immediately.

The issues surrounding the Surface Book can almost be forgiven, considering that it is clearly a 1st generation device. I said, ‘almost.’ Those that have spent the last 5 months rebooting a frozen Surface Book several times a day, or opening a backpack that emits the heat surge of a thousand suns, might argue that recompense is required before considering a full pardon.

The issues have been noted far and wide and they ranged from video problems to insomnia (PC wouldn’t go to sleep) which caused extreme heat issues and depleted batteries. The most recent update seems to have finally solved many of those issues and some are reporting that it’s safe to go back in the water now. Those that delayed buying a Surface Book due to the blatant issues are considering getting back in the checkout line.

I’ve talked with businesses who have opted to adopt the Surface Book over the Surface Pro 4 and the problems have been devastating for them.

So, now that the smoke has cleared (almost literally for some Surface Book owners), is it truly safe to buy a Surface Book? It is – but with one huge, tough-love caveat:

Don’t be a Windows Insider.

…or, at least come to the realization what a Windows Insider is. The Windows Insider program is, pure and simple, a beta program. When beta builds are released, expect problems. I participate in several technology communities on a consistent basis, and it still amazes me that many “Insiders” are constantly shocked when things break after applying a new Insider build. Some believe that Windows 10 Mobile, because it came installed on their Lumia 950/950XL’s, is publicly released. Microsoft would never release a beta OS on hardware they paid for, they think.

But, isn’t this the new reality? If your PCs and devices are part of the Windows 10 ecosystem, somewhere on that device you are running software that isn’t quite complete. And, that is compounded if you have those devices participating in the Windows Insider program.

In the latest Windows 10 build, released on March 4, the first stated issue is:

  • We’re investigating an issue in which some Surface Pro 3, Surface Pro 4, and Surface Book devices experience a freeze or hang and all input such as keyboard/trackpad and touch do not work. The workaround is to hold down the power button to force the device to hard-reboot.

So, my advice is that if you want your Surface Book to be a stress-free, dependable workhorse of a laptop, get it to a stable condition with the latest update and leave it there. Some devices are clearly too fragile and probably not recommended for the Insider program.

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