Surface Pro 4 Battery Life Benchmarks

The Surface has been out for about seven weeks as I write this and I finally managed to get all of my data together to do some real-life Surface Pro 4 battery life benchmarks. Part of this delay was to give Microsoft a chance to address some ongoing battery issues with the November Update which released in mid-November.

I’ve done this type of testing for previous Surface models, and many people have found it much more useful and accurate than synthetic benchmarks created by battery testing software (which many reviewers use).

So, let’s get down to the test results.

Surface Pro 4 Battery Life: Benchmarks

Here are the results for all three SP4 CPU models (m3, i5, i7). For these tests, in the interest of scientific rigor, my testing procedure was as follows (unless noted otherwise in a specific section):

  • The m3 SP4 had 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD
  • The i5 and i7 SP4s and 8GB of RAM and 256GB SSDs.
  • The Surfaces were all patched up as of November 15th (and included the November Update).
  • The Surfaces were not updated during the test sequence (to keep the patch level consistent throughout the tests).
  • The tests were run six times for each model and averaged to get the results below.
  • The devices were fully recharged and restarted before each test run.
  • The default “Balanced” power plan was used on each device.
  • Screen brightness was set to “Suggested.”
  • The devices were used until the critical battery action put them into hibernate at 3% remaining capacity. All low power messages were ignored.
  • None of the three devices I tested seemed to suffer from any issues or bugs that caused premature battery drain.
  • If I got an “outlier” result (such as the battery only running half as long during a single test), it was discarded, and a new run was performed.
  • Results were rounded to the nearest minute.

Now that you know what my testing procedure was like, let’s move onto the actual benchmarks.

Surface Pro 4 Battery Life: Normal Use

In this scenario, I tested a “normal use” scenario. I used the Surfaces to do things like web surfing, blogging, editing pictures, light graphics work, email, Facebook, streaming videos, etc. In other words, I basically just used them to work and web surf like any normal day.

I let the SP4s turn off the screen and sleep normally when I wasn’t using them, but I did not power them off or press the power button to rest them manually.

This graph shows minutes of battery life during regular use, including when sleeping:

surface pro 4 battery life

All three tablets would have made it through a typical 8-hour work day but, the m3 model would have just barely squeaked by at 7 hours and 54 minutes. By comparison, the i5 model gave me, on average, 10 hours and 4 minutes of life

This graph shows the total battery life while the Surfaces were actually powered on and in use (not including sleep):

You might be surprised by how poorly the m3 version did with this test. At 376 minutes (6 hours, 16 minutes) of average total run time, it had a battery life that was even less than the average for the i7 version. However, nothing was wrong with the test. It seems that the m3 version of the SP4 is simply less efficient than the other models.

If you try these tests yourself, the results will vary depending on the types of software you run, power settings, and how often you let your Surface go to sleep. I tend to let my Surfaces sleep about 30% of the time during the day, and I don’t tend to run high-intensity apps like Mathematica, Lightroom, or Lumion. Inversely, I do often run several web browser windows at once, and I usually have MS Paint and/or Excel running in the background; so, I am taxing the CPU a little bit, just not a lot.

Surface Pro 4 Battery Life: Streaming

For this test, I fired up the Netflix app and played back to back videos until the battery was exhausted. There were minimal gaps between videos (sometimes I had to deal with the “are you still watching” prompts). This test does a good job of simulating being on a long flight and passing the time by streaming movies. I did the same thing with YouTube (in Chrome).

The results are as follows:

Correction: The original graph for this section was incorrect. The m3 data was good but, the data for the i5 and i7 models were from a different test that I decided not to use (powered on, doing nothing). The graph above is the corrected version. The other graphs were double-checked and are correct.

As you can see, the m3 model once again is lagging behind the i5 model but, has a slight edge on the i7 model. Streaming from the net uses Wi-Fi quite a bit, but it shouldn’t be a significant tax on the CPU; so the m3, in theory, should have an advantage.

It also seems that the Netflix app is a little more efficient than YouTube on Chrome, which is not a total surprise.

Surface Pro 4 Battery Life: Gaming

For this test, I fired up SP4 is lacking) but they are still pretty good, and it draws each spacecraft component separately which adds to the CPU load.

Here are my results:

 

The m3 finally outperformed the i5 and i7 for battery duration. However, even though the battery lasted longer, it was much more painful to play KSP on the m3 than the others.

Often, I would have framerates in the single digits when I had more than one small spacecraft on screen. The i5 was quite playable most of the time (but would lag if I had a lot of objects on display) and the i7 version played pretty smoothly no matter what I had on screen (up to a point I put a monster space station with 628 individual parts in orbit, anyway).

Funny enough, if you look at my post on the Surface Pro 4 for this test, you will see that the SP3 has a battery with a larger capacity.

Surface Pro 4 Battery Life: Recharging

While depleting the battery is usually more fun, how quickly you can recharge your SP4 is pretty essential, as well. So, here are the results of my testing where I recharged the SP4 models from 3% back up to 100%. The tablets were not in use during the charge cycles:

This time, the result is pretty much a draw as all three versions recharge in a little over 2 hours and 30 minutes. Since the m3 version of the SP4 comes with a 24W charger (as opposed to the 36W version that comes with the i5 and i7 versions), I was a bit surprised by this result.

Surface Pro 4 Battery Life: How to Save Battery Life on Surface Pro 4

There are some basic things you can do to save battery life on this Surface. These are fantastic tips if you are looking to experience prolonged juice, in addition to already having a good battery!

Use Battery Saver Mode

There is an icon in your notifications section (it can also be searched, or Cortana can be used) that can be set up. This preserves the battery as much as possible by automatically dimming the screen as well as turning off other behind the scenes life suckers. You can turn this one on at all times, or select it to go on automatically when it hits 20%.

Disable background apps

In your settings, you can disable the background apps with a simple click. Go to the privacy feature and then click on background apps under the words “let apps run in the background”. You also have the option to turn off individual apps as you desire. These selections will help your device to do less work and therefore preserve your battery.

Keep an eye on your brightness

When the brightness automatically adjusts to brighter, it is wise to put it at a moderate level. High brightness on the display is one of the worst battery drainers. You can change the brightness through settings, on your toolbar, or on the keyboard itself.

Turn off battery suckers you don’t need

Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and mobile broadband are all things that run in the background. They are always searching for networks, and they drain your battery life in the process. Airplane Mode is a great way to give your laptop a break when you can go without these features. You can also individually keep them off as they are not in use.

Surface Pro 4 Battery Life: Best Accessories

We can talk all day long about battery life, but I also wanted to give you some insight into how to improve your time spent on the Surface Pro 4. I am doing that by giving you a list below of some of the best accessories! These accessories will only make your device even more lovable than it already is.

Type Cover

Some would argue that the Microsoft Surface type cover(aka the Surface’s keyboard) is the most important of all the accessories. This addition is the one thing that can make or break you having just a tablet or a two in one tablet and laptop. And the Surface 4 type cover is the best out there! It is larger than its predecessors by a whopping 40 perfect, and it’s so upgraded that even the Typepad glass is smoother than before! Not only does it have these improved features, but it is also faster, and typing has never been more comfortable with the new space that fits in between keys. There are even a few extra keys that come with this upgrade, which adds onto the list of improvements. All that extra space was truly put to good use!

Car Charger

The next great accessory on our list is the car charger for your Surface Pro. Do you use your Surface on the go regularly? Do you worry about it dying while you’re on the road? Then this is a great accessory for you! Laptop chargers seemed all but a far off dream for many of us. But now they are here and made just for your device. This charger is specifically designed for both the Pro 3 and 4. It also keeps the device from overcharging, which protects your battery from harm in the long run!

Surface Pen Tip Kit

Our third great feature is the Surface Pen Tip Kit, which saves you from buying a ton of pen types or wearing out your pen. With this kit, you have a great variety of sensitivity in your pen tips as well as different shapes and sizes. This product is a customizable set of pen tips which help you to get to work more efficiently. Regardless of if you draw, shade, write, select, or whatever you do, these tips are great for anyone who is looking for more than the generic tip that came along with your surface when you first purchased it.

Urban Armor Gear

The last add ons we will cover are some very protective, military-grade accessories. The first is the Urban Armor Gear, which is a surface case made for your Pro 4. This case offers ultimate protection from severe potential damages such a dropping it, scraping it, and scratching it. Not only is this an incredible protector, but it also has a built-in storage space for your Surface Pen! You can even stand this case up in not one, not two, but FIVE positions! Not to mention, it does not block any necessary ports from being used. It’s like a dream protector.

Matte Screen Protector

One of the best brands around is the ArmorSuit MilitaryShild. This accessory of theirs helps to keep your screen from scratching and cracking. If you are on the go frequently, have children around, or simply experience wear and tear that can lead to breakage, this screen protector is your best bet. It is military grade, meaning it’s top-notch quality. It is designed for this device specifically and offers incredible clarity through the glass. This protective layer is not like others meaning it is clear as day. This protector allows the device to remain free of common issues like fingerprints, dust, oil, and even screen bubbles. Not to mention, it is a UV protection, meaning the glass will not yellow like others tend to do. Lastly, the brand is so incredible that they allow you to claim free of charge if it does not live up to its expectations.

There is everything from mouses and chargers, to a variety for pens, to cases and screen protectors. There are so many fun and useful accessories out there for you to purchase and enjoy with your Surface Pro 4. We have covered a good variety of them below, but be sure to dig deeper and find ones that aren’t listed here as well!  

Surface Pro 4 Battery Life: Conclusion

Surface Pro 4 Battery Life: Final Thoughts

So, according to the marketing folks, the low-end m3 version of the SP4 should have the best battery life. Unfortunately, it doesn’t. I poked around online looking for other SP4 m3 battery reviews, and it seems that SP4 that was pretty similar to mine. This makes me think that my testing wasn’t flawed and that there’s something wrong with the m3 equipped SP4 when it comes to power management.

Overall, the i5 version seems to do the best job of managing battery life and, as a bonus, it has more computing power than the m3 model. So, if you want the best battery life from your Surface Pro 4, opt for one of the i5 models.

See also:

Manual Disk Cleanup: How To Find Out What Is Taking Up Your Hard Drive Space In Windows 10

Turn Off Hibernation In Windows 10

Core M3 Vs I5 Vs I7 Processors

Manual Disk Cleanup: How To Find Out What Is Taking Up Your Hard Drive Space In Windows 10

Have you deleted old Operating System files, removed local copies of OneDrive, and even emptied the trash on your Surface, only to find your hard drive to still be nearly full? Are you at your wit’s end trying to figure out what is taking up your hard drive space in Windows 10? Or do you simply want to do an excellent manual disk cleanup and optimize storage?

Then you’re not alone.

Many of our readers are reporting that since switching to Windows 10 on their Surface, they seem to be running out of space more often. If you’ve already done all the other things we’ve recommended, like delete old files left over from the upgrade, or set your OneDrive to only keep files, and you still see this problem, don’t worry. Help is on the way to help you optimize storage!

Windows 10 includes several improved settings that allow you to identify what is taking up your hard drive easily, so you can perform thorough manual disk cleanup.

How to Fix “Startup Disk is Almost Full” Error

This error code is an indicator that there is some work to be done freeing up disk space. Don’t let this worry or overwhelm you, though. It is surely not the end of the world. There are relatively simple measures you can take to clear this error and do a whole lot of good for your computer. These suggestions are ways for you to find out how to clear up disk space on your Mac, as well as your Microsoft Windows.

1. Empty Out the Trash

This step may almost seem too simple, but it is one that is pushed to a later date (a later date that never comes) all the time. Make sure to scan through all the items stored up in your trash before emptying it.

2. Compress Your files

Our next step is an organizational suggestion. If you have large files you want to keep, the best thing you can do is make them smaller by compressing them. There is a way to do this on your Windows, or you can install third party tools.

4. Clear Out Your Downloads Folder

Chances are, you will open your downloads folder to find that you do not need the majority of things in there. We tend to download things when we need them and forget to delete them when they are no longer useful. Now is the best time to go through your downloads and remove the excess clutter!

5. Delete Old Photos

Do you know what always plagues my computer? Old photos. For added storage space, get rid of these. From profile pictures to headshots for a professional profile icon, my photo folder gets cluttered quickly. Just like with the downloads, it is likely these photos were only needed the one time. Your computer does not need them taking up precious hard disk space, and slowing it down in the meantime!

5. Remove Duplicate Files!

There are a variety of ways to do this. You can install an extra app or a variety of third-party tools, and then have them attack the source and delete these Windows duplicate files.

Be sure to restart your computer once you try all these steps! The error code will likely not disappear unless you have rebooted the system. You can avoid getting to the point of having to do a mass clearing of data by simply keeping up with deleting unnecessary content.

How to Clean Up Your Computer the Easy Way

Our following topics in this article get deep down into the details of how to clean up your disk system and create more storage space. But before we go into complex ways to do this, let’s first talk about some easy ways you can get more space on your hard drive, regardless of if you are a Windows or Mac user.

  • Get rid of viruses. These little buggers may not be fatal to your computer, but they sure can slow it down a ton! They can potentially hide in the darkest corners of your device without you ever knowing. Virus protection called Microsoft Windows Defender Antivirus can help you get the job done, and there are other softwares like this for Mac users. Antivirus software is a simple download and an easy fix away. Not only does it clean up your system now, but it is a preventative measure for the time to come.
  • Another excellent and straightforward option for cleaning up your hard drive is reinstalling everything on your system. Before getting to this, you will need to backup all your data (this is just an excellent excuse to back up what should have already been backed up ages ago. Yes-  we are looking at you!). Then reinstall everything and enjoy a fresh start.
  • Did you know the most well-known browser is also the worst browser for your computer speeds? Internet Explorer could be the thing that is slowing your system down. Simply uninstalling this browser and choosing a more updated and efficient one will not only speed your hard drive up, but it will also speed up your web searches!
  • The age-old “clear your cookies” suggestion may be the answer for you. Cleaning out your old internet leftovers will speed your device up. Did you know a bit of every single site you click on gets stored on your browser? If you use your PC device as much as I do, this is a crazy thing to imagine! All browsers have a way to clear your cookies, and some give you the option to clear them automatically every time you edit a site. Be careful about deleting passwords, browsing history,  and other things you would rather keep.
  • Have you ever bought a smartphone? You likely started it up, excited to choose all the applications and features you will add to it. But as you scroll the screen, you begin to realize endless apps and software you did not want. It is the same situation with computers. These devices come with software and systems you did not ask for, already stored on your device. Kiss the clutter you do not use goodbye by uninstalling these applications and be on your way! Dropping the baggage that continually runs in the background is a surefire way to speed up your hard drive.
  • Windows updates. These are a full-blown pain to deal with, but they are vital to keeping up with if you want your system to run correctly. These updates seem constant and neverending, but they work wonders on your device. If you are behind on an update, click the update button and don’t delay any longer! These updates protect your system, close up holes in the software, and make everything run smoother and faster.

Manual Disk Cleanup: New Windows 10 Storage Settings Can Help

I want to be clear, I’m not talking about using the built-in running Disk Cleanup utility as was mentioned in our post on getting rid of the Windows old folder after an upgrade. In this article, I’m going to be covering tools that are part of Windows 10 that can help you manually identify what’s on with your Surface’s hard drive and remove files and programs you don’t need, which will free up space.

Windows 8.1 didn’t do a very good job of helping you do this. While it provided some information, it didn’t really help do any actual clean up. Basically, you had to look at the information provided and then go track down the files and programs that needed to be removed on your own.

Windows 10, however, takes storage management to the next level. It helps you free up disk space with options to identify and remove files and programs you don’t want that are taking up disk space on your Surface.

Windows 10 just won’t do it automatically (which is a good thing since you don’t want the software “guessing” which apps you want to keep and which you want to discard).

Manual Disk Cleanup: See What’s Eating Up Your Space

To figure out what’s using up your disk space, start by accessing storage settings. To do so, go to System group in Settings (you can get here from All Settings, or you can search for it manually) and choose Storage from the list.

Here you will see a list of your drives, partitions, and external drives attached to your Surface. Choose the one you want to inspect by clicking on it. Once you do, you will see the Storage usage section where you will find a decent overview of what exactly and how of it much is taking up drive space.

From this overview, you can select and dig deep into each category by tapping or clicking on one of the items. You may notice that System & reserved takes up a big chunk of your space. Select it to see more details. Here, you will find info on system files, virtual memory, hibernation files, and system restore backups.

Selecting the other sections will give you similar details to the displayed categories.

It’s worth mentioning that your Hibernation file is probably going to appear large (3GB – 16GB). If you want to free up that space, you can disable hibernation which will delete the large file from your Surface’s drive. This can’t be removed any other way.

Manual Disk Cleanup: Free Up Space

Next, it’s time to do some cleanup. Go back to Storage usage in your settings (by selecting the back arrow in the upper left) and then click Apps & Games. Here, you can search for an app and sort by name, size, and install date. If you select Sort by size, you will see the apps that take up the most space at the top.

If you don’t need or use a particular app, click on it and select Uninstall, as we have suggested above.

After you’re done removing applications, go back to the Storage usage section and inspect all other items that take up your drive space. Another area that you will want to check is Temporary Files.

Click Temporary files and delete anything you don’t need to get more disk space usage.

Note that you will always see the previous version of the Windows section taking up space (even if your Surface came with Windows 10 pre-installed) because of the Windows 10 updates. This is a large space gobbler, but delete it only if you are sure you are not going to need to remove installed patches.

After you finish with the Temporary Files, System, Apps and Games sections, you can check out any other sections that are listed as consuming a large chunk of disk space to see if there are any old files you don’t want anymore.

Finally, remember to empty your Recycle Bin when you’ve completed your cleanup.

These tutorials should help you get to the bottom of what’s taking up your disk space usage and do a thorough manual disk cleanup.

Save 25% on the Surface Pro 4 bundle!

Hey everyone! I am coming to you with a new promotional deal!

As you guys know that the Surface Pro 5 is on its way soon.

Microsoft Surface Pro dealers are trying to push them out so there will be many deals on the way so try to grab one soon!

There is a bundle package deal for the Microsoft Surface Pro 4.

You would get the Surface Pro 4 with i5, 128GB storage and 4GB of ram.

Furthermore, a typecover would be included for this package deal.

The original price was £958.99 and right now it is £699.00 where you are saving £259.99!

Click here for more information about the deal.

10% off your Microsoft Surface Devices!

Hello everyone! It has been slow for couple of weeks after the release of the upgraded Surface Book and the announcement of the Surface Studio.

While everyone is anticipating for the Surface Studio release, Microsoft decided to give 10% off your purchase of certain Surface Book and Surface Pro 4 models.

Surface Book

The Surface Book i7 Core processor with discrete GPU, 8GB ram, and 256GB of storage will usually run you £1,799.

But right now, it is up for £1,610!

Click here for the deal.

Surface Pro 4

If you short on cash and still would like to buy a more affordable Microsoft Surface device, I would recommend the Surface Pro 4.

The intel core m3 with 4GB ram and 128GB storage is originally £749.

With 10% off it comes to £674!

Click here for the deal.

This deal ends today! Make sure you stop by while supplies last!

May 2016 Firmware Update available soon for Surface Pro 4 models

You can now download the latest update from Microsoft site directly. Alternatively, you can just wait and let Microsoft handle this automatically as they push the updates by stages to the Windows 10 users.

Here’s what the update brings:

  • Surface Camera drivers set improves Windows Hello stability.
  • Intel AVStream Camera 2500 driver update
  • Intel Control Logic driver update
  • Intel CSI2 Host Controller driver update
  • Intel Imaging Signal Processor 2500 driver update
  • Microsoft Camera Front driver update
  • Microsoft Camera Rear driver update
  • Microsoft IR Camera Front driver update

Remember, once installed, you cannot uninstall this. Might be a good idea to wait until Microsoft pushes the update and wait and see how others are experiencing first. 🙂

How to fix scaling issues on older Windows Apps

(The above shows Photoshop CS3 displaying super-tiny buttons due to scaling issues)

Having a high resolution screen is very nice – everything looks much cleaner and more detailed. Well, at least that is the theory and it works well on most modern devices where both the OS and the applications are aware of potentially large(!) variations in pixel densities across many devices. Unfortunately, Windows has a long history and much of it’s applications, even today, are not aware of this. When ultra-high dpi devices (such as the Surface devices) were introduced to the market, things looked pretty ugly – super tiny, overlapping or blurry fonts, buttons, cursors, and other elements. Even the vertical scroll bars were too thin to grab. These are the scaling issues you will be facing on all Windows devices with high dpi screens no matter who built it.

Soon, Microsoft introduced means for developers to handle wider variety of dpi displays within Windows, but the application developers couldn’t catch up quickly. And in many cases, they chose not to. Like many, I own many older copies of applications that are borderline unusable on today’s modern devices. And just to be clear, in most cases, the problem is caused by the apps, NOT Windows. Microsoft can’t help you here with some magical updates.

How do you deal with such situations? Although the following method won’t work with every single legacy apps with scaling issues, it will work for many. Unfortunately, there’s no global button you set to enable this – you must create a manifest file for each app, but once done, you can forget about it.

Here are the steps:

  1. Press “Windows Button” + R.
  2. Type “regedit” then <Enter>. It may ask for permission, if so click on “Yes”.
  3. Navigate to “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE > SOFTWARE > Microsoft > Windows > CurrentVersionSideBySide
  4. Right-click on “SideBySide”, then click on “NEW > DWORD (32bit)”.
  5. Type “PreferExternalManifest” then <Enter>.
  6. Once the new entry is created on the right side of the panel, right click on “PreferExternalManifest“, then “Modify”.
  7. Enter the value 1. Make sure the Base is of type “Decimal”.
  8. Finally, click on “Ok”.

You just told Windows that you want to use external manifest file by creating one new entry in the registry. Now, you must create your own manifest file and place it in the same location as where the EXE file of your app is located.

Download the following file, rename it, then place it in the right directory where your EXE file is located: (Click here to download). Your manifest file MUST be renamed to match your EXE file, then append “.manifest”. So if your EXE file was “Photoshop.exe” then your manifest file should read “Photoshop.exe.manifest”.

Now you can execute your EXE file and hopefully your app will present you with less scaling issues.

What I have found out so far on this workaround is that it doesn’t work in all cases. Out of all apps I have tried so far, about half of them worked (on the Surface Pro 4) and more the up to date the app, more likely that it will work. As an example, I have a very old copy of Adobe Photoshop (version CS3) and this workaround doesn’t work for me at all, both on the Surface Pro 4 and the Dell XPS 15. But for some of the other recent apps, it works great. Some of the more recent Adobe apps have also been reported to be working. In some cases, the scaling works better but overall, it looks a bit more blurry – still a better trade-off.

Here is the link to the original article written by Dan Antonielli.

Since I still want to use the Photoshop CS3, I’m afraid I’ll have to continue to look for other solutions… Oh well.

Stuck Windows Store Download on Surface

Have you ever had a stuck Windows Store download or downloads on your Surface? What I mean by this is that you go to download an app from Windows Store and it acts as if it started the download but it never finishes. It just sits there stuck.

If you have seen this, you know it can be frustrating. When this happens, it seems to persist no matter how many times you close and open the Windows Store or restart your Surface.

If this is happening to you, try these two fixes. Odds are one of them will resolve the problem and “unstick” your app download.

Stuck Windows Store Download: WSReset

The first thing to try is a Windows Store reset command. This command line tool is built into Windows and will usually fix most issues with the Windows Store. It’s pretty easy and works a majority of the time.

To run this task, just follow these steps:

  • Make sure you’re logged in with admin rights.
  • Close the Windows Store (if it’s open).
  • Start a Command Prompt window.
  • Type wsreset in the command window as shown below.

  • Press Enter.

The command will take several seconds to run and will automatically open the Windows Store app on your Surface when it’s finished. If it worked right, the stuck Windows Store download will start actually downloading and installing correctly.

Stuck Windows Store Download: App Cache Reg Key

If the WSReset command didn’t clear up your problem, another thing you can try is to go into the registry editor and look for a bad entry.

Like the wsreset command, it’s pretty easy to do but it will require you to edit your registry and you will need to know what a SID (Security Identifier) looks like. If you’re not comfortable with either of those conditions, you might not want to try this procedure. Seek help from your local geek instead 🙂

Here are the steps, if you’re comfortable with registry edits:

  • Make sure you’re logged in with admin rights.
  • Start the Registry Editor by searching for regedit and selecting the top result.
  • Once the you’re in the Registry Editor, browse to this location: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Appx\AppxAllUserStore
  • Next, Look for an entry the looks like a SID. If it’s not there, close the Registry editor because it is not a registry problem causing your stuck download(s).

  • If it is there, right-click on it and delete it.

  • Close the Registry Editor and restart your Surface.

After your Surface restarts, the download should complete normally.

When you are following the above steps, be very careful to only delete ONLY the registry entry indicated. If you change or delete other entries, you could cause yourself much worse problems than a stuck download.

Tim

April Updates Cause 0x800f0203 Error on Surface Book and Surface Pro 4

Well, Microsoft released the April Updates package a few days ago and, unfortunately, some folks have had problems getting it installed on their Surface Book or SP4.

And when I say problems, I mean that their Surfaces are blue-screening (BSOD) during the install of the update package and displaying 0x800f0203 as the error code…. sigh.

On the plus side, few people are losing any data as a result of the blue screens, it just prevents the April Updates from fully installing.

It’s a shame too because this update supposedly finally fixing the remaining “Sleep of Death” issues where SP4’s and Surface Book’s are draining their battery during sleep (although, early reports on reddit seem to indicate it didn’t work anyway).

However, all is not lost. It turns out the problem is a relatively simple issue with the Windows Driver store which can be fixed.

April Updates Cause 0x800f0203 Error: April Updates

So, before we get into how to fix this problem, let’s look at the details for the firmware/patches included in the April Updates for the Surface Book, SP4, and SP3. That way, you’ll have a better idea how extensive the updates are this month.

Surface Book

  • Microsoft driver update for Surface Embedded Controller Firmware
  • Microsoft driver update for Surface System Aggregator Firmware
  • Microsoft driver update for Surface UEFI
  • Intel Corporation driver update for Intel HD Graphics 520
  • Intel Corporation driver update for Intel Display Audio
  • Intel Corporation driver update for Intel AVStream Camera 2500
  • Intel Corporation driver update for Intel Control Logic
  • Intel Corporation driver update for Intel CSI2 Host Controller
  • Intel driver update for Intel Imaging Signal Processor 2500
  • Intel Corporation driver update for Microsoft Camera Front
  • Intel Corporation driver update for Microsoft Camera Rear
  • Intel Corporation driver update for Microsoft IR Camera Front
  • Microsoft driver update for Surface Camera Windows Hello
  • Microsoft driver update for Surface CoSar
  • Microsoft driver update for Surface Dock Integration
  • Microsoft driver update for Surface Dock Firmware Update
  • Surface Embedded Controller Firmware update (v103.1122.256.0) adjustments to system thermal tuning.
  • Surface System Aggregator Firmware update (v103.1135.257.0) addresses a case where after you resume the Surface Pro 4 device from hibernation and detach the cover, the auto-rotate feature does not work.
  • Surface UEFI update (v104.1121.768.0) addresses screen flickering in Microsoft Edge and other applications. Intel HD Graphics 520 driver update (v20.19.15.4409) improves the overall stability of the graphics driver, resolves screen flickering in several popular applications, and cases where the display does not reinitialize correctly after the device resumes from sleep or hibernation.
  • Intel Display Audio driver update (v8.20.0.865) supports compatibility with the updated HD Graphics Family driver. Surface Camera drivers set (v30.10586.7035.1976) improves Windows Hello stability.
  • Intel AVStream Camera 2500 driver update (v30.10586.7035.1976)
  • Intel Control Logic driver update (v30.10586.7035.1976)
  • Intel CSI2 Host Controller driver update (v30.10586.7035.1976)
  • Intel Imaging Signal Processor 2500 driver update (v30.10586.7035.1976)
  • Microsoft Camera Front driver update (v30.10586.7035.1976)
  • Microsoft Camera Rear driver update (v30.10586.7035.1976)
  • Microsoft IR Camera Front driver update (v30.10586.7035.1976)
  • Surface Camera Windows Hello driver update (v1.0.45.0) improves Windows Hello stability.
  • Surface CoSAR driver update (v1.0.47.0) adds support for additional Wi-Fi signal algorithms to improve signal strength with some 5-GHz access points.
  • Surface Dock Integration driver update (v1.0.6.0) improves stability and compatibility with external monitors and passive video adapters.
  • Surface Dock Firmware Update driver update (v1.2.6.0) improves stability and compatibility with external monitors and passive video adapters.

Surface Pro 4

  • Microsoft driver update for Surface Embedded Controller Firmware
  • Microsoft driver update for Surface System Aggregator Firmware
  • Microsoft driver update for Surface UEFI
  • Intel Corporation driver update for Intel HD Graphics 520
  • Intel Corporation driver update for Intel Display Audio
  • Intel Corporation driver update for Intel AVStream Camera 2500
  • Intel Corporation driver update for Intel Control Logic
  • Intel Corporation driver update for Intel CSI2 Host Controller
  • Intel driver update for Intel Imaging Signal Processor 2500
  • Intel Corporation driver update for Microsoft Camera Front
  • Intel Corporation driver update for Microsoft Camera Rear
  • Intel Corporation driver update for Microsoft IR Camera Front
  • Microsoft driver update for Surface Camera Windows Hello
  • Microsoft driver update for Surface CoSar
  • Microsoft driver update for Surface Dock Integration
  • Microsoft driver update for Surface Dock Firmware Update
  • Surface Embedded Controller Firmware update (v103.1122.256.0) adjustments to system thermal tuning.
  • Surface System Aggregator Firmware update (v103.1135.257.0) addresses a case where after you resume the Surface Pro 4 device from hibernation and detach the cover, the auto-rotate feature does not work.
  • Surface UEFI update (v104.1121.768.0) addresses screen flickering in Microsoft Edge and other applications. Intel HD Graphics 520 driver update (v20.19.15.4409) improves the overall stability of the graphics driver, resolves screen flickering in several popular applications, and cases where the display does not reinitialize correctly after the device resumes from sleep or hibernation.
  • Intel Display Audio driver update (v8.20.0.865) supports compatibility with the updated HD Graphics Family driver.
  • Surface Camera drivers set (v30.10586.7035.1976) improves Windows Hello stability.
  • Intel AVStream Camera 2500 driver update (v30.10586.7035.1976)
  • Intel Control Logic driver update (v30.10586.7035.1976)
  • Intel CSI2 Host Controller driver update (v30.10586.7035.1976)
  • Intel Imaging Signal Processor 2500 driver update (v30.10586.7035.1976)
  • Microsoft Camera Front driver update (v30.10586.7035.1976)
  • Microsoft Camera Rear driver update (v30.10586.7035.1976)
  • Microsoft IR Camera Front driver update (v30.10586.7035.1976)
  • Surface Camera Windows Hello driver update (v1.0.45.0) improves Windows Hello stability.
  • Surface CoSAR driver update (v1.0.47.0) adds support for additional Wi-Fi signal algorithms to improve signal strength with some 5-GHz access points.
  • Surface Dock Integration driver update (v1.0.6.0) improves stability and compatibility with external monitors and passive video adapters.
  • Surface Dock Firmware Update driver update (v1.2.6.0) improves stability and compatibility with external monitors and passive video adapters.

Surface Pro 3

Microsoft’s slightly older Surface Pro model also got a smaller set of updates. All of the updates were related to Surface Dock.

  • Microsoft driver update for Surface Dock Firmware Update
  • Microsoft driver update for Surface Dock Integration
  • Surface Dock Integration driver update (v1.0.6.0) improves stability and compatibility with external monitors and passive video adapters.
  • Surface Dock Firmware Update (v.1.2.6.0) improves stability and compatibility with external monitors and passive video adapters.

As you can see, the Surface Book and SP4 both got a huge list of updates so, it might not be so surprising that some folks have seen errors with the install of the update package.

April Updates Cause 0x800f0203 Error: How To Fix It

OK, now that you know how many updates were supposed to be installed, let’s talk about preventing the BSOD, so that you can get all of your updates installed. To do so, you’ll need a little bit of computer knowledge and the willingness to edit some files. If you have those qualities, you can probably resolve the problem(s) and get the updates installed correctly within a few minutes.

If you don’t feel comfortable tracking down and altering a few text files, you might want to simply alter your Windows Update settings to prevent the updates from trying to install for a while. Microsoft will undoubtedly issue an updated package (no pun) to resolve the problems causing the BSODs, as soon as possible.

Follow these steps to fix the BSOD issues:

  • Login with admin rights.
  • Backup your data (just in case).
  • Open the setupapi.dev.log logfile. It will be located in the c:\windows\inf folder.
  • Find the error “Failed to install device instance” from your latest retry. The entries are time stamped.
  • Above this error it will say which file caused the problem. The file will always have a .INF extension. As an example, let’s say it’s the “oem90.inf” that is causing the problem (in addition, it seems to be the most common file causing the issues).
  • Run “pnputil -d <Problem File Name>” from an elevated command prompt. In this example, it would be “pnputil -d oem90.inf” (no quotes).
  • Manually re-run windows update and the update should run correctly.

If it does not, repeat this process because it’s possible that you have multiple files within the updates that need “fixing” in the driver store. That said, if you have to fix more than 3 files, you might be better off resetting your Surface as there is probably a bigger problem at play.

In the interest of credit where credit is due, this reddit thread is where I first learned about the 0x800f0203 BSOD problem and the potential fix for it.

Tim

Is Chrome Responsible For Your Surface Pro 4 Battery Drain Problem?

If you’re still experiencing Surface Book or Surface Pro 4 battery drain issues even after installing all of the latest fixes – including the one from February 2016 that’s supposed to fix this problem – it’s possible that an application is at fault.

Many people have pegged Google Chrome for this behavior for a long time, despite long-standing promises from Google to address the problem.

In fact, it was a recent Reddit thread where someone reported seeing a 3-5% drain drop to just 1% when he closed Chrome prior to sleeping his Surface for a 30 minute period that gave me the idea for this post.

So, if you’re using Chrome (many people are) and you’re still finding your Surface’s battery drained after it sleeps overnight, this article may help you prevent undue battery drain on your Surface.

Surface Pro 4 Battery Drain: “Kill Chrome” Sleep Script

Remembering to close Chrome before sleeping your Surface, is at best, an annoyance. But, with a little bit of setup, you can configure Windows to automatically close it for you just before it goes to sleep.

In order to do this, we’ll be using use Task Scheduler to trigger a simple command built into Windows (taskkill) to kill the Chrome executable before the Surface goes to sleep.

NOTE: Just be really careful if you decide to try this. If you make a mistake or accidentally change an existing scheduled task, you could mess up Windows 10 on your Surface. So, as usual, try this at your own risk, folks.

  • Make sure you’re logged in with Admin rights.
  • Search for Task Scheduler and open it from the results.
  • For easy organization, I recommend you make a new folder for the scheduled task. To do so, highlight the Task Scheduler Library folder on the left and select New Folder. name the new folder User.

  • Next, go into the User folder then select Create Task.

  • A Create Task window will appear. In the General tab, name the task “Kill Chrome” then set the Configure For pull down to Windows 10. You can give it a description, if you want.

  • Select the Triggers tab then the New button.

  • Change the Begin the task: option to “On an event”. Next, make the following selections:
    • Log: System
    • Source: Kernel-Power
    • Event ID: 506
  • Ensure the Enabled check box is checked then select OK.

  • Now select the Actions tab then select the New button.

  • Make sure the Action selection is set to Start a Program (default) then enter “taskkill” in the Program/script field (no quotes). In the Add arguments (Optional) field, enter “/F /IM chrome.exe /T” (no quotes) then select OK.

  • Select the Conditions tab and clear (uncheck) the Start the task only if the computer is on AC power check box.

  • Finally, select OK.
  • Test the script by opening Chrome then put your Surface to sleep (Start Button, Power, Sleep). If Chrome is missing when you wake it back up, it’s working fine. If the Chrome window is still there, double-check the settings above.

Now when your Surface goes to sleep (or hibernate) this scheduled task will automatically kill Chrome. As a side effect, Chrome will detect that it was shutdown unexpectedly so it will offer to reopen your tabs for you once you start it again. This happy accident makes it work particularly well with this script because you can just click a single button to get all of your tabs back after it wakes up from Sleep.

If Chrome is the cause of your battery drain, this should resolve the problem and stretch your Surface’s battery life.

Surface Pro 4 Battery Drain: Modifying The Script

If you’re a little more technically inclined, you are probably wondering if you can modify the script to do other things just before your Surface goes to sleep.

The answer is: yes. All you really have to do is change the triggered action.

If you’re planning on modifying this method to kill other or multiple programs or processes, you’ll need a little bit of additional information:

  • You can trigger multiple actions by simply selecting “New” from the Actions tab and adding more actions to run when the task is triggered.
  • You can also disable devices using this method. For example, this command line “netsh interface set interface Wi-Fi disabled” will deactivate the Wi-Fi adapter in your Surface just before it goes to sleep.
  • If you’re killing a process or device that you want to automatically reactivate when your Surface wakes from sleep (like if you disabled your WiFi adapter) the event ID you’ll need to trigger on is 507.

If the above information doesn’t make sense to you, then don’t try to modify or add anything to the script. You may accidentally really mess up your Surface and no one wants that. You’ve been warned 🙂

Tim

Getting A New Surface? – To Do Checklist

I recently had to replace my “tried but true” Surface Pro 3 with a replacement Surface Pro 3 (yellow-stripe issue) and realized that there are some things that are “must-dos” when switching over to a new device, no matter what the reason for the exchange. So, I complied the steps I took into a list to make it easier for you, if and when you are doing the same (so bookmark this somewhere).

Below is a checklist of things to do before and during the upgrade. These will help you if you are buying a new Surface tablet, exchanging an existing Surface, or just upgrading/rebuilding to Windows 10 on your device with a clean install.

Checklist to replace (new Surface) or rebuild your current Surface:

Step 1: Backup your stuff on the old device (or before you rebuild).

  • Check folders on local drive – for documents, pictures, videos, desktop files or anything else you may saved but don’t want to lose.
  • Bookmarks – check all of your web browsers if you use more than one and backup all of your bookmarks to a USB drive or OneDrive.
  • Applications – create a list of what you have installed on your current device to make sure you are able to reinstall it on your new one. Find all of your software installers  AND licenses before you give up your old device!
  • Passwords – make sure you know or have your passwords in a safe place. If you don’t, go in to the apps and change them to something you know and make a list, see our Passpack Password Manager post.
  • Email accounts – make sure you have all login information AND setup instructions before you rebuild or replace your Surface. Nothing worse than having those saved on your old device and then not knowing how to get it all working on your new one.

Step 2: Setup your new device.

If you can, have the devices side-by-side to help you mirror the setup on the new device.

  • Install ALL updates first (check twice).
  • Verify your identity on this PC – this is a relatively new thing with Microsoft but you will want to do this to verify your identity on the new device, it will help you with MS licenses later.
  • Review the new tips – wondering what Microsoft changed with the latest patches? Check out Microsoft’s tips for Windows 10 (you can access them by swiping from the right on a newly loaded device).
  • Secure your device – follow our instructions in the Surface Security Guide to make sure your device is secure BEFORE you put all of your data on it.
    1. Run Windows Defender Scan – yes, you should do this. In the past, I received other computers that came with viruses pre-installed, so I always do this now with all new devices.
    2. Protect Your New Device – by installing security apps, like VyprVPN, Malwarebytes, anti-virus, etc.
  • Setup email – configure your email accounts, see our Email Basics Guide.
    1. Set up each email account.
    2. Set up your signature for each account.

  • Configure your web browsers – set up Edge and/or install your favorite browser(s).
    1. Import the bookmarks– that you saved from your old machine.
    2. Configure Cortana – see Cortana On Surface Tablets.
    3. Set your Homepage on your favorite browser(s).
    4. Set up OneDrive – keep in mind that the sync may take a LONG time and eat up your WiFi; so, you may want to save this for a time that you do not need to use your network or device – like at night before bed.
      1. You can also map the OneDrive instead – this is much easier and is what I did.
  • Clean up your Start Menu – Windows 10 does a poor job of this for you.
    1. Pin and organize apps you use frequently.
    2. Re-size the tiles to your liking.
    3. Get rid of all the installed by default junk you don’t want.
  • Reinstall all remaining applications you need.
    1. Office – if you already have a subscription, be sure to enable it on your new Surface device.
    2. Games – if you downloaded them from the MS Apps store, the shortcuts will transfer but otherwise you have to reinstall.
    3. Apps – Work apps, play apps, and whatever else you need.
  • Move all your important files back to the new device and organize them the way you like.

Step 3: Wipe your old device.

Now that your new device is configured, it’s time to wipe your old device for exchange, sale, or disposal.

  • Double-Check you have everything off of your old device. Take your time, once it’s wiped, it’s too late.
  • Reset your old device and make sure you wipe all of your files before exchanging or selling it, see our post What Should I Do Before Selling A Surface.

At this point, assuming you followed along, you are pretty much done with the transition to a new Surface tablet.

Basically, you now just have to go to your favorite websites and rebuild the history and cookies, let the browser save the passwords (if you wish), and you are up and running. As I said in the beginning, it greatly helps if you have your old device side-by-side with the new one to duplicate the setup but this list should help either way.

Cheers!