Microsoft posts FAQ about the Surface Pro 3 battery fix, explains with “faulty fuel gauge” metaphor

Surface-Pro-4-image-3 (Small)

Microsoft has finally posted a fix for the Surface 3 battery life woes, and have also posted a FAQ explaining how the issue occurred.

Explaining that the issue was due to the full charge capacity of the battery being misreported to the operating system and device firmware, they said this caused the system to no longer charges the battery to its full actual capacity.

Microsoft explained that this was like a fuel gauge in a car, where the car looks to the fuel gauge to determine how much to fill the tank. In this case, if the fuel gauge isn’t working right, the car would also not be able to fill the tank—even though the tank is fine.

They confirmed that while only a limited number of Surface Pro 3 devices were affected, all Surface Pro 3 users should install it, and that if Windows Update was not working, the fix could be downloaded separately.

They also confirmed that the battery itself was fine, and that normal capacity should be restored by the fix.

Read the full FAQ below:

Surface Pro 3 Battery FAQ for the 8/29/2016 System Firmware Update

Here are answers to some common questions about the Surface Pro 3 battery Symptoms

A limited number of Surface Pro 3 owners find that their battery can no longer hold a charge, and it looks like the battery capacity has diminished. With the power plugged in, the Surface Pro 3 is fine, but the battery will run out quickly once it’s not being charged.

Cause

On a limited number of Surface Pro 3 devices, an error condition occurs that causes the full charge capacity of the battery to be misreported to the operating system and device firmware. When this condition occurs, the system no longer charges the battery to its full actual capacity, and the Surface is unable to function on battery power.

Think of this like a fuel gauge in a car, where the car looks to the fuel gauge to determine how much to fill the tank. In this case, if the fuel gauge isn’t working right, the car would also not be able to fill the tank—even though the tank is fine.

Resolution

An update is now available to correct this issue. This update corrects the logic in the firmware component that functions as the “fuel gauge” for the Surface Pro 3 battery, so that the actual battery capacity on devices with this particular part is accurately reported. This allows the Surface to once again leverage the maximum charge capacity of the battery.

Once this fix is applied to a Surface Pro 3, the reported full charge capacity will self-correct over the next several charge and discharge cycles. Surface Pro 3 devices that previously experienced the problem can now operate on battery power, and the issue won’t occur on devices that haven’t experienced the issue.

How to get the update

Things to check first

Before you begin, make sure your Surface Pro 3 is plugged directly into AC power using the standard AC power adapter. Do not use the Surface Docking Station. Disconnect any USB devices or external monitors, and check that Windows shows a 40% charge or greater when you hover over the icon in the taskbar.

Install the latest Surface updates

Step 1: On Windows 10, go to Start and select Settings > Update & security > Windows Update.
Step 2: Select Check for updates.
Step 3: Install System Firmware Update – 8/29/2016, and then select Restart now. Do not shut down.
Step 4: After your Surface restarts, you’ll see a black screen with the Surface logo and the message that a system firmware update is being applied. The update may take several minutes to complete.
Important
Do not disconnect from AC power while the system firmware update is being applied.
Step 5: After the update has been applied, your Surface will boot back into Windows. At this point, you’ll need to do another restart for the new battery logic to take effect.

Frequently asked questions

 I previously paid for an out-of-warranty exchange for this issue. Can I get a refund?

We’re currently working to gather additional details about which customers were affected. If we find that your device was one that could have been fixed, we’ll reach out to you within 30 days with more information. We’re committed to making sure that people who experienced this issue are taken care of.

How can I confirm the update has installed?

You can view this information using the Windows Device Manager. To do this:

Step 1: Tap and hold Start, and then select Device Manager.
Step 2: Expand Firmware, and then select Surface Pro Embedded Controller Firmware.
Step 3: Select Action, and then select Properties.
Step 4: Select the Driver tab.
Step 5: Confirm that the driver version is 38.10.90.0.

If you don’t see this driver version listed, please view our Trouble installing Surface and Windows updates article for help with installing the update.

I’m unable to use Windows Update, or Windows Update isn’t showing that I have an update available. How can I get this update for my device?

You can Download Surface Pro 3 updates from the official Microsoft Download Center, including this fix.

My Surface Pro 3 won’t boot on AC power for me to install the update. What should I do?

Ensure that you’re directly connected to AC power. Don’t use the Surface Pro 3 Docking Station. Also make sure that you don’t have any USB peripherals or external monitors plugged into the device.

Make sure that the light on the tip of the power supply where it connects to the Surface Pro 3 is lit and not blinking. If the light isn’t on or is blinking, there may be a problem with your power supply. If the light is on but the device won’t boot, try reversing the direction of the connector to the device to ensure proper contact.

You can also visit a nearby Microsoft store location and ask a Microsoft Answer Desk technician for assistance in powering the device and applying this update.

I just installed the update on my affected Surface Pro 3. What should I expect now?

After you install the update and restart your Surface Pro 3 a second time, you’ll immediately be able to start using it on battery again. Over the next five charge and discharge cycles, the gauge will stabilize as it relearns the actual battery capacity in your Surface Pro 3.

My Surface Pro 3 hasn’t had this problem. Do I need this update?

For the most reliable operation of your Surface Pro 3, we recommend you install this update. The update is offered to and installed on all Surface Pro 3 devices. The new battery driver logic will only take effect on the limited number of Surface Pro 3 devices impacted by this issue.

Are other Surface devices affected?

Only a limited number of Surface Pro 3 devices were impacted by this issue. Other Surface devices shouldn’t experience it.

Could this issue have caused any damage to the batteries in my Surface Pro 3?

No. The batteries in your Surface Pro 3 weren’t damaged in any way. The battery gauge incorrectly reported the battery capacity even though the batteries themselves were capable of holding a larger charge.

You can grab the latest update by heading over to Settings > Update & Security.

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