Deciphering Surface updates: What users got and when

As January comes to a close, here's another attempt at making sense of the firmware updates Microsoft delivered this month for ARM- and Intel-based Surfaces.

January 2014 wasn't the best month for Microsoft Surface users trying to make sense of which updates arrived for their devices.

Patch Tuesday came and went without any word on expected firmware updates. Shortly thereafter, various updates -- some marked as firmware and some labeled as "hardware" updates or as more mundane reliability and performance fixes -- began arriving via Windows Update on users' devices.

I've heard from Surface Pro 2 users who've been plagued by what seems to be the same firmware update being delivered to their machines repeatedly, despite the fact that they seem to have successfully updated with the latest firmware release. (This may be a Windows Update problem, rather than a Surface Pro 2 problem, I'm hearing.) And even though Microsoft's Surface Update History Page claimed until some time in the past few days that there was no Surface RT firmware update this month, those of us with the original ARM-based Surface know we did get a firmware update.

So let's go back to the drawing board.

As of Tuesday, here's what Microsoft's Surface Update History pages are now indicating that the company delivered this month to its various Surface users:

Surface Pro 2 (running Windows 8.1)
Updated UEFI firmware, version 2.04.0350, to resolve behavior when the Surface failed to enter sleep while idle, negatively impacting battery life. Yes, this is the fix to the faulty December 2013 firmware update. And yes, those who managed to apply the faulty December firmware update received a separate firmware update that supposedly also was a replacement for the faulty December update.

I've asked Microsoft execs about the "hardware" update some Surface Pro 2 users have received and have yet to hear back on what that is.

Surface Pro (running Windows 8.1)
January 15 updates: Surface Type Cover 2 and Touch Cover 2 firmware updates for improving touchpad performance and product stability. Also updated Wi-Fi and Bluetooth driver version 14.69.24049.160 now supports additional Miracast functionality and increased Wi-Fi stability.

Surface Pro (running Windows 8.0)
January 14 updates: Surface Type Cover 2 and Touch Cover 2 firmware updates for improving touchpad performance and overall product stability.

Surface 2 (running Windows 8.1)/> January 6 update: Resolves issue with BitLocker recovery key prompt when you restart your Surface 2.

Surface RT (running Windows 8.1)
Surface Type Cover 2 and Touch Cover 2 firmware updates for improving touchpad performance and overall product stability.

Surface RT (running Windows 8.0)
No product updates released.

Updating four devices running several different versions of Windows 8 is not trivial. (Nor is trying to keep up with all the questions from Surface users about which updates they're getting and why.) But with even more Surfi supposedly coming -- an LTE-friendly Surface 2, plus the rumored Surface Mini -- it's key that Microsoft make frequent, regular updates a Surface selling point, not a hindrance.

Any more questions about past, present, or possible future Surface updates? Share them below and I'll try to see if I can get more info.

This story originally appeared as "Microsoft January Surface firmware updates revisited: What users got and when" on ZDNet.

About the author

    Mary Jo Foley has been a tech journalist for almost 30 years. She is editor of ZDNet's "All About Microsoft" blog. She authored "Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft Plans to Stay Relevant in the Post-Gates Era" and co-hosts the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT Network.


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