Microsoft Surface Book Absolutely Sucks

I’m posting this from a Surface Book. I really want to love this machine, but it doesn’t like me. I can say without exaggeration that it has crashed hard more times since I bought it in Early Nov. ’15 than all of the previous machines I’ve own since 2000, and one of those was a hacked apart HP TC1100 2-in-1 tablet that I modified for passive cooling and to use a compact flash-based IDE drive instead of a mechanical one. It crashed a lot. That was nothing compared to Surface Book.

My state-of-the-art Surface Book came right out of the box in terrible shape. Within seconds of starting up it froze hard. In the first hour it had frozen or blue screened over and over at 5 or 10 minute intervals. I considered driving it back to the Microsoft store at the Mall of America where I’d obtained it and just waiting for v2.0, because clearly Microsoft didn’t get it. Luckily it stayed up long enough to survive a round of Windows updates and a firmware patch that appeared to stabilize it.

The I detached the tablet. It would only detach and reattach without crashing about 50% of the time until the next firmware update came out, so I was pretty careful with it until about late Dec. ’15.

Sleep was also unusable for the first four months I had it. The machine would only wake back up from sleep about 20% of the time. The rest of the time it would freeze or reboot. Needless to say I disabled sleep immediately and just used hibernate, which has only failed me on two occasions (within the last week though, unfortunately, so trending back into the bad direction). Every time Microsoft issued a firmware update I would edit the registry to turn connected sleep back on and try it out, and every time it would shit the bed, so until the massive intel/msft driver and firmware update in Feb. ’16 update where they promised sleep was fixed I left it disabled. To their credit it is actually fixed now, but yeah, it took at least 4 months, during which time the internet was abuzz with what a steaming pile of crap these machines are.

After 5 months of firmware updates the machine is finally working great except for one thing: The spendy docking station is absolute crap for multiple monitors. I play a constant game of switching back and forth between PC Screen Only and Extend on the Win-P screen to try to tease it to display on more than one monitor. I’ve read every top search entry that describes this problem. Soooo many suggestions. I’ve tried active cables, I’m using supported, paired HP monitors both at home and work, still it refuses to connect nearly 100% of the time:

  • If the machine wakes from sleep connected to the dock it often stops displaying on external monitors until you play the Win-P switching game.
  • If it’s been asleep for a long time and I connect to the dock, it often won’t acknowledge external monitors at all, as in, when I hit Win-P it doesn’t even flash like it’s trying to display, it’s like Windows forgot about monitor switching altogether.
    • Unplug either monitor from the dock and put it directly into the machine, BAM! it works instantly.
    • Plug it back into the dock after having used a monitor on the internal DP port and suddenly Windows and Dock remember what multiple monitors are again.
    • Hibernate and wake the machine when it’s in this state while connected to the dock and it wakes up displaying correctly on all three. WTF?

That last one has been my go-to move. If it doesn’t display immediately when I connect to the dock (i.e. 99+% of the time) I hibernate it, wait for it to be done, and wake it back up. So much easier than dealing with trying to Win-P back and forth until it works or play with cables, but a totally inconvenient and unintuitive way to be. I’m considering getting rid of the doc and using an old USB3 multi-monitor dock I have. Tragicomically, that old POS can power external monitors 100% of the time when attached to a USB3 port on the surface dock. WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?

It would be inconvenient to use two cords (the SB power cord and a USB cable), but if I could get my $200 back maybe I would feel better about having wasted so much time playing with the stupid surface dock.

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One Response to Microsoft Surface Book Absolutely Sucks

  1. Pingback: Surface Book Update 4-19-16: Still Sucks | Jesse's Blog

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