Surface Pro 3 Battery FAQ for the Surface Pro Embedded Controller Firmware update

Here are answers to some common questions about the Surface Pro 3 battery after the recent firmware updates.

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

  1. Go to Start and select Settings > Update & security > Windows Update.

  2. Select Check for updates.

  3. Install System Firmware Update - 11/7/2016 (or later), and then select Restart now. Do not shut down.

  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.

  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

We’ve gathered additional details about which customers were affected and are committed to making sure that the people who experienced this issue are taken care of. We have reached out to those customers and all refunds were processed in October 2016.

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

  1. Tap and hold Start, and then select Device Manager.

  2. Expand Firmware, and then select Surface Pro Embedded Controller Firmware.

  3. Select Action, and then select Properties.

  4. Select the Driver tab.

  5. Confirm that the driver version is 38.11.50.0 (or later).

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.

For the most reliable operation of your Surface Pro 3, we recommend you install the latest update. This version replaces Surface Pro Embedded Controller Firmware driver version 38.10.90.0, released on 8/29/2016.

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

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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