Another undocumented Surface Pro update — Dynamic Platform and Thermal Framework

With accusations swirling from Consumer Reports and lame remonstrations from Microsoft, Surface Pro 2017 users got another set of undocumented driver updates over the weekend.

Surface Pro 2017 users get more undocumented driver updates

If you own a Surface Pro 2017, you may have seen three or more new, completely undocumented driver updates come down the Automatic Update chute over the weekend. They’re called “Intel driver update for Intel(r) Dynamic Platform and Thermal Framework Generic Participant,” “Power Participant,” “Processor Participant” and, for some, “Manager.”

The timing couldn’t be worse, as Microsoft tries to counter the impression, championed by Consumer Reports, that Surface machines can no longer be “Recommended” to laptop buyers.

dynamic platform driver patches Barb Bowman

I first heard about the new drivers on Saturday afternoon — a very odd time to see a new driver. Apparently, the three or four new drivers were sent to some Surface Pro machines that aren’t actively blocking Windows Automatic Updates. Surface firmware and driver updates are pushed out via Windows Automatic Update, so WU served as the infection vector again this time.

I’m told — but Microsoft hasn’t yet confirmed — that these drivers are indeed legitimate and that the documentation for them will be forthcoming. At some point. We've heard that one before.

An anonymous poster on AskWoody pointed me to a 2-year-old AnadTech article that describes drivers with the same names being released for Windows 8.1. The “Dynamic Platform and Thermal Framework” drivers throttle (slow down) processors when they get too hot. Apparently, Surface Pro 2017 machines are frying their brains, and these drivers can cool them off. At least, maybe they will. With no documentation, we're just connecting some very obscure dots.

It’s all sadly reminiscent of the undocumented Surface drivers pushed out on Aug. 1. That undocumented camera driver, you may recall, broke Windows Hello on Surface Pro 4. It took Microsoft three days to push out a new driver that restored Windows Hello. The second camera driver was documented. Imagine that.

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Microsoft counters Consumer Reports rating

It’s astounding that these drivers slipped out, without notice or description, while Microsoft was readying a report that countered last week’s widely publicized Consumer Reports move to drop its “Recommended” imprimatur from Surface machines.

According to Paul Thurrott, who says he has seen an internal memo on the topic, the Microsoft counterattack includes gems from Surface honcho Panos Panay such as these:

“It’s important for us to always learn more from our customers and how they view their ownership journey with our products. … Feedback like this [from Consumer Reports] stings, but pushes us to obsess more about our customers.”

“We take quality seriously … conducting rigorous reliability testing during development to forecast failure and return rates, which are then continually viewed against [real world data] post-launch. We also regularly review other metrics to understand the experience we are providing to our customers and our findings show our products are in a much healthier place than noted by Consumer Reports.”

“[We] have put together a comprehensive set of data that reflects the strength of our quality and our customer sentiment, and will be working with partner organizations, including marketing, retail, and sales, to share that information broadly”

Michael Allison, in a tremendous response to Paul’s leaked memo, said in mspoweruser:

If one were to take the Redmond line, the Surface line is immensely satisfying to customers, Intel was to blame for the Surface Pro 4 and Book issues, and that the subsequent products were better than the last one (as if they were expected to get worse), etcetera. Microsoft will be working with marketing and other departments to share this information with consumers (So you can expect to see certain Microsoft news blogs touting the firm’s numbers in the coming weeks), and mount a full-fledged defence of the Surface…

As much as I love Surface, the firm is doing the wrong thing here. Now that Surface sales are threatened by Consumer Reports pulling their recommendation, Microsoft is stepping in. When Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3, 4, Book and Pro 2017 users were suffering from battery problems, reliability issues, hibernation issues, hot bagging, all this passion for their customers was nowhere to be seen.

Now we’re seeing it again. All this newfound passion for Surface customers didn’t get through to the folks pushing out driver updates. It backfired two weeks ago. Let’s see what happens this time.

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