Surface Pro 4 screen shake/dead Type Cover problems fall on deaf ears

Microsoft hasn’t yet acknowledged well-documented problems with the Surface Pro 4, much less offered a solution. SP4 owners are angry, they're getting gouged, and there's a lot of bad 'official' advice.

Surface Pro 4 shaky screen/dead Type Cover problems fall on deaf ears

Microsoft’s ongoing record of shoddy response to Surface Pro problems continues unabated. This time, the Surface Pro 4 (born October 2015, superseded June 2017) takes the limelight: Complaints about shaky screens and dead Type Covers abound.

We’re seeing a repeat of the all-too-familiar pattern of Surface denial, aided and abetted by clueless, paid, outsourced support personnel on the Microsoft Answers forum.

Surface Pro 4 shaky screen

If you haven’t yet seen the shaky screen problem, look at this YouTube video submitted by DimkaSuperStaR 18 months ago. The Microsoft Answers forum has been flooded with complaints about the problem. I wrote about it six months ago and again three months ago.

When a new post appeared on the subject just last week, what was Microsoft’s response?

The screen issue that you are experiencing might be software-related, and could be addressed by installing all the latest Firmware and drivers on your device.


Thanks for bringing this to our attention. Our Engineers are looking into this and working hard to get this resolved as soon as possible. Please keep checking Windows Update often for the fix.

The exasperated original poster ended with this conclusion:

There is no fix for this. Please accept your responsibilities. I am being asked for £400 for a replacement after only 18 months of use from this item. Clearly it is not "fit for purpose" under UK / EU law. I would like a replacement laptop please and not be charged for your mistakes. Thank you...

Now I am not only being asked to pay £400 for a replacement but someone else rang to tell me to "reimage" my device for which I now have to go and buy an 8GB USB stick and follow instructions in an email which will no doubt take hours. As I am not a computer expert this is appalling advice from Microsoft and no doubt I will be forced to take the laptop to a repair shop at even more expense. Why would @microsoft ask customers to perform reimaging to clear a hardware issue?

@microsoft are not taking responsibility because they care about money more than people (of course). I will take them to court over this because unethical behaviour must be publicized and will help to encourage them to change their actions. Customers must vote with their feet and switch to other providers. @microsoft — when will you learn to be brave and to be honest with your customers to preserve their loyalty and your profits?

The problem is so clearcut and pervasive that an enterprising Surface Pro 4 owner posted a form (on Google Docs, of course) asking for input about the shaky screen problem from individual SP4 owners. The response — 179 responders, at this writing — is telling. Half (50.4 percent) say they didn’t contact Microsoft support — they just put up with it. Nearly all (93.9 percent) report that the issue hasn’t been resolved.

There’s a highly uncomplimentary (and decidedly NSFW) thread on the topic on Reddit.

Is there a solution to the shaky screen problem? I don’t know, and it looks like Microsoft doesn’t know, either. There are reports that it goes away, sometimes, randomly, only to reappear all too frequently. This much I know for sure: Firmware, drivers and a system refresh don’t fix the problem. Anyone who tells you that they work clearly doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

Dyspeptic Type Covers

I wrote about this problem in August — and it seems to be a common problem with both the Surface Pro 3 and Surface Pro 4. Poster S2tink on AskWoody echoes a common complaint:

I am having the same issue with my surface pro 3 type cover. One day it worked perfectly (about a week and a half ago, now). I went through all of the suggested trouble shooting suggestions. I finally called Microsoft a week ago for [support]. I have completely wiped my surface, done a hard reset, done a recovery from usb drive, updated AGAIN to 1703 et al, and the type cover STILL isn’t being recognized, and no filter showing up in device manager. My husband has a surface as well, with an identical type cover. I attached mine to his surface, and it works perfectly.

An anonymous poster points to this analysis from Jonny Lin at Driver Easy, saying the second (of four) fixes mentioned there worked for her.

The official Microsoft Answers forum, once again, overflows with complaints. CDLeePatrick posted a tale of woe on July 22 and the complaint line is now 24 pages long. MVP Barb Bowman puts it this way:

I'm a MVP/Community Moderator and do NOT work for Microsoft. If I had the power to do so, I'd replace tablets for everyone with a SP3 that has a non working battery (myself included) and every SP4 with a dead keyboard and/or shaking screen syndrome. I email a contact at Microsoft EVERY.SINGLE.DAY about these type cover issues on SP4 (and a few on SP3). All I ever got back was the work around I posted which was supposed to be specific to non US typecovers.

If I had a magic wand, I'd use it for sure. But I don't. (And Microsoft wonders what caused people to give bad ratings to Consumer Reports.)

I, too, have a Surface Pro 3 with a completely dead battery. It lasted three years.

Bowman offers two different workarounds in that Answers thread. The first is to disable the Type Cover port in the UEFI BIOS. The second is an eight-step process that involves removing drivers, running a clean reboot, then re-installing the drivers. Neither approach works in all cases.

Will Microsoft fix the problems? Heaven knows. But you can save yourself a lot of headache by ignoring the bad advice. And if you’re thinking about shelling out £400 for a replacement, consider Microsoft’s track record.

Join me in shaking an angry fist at the clouds on the AskWoody Lounge.

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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