If you have a Surface Pen, and you installed the latest upgrade to Windows 10 – the Fall Creators Update, version 1709 – you may be experiencing problems with your pen.
No, the battery doesn’t need replacing.
No, your pen isn’t wearing out.
Instead, it looks like there’s a bug in 1709 that makes “pinch to zoom” fail – or simply disables the pen as a whole.
Poster GabrielleRice describes the worst problem on the Microsoft Answers Forum writes:
I have a Surface Pro 4, for which I've had a Surface Pen. My pen, however, has been malfunctioning. In essence, it stops writing. I can still use the buttons and my screen responds to touch, my keyboard still works, etc., but my pen simply will not write. Most puzzling, this problem comes and goes seemingly at random. The pen will be completely nonfunctional for hours at a time and then, without warning, will write flawlessly again. I've tried every troubleshooting tip to no avail, and have even replaced the battery. Replacing the battery helped briefly, but the problem has persisted. I went back again and tried the troubleshooting tips, but they haven't stuck. As someone who bought this tablet to help me with my digital art, it's really unhelpful to have a malfunctioning pen.
Before you dismiss this, thinking that it’s a small problem which only ensnares a “small number” of users, take a look at Microsoft’s own Answers Forum.
- Oct. 22: Surface Pro 4 Pen not working after Fall Creator update installed
- Oct. 23: Surface Pen not working
- Oct. 27: surface pro pen and creator update
- Oct. 27: Surface pen wont write
- Oct. 29: Surface Pro Pen
- Oct. 29: Surfacebook Pen stops Working after Sleep
- Oct. 30: surface pro pen is not working after update windows 10
- Nov. 2: Surface Pen not working after Fall creators update on Surface book
- Nov. 2: surface book has to reboot after i turn it on for pen to work after creator update
The litany of complaints on Reddit has reached an NSFW crescendo:
- Oct. 28: Surface Pen Constantly not working
- Oct. 29: Touch and Pen not working properly after Creators Update
… and many more.
There’s even a Feedback Hub post on the problem, where a Microsoft rep responds, “We’ve got it.” (The Feedback Hub link only works if you’re using Windows 10.)
If Microsoft’s “got it,” then why are we seeing responses like this from a Microsoft employee (or a bot pretending to be a Microsoft employee)?
If your Surface Pen no longer interacts with the screen but buttons are working, replacing the battery usually resolves the issue. However, if you've already replaced the battery and still your pen doesn't work, you may try these solutions that may help you resolve the issue. Restart your Surface device… Run Hardware and Devices Troubleshooter.
Once again, customers who approach Microsoft for help are told to chase their tails.
The best advice I’ve seen comes from Barb Bowman, who’s tried to counteract Microsoft’s bad advice with this snippet that seems to work in many situations:
Does pinch to zoom fail as well when in this condition? Others have found that going into device manager and disabling/enabling the "Intel(R) Precise Touch Device" in device manager made both the pen and the multi-touch work again. Open device manager, click on human interface devices to expand it and it should be near the bottom of the list.
Other than the “got it” note on the Feedback Hub, I’ve seen exactly zero confirmation from Microsoft that this is a problem of its making – and of course there’s no indication of how or when it’ll be solved.
Plenty of Surface customers have reached the ends of their respective ropes. One group, responding to the Surface screen flickering issue that I talked about six months ago, three months ago, and again last week, has started to organize under the banner Flickergate. They have a website devoted to the problem:
We are 1200+ customers who lost ~ $2 million due to faulty/defective Microsoft Surface Pro 4 devices.
There's also an online submission form, where you can register your complaint. This is in addition to the Google Form I described last week.
Microsoft makes billions of dollars off Surface devices. You'd think they would put a little bit of cash into helping customers.
Discussion continues on the AskWoody Lounge.