back to article Surface Book nightmare: Microsoft won't fix 'Sleep of Death' bug

In its most recent quarterly earnings report, Microsoft highlighted its increasingly popular Surface line as the growth leader in its More Personal Computing line of business. Surface led the category with 61 per cent growth in constant currency, a rise driven by the top products in the line, the Surface Pro 4 tablet and the …

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I was wondering if a surface pro 4 was worth it. Now I know it is not. Would be interesting to know if the problem occurs with other OS installed.

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Pint

Can I just say

How much I've enjoyed all El Regs stories on the beast this week?

It's been epic, thanks a million..

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I've had the SB about 6 weeks now. As soon as I got it, I started having the Sleep of Death issues as discussed in the article. It did my head in that a $3000 laptop and this could happen.

Realising it wasn't me, but Microsoft I decided the best thing i could do was alter my habits and wait for a working update. I changed my power button setting to:

- Power Button - Sleep - With the intention of using this when i expected to be back at my machine within the 2 hour Sleep of Death time limit.

- Close the Lid - To hibernate with the intention of closing the lid if i thought i was done for the day or an extended period.

I must admit I don't have the discipline so i just use the Power Button. And you know what, for the last month the issue has practically disappeared. Instead of it being a multiple times a day, it has now only happened twice (still disappointing, but i can live with that).

Can't really add much more to the discussion other than it has been largely resolved for me and I return to feeling positive about the machine.

As for my Use Case: I largely work with 20-30 tabs of chrome, office, creative suite, visual studio, sql server, so in theory plenty of processes to fight sleep. I don't have a dock, but the machine is on/off, on power, not on power, in and out of tablet. I feel i give it a broad range of use and no problems (admittedly i still hold my breath when i hit the power button...)

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Joke

You need a ...

You need a new drug

One that won't make you sick

One that won't make you crash your slab

Or make you feel three feet thick

.

You need a new drug

One that does what it should

One that won't make you feel too bad

One that won't make you feel too good

.

One that won't make you nervous

Wondering what to do

. . . . .

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You cannot install another OS on the Surface Pro

Surface Pro's come with UEFI enabled making it impossible to install another OS on them. If you buy a Surface Pro, you are stuck with Windows.

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Re: You cannot install another OS on the Surface Pro

"Surface Pro's come with UEFI enabled making it impossible to install another OS on them. If you buy a Surface Pro, you are stuck with Windows."

Stop talking rot. All Apple desktops and laptops have shipped with UEFI since 2006. By definition they don't ship with Windows, and it is perfectly possible to put non-Apple OSes, including Windows and all current Linux distros, on them. In addition, I have a desktop machine with an ASUS motherboard which shipped with UEFI. It's running BSD at the moment. I am not alone in running assorted non-MS OSes on systems which shipped with UEFI. I suspect that you have a problem with Secure Boot, not UEFI. See further http://www.uefi.org/sites/default/files/resources/UEFI_Secure_Boot_in_Modern_Computer_Security_Solutions_2013.pdf

In particular, note the following, quoted from the above:

"Secure Boot is an optional feature of the UEFI specification. The choice of whether to implement the feature and the details of its implementation (from an end-user standpoint) are business decisions made by Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs)."

Note also:

"Users may disable Secure Boot entirely, using a system setup screen enabled at boot time. Each manufacturer has its own interface for this option. In all cases, end user must be physically present to establish proof of possession (POP) associated with the changes. With the Secure Boot feature disabled, the system can boot legacy operating systems, as well as systems that do not support Secure Boot. However, when Secure Boot is disabled, the feature is no longer protecting the system, leaving it vulnerable to rootkit and bootkit attacks.

UEFI Secure Boot also provides an interface that allows a system owner to take control of the system’s security credentials. This interface may or may not be available, depending on the system and its manufacturer. In circumstances where it is available, system owners can clear and reinstall the Secure Boot database and register their own keys and signatures. This can either supplement or completely replace the factory set. If a particular system supports the clearing of Secure Boot databases, the option will be displayed in the firmware menus."

I don't own a Surface anything, and, given their cost and the problem noted in the article, am unlikely to buy one, so I don't know how MS implemented Secure Boot.

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I've had the SP4 since November and have never had any power issues with it. Some have though, I'm not sure if recent driver updates have fixed it for the SP4.

Side note: Where in the article does it say that MS won't fix it, as per the headline? Did I miss or is that a click-bait headline?

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Re: You cannot install another OS on the Surface Pro

> The choice of whether to implement the feature and the details of its implementation (from an end-user standpoint) are business decisions made by Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs)."

> so I don't know how MS implemented Secure Boot.

You acknowledge that manufacturers can choose to enforce Secure Boot or not, you admit that you have no clue about what Microsoft have done, have provided several irrelevant and spurious examples about how others have done it (including non-Windows machines) and start by claiming the previous poster was talking rot about Surface Pro.

I suggest that offer an apology to previous poster and admit that you are completely clueless.

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Re: You cannot install another OS on the Surface Pro

I suggest, again, that his problem is with Secure Boot, not with UEFI. His statement that you can't change OSes on a Surface Book because of UEFI is incorrect. Even if it's true that you can't changes OSes on a Surface Book, something which I suspect deeply to be true 'cause that's just the way that Microsoft rolls, it is because of Secure Boot. Not UEFI. I repeat that multiple vendors ship systems with UEFI which _can_ have multiple OSes installed without problems, because of the way that they did nor did not implement Secure Boot, which as I pointed out in my first post is both optional and can be set up so as to be either bypassed or outright turned off depending on vendor settings.

One more time: his problem is with Secure Boot, not UEFI.

If he had posted to the effect that Surface Books can't change OSes because of Secure Boot, I would have had only one problem: has this been experimentally verified? Given the price of the thing, and the fat that this is, after all, a Microsoft product, I suspect that I know the answer and I know that I will not be buying one to find out for certain. If I'm going to spend $3200 on a laptop, something quite unlikely, I'll spend it on a 15" Mac Book Pro (Retina). I _know_ that I can install the OS of my liking on that machine. Apple will even provide Window drivers for it, for free. Linux or BSD drivers would be somewhat harder to get, so some hardware might not work properly. It will, however, boot. And it won't crash on waking from sleep.

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Joke

Re: You need a ...

One that won't make you nervous

Wondering what to do

One that will not greet you

With a screen that has turned blue

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Re: You cannot install another OS on the Surface Pro

"Surface Pro's come with UEFI enabled making it impossible to install another OS on them."

Installed W8.1 on a friend's SP4 (his employers do not support W10).

"If you buy a Surface Pro, you are stuck with Windows."

Incorrect. Others have installed Linux on their Surface Pros

http://blog.davidelner.com/dual-booting-ubuntu-14-10-on-the-surface-pro-3/

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Re: You cannot install another OS on the Surface Pro

I install Ubuntu 14.04 on various servers/test PCs at work using UEFI.

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I have been using Windows 10 for three days, now ... I have had to kill explorer.exe 5 times already, because that is the only way to get the "start menu" to resuscitate.

I have had this "sleep of death" bug with Windows 8.1 multiple times, with 10 it has also happened this morning ... definitely a Windows bug.

HP Elitebook 850 rev 1.

PS: Needless to say, I keep my drivers updated, especially when I experience problems.

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Re: You cannot install another OS on the Surface Pro

Yeah they are getting UEFI and Secure Boot mixed up. Anyways, makes working and wiping all these newer laptops that have it enabled since if you aren't aware of it will give some strange errors if you try to wipe the drive or reinstall the OS without disabling it first. And depending on the device there might not even be an option to disable in UEFI since it is up to company making machine!

"All HP and Compaq computers that were manufactured with Windows 10 can use Secure Boot. Secure Boot is enabled by default on these computers"

https://twitter.com/daviangel/status/666848987484307460

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Re: You cannot install another OS on the Surface Pro

Yup Apple is light years ahead of getting a laptop to resume from sleep using their OS compared to Windows or even any Linux distort I know of. You just have to watch any of their WWDC video's on the subject to see how much thought and work they put into it and getting it to work with newer Intel hardware. If Microsoft is doing the same I haven't heard of it?

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Re: You cannot install another OS on the Surface Pro

One more time: his problem is with Secure Boot, not UEFI...

No, his problem is with Microsoft. Downvote away, you pussies.

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The most depressing thing...[ was Re: You cannot install another OS on the Surface Pro]

... is that one minute of searching the web would have revealed that the original poster was talking though his hole. Of course you can install Linux on a Surface Book, just like you can install it on previous Intel Surface models:

https://www.reddit.com/r/SurfaceLinux/comments/3qcqha/ubuntu_on_surface_book/

So, Ubuntu 14.04 seems to work well; 15.x has problems with drivers, but to get to the point of having problems with drivers means that neither UEFI nor SecureBoot are preventing installation. Can we just give up this "UEFI will kill your children" paranoia now?

More on the topic, I'm not entirely sure these Surface Book sleep issues are entirely with Microsoft; the chipset vendors have something to do with it - the updated drivers that fixed this issue for a lot of people were from Intel and nVidia, not Microsoft. Here's where Microsoft's inexperience as a system OEM is biting them, but if they're now eating the same dogfood as Asus, HP, Dell, etc, it can only be better for the customer in the end, as Windows becomes a bit less tricky to bring up on esoteric hardware. (Apple has a lead here because they've always had to deal with hardware integration of their OS)

And speaking of Apple, my own experience of dealing with Microsoft customer care on a faulty unit has been exemplary - even better than my experiences with Apple formerly (and to be clear, I think Apple are generally good at after-sales). I really find it hard to see how the owner of one of their most expensive models would be bounced around like this; by now, a unit swap should have been offered...

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Is it safe to go out?

After 4 versions of the Surface Pro, you would think MS would get it right.. "POS" has multiple meanings here..

I'm reminded of a movie called the Marathon Man where Dustin Hoffman is being tortured as he is being asked "is it safe to go out?". I keep asking myself "Is it safe to get involved with MS products?" After 30 years, the answer still keeps coming back to "No".

I'd love to see a wiki-leak of internal documents discussing this issue. I bet it would be a classic.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: You cannot install another OS on the Surface Pro

Ahhh, that's interesting. I've completely avoided the SP4 due to Windows 10.

I could do Win 8.1, as the CAD software I use works with that. But Win 10 isn't an option.

Might get an SP4 from Ebay at some point now. :)

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My explorer.exe on WIndows 10 also need regular killing and restarting, though not because of the Start Menu which continues to work fine (so far)... my explorer.exe leaks memory and generally doesn't last more than 2-3 days because it's consumed all 16GB of the available RAM. (Probably it isn't the Windows exe itself, but some other add-on which is leaking, but I haven't found out which one(s) yet.) When I get a moment I'll be writing myself a little utility to automatically kill and restart explorer.exe.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: You cannot install another OS on the Surface Pro

"Surface Pro's come with UEFI enabled making it impossible to install another OS on them"

I'm pretty sure even legacy *NIX type OSs can support signed UEFI boot these days...

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Re: You cannot install another OS on the Surface Pro

You are extremely confused on what UEFI is and apparently have no clue how to install an OS if you believe it's impossible to install Linux on a Surface (news flash: it's actually easy).

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Re: You cannot install another OS on the Surface Pro

That's entirely false. I have a successful dual boot configuration with Win10/Linux Mint running on my surface book. One only needs to search google for a how to.. Touch screen does not work as native drivers have not hit the linux kernel as of yet... other than that, Linux runs flawless here alongside Win10 - some users have reported wiping Win10 completely and installing only Linux - no reason this wouldn't work either..

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Re: You cannot install another OS on the Surface Pro

"Ahhh, that's interesting. I've completely avoided the SP4 due to Windows 10.

I could do Win 8.1, as the CAD software I use works with that. But Win 10 isn't an option."

Downgrading my mate's SP4 to W8.1 was not completely seamless. IIRC the volume buttons weren't mapped properly, the cameras wouldn't work and the power button didn't function properly (relatively minor issues for my friend).

There is more info at the following

http://forum.tabletpcreview.com/threads/surface-pro-4-discussion-thread.67857/page-195#post-461153

You will need to turn off signed drivers and find a licence key.

It is rumoured that battery life under 8.1 is better but I didn't have time to confirm that.

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Re: Can I just say

No dev-ops and loads of slagging off of microsoft. I fucking love it.

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Anonymous Coward

Did Red ring of death not teach you ANYTHING????

Never ever buy Microsoft hardware. Ever.... they give a flying fook about their customers,only marketshare....

Read and digest...

http://venturebeat.com/2008/09/05/xbox-360-defects-an-inside-history-of-microsofts-video-game-console-woes/

Microsoft have not changed since this fiasco.

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Anonymous Coward

Try turning off the Windows 10 Fast Boot.

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Re: You cannot install another OS on the Surface Pro

You are right the issue is Secure Boot not UEFI in general. However, while PCs are required to allow a method of disabling secure boot, Surface tablets are not, and I believe the original ARM-based Surface RT did not.

Looks like modern Surface tablets do allow you to disable it, though -

https://www.microsoft.com/surface/en-gb/support/warranty-service-and-recovery/how-to-use-the-bios-uefi?os=windows-10

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Re: You need a ...

Thanx Huey... that's News...

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Re: Is it safe to go out?

I keep asking myself "Is it safe to get involved with MS products?" After 30 years, the answer still keeps coming back to "No".

They make a pretty decent mouse, though... Other than that, you're right.

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Have you tried turning it o.....

Seriously. Just shut it down properly. What's the problem? Do people really use a sleep mode? Have a little patience.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Have you tried turning it o.....

Sorry, it is a $3000 machine. If I had to pay that for a laptop (and I would and will when I need to upgrade mine) I expect it to work not only flawlessly, but to exceed expectations and to last for several years.

Here's hoping that the original victim get a refund!

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Law

Sleep is used by many!

I use it at work all the time... if I've got several code windows open and documents across 3 monitors, I'll sleep the laptop, remove it from the dock, and take it home for the night... next morning just kick it off again and jump straight in.

Its even more useful when traveling, you just close the thing and pop it in the bag mid way through something... next free minute you can get it out again.

I've used an early surface pro for work, had this issue and others related to WiFi... like just claiming no networks available, despite the laptop and android phones being connected fine. Only disabling and enabling the wireless device in device manager, or a reboot will help. For the cost and pathetic support, I'm surprised they're still able to sell any.

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Re: Sleep is used by many!

Use sleep all the time - shut my lid, go to the train, open lid, carry on working, shut lid, walk home, etc. This is on a 3 year old i5 Acer laptop I stuffed an SSD into, not a top of the line model from an aspiring premium brand.

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Re: Sleep is used by many!

I didn't mean to be flippant. I have a large desktop beast that cost a bit more than this laptop. It might get restarted once a month, if that. And this is in my home. It runs 24/7. I'd never trust it to sleep, especially as it's often doing things when I sleep.

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Re: Sleep is used by many!

Fair enough. i don't have to travel as much as I did for work and I have other devices that can do what a laptop used to. But I always turned it off when travelling. But I've been using Windows since version 3. I've had the shutdown mentality drilled into me.

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Wish it was that simple. Shut downs on my pro 3 sometimes lead to the date & time being wrong. Which means no VPN access. I can only fix by logging on with local admin credentials to fix. Non-IT users don't have that luxury

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If being able to be put into sleep mode is part of its specification, then it should be able to perform this routine action flawlessly. It is Microsoft-designed hardware running a Microsoft-designed operating system. Is it really that much to ask that it should work properly? I'm starting to wonder if Microsoft have a death-wish.

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Sleep should work, but never quite seems to

Hibernate? I've got my phone for when I need "instant-access" and I'm prepared to spent 30 secs waiting to come out of hibernate.

Not for one moment "excusing" crappy-sleep, but there is an alternative.

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Re: Sleep is used by many!

Sleep and Hibernate have always been iffy and like you, from using Windows from early on, we learned.... shut it down, and just to be safe, turn off sleep and hibernate. Desktops, laptops have all had this it seems. I believe it's a software issue that's been baked in and some code somewhere that they'll never find at this point in time is the problem.

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Re: Sleep and Hibernate have always been iffy

Very iffy. After serial failure since win95, win10 finally has nearly working sleep on my current desktop. It's a bit too fond of spontaneously waking, occasionally decides not to wake, frequently forgets where the network is and OpenVPN never survives. But it sort of works. Even my old laptop was picky about restarting from sleep on xp.

The retired desktop my wife uses never had working sleep till I put kubuntu on it...

The pc running as a network pvr lost sleep mode with the Win8 to 10 upgrade. Not unexpected since every windows update breaks something.

Iffy is being generous. Fusterclucked.

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Re: Sleep is used by many!

Before I start, I am not a Microsoft apologist and I only use Windows because I have to at work. I have never had a Windows machine at home, and even at work my main "work" machine dual-boots Windows and OpenSuse. However...

Sleep and Hibernate have always been iffy (also @Zoot)

While sleep really, really should work on a $3,000 laptop, and it really, really doesn't seem to be a problem on anywhere near this scale on other hardware, you are both correct. Sleep has never been 100% reliable, ever. Hibernate has been better, but I've had problems with both on scores of machines with dozens of different configurations from oodles of different vendors (including many self-built) using chipsets from Intel, AMD and others and motherboards (for this may actually be a BIOS issue?) from goodness knows how many manufacturers.

Guess what, it can also be a problem on the Linuxes I use (Mint, OpenSuse*) and on OSX and (possibly) iOS, as well as Windows (not a user of 10 or 8, but I have had problems on both 7 and XP - before XP came along, sleep and hibernate were simply not worth using at all). I have even had what I can only describe as a sleep-related problem on my Android phone where just occasionally if it has been to "sleep" for a very long time, it reboots when you try to wake it up.

Putting a device to "sleep" (whatever that really means) will often cause it to forget network connections, particularly WiFi (requiring a disable, re-enable of the adapter), sometimes cause it to forget display configurations, occasionally cause desktop or application crashes and I've recently even seen it disable Wake on LAN functions (though to be fair, this latter problem also manifests on a "proper" shutdown, and the computers in question shouldn't ever enter sleep anyway).

So, Zoot, I feel for your downvotes and I accept I'll probably get a few myself.

But to go back to the start. While this is a long-standing occasional problem almost everywhere, it should not be something that happens almost every time! Someone at Microsoft needs to find out what is happening and sort it, or if they find it's a hardware issue that can't be mitigated in software they need to give Intel a kick up the backside and issue a recall / replacement / repair notice.

M.

*Both my OpenSuse machines desktop machines will "crash" in quite significant ways if you try to put them to sleep, but both come back from hibernate pretty well. The OpenSuse laptop has issues with startup and shutdown (it can sometimes take 2 or 3 minutes to shutdown), but sleep seems to work ok.

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FAIL

Just shut it down properly. What's the problem? Do people really use a sleep mode?

I must say that I don't tend to use Sleep mode, because experience has taught me that it's one of the things that's least likely to work running Linux on newish hardware. I use Linux, and that just doesn't have manufacturer-supplied drivers for things like ACPI on any hardware (and ACPI is fiendishly complicated so the drivers are hard to get right).

I thought this was just one of the prices one had to pay for running one's own choice of OS on hardware made by companies that only want to support the OS with the biggest market share, but it seems it doesn't even work properly with Windows on Microsoft-supplied hardware. That's not good.

Sleep mode is a standard feature of the Surface Book -- something that is supposed to work out-of-the-box -- and any customer should be entitled to expect that it will work faultlessly 100% of the time when running the supplied version of Windows.

I was about to write "especially at those prices", but even if we were talking about a budget laptop the customer should be able to expect that Sleep would "just work" (TM).

This is an epic fail on Microsoft's part, and they should issue a fix or recall the product line right away.

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Re: Sleep and Hibernate have always been iffy

To everyone saying You just have to live with sleep and hibernation problems, go and try an Apple MacBook.

It just works - rushing somewhere? Close the lid and go. Boss asks you to show her something? Open the lid and show her. Don't have a power brick? Close the lid and resume later once you have power.

In around 3 years of using MacBooks I can only recall one time the MacBook hasn't resumed successfully.

THAT is what end users expect from a laptop because they can already get it from Apple - if Surfaces go on doing this, MS will lose Surface customers to Apple.

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Anonymous Coward

Attitudes like that ('ironic' or otherwise) are why I now buy refurbished kit (rather than new kit) for my own personal use. I make the same recommendation to selected others too.

Something a couple of years old has probably had the bugs ironed out. If a critical bug has not been fixed, and it matters to me, then no sale (not here, anyway).

Stuff is supposed to be sold as "fit for purpose". Stuff is not supposed to be "defective by design".

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Facepalm

Re: Seriously. Just shut it down properly. What's the problem?

Hardly a constructive comment. What the article isn't making clear is that some surface tablets (mine included) can enter the Sleep of Death state when powered off. I have to use the emergency two-button reset to start my Surface Pro daily, after a full power-down. This only happens if the machine is off for more than a couple of hours, so in my mind it's clearly related. And I have given up looking for solutions. There are none.

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Re: Sleep and Hibernate have always been iffy

In around 3 years of using MacBooks I can only recall one time the MacBook hasn't resumed successfully.

Do MacBooks tend to sleep or hibernate on lid close?

I have to say that I have had problems with OSX devices, both losing monitor configurations (e.g. "forgetting" that there's an external monitor attached, or re-setting resolutions, commonly defaulting to 800x600) and losing WiFi. Getting WiFi back usually just involves turning WiFi "off", waiting a bit, then turning it back on again (and re-registering if it's a public network). Getting an external monitor back often requires a log-out, log-in or even a reboot.

What I have not had with a MacBook is a machine that won't wake up at all.

Perhaps it's this "it works fine for me so there can't really be a problem" attitude that is afflicting Microsoft. Perhaps with the sheer volume of complaints they will now acknowledge that something needs to be done.

MS will lose Surface customers to Apple

Maybe, when Apple catches up with the form-factor, and iPads can run Outlook and Office ;-)

M.

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Re: Sleep is used by many!

That's interesting - my Asus EeePC 1015PX netbook upgraded to Win10 and this is exactly what I have to do when it claims there's no Wifi (even though everything else is connected to the Wifi and it was, itself, connected only moments before).

MS sent me a Powershell script that they said would fix it, but it doesn't, only 'disable' <count to ten> 'Enable' gets me back on the Wifi.

Windows 10 will also, annoyingly, spontaneously wake from Hibernate (I use Hibernate because, while a four year old netbook might boot up quite quickly under Windows 10, it's unusable for about 10 minutes while it does whatever Windows thinks it needs to do after a cold boot) at random times - it's even woken itself up in the laptop bag, only the "I'm overheating" beeping from the bag alerting to the screaming fans and a cooked netbook...

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Re: Sleep and Hibernate have always been iffy

"Maybe, when Apple catches up with the form-factor, and iPads can run Outlook and Office ;-)"

iPads can run Outlook and Office. I have MS' free Office for iOS on my iPad Air. Every now and again it bleats a request that I cough up the cash to 'upgrade' to Office 365 so that I can have 'the complete Office Experience'. I ignore the bleating. The limited feature set of the free version is all I need on a tablet. I have Office 2013 on my laptop. That used to bleat requests that I update to Office 365, too, until I hunted down and silenced with extreme prejudice the source.

I have a Bluetooth keyboard for my iPad. It still won't replace a real laptop for serious work.

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re:Something a couple of years old has probably had the bugs ironed out

Sadly that's not my experience of win 8 or 10. Nothing ever send to get fixed without causing as much breakage somewhere else in the os. Some of it by design, perpetually trying to update my driver's to newer versions bit me again yesterday, when i came home to a network pvr with half it's tuners non functional. Whatever forced update took the machine down yesterday replaced the functional ones with broken versions I'd hidden to stop that happening. The cnuts are now ignoring my settings whenever it takes their fancy.

Wiping all my firewall settings was pretty catastrophic on a network service. Couldn't vpn into to it to fix the mess or access any pvr functions. Microsoft damn near bricked it.

Expecting things to magically get better on windows is misguided, they just shuffle where the bugs are from time to time.

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