I’ve held off for a while on this third and final instalment about my time with the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 because I showed the whole thing to Microsoft, and it may have come up with a fix to some of the problems that had been troubling me. It also had some comments too, which are of the kind that large tech companies often give to people they apparently assume to be idiots. Those comments are at the end.

In Part 1 I discussed what a wonderful device the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 is, and why I chose it, and why I selected the basic configuration. In Part 2 I discussed how it had actually gotten better over time. And now for the few remaining problems.

Update (30 September 2016): So it looks like I was too quick to blame the Type Cover. Last night I flicked the new Type Cover up to put the Surface Pro 4 into standby. This morning I come out and find two things: the Surface Pro had unexpectedly rebooted (with no updates) a bit before 6am. And the new Type Cover would not work, even through a reboot. It needed a full shutdown to get it going again. Aaggghhh!

Update 2 (1 October 2016): Oh come on! I enter the office at 9:40 am — hey, it’s a Saturday. The Surface Pro 4 is sitting there, screen alight, waiting for me to appear. I wonder if it has been doing that all night. It recognises me and logs in. The keyboard won’t work. I check Task Manager. Looks like it rebooted around 8:52 this morning. I check Update History. The last update was yesterday (KB3194496) for which I personally authorised the reboot yesterday, and after which I had rebooted at least one more time. Now to get the keyboard working again. Take it off. This time, thankfully, taking it off and putting it back has righted matters. No more rebooting required.

Update 3 (3 October 2016): A couple of days of no problems teased me into thinking that maybe all would be okay. Against my better judgement. But now, at 10pm, coming home after a few hours out, I find that three hours ago the Surface Pro 4 rebooted itself again. The last update according to Update History was four days ago. The good news: the keyboard is still working!

Update 4 (5 October 2016): 7:42am: the Surface Pro 4 rebooted itself one hour and six minutes ago. No new updates, although apparently it checked for updates shortly after the reboot. The keyboard is still working.

Front and back with keyboards attached

Front and back with keyboards attached

The problem with semi-random problems

Every so often one of my daughters comes to me complaining that something isn’t working properly on her computer (MacBook Air for one, MacBook Pro for another). I always ask them when the last time they rebooted their computer was. And it always turns out to have been several months previously. They use their Macs like iPads.

One of the great things about Macs is that if there’s a problem with its operation, you know who’s at fault: Apple. With most Windows devices, is it Windows or the hardware that’s the issue? Hard to tell.

But with a Microsoft Surface Pro 4, there’s no such uncertainty. Sure, Photoshop or Quicken or Reaper might be creating a problem, but for the most part it’s likely Microsoft. Especially when the applications you use are also mostly from Microsoft (I use Office 365).

Furthermore, if you use the same operating system and software on a no-name desktop made of non-descript Taiwanese components, as I do, and it works so well that it typically needs a reboot less than once a fortnight, you have to start thinking the hardware’s the real issue.

So here’s a not untypical incident: 20 September, I arrived in my office at 7:30am. I shook the Bluetooth mouse (Microsoft brand). Hello Windows recognised me. Hmmm, that was odd. The apps that had been open were not open any more. Unexpected reboot, huh? Maybe there was an update.

Update History shows that the last update had been four days earlier

Update History shows that the last update had been four days earlier

No, the last update had been four days previously. The reboot was only a bit more than three hours previously. I hit the PrtScn key on the keyboard to take a screen shot of Update History in Settings. One Drive synced it to my other computer. I start up Task Manager and went to the Performance tab and hit PrtScn to take a screen shot showing the time since the reboot. I waited for it to appear on my other computer. Hmmm, still not there. Try again. Still not there. Ah, the keyboard has stopped working! Somehow, in the minute between the two screenshots, the first successful, the keyboard just stopped working. I used power/volume button combo on the body of the Surface Pro 4 to take the screen shot. The I rebooted and removed and replaced the keyboard. All was then working again.

Task Manager shows that the reboot had only been a few hours earlier ("Uptime" at bottom left)

Task Manager shows that the reboot had only been a few hours earlier