back to article Flickering screens turn Microsoft Surface Books into Microsoft Surface paperweights

People who bought the first batch of Microsoft's Surface Book slab-tops are furious that a glitch causes the screens to flicker. Microsoft's support forums and the Surface subreddit are filled with folks claiming their displays erratically wink completely on and off. This happens, we're told, whether the tablet is running on …

  1. bobgameon

    Not what you want

    Not what you expect with a $1500 device. I hope mine doesnt start doing this.

    1. Michael Thibault

      Re: Not what you want

      >I hope mine doesnt start doing this.

      And if it does, that it can be stopped.


  2. Howard Hanek

    It's a Feature

    ....designed to encourage speed reading,,,,,,

  3. tjdennis2

    Disabling Hyper-V worked for me

    Apparently Hyper-V gets enabled if you install Visual Studio and that's when my Surface Pro 4 started flickering. I did a quick web search and everyone said to just disable Hyper-V again which seemed to fix the issue.

    Microsoft knows about it and should hopefully be sending out a fix soon :)

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Disabling Hyper-V worked for me

      I had a flickering screen on my Surface PRo 3 when it came out. It wasn't as bad as this, but for some reason it was set to 59Hz refresh rate. Setting it to 60Hz cleared the problem.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Superb piece of kit. Even iStuff suffers occasional glitches. Like anything, wait a month or six before buying a new hardware model or software version.

    1. elDog

      Wait a month (or six)? You gotta be kidding me!

      I need my bling and I need it now!

      Besides, if I wait there may be something newer and better and I'll have to make a new choice.

      When does this nightmare ever end?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      wait a month or six before buying

      Oh right, and by then it will be discontinued.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Well yes, one of the reasons I started looking into getting a Surface or a MBA or something like that, and then stepped back having decided that I'm not going to waste any of my own money on one.

        I'll find a nice business budget somewhere to cover it, but I'm not into chucking my own cash on stuff like this anymore.

        There are just too many nice things in life that I could better use my cash for.

        1. JeffyPoooh

          "...getting a Surface or a MBA..."

          A tablet vs a Masters of Business Administration degree?

          Quite the choice.

          "We're sorry, but that acronym is taken." ;-)

          1. jelabarre59

            Re: "...getting a Surface or a MBA..."

            That might be an apt comparison; between a MSSurface and an MBA. Both are incapable of doing the job they're supposed to be able to do, flicker back and forth, and break things that were previously perfectly functional.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How much?


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How much?

      It's only 1500$ for the flickering version, the fully licenced version is leased based for only 75$ per month over a period of three lifetimes. Although you never really own it, they have promised to upgrade the firmware once every other millenium..

      The next version will also run Windows 3.1 for the nostalgiques but they can't promise that minesweeper will be included.

      1. channel extended

        Re: How much?

        The minesweeper version is only another 7.99 / month!!

    2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: How much?

      True, but if you offset it against what you can save on drugs that way ...

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Quality control

    Great QC, just what I like to see when a company controls the hardware and the software.

    1. ben_myers

      Re: Quality control

      Still the best and most reliable piece of Microsoft hardware I have ever had is my Microsoft OS/2 coffee cup, handed out before they pulled the rug out from IBM in the operating system race. The OS/2 cup has served me well almost every day. It is certifiably defect-free.

      Second most reliable Microsoft hardware is my Microsoft optical mouse with USB cable.

      For the rest of the Microsoft hardware kit, I would not give a plugged nickel, a sou, a yuan or a penny.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh, I also had a tablet go like that. Fortunately, it was only £35 from eBay.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I would have thought it was hardware

    There's no such thing as a perfect product. I may not be a Microsoft fan, but any new hardware will annoyingly only show weaknesses when out in the field, it is one of the reasons I don't buy absolutely new products on their launch date but usually a couple of months later. What surprises me is that this is apparently software, I would have thought it is a screen ribbon or something.

    The key question is how quickly it is fixed, because that gives you some idea of the after sales support. If that is a challenge I wouldn't buy it at all, if Microsoft is quick and diligent to address genuine failures it inspires confidence.

    Let's wait and see.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: I would have thought it was hardware

      >What surprises me is that this is apparently software, I would have thought it is a screen ribbon or something.

      For sure. However, other reported symptoms suggest that it is indeed software, for example some owners have videoed the colour temperature changes as they scroll down a website - on both the Book's own screen and a connected monitor. I can't think of a hardware cause for that!

      I'm sure that this will be a very compelling product, so it just seems daft that these issues were not dealt with before launch.

    2. cambsukguy

      Re: I would have thought it was hardware

      The after sales support from MS was superb in my case:

      My first Surface RT stopped charging so I went to their support area. The Surface was known about (they sold it to me) - they knew the serial numbers etc. and I went to the hardware problems area.

      When I finally got to the "charger seems to be faulty" it said click here to be sent a replacement for free, which I did. One duly arrived the next day.

      It didn't fix the problem though so I returned to the system and told it that it did not fix the issue so it must be the Surface itself and it offered two choices:

      1. Buy a new Surface, we will send it out. Put the old one in the same shipping box and send it back free with the label they supplied in the box.

      2. Print a label and send it back and a new one will be sent upon receipt.

      No request to return the charger, in fact, a specific statement saying "Do not send a charger with the unit".

      I bought a new one, which arrived the next day. I sent the old back and I was refunded within the week.

      All my communication for purchase etc. have been effortless (three RT units and keyboards).

      As for this issue, ne can imagine the Hyper-V modes being tested less of course, it is a small subset of users - especially if it is used as a management toy/perk. It is always a shame when shiny new kit has an issue - I hope for the owners' sake it isn't a HW issue, although it seems unlikely.

      I have been pleasantly surprised by niggles disappearing with Windows 10 - my partner's ASUS trackpad delivering no cleverness when W10 first ran, much gnashing of teeth and attempts to replace drivers etc. failing to fix it. Three days later, it started working perfectly.

      And my HP fingerprint reader being AWOL and then suddenly working a week later for Windows Hello use.

    3. jelabarre59

      Re: I would have thought it was hardware

      > What surprises me is that this is apparently software, I would have thought it is a screen ribbon or something.

      So if you were to install Linux on it, it would work correctly?

  9. Captain DaFt


    Surface Pro - Now with built in rave!

    1. Khaptain

      Re: Wooo!

      And of course the EULA contains a clause where Microsoft decline all responsibility for damage caused by the strobe effects.

      Behold bad knight and kneel before me before I smite thee down and blind with my mighty silverlight flash.

  10. g00se


    Brilliant! So in addtion to doubling as radiators*, some are now doubling as disco lights.

    * A friend has had two from John Lewis and with each he said he could feel the heat coming off the screen

    1. sabroni Silver badge

      Re: A friend has had two from John Lewis

      My friend had one and he said it fucked his dog!!!!

    2. sjaddy

      Re: Multipurpose

      Your friend has had two? from John Lewis? In the UK?

      Fucking impressive that since they were only released in the US on Monday this week and there is no UK release date yet

    3. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Multipurpose


      could it be that you are thinking of the existing MS Surface (tablet with attachable keyboard)? I'd expect an Intel i5/i7-powered tablet to radiate more heat than any ARM-powered tablet.

      This article is about the newly released Surface Book (laptop with detachable screen).

  11. Randy Hudson

    Discrete GPU

    Just the kind of thing demanding enterprise customers need.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Discrete GPU

      The GPU is offered as an option.

      For those of us who do CAD work, it's nice to see a GPU on a laptop of this form factor, especially if one's workflow can benefit from stylus input.

      Also, this 3:2 laptop seems to be the only one available, other than Macbooks, that doesn't use a 16:9 screen. If I am wrong about that, please, please supply a link!

  12. Herby

    Maybe the flicker is...

    Microsoft's candle waning and getting close to extinguishing itself.

    We can only hope. Microsoft isn't that good with hardware anyway.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Maybe the flicker is...

      The Surface Book hardware actually appears to be very good. The full list of weird symptoms users have reported all seem to be software/driver related.

    2. Zippy's Sausage Factory

      Re: Maybe the flicker is...

      "Microsoft isn't that good with hardware anyway."

      They don't seem to be that good at software any more either, judging by recent efforts.

      And given that I do all my work development on their platform and it's how I earn my living, that worries me...

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Maybe the flicker is...

        >Microsoft's candle waning and getting close to extinguishing itself. We can only hope.

        There is just too much software tied to Windows platforms for that to happen overnight. Those of us thus tied to the platform will continue to be constructively critical of MS decisions where deserved, but also give credit where it is due. Bashing MS for past sharp business practices or whatever isn't too helpful.

      2. herman Silver badge

        Re: Maybe the flicker is...

        Uhm, what do you mean? MS never was any good at software. All their successful products they purchased.

        1. Zippy's Sausage Factory

          Re: Maybe the flicker is...

          >Uhm, what do you mean? MS never was any good at software. All their successful products they


          The "Mystify" screensaver - that was one of theirs, wasn't it?

          Although yeah, the "Bezier curves" wasn't an improvement...

  13. dajma00

    You have lived up to your tag line: Biting the hand that feeds IT.

    However, no matter how many dogs have been biting Microsoft, it still continues to live, thrive and innovate. Media can scavenge on many of the small issues that are surfacing in the new products, but really from technical standpoint, they are insignificant. In my searches on Surface Book, only two notable issues have been highlighted by users: 1. Screen flicker and 2. External dock. Both seem to be software issues which are sure to be fixed quickly. Nothing to worry about too much.

    Microsoft must be appreciated for upping the ante in the laptop market.

    And sorry that it continues to live.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Microsoft does many things, but innovate is not one of them.

      What it has historically excelled at is commoditising other people's ideas and products. Not necessarily a bad thing (apart from the perspective of the competitor that's had the rug pulled from under its feet).

      1. People's Poet

        I think you're confusing them with Apple.

    2. Longtemps, je me suis couche de bonne heure

      Presumably those were "Bing" searches that found no fault with Microsoft's Surface Book

      as your post smells of Microsoft's handiwork...

  14. Christian Berger

    Are you sure it's not supposed to be that way?

    I mean seriously, with recent versions of Windows it's hard to tell.

  15. Anonymous Coward


    The key date for evil MSFT products is RTL - that's right, Release to Landfill!

  16. Chika

    Get ready to groan...

    I take it that Microsoft are looking for ways to kill flash, then!


  17. captain veg Silver badge

    How many Microsoft engineers does it take to change a light bulb?

    Just the one, but there is still a problem with flickering that will be fixed in the next release.


    1. Chika

      Re: How many Microsoft engineers does it take to change a light bulb?

      No, the LightBulb(tm) flicker is a new feature in this release of LightBulb which will make for more efficient use of light and will in no way affect your ability to use light.

      (In a future release of LightBulb, they will replace the flicker feature with a high frequency strobe effect and will humbly apologise for the introduction of the flicker despite the number of epileptic fits being triggered by LightBulb increasing due to the strobe. They will deny this and will go on to quote that they have delivered 14 million LightBulbs in the first three femto-seconds of its release to manufacture, far more than the original release of LightBulb and its predecessor, Candle, which they no longer support.)

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I am sure a paperclip...

    would stop it all from flapping about...

  19. komodo dragon

    Why in the seven hells is Hyper V installed on a surface?

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: komodo dragon

      "Why in the seven hells is Hyper V installed on a surface?"

      Microsoft uses it everywhere now - Device Guard, etc.


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