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  1. #1
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    "Sleep of Death" on Surface Book: What the Problem Is and How Microsoft Should Resolve It

    As the Windows Secrets Lounge knows, I'm an owner of a Surface Book that's had my share of issues with the Surface Book when waking the device from sleep. Some of these issues stemmed from a bad firmware version on the Surface Dock (in which Microsoft has promised a firmware update for the Surface Dock), and some of these did stem from issues with specific drivers needing a reinstall (which I have done).

    However, it seems the "Sleep of Death" issue continues to re-surface (no pun intended) from time to time, this time now occurring more frequently after installing the Windows 10 Creators Update.
    While Microsoft claimed to have resolved the "Sleep of Death" issues with Surface Book devices in a firmware update last year, unfortunately, I can confirm this issue isn't fully resolved by any long shot.

    I'm not the only one who has experienced consistent "Sleep of Death" issues with the Surface Book. This article explains the nightmare others have faced with this issue.

    After endless frustration with the issue and loads of researching, I finally stumbled on this excellent article explaining the root cause of the issue and why "Sleep of Death" continues to be an issue for Surface Book owners.

    Here's the issue in a nutshell:

    Most Windows PC's support what is referred to as "traditional sleep mode", also known as "S3". The Surface Book, however, uses what Microsoft refers to as "Modern Standby", also known as "S0ix". This allows the Surface Book to function more like an ARM-powered smartphone or tablet while in sleep mode, as the article mentions "dripping" data to the Surface Book while it is in sleep mode.

    Most PC manufacturers avoid using "Modern Standby" or "S0ix" for a good reason: it's extremely unreliable. Sometimes it functions, and other times it messes up, and when it does mess up, the result is a mess of hard reboots, spending time in Reliability Monitor trying to discern the issue, reading BSOD logs, etc.

    The good news is there is a temporary workaround Surface Book owners can use to avoid using "Modern Standby" or "S0ix". There is one (and only one) fallback option in Windows available to Surface Book owners referred to as "Hibernate", also known as "S4". However, it does not appear on the Windows 10 start menu by default. Only sleep appears.

    The first step a person will want to do in order to ensure "Hibernate" is turned on one's Surface Book is to go to Command Prompt, right-click on Command Prompt and Run as Administrator, then enter the following command:

    powercfg -h on

    Next, Open Control Panel, go to Hardware and Sound, then Power Options. Select Change Plan Settings next to balanced.

    At the moment, I have both Turn Off the Display and Put the Computer to Sleep for both Battery and Plugged In set to Never. This ensures the Surface Book will not go into sleep mode, as well as with the Creators Update, even turning the screen off automatically at times causes the Surface Book to freeze (in addition to putting the Surface Book to sleep).

    You'll want to save those changes, then select Choose What the Power Buttons Do. Select Change Settings that Are Currently Unavailable. I recommend disabling both "Sleep" and "Turn on Fast Start", as Fast Start has caused issues with me in the past as well when booting my Surface Book. You'll want to enable "Hibernate". Save those changes.

    You'll want to go back to Change Plan Settings next to Balanced. You'll then want to select Change Advanced Power Settings. Under Power Buttons and Lid, I recommending all Lid close, Power button, and Sleep button options to Hibernate.

    This will allow you to hibernate your Surface Book through the start menu, power button, or when closing the lid.

    In terms of turning off your computer screen, since turning off the computer screen is way too unreliable on Surface Book devices on the Creators Update, I recommend using a screensaver instead. It isn't as energy-efficient as turning off your computer screen, but it's better than having a static image sitting on one's screen while one is away from their Surface Book for a short time (such as while at lunch).

    More information on the various Windows power options are available at this great article on Windows Secrets.

    So far, this workaround has worked well for me. I need to do some additional testing, but in the tests I have run so far, my machine goes into hibernate and awakes from hibernate without any issues, as well as my computer screensaver fires when I'm away and my desktop flies right back when coming back to my Surface Book.

    How Microsoft can permanently resolve this issue is by doing the following:

    1. Surface Book customers need the option to enable traditional sleep mode, or "S3" on the Surface Book. The reality is no matter how much Microsoft tries, "S0ix" is way too unreliable for Surface Book owners as the only sleep mode, especially as the default sleep mode option on Surface Book. Other PC manufacturers avoid it for a good reason: it's unreliable. The way Microsoft can enable "S3" as an option on the Surface Book is through a firmware update. Microsoft, please permanently relieve Surface Book owners from the unreliability of "S0ix" by releasing a firmware update that allows us to enable "S3" traditional sleep mode on our Surface Book devices (see exhibit-a).

    2. Microsoft also needs to issue an update to Windows for Surface Book owners that automatically-enables Hibernate as an option on the Windows 10 power menu, as well as adds Hibernate as an option to the Control Panel's "Define Power Buttons" screen, allowing people to easily enable hibernate as an option on the power/sleep buttons or when closing the lid, without having to dig into Advanced Power Options. Additionally, for those who dug into Advanced Power Options and enabled hibernate as an option on the power/sleep buttons or when closing the lid, Microsoft should release an update to Windows 10 for Surface Books that label the word "hibernate" in the Control Panel's "Define Power Buttons" screen. Right now, when one attempts this on the Surface Book, the labels come back blank on this screen, which is confusing and should be rectified (see exhibit-b, exhibit-c, exhibit-d).

    3. Lastly, Microsoft should increase the amount of people at Microsoft testing Windows updates and firmware updates before they are issued to Surface devices such as Surface Book and Surface Dock. While Microsoft cannot test every PC configuration in the world when it comes to Windows updates (Windows Insiders are somewhat more of a benefit there), when it comes to Surface Devices, these are devices designed and manufactured by Microsoft. These devices are branded with the Microsoft name. These devices are top-of-the-line devices, with limited pre-built configuration models, and Microsoft could easily test Windows Updates and Firmware Updates across the entire family of Surface devices before releasing them. The issues with Surface Dock firmware, plus the issues that Windows Updates have caused with drivers on Surface devices (which puts customers into playing Whack-A-Mole with reinstalling drivers), plus the overall "Sleep of Death" issue above, should not be experienced by owners of Microsoft's own hardware. Microsoft, you owe it to customers who purchase your own hardware to be extremely diligent with testing Windows Updates and Firmware Updates before releasing them out to your own hardware customers. Anything less is unacceptable. When owners purchase their hardware directly from Microsoft, they should be able to have the most reliable experience with Windows and Firmware Updates delivered.

    As the CEO of a tech firm, I have already transitioned 50% of my company to Surface devices to replace our Windows PC's, Macs, and iPads. We'd like to increase that number to 75% by the end of this year and 70% by this summer. However, this "Sleep of Death" issue is too serious of an issue for Surface Book customers to continue to experience. I enjoy using my Surface Book, but this is a serious issue that needs permanent resolution, and a simple firmware from Microsoft can end this madness and frustration and pain permanently and give Surface Book owners relief once and for all. Before I transition the rest of my company exclusively to Surface devices, I want to see this issue resolved from Microsoft permanently (I have directed my teams to halt the purchase of Surface devices until this issue is resolved). Please Microsoft, relieve us all of this issue by giving us what I have outlined above. It would make all of us Surface Book customers 100% satisfied Surface Book customers, and we could all continue to happily use our Surface Books without further major nightmares or headaches.

    In the meantime, I hope the workaround I listed will give Surface Book customers temporary relief, but I am hoping Microsoft will please step up to the place and deliver a true permanent fix for all of us Surface Book owners.
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    Nathan Parker

    Visit my blog at http://weathertogether.net

  2. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Nathan Parker For This Useful Post:

    Rick Corbett (2017-04-28),satrow (2017-04-28)

  3. #2
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    Firmware updates for the Surface Dock are sometimes problematic to get installed. See Microsoft Surface Dock Updater for a tool to help determine if your dock(s) need an update and to install one.
    Joe

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    Nathan Parker (2017-04-27)

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    Correct. The Surface Dock Updater is the only way to really ensure the Surface Dock's firmware is up-to-date.
    Nathan Parker

    Visit my blog at http://weathertogether.net

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    Administrator Rick Corbett's Avatar
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    Good write-up, Nathan, and I agree with you about Microsoft should be doing. I doubt there will be any response to the 'increase the number of testers' though. I can't remember where I read the article but it appears that MS has actually reduced the number of in-house Quality Control testers as a direct result of automated telemetry, the 'success' of the Insider program and the outsourcing of all its manufacturing.

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    Nathan Parker (2017-04-28)

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    There have been numerous firmware updates to the Surface Book itself for sleep/wake issues since its release. Theses have resolved the issue for most people but some just have a lemon. Perhaps that is you.
    Joe

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    Nathan Parker (2017-04-28)

  10. #6
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    @Rick I did read that as well (and linked to that article in my post). While I understand Microsoft cannot battle-test Windows on every configuration of PC on the market, for the hardware they design and sell, they need to kick it up a notch. Whether or not they do it will ultimately depend on how successful their hardware sales are in the future. When people spend top dollar on their hardware, they expect the ultimate in hardware/OS compatibility.

    @Joe It's possible I have a lemon, and BTW, Microsoft is reading this post and L3 support has agreed to call me next week to discuss it. If I have a lemon (why not since i've gotten my share of lemons in the past), then it'll be great if Microsoft can work with me to resolve it. From what I've read, even their firmware updates haven't totally resolved the general unreliability of "S0ix" (which is why most PC manufacturers avoid it). Giving customers the option to transition to "S3" through a firmware update would be an option to totally resolve the issue once and for all. I know that Microsoft has tried to improve sleep mode reliability, but "S0ix" is just still too unreliable overall, and Microsoft needs to finally admit it and allow users to transition back to the tried-and-true "S3" which works far better.
    Nathan Parker

    Visit my blog at http://weathertogether.net

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