Another Surface Problem “Surfaces”

Dec 12, 2015

Another Surface problem has just “surfaced” for me. I’d been using a Surface 3 (not the Pro, rather, the little Surface tablet) for several months and I really liked it—much better than an iPad for most of what I do with a small tablet. Unfortunately, that nice little Surface 3 was one of the victims of the theft last month. Like my laptop, luckily it was locked and insured, so all is well on that front. But I wanted to replace it—I missed it—so I ordered another and it arrived 2 days ago.

But I am amazed and frustrated to say that the new one arrived defective! So this is getting ridiculous. Microsoft, what is up with your quality control? This is the third Surface in a row I’ve received that was virtually unusable on arrival (even after all OS updates). The other two were Surface Books that I wrote about here.

The specific problem on this Surface 3 was that there was a 2-inch by 3-inch band of screen near the left side of the display that was unresponsive to finger-touch (but it did react to pen contact). Even after all the OS updates, after rebooting many times, and after re-calibrating the screen, that part of the screen remained permanently unresponsive—it wouldn’t register taps, wouldn’t finger-drag, etc. I did a quick Internet search and a 2-month-old discussion came up on a Surface-dedicated forum about the very same problems on some units in the Surface Pro line. A Microsoft support person chimed in with the usual multiple sentences about how sorry they were, and how they felt our pain, but unfortunately also with the usual lack of solutions. When pressed they finally replied it was probably a hardware problem and to return it.

So I started to pack up my Surface 3 to send it back, but came across a note later in that forum where someone had found a solution on a Sony web site. Two-years earlier, Sony had developed a utility for their own Windows tablet to clear up the exact same problem, and put it out for download. It was a little .exe that ran for about 10 seconds and, behind the scenes, it re-calibrated the touch screen in some deep-seated under-the-cover permanent way. And it worked, problem solved! In fact, the entire touch screen is much more responsive now. Here’s the link if you need it. That Sony page says it’s only for Sony hardware and only for Windows 8.1, but it worked fine for the Windows 10 Surface 3, and apparently works fine for the Surface Pro line too.

Now, I am glad to have the solution. But if it was posted two-full years ago, why didn’t Microsoft know about it and the solution? And after being identified 2 years ago, why is it still showing up in some brand-new Surfaces?

Things to ponder.

Michael

14 thoughts on “Another Surface Problem “Surfaces”

  1. ilyas

    Hello Michael,

    You said the tablet was locked. What do you mean by that? Is there a software you use, or what is it? Could you elaborate more please.

    Thank you,

    Ilyas

    Reply
    1. Michael Linenberger Post author

      Ilyas: By “locked” I mean the Windows 10 sign in process. I have the setting active where you must sign in when it resumes from sleep. I use the PIN setting, so it’s fast, but after 5 miss-tries you have to use the full login password (and I use a very obtuse password). Michael

      Reply
  2. Scott B

    Thanks so much for the Sony tool link! I have a Surface Pro 3 that had the same issue (pen and mouse were fine, but finger touch didn’t register on part of the screen). I ran the tool, rebooted, and now I can use the whole screen.

    Reply
    1. Michael Linenberger Post author

      Scott, oh good, I am glad it helped someone. By the way, I am curious. Was that dead spot there from day 1 with the SP3, or did it show up later, perhaps after an OS update? Thanks, Michael

      Reply
  3. Dave Kreimer

    As a power user of Outlook for many years, I appreciate the excellent tips you provide. Outlook is a great product that is ridiculously complicated and you demystify a lot of what is required to make it a really useful tool. The changes in this article were offered for a Surface 3, but I like what they did for using Outlook on my Surface Pro 3 in touch mode.

    While you provide excellent info, I have been looking for a place to warn others about the very poor job that Microsoft support has done with me. If you do not want the rest of this post on your site I understand. But briefly… I made the mistake of granting remote access to a young tech whose solution to my problem, deleting an unwanted user, was to create a new account for me. However, she failed to mention that most of the ways that I had personalized my tablet would be lost. I estimate that it took about 8 hours to redo all of my settings and a week later I am still discovering things that were undone and need to be reset, or worse, are forever lost.

    Being only moderately proficient with windows and office I have required support on numerous occasions from Microsoft and they always come up lacking, in my opinion. Your experiences with equipment problems don’t surprise me. They seem to be taking a give us your money and we’ll see if we can help you with the problems we know will arise stance, which leaves me feeling pretty unhappy with their service.

    Ironically, I really like the Surface Pro 3 tablet. I wish that the company were half as good in supporting it as they were in designing a user friendly form factor.

    Reply
  4. Philip Hochuli

    Hey Michael !

    I thank you so much, you just saved a lot of time for me!

    This issue with part of the screen being insensible to touch input from my finger (while also for me no issues with pen and mouse occurer -> weeeeird !!), it all works perfectly fine now again (yes !). Since I’m in the midst of some very stressful weeks with tons of work to do (and I work almost exclusively with my Surface Pro 3) I’m just so happy that your tool (or Sony’s tool to keep things right but it was definitely your blog) saved me from some big trouble so cheers on you and all the best from Switzerland !

    Reply
  5. Frank

    Can’t thank you enough – you saved my Surface 3 from the trash bin with your article and fix on this touch screen issue.

    I had to run some visual basic drivers in order to get that program to run after getting a msvcr100.dll is missing error. Afterwards, it ran without a hitch and I can finally type all the letters from left to right via the on screen keyboard.

    Reply
  6. oli G

    Such a serious problem on an ntrig touch device such as surface pro 3
    Feels like the whole thing is ready to be put in the rubbish bin.

    Try calibration tool from MS, provided with system. touch operation problems persist.
    Uninstall touch driver, touch keeps working? and still fault persists. reboot?
    boot all shaken , not booting a all, got to take it to hard reboot,(push volume up and on at the same time until EFI boot screen shows. touch problem also there. try to reboot the poor little thing and takes 3 go to get it to windows, touch still erratic with dead zones on the screen.

    As someone else here did find forum with Sony (ntrig) calibration tool touch, run console app for 10 seconds touch screens works like a charm. (this forum is over 2 years old)

    https://www.reddit.com/r/Surface/comments/2knsyd/surface_pro_3_touchscreen_problem/

    This is totally unacceptable from MS. r u mad or what? stop basketball and weed feast and do some work.

    Reply
  7. surfaceuser

    I had the same problem with my surface pro 3, win 10 up to date (now). It still works.
    Thanks!

    Reply
  8. Beth

    Thank you so much! This has resolved a completely different issue for me on my Pro 3. I had a phantom touch that was showing up on the right side of the screen, and I had tried everything I could find to fix it. This seems to have cleared up the issue that I have had for months! You are the best!!

    Reply
  9. Philip

    Many thanks – this was driving me crazy and your post has stopped me throwing my Surface at the wall!
    Why doesn’t Microsoft know about this !

    Reply
  10. Bernard

    Thank you so much Michael !

    I had a complete unresponsive screen on my 3 years old surface 3 pro / win 10 (and a few anxious days of googling about it) . The surface pen was working but the touchscreen had been fully dead…
    You little piece of fsoftw

    Reply
  11. Bernard

    Thank you so much Michael !
    I had a complete unresponsive screen on my (3 years old) surface 3 pro / win 10 (and a few anxious days of googling about it) . The surface pen was working but the finger touch had been fully dead over the whole screen. Your Sony piece of software fixed right out of the box a thing I was beginning to resign myself to live with…

    Reply
  12. Brian

    Just to let everyone know that this still works as of today. I have a Surface Pro 4 running Windows 10 Enterprise. The top third of my screen stopped responding to touch (though the pen still worked), and this solution fixed the problem. The top of the screen is again responsive.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Reply

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