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Timely Firmware Update Rescues Surface Pro 3

I usually post my blogs on Mon-Wed-Fri. This week is a little different. Instead of blogging, writing and working as usual, I’ve been trying to get my Surface Pro 3 up and running. It seems it was belatedly bit by the firmware update for Spectre that MS released on January 5. Starting over the weekend, my machine got into a crash-loop with error code system_service_exception. Subsequent inspection using Nir Sofer’s BlueScreenView informed me that the faulting module was ntoskrnl.exe. Further online research pointed directly at the now-rebuffed firmware update issued in the wake of the Spectre and Meltdown disclosures that kicked off the New Year. Fortunately for me, a timely firmware update rescues Surface Pro 3 rescues my machine, too.

The Surface Pro 3 has its quirks, but it’s been a good hybrid tablet, all in all.
[Click image to see full-sized view. Source: Microsoft.]

How a Timely Firmware Update Rescues Surface Pro 3

I found myself in a sticky situation. Because the machine kept crashing so constantly, I could neither perform a repair nor a clean install of the affected OS. I was seriously contemplating a trip to the Microsoft Store and a possible repair charge. Then I decided to try the Windows Update MiniTool (WUMT). It’s faster than WU, and can often grab and handle updates when Windows Update itself cannot. Sure enough, it found a new firmware update (dated 1/24, also listed in this Micrososft SP3 download link).

Intel changed its mind about the firmware installs for Spectre and started advising IT pros and end users to avoid them about 10 days ago. Because I’d already updated the SP3, I’d wondered at the time if this might not turn around to bite me. For a while there, I thought I’d gotten away clean. But then, this weekend my party got crashed repeatedly as the SP3 started cratering every 10 to 15 minutes. When I finally saw the firmware update notification this afternoon, I finally saw a ray of sunshine and some promise of relief.

I’ve now gotten the firmware update installed, and am working on updating the OS to Build 17083. I’ll keep at it until I get it working once again. If I hit any other bumps in the road, I’ll update this post with further details. For once, I’m really glad I didn’t have to learn how to roll back the firmware update mistakenly applied to my Surface Pro 3. Who knew that such an update could ride to my rescue?

[Note added 7:07 PM] Turns out I had to perform a clean install of Build 17083 to get the Surface working properly again. The upgrade kept crashing, too. But after a disk wipe and a clean reinstall, I’m back in business. Now, I’m putting the tools and apps in place to make the machine completely mine again. And so it goes, here in WindowsLand…

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