In trolling my go-to Windows sites this morning, I found news on a Firmware update for the Surface Pro 3 (SP3). Because I have one myself, I jumped into Windows Update to see if I could install same. Nothing doing. But on closer inspection, I saw the updates released yesterday already present on that PC. The two items are Surface-Firmware updates 126.96.36.199 and 3.11.2150.0. The former aims to boost battery life during sleep, while the latter UEFI update improves PXE performance over IPv6. This is documented on the SP3 update history page, with a June 6 release date for those items. But then I checked Update History on my SP3. There, I saw those selfsame items with release dates of 4/27 and 4/28, and an install date of 5/23. That’s when I realized that Surface Pro firmware gets previews, too. Let me explain…
It turns out there’s a very good reason why my SP3 shows dates different from the MS general release.
Why Say “Surface Pro Firmware Gets Previews?”
It just so happens that my SP3 is on the Microsoft “Release Preview” update schedule. Thus, it gets new releases that target the Current Branch version of Windows 10 before other PCs on the same branch that stick to the public release schedule. I never realized that Microsoft floated firmware releases on a lookahead schedule in this program, along with more typical security updates, patches, and fixes. But now I know for sure that they do with firmware as they do with other stuff. The proof’s in the dates shown in the preceding screen capture.
I’m not sure why this surprised me. I guess it makes sense to try out new firmware on self-selected beta testers before unleashing it on the general public. It just didn’t occur to me that signing up for the Release Preview program meant my SP3 would see firmware updates in advance of those sent out in general release. Kind of makes me wonder if MS has ever decided not to propagate firmware updates to the general public, based on issues uncovered in the Release Preview program. I’m not sure I’d want to be that kind of guinea pig, but I guess I am already. You’ve been warned!