Surface 2 screen saga – do you run these apps?

apps listIf you’ve been following my other posts you’ll know I’ve been having problems with the touchscreen on my Microsoft Surface 2 (refresh your memory). Currently I’m onto my second device and the problem has persisted. Microsoft have authorised a second replacement but I’m wanting to do some detective work of my own before I blame the device again; there’s no point replacing a device if the problem relates to something else which will only manifest itself in the third device.

As far as I can tell the only thing which has persisted across both devices (based on when the first one started failing) are the Touch Cover and my user profile. I’ve already noted that disconnecting the cover while faulting doesn’t make the fault go away on this second device; I’m yet to determine if having the touch cover disconnected on an ongoing basis prevents it occurring in the first place. So that will be an ongoing project.

But at this point my focus is on my user profile. Could there be some corruption in my profile, or in an app I’ve got installed, which is leading to this fault? I would think it unlikely but I’d like to be able to rule this out – after all I’m running the same user profile on this device, and the same apps (or at least a subset of these) are installed so there’s definitely some commonality. I should say that as this was my first MS device my Microsoft account was freshly created on the first device so the problem can’t be from some pre-existing profile bug. I’ve activated the guest account and next time the device faults I’ll be switching to that account (if the touchscreen lets me!) to see if that stops the problem.

What I’m interested in at the moment is whether it’s related to an app I may have installed, and whether there is any third-party app commonality between me and anyone else having this problem. So here’s the list of apps I’ve got installed from the Windows store:

Currently installed and probably installed while first device was faulting:

  • Dropbox
  • King James Bible
  • Metrotube
  • Offroad Racing

Currently NOT installed but still in my profile, but possibly installed while first device was faulting:

  • Aussie Weather
  • King James
  • mFTP
  • mZIP
  • YouTube Art

Currently NOT installed but still in my profile, only installed on first device after faulting:

  • Another Case Solved
  • Download Station

Are you having this problem? If so, do you have any of the apps installed from the first two lists?

EDIT May 8: The device has just faulted. I was playing offroad racing, switched back to the home screen and tapped in the top left corner (this seems to sometimes have some effect in bringing it on), and it started registering phantom touches. Switched to the guest account, still going. Switched back to my account, still faulting. Closed all apps, even checked Task Manager and no running apps, but the problem still persists. Logged OUT of my account and STILL faulting. Touch keyboard, no change. Power plugged back in, no change. Screen off for 60 seconds with no keyboard or power connected, back on, suddenly the problem’s gone.

EDIT May 14: A single test while the unit was faulting has determined that after between 9.5 and 10.5 seconds of the screen being turned off, the problem went away. This appeared to happen at the same time as the keyboard backlight went out. I will continue to monitor and evaluate this.

8 thoughts on “Surface 2 screen saga – do you run these apps?

  1. Metrotube and Dropbox would have been installed or on my account and not installed when it faulted. I currently have switched to a new account and all is ok for the minute. I’m letting the battery die so i can recharge and then see what happens. Ill keep you updated

    1. I had the fault this morning with the Type Cover connected. Only fairly brief and not as bad as normal but it happened. Was straight after a quick blast of Offroad Racing again.

      1. Can you please try wipe the screen clean. Shutdown the tablet and then power it on so that nothing touches screen while it’s booting.

        I had a similar problem where the screen was unresponsive in some areas but just for a few moments and then was alright again. I was playing around in FreshPaint and managed to locate precise location of screen that was faulted, but after method above, the problem disappeared.

        1. Thanks for the idea Aleksandar. I did try cleaning the screen on my first unit when it was faulting and this didn’t make the phantom touches disappear. If I shut down and restart the device it always fixes it, regardless of what’s touching or not touching the screen. Turning off the screen briefly and turning it back on made no difference, but more recently I’ve noted that having the screen off for a more extended period before turning it back on seems to help. I’m investigating this further and the timing surrounding it at the moment. If yours only happened for a few moments and then fixed itself, yours may be a slightly different problem, as mine have normally done it for an extended period.

          1. So i have taken the type cover 2 off and the problem appears to be solved. 4 days straight with no issues. Not even small ones. I am going to reattach it tonight and run it and see if problems occur. This may be the issue

          2. Good work Niall. I would have to mention at this point that after I did a ‘device refresh’ on my original device it immediately ran for a good week and a half without a single problem, so much that I was sure that had fixed the problem until it eventually reappeared. Unless it was caused by a driver update that re-downloaded itself or something this would have to mean it was coincidence that the fault stayed away; so if I was in your position I would want it to run for quite a bit longer before I was sure it’s fixed.

            You may remember I ran my Type cover for a few days instead of my usual Touch cover and the problem didn’t go away which has ruled out a bug in my Touch cover. So I don’t think the problem would be in a specific keyboard….HOWEVER…

            …this may be related to your research. My work this week has been in timing how long you have to have the screen turned off for when it’s faulting before the problem goes away. I got it to fault, turned screen off for one second, back on, fault was still there. Repeated for two seconds, still faulting. Kept going in one second increments; nine seconds it still faulted, 10 seconds it didn’t. Interestingly, I’m pretty sure that at the 10 second mark the keyboard backlighting turned off. Note that this has only happened once so is yet to be confirmed but this was my impression. So IF it’s related to backlighting and you don’t have a keyboard connected, obviously the backlighting won’t be running; so the problem may not occur unless a keyboard of some description was connected. On this hypothesis it would be interesting to see if anyone with a version 1 keyboard / Surface 1 with original keyboard (which had no backlighting) has this problem. Anecdotally, the internet seems pretty quiet about this but if it had been happening since Surface 1 was out you’d imagine there’d be more noise. The other take on this is that it may not be related to the keyboard backlight timeout directly, but to some other driver / power resets which occur at the 10 second mark in addition to the keyboard backlighting.

            Next steps:
            1) Continue to test if the problem stays away without a keyboard (Niall, though I’ll try this too)
            2) Continue to monitor if the problem resets itself after a 10 second screen off (Greg)

            This should help to narrow down whether it’s related directly to keyboard backlighting or not.

  2. Your Posts are About 5 years old and I wonder if anybody has found a solution in the meantime, as I have this same Problem with my Surface Pro 4 now. Someone told me it were an issue with the Touchscreen and I should Change it, but to invest quite a sum of Money with an uncertain result doesn’t seem a good idea to me given that your Problems did not disappear with the replacement.
    From all the above mentioned Software I only have Dropbox installed, which worked fine all the years, but you never know…

    1. Hi Thomas,

      Since then I’ve moved device onto a SP5 and haven’t had this issue thankfully. I can’t actually remember now what ended up happening but I would be very surprised if Dropbox or some other regular app would be causing this.

      My best guess, given everything I tried, is that the digitizer driver or firmware (or hardware) has some dodgy intermittent fault. I would try the device refresh / roll back to before you noticed the problem, and pause any further updates for a month or so until you’re satisfied the problem has gone away. If it does, that is. If it remains it could well be a firmware or hardware issue unfortunately which probably isn’t going to go away 🙁


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