Microsoft cant fix “flickergate” Surface Pro 4s with software, so its replacing them
Microsoft will replace Surface Pro 4s that are afflicted with a screen flickering issue that is caused by a hardware problem and is unfixable in firmware or software.
For more than a year, there have been complaints from Surface Pro 4 users that their tablet computers were developing a nasty screen flickering issue. You can see the issue in action here. The random occurrence and nature of the corruption made it clear that the hardware was the cause. To try and eke some life out of their systems, Surface Pro 4 users were going to extreme lengths. Sticking the machines in the freezer would restore normal function for a short period, and other owners felt that hairdryers were a better solution.
With Microsoft now properly acknowledging the problem, these hacks are no longer necessary. Customers with affected machines must request a replacement within three years of the initial purchase, whether it was a consumer or a corporate sale. They'll receive a refurbished but otherwise equivalent Surface Pro 4.
More than a few owners of affected systems have paid Microsoft for repairs: screen replacement can be done for $450. The company says that anyone who had their screen replaced to address flickering should contact the company and apply for a refund.
It's not clear just how many owners have been hit by the issue (for what little it's worth, several Surface Pro 4 systems have passed through my hands and none of them have shown this particular defect), but Microsoft's slowness to respond is sure to give many would-be Surface buyers some concern. The issue is not so much the existence of the hardware flaw in the first place—it's obviously not universal, and every manufacturer has had the occasional manufacturing defect—but the fact that it took Microsoft so long to take any real action.