The software and firmware for the Framework was a mess, but it's working on it

The software and firmware for the Framework was a mess, but it's working on it
Zoom in / Laptop frame 13.

Andrew Cunningham

Since Framework showed off its first prototypes in February 2021, we've generally been impressed with the company's modular, repairable, and upgradeable laptops.

That's not to say that the company's hardware releases so far have been perfect, as each Framework Laptop 13 model has quirks and flaws ranging from small To a large extent, the Laptop 16's positive aspects struggle to balance its negatives. But the hardware mostly does a good job as a regular laptop while being easier to tinker with than a typical MacBook, XPS, or ThinkPad.

But even as it builds new upgrades to its systems, expands sales of refurbished and B-stock hardware as budget options, and encourages reuse of its products via third-party containers, Framework has struggled with the other aspect of computing longevity and sustainability: providing modern software.

Driver packages remain out of date for years after their initial release. BIOS updates go through long and confusing beta processes, preventing users from getting feature improvements, bug fixes, and security updates. In community support forums, Framework staff, including founder and CEO Nirav Patel, acknowledged these issues and promised fixes, but remained inconsistent and vague about actual timelines.

But according to Patel, the company is working to fix these issues and has taken some steps to address them. We talked to him about the causes and solutions for these issues, and about the company's approach to the software side of its efforts to enhance repairability and upgradeability.

Promises made

Here's an example: Intel's 12th generation release of the Framework Laptop 13, which prompted me to start monitoring software and firmware updates for the Framework in the first place.

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In November 2022, Patel Announce This model, which was then the latest version, received nice and free improvements in specifications. All four USB-C ports on the laptop will now be full-speed Thunderbolt ports. This wasn't a radical functional change, especially for people who were mostly using these ports for basic Framework expansion modules like USB-A or HDMI, but the upgrade opened the door to high-speed external accessories, and all it needed was a BIOS update.

The USB-C ports on Intel's 12th Gen version of the Laptop Framework 13 can be upgraded to fully certified Thunderbolt ports, but only if you're willing to install one in a long line of experimental BIOSes that are still in testing.
Zoom in / The USB-C ports on Intel's 12th Gen version of the Laptop Framework 13 can be upgraded to fully certified Thunderbolt ports, but only if you're willing to install one in a long line of experimental BIOSes that are still in testing.

Andrew Cunningham

But the BIOS update never showed up. About a year and a half later, the Framework support page for this 12th Gen Intel laptop came up He still says That “there is no new BIOS available” for a laptop that began shipping in the summer of 2022. The factory-installed BIOS, version 3.04, also does not include fixes for the LogoFAIL UEFI vulnerability or any other firmware-based security patches that have appeared in the past year and a half. .

It's not just that updates don't appear; The company was bad at estimating when to do this may be Out. The 12th Gen Framework BIOS also does not support the 61Wh battery that the company launched in early 2023 alongside Intel's 13th Gen refresh. Framework told me that the BIOS update will be released in May 2023, and it has not been released yet. A battery-enabled update has also been promised for the 11th Gen Intel version in May 2023; It was released last January.

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The framework has been trying, but is still having problems. a BIOS update beta 3.06 With promised improvements to the 12th generation Intel Framework for laptops, it was published back in December of 2022, but the final version was never released. a Latest 3.08 beta BIOS It entered testing in January 2024 but is still causing users some problems. There has been no communication on this topic from anyone at Framework since early February.

The result is several long forum threads of frustrated users requesting updates, interspersed with incorrect but unsatisfactory responses from Framework staff (some version of “we're a small business” being one of the most popular).

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