Framework’s software program and firmware have been a multitude, however it’s engaged on them

The Framework Laptop 13.
Enlarge / The Framework Laptop 13.

Andrew Cunningham

Since Framework confirmed off its first prototypes in February 2021, we have typically been followers of the corporate’s modular, repairable, upgradeable laptops.

Not that the corporate’s {hardware} releases so far have been good—every Framework Laptop 13 mannequin has had quirks and flaws that vary from minor to fairly important, and the Laptop 16’s upsides wrestle to steadiness its downsides. But the {hardware} largely does an excellent job of functioning as a daily laptop computer whereas being way more tinkerer-friendly than your typical MacBook, XPS, or ThinkPad.

But even because it builds new upgrades for its techniques, expands gross sales of refurbished and B-stock {hardware} as finances choices, and promotes the re-use of its merchandise by way of exterior enclosures, Framework has struggled with the opposite aspect of computing longevity and sustainability: offering up-to-date software program.

Driver bundles stay un-updated for years after their preliminary launch. BIOS updates undergo lengthy and complicated beta processes, preserving customers from getting characteristic enhancements, bug fixes, and safety updates. In its group help boards, Framework workers, together with founder and CEO Nirav Patel, have acknowledged these points and promised fixes however have remained inconsistent and obscure about precise timelines.

But in keeping with Patel, the corporate is engaged on fixing these points, and it has taken some steps to handle them. We spoke to him in regards to the causes of and the options to those points, and the corporate’s method to the software program aspect of its efforts to advertise repairability and upgradeability.

Promises made

Here’s a working example: the Twelfth-generation Intel model of the Framework Laptop 13, which prompted me to start out monitoring Framework’s software program and firmware updates within the first place.

In November 2022, Patel introduced that this mannequin, then the most recent model, was getting a pleasant, free-of-charge spec bump. All 4 of the laptop computer’s recessed USB-C ports would now turn out to be full-speed Thunderbolt ports. This wasn’t a dramatic useful change, particularly for individuals who had been largely utilizing these ports for fundamental Framework enlargement modules like USB-A or HDMI, however the improve opened the door to high-speed exterior equipment, and all it will want was a BIOS replace.

The recessed USB-C ports in the 12th-gen Intel version of the Framework Laptop 13 can be upgraded to fully certified Thunderbolt ports, but only if you're willing to install one in a long series of still-in-testing beta BIOSes.
Enlarge / The recessed USB-C ports within the Twelfth-gen Intel model of the Framework Laptop 13 might be upgraded to completely licensed Thunderbolt ports, however provided that you are keen to put in one in a protracted collection of still-in-testing beta BIOSes.

Andrew Cunningham

But the BIOS replace by no means confirmed up. Nearly a yr and a half later, Framework’s help web page for that Twelfth-gen Intel laptop computer nonetheless says that there’s “no new BIOS accessible” for a laptop computer that started transport in the summertime of 2022. This factory-installed BIOS, model 3.04, additionally does not embody fixes for the LogoFAIL UEFI safety vulnerability or some other firmware-based safety patches which have cropped up within the final yr and a half.

And it is not simply that the updates do not come out; the corporate has been unhealthy about estimating after they may come out. That Twelfth-gen Framework BIOS additionally does not help the 61 WHr battery that the corporate launched in early 2023 alongside the Thirteenth-gen Intel refresh. Framework informed me that BIOS replace could be out in May of 2023, and it nonetheless hasn’t been launched. A battery-supporting replace for the Eleventh-gen Intel model was additionally promised in May 2023; it got here out this previous January.

Framework has been attempting, however it retains working into points. A beta 3.06 BIOS replace with the promised enhancements for the Twelfth-gen Intel Framework Laptop was posted again in December of 2022, however a last model was by no means launched. A more moderen 3.08 BIOS beta entered testing in January 2024 however nonetheless gave customers some issues. There’s been no communication in that thread from anybody at Framework since early February.

The result’s a number of lengthy discussion board threads of pissed off customers asking for updates, interspersed with not-untrue however unsatisfying responses from Framework workers (some model of “we’re a small firm” is likely one of the most typical).

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