I bought one of the first Canadian Framework 13s. Here's why I've just placed an order for a Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon

TL;DR: Framework spent so much time trying to build a sustainable laptop, they forgot to build a sustainable user base.

I placed one of the earliest Canadian orders for a Framework 13 (11th Gen). I knew, of course, that I was investing in hardware from a start-up, and that there would be growing pains and rough edges. What I didn’t expect was the degree to which these growing pains and rough edges would persist, and - arguably - worsen, with time.

My initial frustration focused around the time it took to ramp up 12th-Gen motherboards, and the delays associated with shipping. I get it, Framework’s a small company, and production capacity is hard to come by. In due course the new motherboard arrived, and installed without a hitch.

Then came the long-running - and still ongoing - problems with 11th- and 12th-Gen motherboards: CMOS battery drain in the case of the former, and the continued absence of any BIOS updates in the case of the latter. Days turned to weeks, to months. The 11th Gen fix eventually arrived; with some grumbling, I paid up to have the fix installed. The 12th Gen board, however, remains unfixed.

But more frustrating even than the delays is the sense that Framework is orphaning its earlier customers. This couldn’t have become more clear to me than with the delays surrounding support emails (now, I’m told, 4-6 days) - due to priority being given to shipping new units. In the meantime, I’m stuck with a non-functioning keyboard and no possibility of even ordering a replacement part. As with the 12th Gen BIOS, it seems like Framework is consistently assigning priority to new product at the expense of existing customers.

I appreciate that Framework is still a small company, and has a very specific mission. But I am increasingly getting the impression that, in the pursuit of growth, Framework is hanging existing users out to dry.

Now, this is fine if you bought a Framework because you want the mission of sustainable laptops to succeed - or if you happen to have a spare laptop or three lying around. (I suspect this describes a great number of people here.) But for those of us who rely on our FW13s as our only real computer, the current support situation quite simply isn’t where it needs to be.

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I just wanted a compact laptop with not soldered memory, and the open source ec is pretty enticing. The rest is pretty much just a bonus.

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Only if you can actually flash a modified version of it yourself, which apparently, is not the case. I bought framework because of the aesthetic mechanical design and (at least better than competitors) Linux support.

I feel like framework is in the same shoes as AMD, pretty good hardware, without a proper software team.

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As the maintainer of…

  1. A fork^1 of Framework’s embedded controller which has been deployed to multiple device generations
  2. the open source tools (^2 and ^3) that make it easy to flash your own embedded controller firmware
  3. the Windows driver for the same^4
  4. the Linux kernel patches for the newer models^5

…I am going to humbly request a citation for this factoid.

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I’d view post-release firmware updates as essential. Everything else that has come up in this thread (EC controller, SO-DIMM slots*) once again highlights that the FW13 is still very much a niche product - one that simply doesn’t have the post-sales support it needs.

*and even there you have choices from at least one of the major OEMs (eg HP Elitebook 8x0).

!! I’m happy to learn that I was wrong the whole time! I thought since the EC firmware is part of the BIOS updates, it has to be signed by framework. So regarding the recent issue of charger compatibilities on amd 13, we can actually fix that ourselves?

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Are you saying you are unable to order a replacement keyboard from the marketplace, or are you are waiting for a response from support about a replacement?

As for support delays, I don’t think it has anything to do with orphaning older products. Support is simply swamped right now. Not because support have anything to do with shipping new units, but because they are swamped with support requests right now, in part because of the pre-orders (order change requests, requests to change payment methods, etc.) and new units landing in customers’ hands. They have said they are working to get additional support staff hired and trained, but that takes time. Also, they don’t want to over-hire or hire “seasonal” employees who they’d have to let go as soon as the surge of support requests from the recent launches dies down.

Don’t get me wrong, the current support delays are a bummer and you have to do what’s right for you. If that’s a Lenovo, that’s great. But I wouldn’t interpret the current support delays at Framework as an indicator that they are abandoning their previous customers or products.

The delay on the 12th gen BIOS is a bummer as well, no doubt. For the sake of all those waiting, I hope news (or even the new BIOS) drops soon.

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I want a 12th gen BIOS update as much as any other 12th gen owner…but seriously the LOGOFail like many vulerabilites is overblown. Are you going around handing over your laptop to adversaries? Leaving it laying around in public spaces unattended at a Black Hat Convention? Plugging usb sticks you found in a seedy bar into the laptop? Looking for people to hack your device and handing them your credentials? If you answered no, as well you should have then the likelihood of this affecting you is miniscule…and this kind of a reaction is an over reaction, but hey, you do you.

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@BigT I need a complete input deck assembly, and that definitely isn’t available on the Marketplace.

@nadb I believe there is some discussion on the thread about other potential avenues, but even if we grant that this particular vulnerability is overblown, what does this delay say about the speed with which the next vulnerability will be addressed?

Oh, and let’s not forget about features that were promised but never delivered (like actual TB4 certification, or compatibility with the larger battery).

Strange. Normally the input covers are all available there.

Even if it wasn’t, the availability of the code would still make it more enticing than a proprietary black box.

Schematics are still useful even if almost no one builds custom modified versions of the board with them.

I think your expectations don’t match the reality because your expectations were unrealistic. When I first heard about the Framework I plotted out some milestones. 1) Actually produce the first gen product, which i had no intention of buying because I never buy a first gen product. Done. 2) Produce the next gen product. Done. 3) Improvement through iteration. Done. 4) AMD offerings. Done. 5) Matte screen. Done. 6) On going Enterprise support by year 5. In progress.

It generally takes 5 years for a new business to fully hit it’s stride. If Framework was unresponsive I would agree with a lot of what you said, but Framework is far from unresponsive as their track record proves.

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I really agree with @nadb and would say that expectations are so varied between people. Framework, given the constraints that are real and they are dealing with, has been knocking them out of the park consistently.

While the 12th gen board does not appear to get much love, I don’t feel it has had anywhere close to as many problems either. My 12th gen has been working great since I first upgraded to it. I have not found myself wanting.

For me though, their design goals, and company ethos are what matter to me. They are perhaps the ONLY computer company right now not trying to screw over their customers with planned obsolescence. Your Framework laptop can very well be the last laptop you buy, and that is something that Framework is engineering and operating to accomplish. This is on purpose and not a coincidence.

On top of that, all of the applications that their modular design has made possible is amazing. Framework has made mistakes, and they have come clean and they try to do the right thing. I am very pleased with Framework.

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IIRC it was on the second FW16 update they said that things had got to a point that they are able to release the BIOS team to work on the improvements required for the Gen 12 BIOS.

An update: as I’ve posted elsewhere, I’ve had to contact support due to problems arising from a replacement keyboard that necessitated my ordering a replacement Input deck. (At this point the onboard keyboard won’t detect numerous keys.)

Imagine my surprise when I was, in essence, told that I am condemned to using my FW13 exclusively with an external keyboard for an indeterminate period:

At this time, our Input Covers are out of stock and we are prioritizing restocking this item.

We recommend going to the listing and selecting the option to get notified/waitlist.

If there’s anything else that we can assist you with, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Thank you for choosing Framework, have a great day!

(Note also that on the Canadian Marketplace page, there are no Input Cover listings at all as of this writing, except for the Chromebook Input Cover.)

As I noted in my initial post, I’ve had the growing sense that existing FW users are being hung out to dry. Responses like the one I received aren’t helping with that impression.

I get that it’s probably frustrating but using an external keyboard is really not that bad. I’m sure you’ll survive the agony. Lol

Anyways, I imagine the regular input cover being missing is just an oversight. They just revamped all their filtering and probably messed something up. In sure it’ll show up soon. You could also just mention it to them.

While it is unfortunate that you won’t have a replacement keyboard until they are able to restock, its still a pretty good track record that up until this point there has been an avenue for customers to replace this part, and that when they do restock, you’ll be able to get a brand new keyboard and input cover for your 2 year old laptop that is out of warranty. Not many other companies would even want to help you out there. Framework may be having stocking issues now, but they are tiny compared to their competitors, so I’d be willing to give them a chance. If you feel otherwise, I’m sure that any of Framework’s competitors would love your business next time you want to buy a laptop.

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The input cover is universal between the very first FW13 laptops sold and the versions being sold new right now. I’m sure they aren’t going to stop making/selling them. It is unfortunate that they are out of stock when you need one, but they did say they are working to get them back in stock. Are you saying that the input covers being out of stock is more evidence that they are abandoning their older products/customers?

I know they have been slow with firmware updates and support is swamped/slow right now. I can absolutely sympathize with the frustration people feel over that. Maybe they pushed too far and overextended themselves, and now they are struggling to catch up and re-prioritize some important things. Maybe they could have done a better job at that. But I don’t see any intent to abandon existing customers or older products. At least not so far, despite some delays and issues.

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I’d be a lot happier putting up with the inconvenience if I had some indication as to when the Input Covers would actually be back in stock, instead of the status quo of “wait indefinitely without even the possibility of an email reminder”.

I’d find that rather more believable if the Input Cover listings hadn’t been missing for weeks, well before the addition of any FW16 parts. And, for what it’s worth, I did point this out in my reply email to them.

In a word, yes.

Given that (as you say) the input covers are universal, and given limited production capacity, FW was in a position to choose how many input covers to allocate to new product and how many to reserve for sale as parts. What I’ve observed over the past several weeks is that there have been no input cover listings at all, apart from the Chromebook listing (not even ones with “notify me by email” fields).

As you’ll have seen from the subject line, I’m putting my money where my mouth is on this one. I’m writing this in the hope that FW will prove me wrong, because I do think FW is doing something important and new, and I do want them to succeed. I just don’t think that endlessly cutting FW slack (“they’re a startup”, “they are being responsive on other things”, “resources are limited”) is going to help achieve that.

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