HP Spectre x360 mouse cursor freakout bug SOLVED

A couple years ago our IT Director asked me to pick out a new laptop for myself. Given that I am a Windows guy and several of my colleagues use expensive Macbooks, and given that I am a remote worker and so act as my own helpdesk/hardware support system, I had a lot of leeway in what I picked.

I wound up going with the HP Spectre x360, a sexy-slim laptop with a 15″ touch screen and a hinge that lets you flip it backwards into pseudo-tablet mode. I think it was about $1600 at the time.

I LOVED this laptop for a couple of months, then the mouse cursor started acting up. It would jump to the dead center of the screen and them streak upwards. When it reached the top of the screen it would reappear at the bottom and continue moving upwards. At first this happened now and again but over the course of the next few weeks it got worse and worse.

I tried all sorts of things to fix it. I started by just tweaking the trackpad settings, then updated the trackpad driver, then disabled it completely, then went through the same routine with the touchscreen driver. Since the problem was somewhat intermittent I thought I’d fixed it many times, but the problem always came back.

Finally I went for the nuclear option and reinstalled Windows 10. That seemed to work for a while but eventually the problem returned, at which point I started thinking that maybe it was a hardware problem.

I decided I’d have to wipe the machine and talk to our IT Director about getting it sent in for service and then never did that because a) it sounded like a pain and b) I hated to admit to IT I’d encountered a problem I couldn’t fix. I set the laptop aside for… well.. 8 or 9 months? I had my own Surface to use when I needed to travel and most of my work I do on my personally owned desktop system with 2 big monitors…. don’t tell IT this since I’m not supposed to be using my own gear.

Last night for some reason I decided to give it another go. A lot of people who’ve had this problem (and it seems limited to version one of the x360 which was replaced by a newer version a while back) keep talking about the touchscreen being the problem, so once again I decided to try disabling the touchscreen. When I was in device manager my eyes landed on the Pen Driver. When IT bought me this laptop she also bought me an over-priced pen/stylus for it. I think I used it once and honestly don’t even know where it is. Out of sight, out of mind.

On a whim I disabled the pen driver and… poof, the problem vanished. Then I re-enabled the touchscreen driver and still, the problem was gone. Now I’m kind of kicking myself that it took me this long to consider doing this but I guess all’s well that ends well. At least I’m hoping it has ended well…it’s only been 12 hours or so.

So if you have an early edition Spectre x360 with a wonky cursor try this:

Windows+X, pick Device Manager from the list that pops up, then look under Human Interface Devices. If you have an “HD-Compliant Pen” driver, right click on it and choose Disable and see if that helps.

Of course if your cursor is as wonky as mine was, just doing this can be a challenge. It was like playing a video game, trying to fight the glitch long enough to get the pointer over to the item I wanted to disable.

Update, September 24th 2018: OK it’s been 6 months or so since I wrote this post and the problem is still solved. So it was definitely an issue with the pen driver. Now my only issue is that when Windows updates (and I put this machine in the Windows Insider program so it updates pretty often) the driver gets re-enabled and I need to go in and disable it again. Not a huge deal, though, and I’m back to loving this laptop.

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