Microsoft Surface devices fail on reliability

Dora Pope
August 11, 2017

The decision particularly impacts the latest Microsoft Surface Laptop and the Surface Book, which the reviews organization had initially awarded its coveted "recommended" designation.

At the heart of the issue is "poor predicted reliability" according to Consumer Reports, which says it has concerns as to how the Microsoft notebooks and tablets will hold up in comparison to rival hardware.

Consumer Reports predicts that 25% of Microsoft tablets and laptops will have problems within two years. Consumer Reports bases its predictions for reliability on historic reports from older devices, then uses that to project how new hardware will hold up.

Microsoft disagrees with the report, saying in a statement "real-world return and support rates differ significantly from Consumer Reports' breakage predictability".

The mag claims that the differences in estimated breakage rates between the devices of "most other brands" is "statistically significant".

In earlier lab tests that measure factors such as display quality, battery life, speed and ergonomics, Surface devices were ranked highly by Consumer Reports.

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Consumer Reports said that responses to its annual survey revealed that consumers weren't pleased with their Microsoft products during the lifetime of ownership.

Several Microsoft products have performed well in CR labs, including the new Microsoft Surface Pro, which earned Very Good or Excellent scores in multiple CR tests. "And people can improve their chances of getting a more dependable device by considering our brand reliability findings". Within the Surface product family, Microsoft also sells the Surface Laptop, which features a traditional clamshell laptop design.

Consumer Reports points to reported problems with touchscreen, issues at startup, and problem with freezing and random shutdowns. Because of this, Consumer Reports can not recommend the devices.

Consumer Reports also said that it "cannot recommend any other Microsoft laptops or tablets" due to reliability issues.

Predictably, Microsoft is unhappy with the news.

To get at reliability, the Consumer Reports National Research Center surveys our subscribers regularly.

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