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Microsoft Defends Surface Range Amid Reliability Concerns

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Consumer Reports says it can’t recommend any Surface laptops amid fears they are unreliable, but Microsoft hits back

Microsoft has defended the quality of its Surface tablets and laptops following concerns raised about their reliability by Consumer Reports.

The organisation said it had removed its ‘recommended’ status for four of the range and that it could not recommend any other Microsoft Surface devices because owners were more likely to suffer issues than owners of other branded laptops.

Consumer Reports tests factors such as display quality, battery life and speed and estimates a quarter of Surface owners will have problems by the second year of ownership such as crashes and touchscreen failures.

Surface Pro

Microsoft Surface reliability

Surface devices have been critically acclaimed, including by Silicon, but Consumer Reports says that as a relatively new entrant to the laptop market this is the first time it has had enough data to predict reliability.

“Consumers tell us that reliability is a major factor when they’re choosing a tablet or laptop,” says Simon Slater, Consumer Reports’ survey manager. “And people can improve their chances of getting a more dependable device by considering our brand reliability findings.”

Microsoft said that although it respected Consumer Reports it disagreed with the findings.

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“Microsoft’s real-world return and support rates for past models differ significantly from Consumer Reports’ breakage predictability,” said a Microsoft spokesperson. “We don’t believe these findings accurately reflect Surface owners’ true experiences or capture the performance and reliability improvements made with every Surface generation.”

Head of devices Panos Panay has also published a blog post to defend the quality of devices and reassure customers of their reliability.

“Surface has had quite a journey over the last few years, and we’ve learned a lot,” he said. “In the Surface team we track quality constantly, using metrics that include failure and return rates – both our predicted 1-2-year failure and actual return rates for Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book are significantly lower than 25 percent.

“Additionally, we track other indicators of quality such as incidents per unit (IPU), which have improved from generation to generation and are now at record lows of well below 1 percent.”

In Janury 2016, Microsoft was however forced to recall Surface Pro charging cables after it emerged the power cords shipped with the devices are at risk of overheating.

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