The good news is that Microsoft appears to have gotten on top of the issue internally, but one wonders whether the company’s own confidence in launching innovative products such as the detachable Surface Book, which had a 16% return rate due to reliability issues, has been dented for a long time going forward, and whether this killed interesting products such as their foldable phablet.
The magazine says its survey found that “25 percent of Microsoft laptops and tablets will present their owners with problems by the end of the second year of ownership”. That put the company’s hardware in last place when compared to eight other device manufacturers, while Apple was ranked number one with a two-year breakage rate of 10 percent. “We don’t believe these findings accurately reflect Surface owners’ true experiences or capture the performance and reliability improvements made with every Surface generation”. The consumer watchdog publication cited concerns over longevity and a remarkably high failure rate in its statement summarizing its decision.
But as longtime Microsoft blogger Paul Thurrott points out, Panay’s factoids don’t directly counter Consumer Reports’s contention that a quarter of Surfaces break down within two years.
To get at reliability, the Consumer Reports National Research Center surveys our subscribers regularly. Consumer Reports has removed its “recommended” badge against Microsoft’s entire lineup of Surface PCs since the hardware has been found to be less reliable than other PC brands.
This is why today’s Consumer Reports survey is disappointing. They include the Microsoft Surface laptop (both the 128 GB and 256 GB models) and the Microsoft Surface Book (128 GB and 512 GB models).
The revelation of internal software incompetence caused Microsoft to cancel or delay more ambitious products a year ago, resulting in the current boring generation of slightly upgraded Surface Pro (tellingly without the driver-nightmare USB-C/Thunderbolt ports) and the even more boring Surface Laptop.
Microsoft’s statement very carefully maneuvers around the Consumer Reports data, stating that the Surface improves with each generation, and that should be taken into account when considering failure rates. “Based purely on lab performance, the Surface Pro is highly rated when used either as a tablet or with a keyboard attached”.
However, many shoppers care as much about reliability.
In a post, Panay claims the Consumer Reports poll is unsatisfactory.