Last week, Consumer Reports pulled the recommended status from Microsoft’s Surface devices due to their reliability issues. The data from Consumer Reports was collected after surveying over 90,000 users which pegged the reliability issues with Microsoft Surface Book and Surface Laptop to be around 25 percent.
Microsoft in a statement said that it does not agree with Consumer Reports findings. However, an internal memo written by Panos Panay, VP of Microsoft Devices, suggests that there might be some truth in the report from Consumer Reports. The memo says that there was “some quality issues” with the Surface Book and the Surface Pro 4. The Redmond company, however, “worked tirelessly” to fix these issues which Panay says were not reflected in Consumer Reports survey.
A chart accompanying the memo says that Surface Book had a return rate of around 17 percent when it first launched and continued to remain above 10 percent for the first six months of its release. The Surface Pro 4 had a similar return rate of 16 percent, though it did drop down to less than 10 percent a month after its release. As per the chart, the Surface Book has had the highest return rates compared to any other Surface device since the last two years that it has been on sale.
The Surface Book reliability issues were widely highlighted when it was first released. While Microsoft promised to fix the issues with software updates, the company ended up taking months to address some of the issues. Even after that, some problems continue to linger. Microsoft had first blamed Intel’s Skylake platform for all the issues its Surface Book devices suffered from. After Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella had a talk with Lenovo last year, the company realised that the issue was with its own custom firmware and not with Intel’s platform.
“We take quality seriously,” Panos says, “conducting rigorous reliability testing during development to forecast failure and return rates, which are then continually viewed against [real world data] post-launch. We also regularly review other metrics to understand the experience we are providing to our customers and our findings show our products are in a much healthier place than noted by Consumer Reports.”
Nonetheless, Microsoft will now be working with its partners, release comprehensive data and a marketing campaign to reveal the actual truth to consumers. The company has had some reliability issues with its Surface devices in the past but that’s history now and does not reflect just how satisfied Surface owners are now with their devices.