Microsoft says it respectfully disagrees with Consumer Reports’ findings on its Surface range of laptops and tablets. Consumer Reports has removed its “recommended” badge from Microsoft’s entire lineup of Surface PCs because the hardware was found to be less reliable than other PC brands. In a surprise report, Consumer Reports surveyed 90,000 tablet and laptop owners and found roughly 25 percent of Surface users have encountered issues by the end of the second year of ownership.
Microsoft disagrees with Consumer Reports’ findings, and Surface chief Panos Panay says the company stands “firmly behind the quality and reliability of the Surface family of devices.” In a blog post, Panay says the Consumer Reports survey is disappointing. “While we respect Consumer Reports, we disagree with their findings,” says Panay. “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.”
While Panay has chosen to focus on the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book, it’s not entirely clear what devices Consumer Reports even surveyed. The data is from devices purchased between 2014 and early 2017, and likely includes devices like the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 which were still on sale throughout 2014. Consumer Reports says it’s not recommending Microsoft’s latest Surface Laptop because of this data collection of existing Surface devices.
Both the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book experienced issues with sleep reliability, and Consumer Reports claims some people have problems starting up their devices or have had them freeze and shutdown. It’s not clear if Microsoft’s firmware problems with its previous Surface devices were part of these issues or not, as Consumer Reports hasn’t provided full details.
Consumer Reports typically collects at least 300 responses in its survey data, and a spokesperson confirmed to The Verge that “our data on Microsoft was well above that threshold.” Consumer Reports refuses to break down its data to reveal how many older devices are included in its report, and the split between laptops and tablets.
Microsoft argues that the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book rank high in customer satisfaction based on commissioned research from IPSOS, but that will do little to change Consumer Reports’ recommendation. While the product testing magazine previously reversed its Apple MacBook recommendation, there isn’t a specific hardware or software fault that Microsoft can address to help convince Consumer Reports.