The consumer advocates at Consumer Reports have delivered a stunning blow to Microsoft: The nonprofit organization has pulled its recommendations for Surface products, citing an industry-worst failure rate.
According to a Consumer Reports survey of over 90,000 tablet and laptop owners, an estimated 25 percent of those with Microsoft Surface devices will experience “problems by the end of the second year of ownership.” This failure rate is the worst in the industry by far among mainstream PC makers, the publication says, and as a result, it is pulling its “recommended” designation for all Surface products.
“If you are very concerned about how long your products are going to last, it might be better for you to go with a brand that has a higher predicted reliability,” Consumer Reports electronics editor Jerry Beilinson told Reuters. “Laptops and tablets … made by Microsoft were significantly less reliable than most other brands.”
Microsoft disagrees with the Consumer Reports findings.
“Every generation of Surface surpasses its predecessors in performance and in reliability,” a Microsoft statement claims. “Surface return and support rates are in line if not lower than industry average for devices in the same class. We are committed to ensuring the premium Surface experience for all of our customers across the entire family of devices.”
Microsoft had benefited from a curiously skewed series of positive editorial stories in mainstream publications because of its perceived innovation with PCs compared to Apple. I dispute that view, actually, and have wondered aloud how any PC maker could be called an innovator when they just released their first laptop in 2017. More to the point, other companies in the PC industry have been innovative in this space for years.
But as Consumer Reports notes, the reliability of Apple’s laptop and tablet products are consistently the most highly rated by its readers. So whether you believe that MacBooks and iPads are innovative, they are indeed the most reliable products of their kind.
Meanwhile, the Surface devices were found to freeze, unexpectedly shut down or have issues with their touchscreens, Beilinson told Reuters, noting that the reliability issues made Microsoft “a statistical outlier compared with other brands.”
I’m still waiting on the original report from Consumer Reports. It appears that they have briefed a few news outlets, and Microsoft, ahead of publication.
UPDATE: Here is the Consumer Reports write-up. “Due to its comparatively higher breakage rate, Microsoft laptops cannot be recommended by Consumer Reports at this time,” the publication notes.