Here’s What Microsoft is Saying Internally About Surface Quality and Reliability

Posted on August 13, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Microsoft Surface with 121 Comments

Here's What Microsoft is Saying Internally About Surface Quality and Reliability

Thurrott.com has seen an internal Microsoft memo that indicates that the software giant is readying a broader campaign to undercut this past week’s news from Consumer Reports. It also provides greater insight into why Microsoft believes the Consumer Reports recommendations are incorrect.

“It’s important for us to always learn more from our customers and how they view their ownership journey with our products,” the memo, from Microsoft corporate vice president Panos Panay reads. “Feedback like this [from Consumer Reports] stings, but pushes us to obsess more about our customers.”

Panay says that Microsoft will continue to “engage” with Consumer Reports and try to both learn from their survey and testing to improve things for customers and “reverse their findings.”

There are a number of interesting aspects to this memo. The first is a mention of “some quality issues” that the firm experienced with “the launch of Surface Book and Surface Pro 4.” I summarized these problems and Microsoft’s painfully slow response in my early 2016 article Welcome to Surfacegate. But it may be useful for everyone to understand how and why this happened.

Multiple senior Microsoft officials told me at the time that the issues were all Intel’s fault, and that the microprocessor giant had delivered its buggiest-ever product in the “Skylake” generation chipsets. Microsoft, first out of the gate with Skylake chips, thus got caught up by this unreliability, leading to a falling out with Intel. Microsoft’s recent ARM push with Windows 10 is a result of that falling out; the software giant believes that Intel needs a counter to its dominance and that, as of late 2016, AMD simply wasn’t up to the task.

Since then, however, another trusted source at Microsoft has provided with a different take on this story. Microsoft, I’m told, fabricated the story about Intel being at fault. The real problem was Surface-specific custom drivers and settings that the Microsoft hardware team cooked up.

The Skylake fiasco came to a head internally when Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella met with Lenovo last year and asked the firm, then the world’s biggest maker of PCs, how it was dealing with the Skylake reliability issues. Lenovo was confused. No one was having any issues, he was told. I assume this led to some interesting conversations between the members of the Microsoft senior leadership team.

But the net result was that Microsoft had to push out some existing designs quickly to get ahead of the reliability issues. The result was Surface Laptop, an uninspiring product whose origin is years old (Julie Larson-Green was still working at that part of Microsoft at the time), and the new Surface Pro, which is obviously just a minor update. More forward-leaning products like a new Surface Hub, code-named Aruba, and a mobile device code-named Andromeda, were pushed back, in the former’s case to 2019.

With that in mind, let’s return to this week’s memo.

In the wake of Surfacegate, Panay says that his team has “worked tirelessly” to improve Surface Book and Surface Pro 4 and to ensure that subsequent product launches—Surface Laptop and Surface Pro (2017), of course, but also Surface Studio and Surface Hub with Performance Base—launched with higher quality. The goal, which makes sense, was to get better each time.

“These improvements were unfortunately not reflected in the results of this [Consumer Reports] survey,” Panay claims, indicating that it was perhaps overly-weighted with angry Surface Book and Pro 4 customers.

He also suggests that what Consumer Reports calls a “failure” is perhaps overly-broad and that some incidents—like a frozen screen or unresponsive touch—are not “failures” but are rather just minor incidents that are easily rectified by the user.

“We take quality seriously,” he 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.”

Here, again, things get interesting. Panay is about to offer some actual data to support his claims. And that is:

“Surface NPS [Net Promoter Score] is consistently higher than [that of] the OEMs” (e.g. the other PC makers).

And this is something I actually know a bit about.

Net Promoter Score does not measure reliability. It is, instead, a score, ranging from -100 to +100, that measures whether customers of a given product would recommend that product to others. It measures satisfaction, not reliability. And PC makers, like HP, religiously follow this score and use it to determine how to improve future versions of their products.

So this supports the contention that I made two days ago in Microsoft Mounts Its Defense of Surface Reliability: Customers who spend more on premium products tend to be more satisfied even when they are unreliable because they need to justify their own decision-making process. Whether you believe or not doesn’t matter. Because NPS does not measure reliability, which is what Consumer Reports is estimating. It measures customer satisfaction.

(On a side note, Panay never mentions Apple in this memo. I suspect that Apple’s NPS is higher than that of Surface, but no matter.)

But Panay does offer a bit of relevant data too.

He says that the rate of Surface “incidents per unit” (IPU) is “extremely low,” or less than 1 percent. This is across the Surface product portfolio, and inclusive of customer service calls. And this score has improved “with every device launch.”

He also notes that worldwide return rates “have consistently decreased over the past 12 months. The worst offender in the accompanying chart is Surface Book, which suffered from a 17 percent return rate post-launch, in late 2015. (Surface Pro 4 was roughly the same, at about 16 percent.)

Finally, Panay notes that several blogs have come to Microsoft’s defense despite the fact that there was, at that time, no real evidence suggesting that Consumer Reports wasn’t correct.

“[We] have put together a comprehensive set of data that reflects the strength of our quality and our customer sentiment, and will be working with partner organizations, including marketing, retail, and sales, to share that information broadly,” he writes.

So here are the key takeaways. The facts, if you will, that we can squeeze out of this communication.

One, that the Consumer Reports findings are largely skewed by Surface Book and Surface Pro 4 devices, which Microsoft’s internal data proves suffered from massive reliability issues over a long period of time.

Two, that Microsoft’s internal data shows that it essentially fixed those products.

Three, that subsequent Surface devices launched in far more reliable states. (This may explain why the firm has ignored USB-C/Thunderbolt 3, by the way.)

Four, that Surface customers—whatever the reason—are very happy with their purchases. (With the understanding that there is less correlation, I believe, between product reliability and customer satisfaction with premium products.)

And five, that Microsoft is determined to tell its story and to reassure its customers that it is serious about providing an excellent and high-quality experience to all Surface customers.

Put simply, Microsoft Surface has had some reliability issues. And Microsoft believes it has turned the corner on those issues.

 

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Comments (123)

123 responses to “Here’s What Microsoft is Saying Internally About Surface Quality and Reliability”

  1. Avatar

    nightmare99

    There is some truth in SkyLake being Intel's fault as the early microcode for the mobile parts was very buggy, you could bluescreen some laptops just by opening excel which was fixed with newer BIOS releases containing the update microcode.


    Some of me thinks Lenovo was partially trolling MS,

    Satya "Hi Lenovo how are you handling all these SkyLake issues?"

    Mr Lenovo "What issues? Our computers work fine, maybe you guys should stick to making software and leave the computer business to us Hardware guys? (tee, hee)"

    • Avatar

      Paul Thurrott

      In reply to nightmare99:

      I should have added that I heard the same thing from multiple PC makers: They never found Skylake to be particularly buggy.

      • Avatar

        bbold

        In reply to paul-thurrott:

        Other PC makers also didn't have a laptop where the whole entire thing comes in half and both parts have batteries in them, and need a multitude of custom made (and oft updated) drivers in order to function properly. I think the Surface Book had issues because it was a 'brand new take' on a '2 in 1 device.' That right there sounds a little experimental and problematic, but I love mine, so I'm glad Microsoft took the plunge and was innovative!

      • Avatar

        MacLiam

        In reply to paul-thurrott:
        Is it possible there is a usage bias here? That Surface users are in the aggregate somewhat more demanding in their informed expectations and aggressive in their use than the buyers of devices made by others that are used primarily for media consumption, browsing and email? Or maybe other manufacturers respond to complaints with inaction and the suggestion that users are holding it wrong. That'll keep a failure return off the books.
        To give another anecdotal report of personal use and general satisfaction, I have in the last four years bought for myself or family members an original SP, an SP3, an SP4 (but a year after it was released, so I missed the Days of Turmoil), a Surface Book, the new 2017 SP, and two Studios. I picked up the Book eight or nine months after release, so it also ran pretty well from the day I set it up -- but it is also the only Surface I have had to replace after it froze 11 months later during an Insider update and I could not recover it. I would have thought Microsoft might have preferred to reinstall the system and use internal recovery magic, but after only five minutes of messing around at the counter, the guy in charge said they'd take it back and give me a new one. It turned out that "new" meant a refurb, so I asked if I could just pay the $100 more to upgrade to a unit with the same specs and a performance base. He said yeah, so that's what I brought home. In this case, I think MS was willing to swallow a failure stat just because it was simpler for them to do so than try to fix a unit on a short schedule for a customer who needed it back as soon as possible. I don't doubt that my old Book is now a refurb in a brown box waiting to be traded for the next Book that comes in with a problem that the company does not want to attack while a clock is ticking.
        My satisfaction is still high with Surface devices, but it doesn't feel like I am making excuses for weak hardware in which some may think I am emotionally invested. I just haven't had that many disappointments. At one point I was emotionally invested in an HTC Win 7 phone, but I dropped it without a second thought when it emerged there was no upgrade path to Win 8. I went to Android to replace that lost functionality, but Samsung's lack of support for a phone after they had sold it subsequently drove me away from them as well. I got back to Windows phone with Lumias running Win 8 and then Win 10. I don't love them, but I tolerate them because they are pretty good and I am familiar with them. When the last one of those ceases to work, I will probably go back to Android -- but never on a Samsung.


        • Avatar

          nightmare99

          In reply to MacLiam:

          Agreed, what he said. Users hold Microsoft in higher regard than typical OEMs which just tend to have sh*t support as standard which people put up with.


          Microsoft are compared and held to the same regard as say Apple, not Lenovo, ASUS, Dell etc

      • Avatar

        nightmare99

        In reply to paul-thurrott:

        I would be surprised if the OEMs would willingly throw Intel under the bus for fear of repercussions. Having sold many systems I know I was not happy with any 6700HQ notebook being passed to a customer without the latest firmware containing the newer microcode patch, its really embarrassing when a customer queries why their system is BSODing when just opening an office app.


        I wish MS could force all OEMs to make UEFI firmware updates available via WU.

        • Avatar

          Waethorn

          In reply to nightmare99:

          The main problems with UEFI are with Windows compatibility. Windows 8 systems needed an update to support Windows 8.1 properly because of changes Microsoft made in the OS. Ditto for many Window 10 upgrades on the same hardware. Also, the pre-release versions of Windows 10 had issues with power management that OEM's corrected, but then Microsoft sought to correct the issue in Windows on release, and OEM's had to issue compatible firmware images to compensate.


          Microsoft doesn't give a sh*t about firmware compatibility. They don't understand that firmware isn't meant to be a fluid piece of software that should be updated on a whim. This is why they failed at making reliable computers. They thought they could push the concept by recommending that UEFI be built on C programming, like a mini-OS with "drivers" instead of ROM BIOS modules, but fail to understand the key concept of firmware - you only update it if there's a bug in the programming. Hardware makers know how their hardware works, and so they know how to interface with it. Microsoft doesn't. Likewise, they're only adding to the complications by making Windows as an-OS-with-drivers on top of an-OS-with-drivers.

  2. Avatar

    Dan

    And 6 - Microsoft blaming Intel all along was unfound. No other PC manufacturer had the same issues Microsoft had at all. And Paul mentioned that Intel was at fault over and over for a very long time, when it was Microsoft that was to blame.

    Way to go Paul.

    • Avatar

      bsd107

      In reply to Dan:

      Reminds me of the 3-4 months of constantly blaming Intel's driver update utility for screwing up the webcam on his Intel NUC (running Windows 10 Insider Edition). Then later figuring out that it was a change in Windows 10 causing the webcam problem.

    • Avatar

      bbold

      In reply to Dan:

      Pointing fingers and placing blame isn't what this needs to be about. This needs to be about improvements to the Surface line, the Surface experience. This is all GREAT focus that is happening, so I truly think everyone needs to look at it that way and move forward.

    • Avatar

      evancox10

      In reply to Dan:


      To be fair, Paul was just reporting what he'd been told. However a retraction/clarification of some sort is probably in order.

      • Avatar

        bbold

        In reply to evancox10:

        This  shouldn't be "about Paul." Ya'll need to get a grip. At the end of of the day, this is about Microsoft reliability and satisfaction, and the only takeaway here by us needs to be that the line will improve, and that is a great thing!

        Paul is, in a sense, an editorial journalist. He reports on news that he has seen and heard, and usually throws in his 2 cents, and that's why we love him. He's a little more unforgiving. If you don't like that take on Microsoft, there's always Windows Central, MS fan boy central. Take your pick. (I'm not dogging on WC, I read and enjoy both.)

      • Avatar

        Dan

        In reply to evancox10:

        By one company. He uses laptops from HP and Lenovo as well. No chipset issues ever with them.

  3. Avatar

    Waethorn

    The takeaway is this: Microsoft's undoing will be of their own making.

  4. Avatar

    bbold

    Great article, Paul.

    We may never know the truth about whether or not the fault was with Intel or Microsoft drivers, but the result is the same, the Surface line had some issues. As with all things, I truly believe the "truth" hides somewhere in the middle of both parties (in this case, Consumer Reports and Microsoft.) I truly believe that both sides are equally as determined to get their viewpoint out there and stand behind it by whatever data or facts they wish to throw out there. (And I'm sure both parties are just as likely to put forth those slightly spun documents, surveys and tests that will further validate their viewpoints and findings.) As a consumer, I'm very excited about the subsequent reliability improvements that will come across the Surface line because of all this focus.

    In a way, this is a really great thing that is happening, and consumers (both enterprise and home) need to see it in this positive light. As consumers and users of Microsoft products (ie. "The Surface Line"), we will benefit greatly from this renewed focus on reliability, from both sides, and from, hopefully, ALL PC makers.

  5. Avatar

    Jules Wombat

    Facts remain. Microsoft no longer appreciates quality. This is all down to poor/weak software Surface device drivers on skylake. Other OEMS know how important engineering quality is, and Microsoft used to be relied upon to deliver quality software. But No Longer, and hence their declining reputation.

    Maybe Panos will still be given an opportunity to Apologise to Intel.

    • Avatar

      ayebang

      In reply to Jules_Wombat:
      I do not believe all from Microsoft and Paul.

      First, if all Surface came from its drivers, It would have been not make sense at all.

      Microsoft is too good to make bad drivers as even small company can make very good. It also took so long to solve it. This does not make sense for fixing drivers problem with big guy like Microsoft with lots of engineer.

      Microsoft must deal with some serious issue that we do not know like Intel chipset which I believe it is true that Intel's the revenge on Microsoft turrning to ARM chip is likely.

      In above article, it ignores the reason that Microsoft do not make USB C which I do not think it make any difference to me due to it is for charging only. Apple today, they still have some problem of USB C controller in MCBook 12 causing some short cercuit inside.


      • Avatar

        SvenJ

        In reply to ayebang: I guess it depends on what you think USB-C implies. On my Lumia 950XL that port allows charging, USB-peripheral connection, including keyboards, mice, drives, even Ethernet adapters, and video and audio out. That's pretty much everything I would need to connect with a single interface type, to a phone or laptop. I understand you can use that connector, and not provide all that capability, but that implementation, just charging, is not what I believe people are thinking when they say USB-C. It would have been a great replacement for the Display Port on Surfaces, as long as it supported video out. Users would only have had to purchase a new cable to have the same capability as they currently do, and would have had so many new options.


  6. Avatar

    plettza

    The Skylake fiasco came to a head internally when Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella met with Lenovo last year and asked the firm, then the world’s biggest maker of PCs, how it was dealing with the Skylake reliability issues. Lenovo was confused. No one was having any issues, he was told. I assume this led to some interesting conversations between the members of the Microsoft senior leadership team.


    Interesting... I built my own Skylake-based PC and never ever had a reliability problem. Never. I built it using an Asus motherboard, Corsair RAM and a few other components. Sleep, hibernate, etc. issues, never appears. When I read this at the time, I assumed it was a mobile chipset/CPU fault.



  7. Avatar

    a_c

    I'd like more details of the role of the Intel Precise Touch architecture in all this. It apparently launched with the SP4 and has a much more complex driver stack, involving the GPU, than other touch devices. As an indication of its complexity and proprietary nature, there is still no mainstream Linux support for it almost two years after its launch. I don't know where the dividing line is between Intel and Microsoft on developing the touch drivers for the SP4, but regardless it seems unlikely that the first product out the door incorporating the Precise Touch would launch smoothly.

  8. Avatar

    irfaanwahid

    I bought my Surface Pro 4 in Feb 2016. It has initially few reliability issues most of them have been ironed out.

    Apart from one annoying thing, which I seek for some assistance/or if other suffer the same.

    In random cases, my Surface won't shut down, that is, Start Menu>Shut down. It does not react to Shut Down action at all. Until I have to force shut down from the power button.

    Anyone having the same issue, or a way to solve this?

    I've tried refreshing Windows 2-3 times, it didn't solve. Even Windows updates from Anniversary to Creators Update, none solved this issue.


    Let me know guys..

  9. Avatar

    Graham Wilton

    I bought my SP4 on release in November 2015. It was extremely unreliable, unstable and unusable as a work machine. It took them until the summer of 2016 to get the drivers stable. I had to do a couple of clean installs after that to get rid of the random touch screen stopped responding issue.


    Yes, the Surface Pro 4 was the most unreliable piece of junk I've ever seen but it now been fixed and stable for a year.


    Would I recommend a Microsoft Surface. No! Never!

  10. Avatar

    EraseYourself

    I’d love if my SP3 didn’t sound like a jet engine with only a few tabs opened.

  11. Avatar

    Roger Ramjet

    Where to begin on this item?

    On the Microsoft side, they need to just adopt the Nike mantra. Frankly, even these internal return rates aren't impressive. Although, I do not know what the baseline is in PC systems, I have to imagine that if 5 out of 100 customers return a product that should aspire to high reliability, and stickiness (yes, reliability isn't the only reason why customers return products, and importantly this metric is absolutely not comparable for Microsoft vs. Apple) that ought to be some sort of marker. So, these have been trending down but if you draw your line at 5%, it was not until September 2016 that most of the products fell below that, Surface Book didn't do it until, like, yesterday. Yes, they can correctly claim they have been improving, but what it looks like, from a reliability perspective, is that they launched the brand unprepared, they started at amateur hour. These internal numbers and the data from CR are not inconsistent. The real issue is CR's action on that information, which is not proportionate to the information they have, and not profitable for consumers, to discourage them from considering new products that would be useful to them(Surface Laptop, Surface Pro 2017) and that are likely to be mainstream in the metric you claim to be measuring. But at least, it makes them the center of the universe for 15 minutes.

    Back to Microsoft, they may have improved today, but the past chickens just came home, and therefore you have to turn a new leaf and handle it from now forward, professionally. You need to take the right actions to assuage those past missteps, erring on the side of too much rather than too little. It is a no brainer, from a corporate perspective, the cost is miniscle because nobody is going to care in the investor community if you take a 1 time charge of however many 100 millions, it is 1 time. Yes, sure the cost will be high for the concerned executives, but that's payback for whatever mistakes or lack of knowledge that existed back then, it happens. The alternative of tarnishing the brand by continuing discursive arguments (even if you are partially right) that you are not going to win is just mindless, and I am hoping that they are heading in the right direction (afterall, these are just internal discussion documents, they have not come out since Panos statement to say they are, or are not going to do any particular thing. That takes time, to formulate the right responses).


    On the blogger community side, too many of them are predictably jumping to all sorts of conclusions, mixing rumor, fact, opinion, emotion, publishing stuff from sources that don't pass the smell test. Combustible stuff. It is not doing any good. I guess at least CR is a big winner, great gig over there if you can get it.

  12. Avatar

    thisisdonovan

    The fact that Microsoft blamed skylake processors for the surface problems when it was in was their own drivers, and then lied to their CEO is shocking!!!

    • Avatar

      Roger Ramjet

      In reply to thisisdonovan:

      I would thread very softly on this. I dont discount that individuals at Microsoft could have spread rumors to bloggers, but the stories in that middle section of the article on both sides reek of rumor, coming from unattributed sourcing, very questionable when you pose some follow up thoughts:

      1. Could Microsoft really take a big strategic decision like disrupting the Wintel by going for ARM because of reliability failures with just 1 chip, Skylake? I mean, product issues can happen right, no one is completely immune. It might have been more plausible if framed as the last straw in some sort of long running set of problems, but that aside: and they did this before the CEO spoke to "Lenovo" before speaking with HP, Dell, Asus, etc as to whether they had any problems on their end with Skylake? What, Satya Nadella does not know anybody at Intel to check their side of the story? Microsoft decided to dump Wintel because of a lie someone on a fledging, rather small division, Surface, cooked up, that the CEO or any other CXO of this $500B company not part of the fabrication did not bother to check with anybody else outside Microsoft? Hahahaha. This is laughable. And by the way, how many have been fired for this gargantuan clusterbleep that was just explained to us was discovered?
      2. If it was just their own drivers, why were the problems so hard to fix, taking so long? Its not like Microsoft does not have software expertise, or that the Surface team would not have known this was cooking their goose? For their own drivers they would have complete information, and would have been able to see the bugs very quickly. Far more plausible for something that became intractable is either a completely external problem at a fundamental level like a chip, or possibly even more likely(especially given the finger pointing), a mix of errors on both sides so that the compounding of those errors multiplied the problems of isolation. In such a case, you can probably blame Microsoft for making some sort of rookie manufacturer mistake of putting new software on top of new chips etc. The comment by the writer about USB-C is consistent with that, they are now shy of bleeding edge tech.
      3. The paragraph about the Surface Laptop being a "uninspiring" product pushed out quickly to somehow address reliability issues makes little sense. Microsoft must have a roadmap. How can it be that the "uninspiring" product, which had been sitting on some dusty shelf, which they are forced to improvise on, is the one they launch and decide to go worldwide on day 1, ending their "pilot" phase? How much sense does it make that their road map called for them to continue iterating on niche, nichy products, crimping the customer potential of the brand, while ignoring the mainline item, camshell laptop, indefinitely? Also, Surface Hub has had no reliability problems, and isn't in the PC family. Perhaps he meant Surface Book, since he later refers to Surface Hub with performance base. I believe the "uninspiring" throwaway reference there is a give. It tells you the perspective of either the writer or his sources. This is not neutral.
      • Avatar

        Edward Grego

        In reply to Roger Ramjet:

        Roger, all of your scenarios make perfect sense if you don’t have knowledge of one simple fact, no other OEM was having these “hot bag” and power config problems with the same chipset and OS. With that information the finger points right back to MS alone, and some very very deceptive practices.

  13. Avatar

    naven87

    Interesting that Microsoft uses a different NPS scoring. The one that I am familiar with across different companies uses a 1-10 system. 9-10 are considered promoters, 7-8 are neutral and 6 and below are detractors. The metrics look at promoters vs. detractors.

    • Avatar

      bbold

      In reply to naven87:

      It's all about spin.. how they spin the whole thing and of course, it puts Microsoft in a better light than other tests or viewpoints might. It's all about keeping stock prices up, at the end of the day, so Microsoft is doing what any other company would do, they are spinning this to their benefit, which I would expect of anyone. Apple does the same thing, so does HP and everyone. The major takeaway needs to be though, as consumers, we will benefit from the renewed focus.

  14. Avatar

    Splat126

    "Since then, however, another trusted source at Microsoft has provided with a different take on this story. Microsoft, I’m told, fabricated the story about Intel being at fault. The real problem was Surface-specific custom drivers and settings that the Microsoft hardware team cooked up."


    DIdn't Microsoft use this alleged Intel Skylake foul-up -- and all the work they had to do to make Windows work on those chips -- as the justification for bailing out of supporting Windows 7 on Kaby Lake and later Intel chips? That has effectively forced businesses that are buying new laptops as part of their normal hardware refresh cycle to upgrade to Windows 10, whether they want to or not, as Windows 7 security updates won't install on Kaby Lake-based laptops.


    (I think these are in the same bucket, but it could be that the make-WIndows-work-on-Skylake stuff was a problem separate from the Surface Skylake driver issues at issue here.)


  15. Avatar

    navarac

    I have only had 1 Surface device - a Surface Pro 3 - bought straight after release in the UK. It had Windows 8.x on it originally, but now has the current Window 10 Insider Preview Build (16257.1000 (rs4)) on it. It has never had a hickup and runs sweet. Tempting providence I know, but it has never had an issue.

  16. Avatar

    Edward Grego

    I have owned every Surface (except for the latest Surface Laptop, Surface Pro and Surface Studio, I decided to drop buying MS products after my second SB killed itself in my bag, it got so hot two of the numerous it hot bagged, it destroyed the screen) since the original RT. Every single one of them had to be returned at least 1 time, the SP3 being the worst, it was returned 3 times, 2 times for hardware failure and once for the battery. Also, and this statement includes Surface Book, every single one of those devices suffer constantly from unresponsive touch screens, unresponsive keyboards that need to be re-attached to work again and desktop apps and icons being boggled after waking up when using Surface Dock. These products are junk, complete and utter junk! I’ve owned every high end Windows Phone that was sold on Verizon until Ms decided to stop making competitive high end hardware, then gave up on mobile. I had the Band, in the 1 year I owned it, it was returned 3 times for torn rubber on the wrist band, it was the same for Band 1.

    How long has MS been saying that their OS can’t be as reliable as Apple because MS doesn’t build hardware. Well, you build hardware now MS and what you make is pure junk. In fact, your software ran better before you made hardware, WTF? You are the Kmart of the computer industry’, the software is half baked and the hardware is mediocre at best (only in function, not form). I like Panay, but he needs to go, he has no idea how to test the hardware and software MS is designing and building. Sorry, I know people are not going to like what I;m saying, but MS makes shit, and all of us are fools if we continue to spend our dollars with them.

    I guess this is why I’m typing this on my new IPad Pro, soon to be a new Mcbook Pro if I can find suckers, I mean buyers for my Surface Book and SP3, for some reason, there isn’t a huge aftermarket for this crap, I wonder why that is?

    Good luck MS, you’re gonna need it.

    • Avatar

      atlbambam

      In reply to Edward_Grego:

      I'm with you Edward. My SP3 now has the infamous YELLOW STRIPE on the display. popped out of nowhere and i baby that thing. wasted my money on the extended warranty which is now expired.

      I'm a consultant and I'll never recommend another MS device again. Except their mice; hard to screw that up i guess; they do make good mice.

      • Avatar

        Edward Grego

        In reply to atlbambam:
        It’s sad really, they are squandering their success by distributing crap. And the best part, these devices will stop selling and they will blame it on the market instead of their own ineptness and reluctance to get rid of these people that keep f-ing up the product line. MS, test your devices before you sell them, and stop trying to build on an f-up base of an OS, fix what you have first, then start adding features, but you have to get your products working properly first.


    • Avatar

      Marius Muntean

      In reply to Edward_Grego:

      Agree with you...I know what you mean by crap products made by MS...

  17. Avatar

    lezmaka

    At least you finally figured out the truth and there weren't any major problems with Skylake, just how Microsoft was using it. Always gave me a little chuckle whenever you would bring up Skylake being buggy or how moving to Kaby Lake was going to be better.

  18. Avatar

    dstrauss

    Go back to the Surface Book reveal, and watch Panay claim that he could close the lid on his Surface Book and not lose a drop of battery - if that was true, it was the ONLY Surface Book in existence that could do that at the time, because everywhere it was report after report of sleep issues, drained batteries and/or hot bagging (running when supposedly in sleep mode and the system severely heating up in your briefcase). So is it any wonder they "fudged" on the cause of it all?

  19. Avatar

    John Noonan

    My Surface Pro 3, while a great device, has been one of the more glitch prone devices that I have ever owned. To this day Windows 10 Continuum doesn't work right (the machine is incapable of accurately knowing which mode it should be in, when it actually tries to do it automatically it is usually wrong about which mode is needed). Also, when docked as a workstation, the device refuses to wake up with mouse or keyboard multiple times a day, and it also loses web connectivity for no reason over the LAN line that is attached to the docking station. I have to power the dock on and off to fix this. The Surface is great, but I am not sure I would buy another Microsoft piece of hardware. They sure do not rival the reliability of my Apple products.


    The SP3 should be more than completely debugged by now.

  20. Avatar

    Marius Muntean

    I do not believe Intel had any fault. No one else had issues back then, such severe issues, but MS! So MS is to blame for that pathetic quality they delivered!

  21. Avatar

    Sam23

    First, stay away from Apple computer products.


    It's ok for Microsoft to make computers so they could demonstrate to public how they view future of possible positive user experience should look like... However I think Microsoft and its absolutely legitimate and ambitious brain storming activity should be aimed exclusively to other computer manufacturers that are well established. And take the path that Google took in 2009 with, Android by HTC and Samsung, by relying on other other companies to produce device with Microsoft name. Give it 5-7 years and then enter into manufacturing, still with baby steps, just like Google did with Pixel.


    Also, hiring jews to work onflagship products and other key positions would definitely help.


    (On a separate note I think Microsoft needs to rebrand itself to be called Windows because Windows just more popular, check on Google Trands, many people who born after years 2000 don't even know what Microsoft is... while knowing and using Windows. Plus, by renaming to Windows, Microsoft wouldn't have to held to stay true to its name ...Microsoft ..SOFT ...SOFT. it's no joke, I'm trying to be serious)


    I'll end with what I began: stay away from Apple.

  22. Avatar

    bsd107

    "The Skylake fiasco came to a head internally when Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella met with Lenovo last year and asked the firm, then the world’s biggest maker of PCs, how it was dealing with the Skylake reliability issues. Lenovo was confused. No one was having any issues, he was told. I assume this led to some interesting conversations between the members of the Microsoft senior leadership team."


    OK, but can you add more hindsight info to this?


    I remember that (based on Thurrot reports) Microsoft devices were basically the first out of the gate to ship with Skylake, before other PC manufacturers. They wanted to be on the bleeding edge.


    How much later did Lenovo's "issue free" Skylake laptops and tablets ship? Weeks, months, a quarter?


    A lot of this may have had to do with being first out of the gate....


    (Ironically, as compared to Apple who released Skylake Macbooks a full year later than Microsoft. Although, from what I've been hearing regarding the 15" Macbook Pro failures , they may have had their own challenges, too.....)

  23. Avatar

    bsd107

    "Three, that subsequent Surface devices launched in far more reliable states. (This may explain why the firm has ignored USB-C/Thunderbolt 3, by the way.)"


    THIS. I absolutely would have also made the same call to stall on Thunderbolt 3 on Surface Laptop and Surface Pro 2017 at this point in time.


    (No point in calling it "USB-C" anymore - when people complain about lack of "USB-C" on a device, they REALLY mean Thunderbolt 3, but they don't know what to call it. Once again illustrating the current confused mess around those ports.)


    No Apple user in their right mind, who MUST use USB-C/TB3 dongles and docks to connect literally anything to their new MacBook Pro's, would ever dream of blaming Apple when their dongle, 3rd party "dock" (whether of high or low quality) fails to work properly.

    In Microsoft's case, the blame would go to Surface, Windows 10, etc.


    I completely understand Panay's position on waiting on TB3 at this point....

  24. Avatar

    skborders

    I have a Surface 3 that was replaced early on for an unresponsive touchscreen and while I am very aware of its limitations, windows 10 is awful on it. Battery life sucks, it won't play videos from sleep you have to reboot etc. Hardware wise the replacement has not given me any trouble but the software is a mess. My Lenovo T430s operates perfectly with windows 10.

  25. Avatar

    BMcDonald

    Regardless of how MS sees this - I still cannot trust my Surface pro 4 to wake/up or sleep correctly nor can it ever properly navigate screen resolution when reconnected to my Surface Dock.


    So I am unable to use this thing in meetings, on the move or anywhere that it was intended to be used - for the simple fact that when I go to reconnect it - I will spend 30 minutes trying to convince the thing about which monitors are actually in use and which are not.


    So I use it as an overpriced glorified PC and leave it bound to the desktop all day long. Anything that wastes my time is not worth exploring further.


    B

    • Avatar

      dstrauss

      In reply to BMcDonald: Knock on wood, but my SP4 is connected to the dock, with two Displayport WQHD (Acer K272HUL) monitors, Ethernet, USB speakers, HP Laserjet, keyboard, and mouse, and when I plug it in they all fire up and at the resolutions I left them the night before when I took the SP4 home. Can't understand how some folks SP4/dock experience is FUBAR and some are nearly flawless.


    • Avatar

      bsd107

      In reply to BMcDonald:

      Have you updated the firmware in the Surface Dock? I saw someone post elsewhere that there is a firmware update for it that fixes some issues, but it doesn't come through Windows Update and needs to be downloaded from MS.

      • Avatar

        bbold

        In reply to bsd107:

        Yep. They say to plug in the dock for Windows to see it is attached, so it will trigger firmware updates. It's never 100% obvious what you're doing when it comes to this. I have downloaded new firmware for it, though, and the dock still doesn't always work 100%. Not if you have 5 monitors you attach to it (like I do.) Each monitor is like a totally different use case scenario. It never works as quickly or easily as Microsoft will have you believe.

    • Avatar

      cawoodstock

      In reply to BMcDonald:

      I find it interesting how much two different SP4s can have such different outcomes. My SP4 has been incredibly reliable.

    • Avatar

      bbold

      In reply to BMcDonald:

      Sounds like you have a clunker. I'd def reach out to Microsoft to get this SP4 replaced, repaired or returned. I know what you mean about not being able to "quickly" and "correctly" connect to Surface dock and have it all work as advertised, I am guessing that's just how these devices work in real world use right now. Same thing happened to me for about 8 months with my Surface Book. Microsoft needs to work on this area of reliable and quick external connectivity, and sleep/wake issues. (it would help to not have the power on/off button on the outside of the tablet portion of the 2-in-1, that is often the cause of 'hot-bag' issues, when that button hits the inside of your bag.) If it's enough of a bother, I'd totally get something else that better fits your current needs.

  26. Avatar

    ChancellorYudof

    Okay that is a 90 day return chart, not a 2 year issue chart. My Xbox 360 failed twice. My Xbox One failed. My PS3 and PS4 is still going strong.


    Microsoft at it's core DNA is not a hardware company. They are a peripheral company.

  27. Avatar

    DeusFever

    "Customers who spend more on premium products tend to be more satisfied even when they are unreliable because they need to justify their own decision-making process."


    Understanding like this is why I like thurrot.com.


  28. Avatar

    spiper

    I am an "early adopter" of the SurfaceBook and "bought in" getting the 16GB RAM / 512GB SSD options as well. I did not suffer any preconceived notions or delusions about a (nearly) brand new operating system running on a brand new HW design, on a brand new chipset. It was - and still is - all about the design. I expected it to be buggy at first - how could it be anything but. I took an even greater risk and promoted the SB to be my daily driver after about 3 months. Now, 2 years later (just barely), does it still have it's quirks? Yes it does. Some are little (double check that it really has shut down completely), and some are big (don't apply a major update while docked - bad idea), But I still really like my SB for many reasons. The combination of Windows 10 plus the flexibility of the hardware has made it a great (touchscreen, wait, no, pen, no, now laptop) solution for me - and replacing it in a few more years will be hard to do. Hopefully I'll have more options then.


    Consumer reports is probably right. If I had not been the willing participant in the Microsoft HW/SW Beta program, I would probably have been unhappy. I know I'm in the minority but I did know what I was signing up for. We got through it and now it's good, but not great or perfect.



  29. Avatar

    Benjamin J McMillan

    I went through great lengths to get hands on my Surface Book the day after the launch (couldn't get it the first day). I was in awe.


    And I was punished for my believing in and being patient with the Microsoft brand.


    For the first few weeks, I experienced many issues. The same issues everyone else was reporting on Microsoft Answers forums, and 3rd party forums. Good, I thought, I wasn't the only one. Must be software issues, I thought. Like I said before, this was absolutely expected on my part. I get it. I empathize with the engineers who should be working in shifts, using the Surface Book or Pro 4, to finish what they couldn't complete before the hardware was flashed at the factory. And updates came. And they seemed to resolve some major issues. Not all of them, but I could see progress was being made.


    Thus, I spent a few days after each update and fix to test whether it worked. Since some problems were nondeterministic, unrepeatable bugs, I knew it was just a matter of time and arbitrary input (in the QA sense). I still had issues.


    Finally, an apology came from Microsoft in late 2015. Hold on, they said. We're about to release some major updates in 2016 to fix power handling, among other problems. Great!!

    Updates came, and helped some. But in early 2016 everyone was talking about how Windows Update was corrupting important system files, among many many other issues. I started having lots of issues. Random, unrepeatable.


    - Chrome chrases constantly, even after a re-install of everything, and their developers are stumped as to why.

    - The keyboard base would disconnect losing typing and mouse touchpad capabilities until I reboot or disconnect then reattach the clipboard (see below).

    - The clipboard would refuse to disconnect, or do so one side at a time (but not enough to actually allow release).

    - Pressing the start menu or windows keyboard button produces a critical error that asks to sign out to fix. Nothing but restoring from backup or re-installing fixed it. But when I did, it came back just days later.

    - Sometimes the display would be completely blank, or somehow corrupt. The right-side action sidebar would be transparent, or the same with the start menu, or the start menu would be missing the buttons for Power, Apps, Settings, and more.

    - Sometimes would wake up from sleep or hibernate, but not 100% always. Not even 90%.

    - Pings from the terminal to a domain name or IP would work, but nothing could actually connect to the internet - not any browser, not the Dropbox or OneDrive services.

    - Windows Hello would work well for a day, then not work at all till re-install.


    And these are in addition to the battery barely lasting 7 hours, not 12 as promised (yes, I know you can only get the advertised battery life by not actually using the machine, ha). I also have put up with issues that seem to be more the fault of Windows 10 on any laptop, like scaling for high resolution displays, especially when one display is different resolution and scaling % than the other. Sometimes apps will be blurry, or the entire screen will be of garbage DPI until I reboot.


    Some of these issues and more are plainly documented on the Microsoft-hosted Answers forums by many other SB owners.


    After spending 12 hours re-installing Windows and all of my applications, and getting them setup to be productive, issues that prevent any productivity cropped up again. I knew that others were able to get exchanges at the MS store, so that's where I went.


    Even though the issues were reproduceable at the store and even though I had the supplemental support/replacement plan Microsoft took my hard-earned money for, I was met with options that I found unacceptable. The first option was to have them re-install Windows in the store. I'm not going to take that BS fix that I know is not much more than the "did try rebooting?" delay tactic of Microsoft. Or, I could let them place a $2700 hold on my credit card and then wait 2-3 days (they say guaranteed, but I know others have waited longer) for the replacement in the mail. I did not have a credit card in hand that had $2700 available, and even if I did, it would mean I couldn't really buy anything until that hold was voided - I assume if/when they receive the old laptop. Or I could send the laptop in and wait a week or more to receive it or another one back, thus losing more than $2k of income because I didn't have a laptop to work on.


    After speaking to the manager and being frank, they said I could use my "Complete" warranty plan to pay $49 and receive a brand new laptop in the store. But doing so would fulfill that warranty, thus voiding it. I weighed my options. I decided to employ a strategy of minimizing risk and minimizing productivity loss. I chose this option so that I could hopefully get on with my work that is now piling up. I was angry and frustrated with the fact that I had to choose the lesser of evils, but my work needs to get done, so to home I go.


    Microsoft: I understand if you cannot apologize explicitly, but you can at least admit implicitly that this is indeed COMPLETELY YOUR FAULT -- not mine -- by giving me a new machine without questions. That is the level of service that any company like yours should embrace proudly, through war or peace.


    I get home, turn it on, and go through the setup. During the 4 hours of setup, updates, reboots, I was met with: blank screens that did not convey any sort of resolution - had to hold down the power button 30 seconds to resolve; blank screens with a single "hourglass" cursor in the middle that lasted for 20 minutes until I forced reboot, again; a BIOS error message that said that it couldn't boot the OS; and finally, once all updates were applied, detection of corrupt system files according to sfc.


    Microsoft: Is that the experience you want your customers to have? You should be ashamed and embarrassed.


    Next time I'll buy an Apple product, because although I absolutely loathe Apple's philosophy on engineering, at least they can deliver on their promises most of the time. Microsoft cannot say that -- they do promise, but they don't deliver. And heck, I'm ignoring the seedy **** Microsoft pulled decades ago, because I believe they have changed. Again, my faith in the Microsoft brand has failed me.

    • Avatar

      Edward Grego

      In reply to bmcm:

      I completely understand, I’ve been through almost all of what you’re talking about, unfortunately, serveral times as I bought into the whole Surface “thing” from the beginning with RT. I went all in with the Surfaces, Bands and phones, I tell you what, no way MS has a return rate as low as 25%. Except for the phones (made and designed by Nokia) every single device I bought from MS was returned alteast once, every one. Seriously, I am so disappointed in MS for what they have done, but beyond that, I’m disappointed for believing in them so much that I have spent many thousands over the years buying their products. It seriously sickens me thinking about it today.

      I’m done with MS, and I think if they lost me, one of their biggest fans with money to spend, they are in trouble, I honestly don’t know what it will take to get me to purchase another thing from them, and that includes software.

    • Avatar

      Marius Muntean

      In reply to bmcm:

      Hmm, nasty stuff you've gone through. I wonder how thin your patience grew that time :(

      Microsoft does not care at all about quality, about what crap they deliver to the users, in both HW and SW!

      Their quality control is close to ZERO, their respect towards us, customers, is non existent.

      They've launched a mediocre mobile OS in 2015 and sold it through the X50 phones, completely broken, with so many bugs that it couldn't have even been called a beta...at most an alpha release, then they continued to deliver broken windows 10 desktop updates, broken surface devices etc. ZERO Quality!

  30. Avatar

    hrlngrv

    MSFT seems to have believed its institutional experience making mice, keyboards and Xboxes would let it hit the ground running with Surface devices. Seems not. Far more difficult for MSFT than gaining the necessary hardware experience in a hurry will be learning how not to respond to bad press by making it worse. However, given MSFT's corporate communication's history, looks like we can expect MSFT to react like an incompetent politician found passed out in a crashed rental car with hookers of both sexes.

  31. Avatar

    Spineless

    Consumer Reports has been anti-Microsoft for awhile. Back in the day, when Windows Phone clearly had the best camera, CR said iPhone and Android were better. After seeing this type of thing consistently, in multiple reviews from CR, I cancelled my subscription.


    So while the Surface line has seen it's share of reliability issues, this is not completely inconsistent with the industry. I've had several high-end (more expensive than a Surface) laptops that were total POS, and the replacements were the same. I've largely enjoyed my Surface products, where as I can't say the same of the laptops in question.

    • Avatar

      Edward Grego

      In reply to Spineless:

      Consumer reports was right about the phones also, sure the camera was good at one thing, and one thing only, picture quality. It used to be VERY frustrating with the lag of the cameras and the post processing that would take place. The camera was not fun or even easy to use.

  32. Avatar

    nbplopes

    The more MS fights the CR the worst it will get for them. It is becoming clear by the day that they turned a blind side on reliability to favor form.l while asking for loads of money for it.


    All Paney's answers are avoiding the issue of the report by the CR. An issue that a lot of consumer that that habe given their hard earned money to get a premium device. Premium in this context means quality and there is no quality without at least reliability and durability not lto mention performance/endurance. They seamed not to care for any of this. I dont remember onec when not even a keyboard would not get a constante connection to the device. Eve bluettooth does it better.


    The joke is that now people need to buy a new unit to get it working at the.minimum expected by a premium device?


    And the MS FUD over Intel?


    This is not ok. Its indeed a Surfacegate as it seams.

  33. Avatar

    junwatann

    The whole story tells the lack of system oriented perspective in MS. MS is learning to fix it but presumably MS has been underestimating its crucial role of hardware/ software integration. The codes have multiple dependencies which cannot be optimized without understandings of the device and component level dependencies. Explains why Windows as OS has always been behind OSX.


    Will take multiple more years to catch up, but the direction is where they should go.





    • Avatar

      Winner

      In reply to junwatann:

      Why is Microsoft "learning"? They've been in business for what, 4 decades? Apple was a pipsqueak company when Microsoft was huge. Somehow Apple learned/knew how to execute, they "learned". What is wrong with Microsoft, this lazy behemoth of a company?

      • Avatar

        Greg Green

        In reply to Winner:

        This is the question I have with MS, and to a lesser extent Apple. Both companies are now old enough that the founders and second generation leaders have left, and it seems that no one saved the institutional knowledge gained and lessons learned during those decades. Looking at the discordant styles of Win 10 it's hard to believe they've been making OSes for 30 years. Looking at Edge it's hard to believe they're been making browsers for 20 years, and listening to complaints about XBox it's hard to believe they've even making consoles for 15 years.


        And when anyone from MS says they take quality control seriously someone should drop a laid off testing engineer on top of them.



      • Avatar

        EraseYourself

        In reply to Winner: You said it right there “behemoth” It’s a problem all large companies have. I’ve seen it in every company I have worked for. Customer service is an illusion and they only care when it’s going to hurt them financially. They implement changes based on their plan and make tweaks to it after enough people complain.


      • Avatar

        SvenJ

        In reply to Winner: Microsoft has been a software company for decades, starting 1975. Their first real hardware experiment was the Xbox in 2001. A MS PC, Surface didn't happen until 2012. They are learning to be a hardware/system company. Apple has been a hardware/system company since day one, starting 1977. The Mac happened in 1984, and the iPhone in 2007. They have a few years on MS when it comes to building systems.


      • Avatar

        Marius Muntean

        In reply to Winner:

        What is wrong with MS? Simple: Nadella! All he cares is money. Nothing else! Quality? Neah...respect for customers? Neah... Layoffs, cheap working and lies? Yeahhh!!!

  34. Avatar

    pepesilvia

    "tend to be more satisfied even when they are reliable" -> not reliable

  35. Avatar

    lwetzel

    I have not found the Surface Pro original nor the Surface Pro 4 that I own to be any less reliable than most of the other machines I have owned. The Original had some moments but the 4 has been solid. I personally have lost confidence in Consumer Reports of the years.

  36. Avatar

    madthinus

    The bit of news that gets lost is that Consumer report is removing their recommendation from Microsoft as a trusted brand in Portable and tablet. They have actually not adjusted their advice relating to specific products. Just from Microsoft as a trusted hardware brand. Which, btw, is warranted considering the issues of Surface book and Surface Pro 4.

  37. Avatar

    woody

    > despite the fact that there was, at that time, ...


    *wasn't

  38. Avatar

    Chris_Kez

    "Microsoft, I’m told, fabricated the story about Intel being at fault."

    Wow, this must have been a bit of a gut-punch; feels like you buried the lede here.

    • Avatar

      BigM72

      In reply to Chris_Kez:


      Agree, that feels like the bigger story here.


      Separately, for a premium product, those return rates STILL look way too high. MS should count themselves lucky that I hate the keyboards on new Macbook Pros or I might keep looking beyond Surface.

    • Avatar

      Polycrastinator

      In reply to Chris_Kez:

      This is really interesting to me because I experienced Skylake power/sleep issues on both Lenovo and HP systems out of the gate which were fixed with BIOS updates (admittedly, faster than Microsoft fixed their issues), so this sounds wrong to me. I also found it interesting that Apple, who are often on the cutting edge (they were first out of the gate with Broadwell hardware, for instance) waited so long to release laptops using Skylake. I had always presumed that long wait was due to reliability issues with Skylake.

      Obviously I don't know the providence of what Paul heard, but it doesn't reflect the real world experience I've seen.

    • Avatar

      Paul Thurrott

      In reply to Chris_Kez:

      Well. It's a big story too, for sure. But I wanted to keep the focus on this week's news. To me, this was just corresponding info.

  39. Avatar

    timo47

    That the Surface team has had problems with getting out reliable drivers has been obvious from the start. The big number of "firmware" updates, that were actually mostly driver updates, that were being pushed out regulary: those were not just because MS cares about quality, buth rather that they were so buggy that they needed constant fixing. Everybody talks about the unreliability of SP4 and Book, but let's not forget about the large string of driver updates that SP1, SP2 and SP3 got months on end to fix Wifi issues. I've never seen a product from any OEM that has needed so many updates to get Wifi working reliably. And let's also not forget about the battery issues, that were also software related.


    To this date, my SP3 remains to most unreliable Windows PC I have ever owned. I have never had a Windows machine with that many BSOD. Most of these appear to be related using the device while in it's docking station, but still...


    It's really surprising that they have been so bad at this. Surface was MS chance - like Apple - to control both hardware and software and to create the most reliable Windows device ever. And they blew it because they were unable to write proper drivers. We'll see how it goes with Surface Pro 2017. Maybe they have finally gotten their act together.


    I can imagine the OEM's are having a field day internally: MS was gonna show them how it's done and now they had release their latests divices with both dated internals (Studio) and no USB-C.


    "But the net result was that Microsoft had to push out some existing designs quickly to get ahead of the reliability issues."


    Well, I'm not sure "quickly" really applies here, since both products launched so late that they caused Surface revenue to drop.


    "Surface Hub with Performance Base"


    Should be Surface Book here.

    • Avatar

      Marius Muntean

      In reply to timo47:

      I don't remember any previous windows version needing so many driver updates and fixes...if you really question yourself what is the main cause here, it's the freaking broken windows 10 OS...a half baked experience tested by insiders...

    • Avatar

      Spineless

      In reply to timo47:
      1. Most OEM's don't care about supporting the product long after purchase. My SP3 still gets consistent driver updates.
      2. Most OEM's have terrible mechanisms to support their devices. Hunting on their poorly updated websites... I prefer the approach of Surface.
      3. I've had many Lenovo laptops that were buggy as hell. And it wasn't until about the 10th bios update that it got stable... On a W series.... and the Wi-Fi is still touchy. My SP3 Wi-Fi has been much more stable, even though it was flaky in the beginning.
      • Avatar

        Darmok N Jalad

        In reply to Spineless:

        On our Lenovo, we had wifi issues too. I went into device properties for the adapter and disabled the setting that allows Windows to turn it off to save power. Issues went away immediately.

      • Avatar

        plettza

        In reply to Spineless:

        This.


        My Surface 3, after a plethora of updates and patches is absolutely rock-solid. It was pretty poor out of the box; keyboard not detected, video driver issues, etc. It is now running like an absolute champ. Microsoft do actually throw support behind their gear.


        Most OEM's have terrible mechanisms to support their devices. Hunting on their poorly updated websites... I prefer the approach of Surface.


        Especially this. I'm over trying to make my way onto crappy HP websites trying to download BIOS updates. It should all be through Windows Update. That's it. That's all it takes. (We run HPs at work and I have a Pro Tablet as well. The update mechanism on Surface blows HP out of the water.)

  40. Avatar

    obarthelemy

    Interesting, thank you.

  41. Avatar

    Mark from CO

    Paul:


    No matter how much I like Panay, I agree with Nonmoi, if (and I repeat if) the Intel issue was fabricated, some management changes are needed, if for no other reason to change what may be a toxic culture. Everyone at Microsoft seems to be pointing the blame finger at everyone other than itself. Seems to me a trust issue here, within the OEM community and with your customers.


    Also interested in your statement that Microsoft has pushed out 'forward-leading products like... a mobile device code-named Andromeda, ...into 2019." Microsoft has to have some mobile play if it wants to cultivate the volume of customers, and the resulting transactions to complete the virtuous circle that is a successful cloud play. But hardware execution issues you describe that pushes a vital strategic initiative out for another 2 years is worse than shooting yourself in both feet. Microsoft is its own worst enemy.


    Mark from CO


    PS I own and love my SP3. With that said I do have some issues with the keyboard.

  42. Avatar

    cheetahdriver

    The CR report is based on units purchased new from 2014 to 2017. "The four laptops losing their previous recommended status are the Microsoft Surface Laptop (128GB and 256GB versions) and Microsoft Surface Book (128GB and 512GB versions)." I assume that they mean SP4 when they say Surface Laptop, as elsewhere they say "units with removable keyboards".


    To anyone who was keeping up with things at the time (and even looking at Microsoft's own data), this was the worst time for Surface devices. Trying to shoot the messenger is silly. My company saw the same thing (and various glitches in our SP3s as Microsoft kept trying to fix SP4s and regressing), and it caused us to pivot toward different units (Lenovo X1 Yogas). I loved our SP3s, and really wanted to love the SP4s. But we have to do business, we can't wait for Microsoft to pick their feet up off the hem of their own robes.

  43. Avatar

    Nonmoi

    Wait, so that the Surface team single handily caused all the issue of SP4 and SB upon release, fabricated a story which created divide between it and its biggest hardware partner, and lie to its own CEO which cause him to make a fool of himself in front of the company's biggest OEM at the time, AND YET, Panay, the head of the said department is still NOT fired?


    What kinda management is this?

    • Avatar

      lvthunder

      In reply to Nonmoi:

      The truth is probably somewhere in between. We don't know for sure.

      • Avatar

        Nonmoi

        In reply to lvthunder:

        Yes, I did entertain that possibility before I post.

        But what Paul disclosed as the origin of the information suggests that these info was leaked in a controlled manner (as opposed to some stolen document dump, or something similar). This alone suggests that the leak happened for some individual or individuals' benefit. Since the details of the leak being very specific and easily verifiable. (it maybe hard for even the most technical to assess who is (more) at fault for the Surface's unreliability, but it will be extremely easy for Nadella to know whether he humiliated himself.) It is hard to imagine that the leak is totally fake, since that will only expose that there are conspirators in the MS, without doing any actual damage to the Surface team and its leadership. Now if we assume at the very least, the easily verifiable Lenovo bit is true, then there is no much other stuff that could be fake, isn't there?


        One possibility is that Skylake actually had more bugs than usual. But had Surface team working as close with Intel as other hardware manufactures, the issues can be control or eliminated in more timely manner. If so, there is a more reasonable and less sinister explanation on why the Surface team choose to go alone and later the cover up - Nadella is putting extreme pressure on the hardware group to be on schedule and perform or be shut down. Knowing this, Panay may feel/know that there is no other option but to push out immature hardware "on time" before all the reliability problems ironed out, and maybe even cutting corners here and there to boost margin (note that today's Chinese manufacturers tend to be able to deliver on quality as long as you are paying for it). It turns out, this firmware related problems will take more than 6 months to resolve to a satisfy manner, but for OEMs with no such pressure, they pretty much were 6 months-ish late to the game, they take time to work closely with Intel and doing the QA just like every generation before and hence did not feel anything that unusual about the Skylake.


        Does this explanation excused all the responsibility of the Surface division on the cover up? Of course no. But it does turn the focus on Nadella's management ability for the past few years, where Microsoft's smartphone effort fall from 5% world wide market share to 0.1%, Hololens being by in large a vaporware so far, Skype becomes even less functional, and both Surface and Windows 10 are being questioned for its reliability,


        To be clear, I am not saying that Nadella is bad CEO, nor I am advocating the removal of Panay, both Microsoft as a whole, and the Surface brand had make some amazing advance in the past few years. All I am trying to point out is that not only they are not perfect like they and some medias/investors tried to make out to be, there is some very serious problem (still) in the MS' higher up, that needs to be solved out ASAP, and deserves the attention of people whom may concern.

    • Avatar

      derylmccarty

      In the military, where I spent 30 years, there is no room for lying since someone's son or daughter is at risk if you don't tell things as they are. You are rarely at risk for screwing up, but at maximum risk for lying about it. I would not have tolerated the INTEL lie - if it is a lie. It is not just management at risk in this case, but whole product lines because what you are selling to the public is trust in your product.


      But, Nonmoi, you ask the wrong question at the end. Management is the assignment of resources, priorities, training, etc. The real question is "What kinda leadership is this?" What are you telling the people in your very large corporation when you condone lying? What kind of culture is that: a bureaucracy. Slow, ponderous, unfeeling, maximal inertia, job protection first and product second. And dying.


      Why didn't INTEL scream bloody murder. MSFT too big a customer to lose? And now even after INTEL did not scream and took the arrows for you, MSFT, you now want to open up product lines to AMD ARM? Welcome to the Brave New World.


      • Avatar

        Nonmoi

        In reply to derylmccarty:

        Point well taken.

        In my defense, a few month back I posted in the forum questioning the Surface business, and ask for community's opinion on weather it should be sold to one of the OEMs so that Microsoft can focus on other things like software/cloud or next gen experimental hardware. So when I asked that question I really was thinking more about management.


        But, again, what you said is totally on the point. If what Paul heard is true then there is really likely a leadership problem in the higher ups.

      • Avatar

        plettza

        In reply to derylmccarty:

        Why didn't INTEL scream bloody murder. MSFT too big a customer to lose? And now even after INTEL did not scream and took the arrows for you, MSFT, you now want to open up product lines to AMD ARM? Welcome to the Brave New World.


        Maybe that's why Intel is threatening lawsuits on the IP of x86 instruction set infringements. They're probably a little dark over the whole fiasco.

  44. Avatar

    derylmccarty

    I have owned SP1, SP2, SP3 and SB1 all without mechanical quality issues, save one. As I reported to Paul one time, my SB1 had a tablet to base "seating" issue since when I attached the tablet to the base, there was greater space under the right side than the left. The result was that occasionally the tablet would signal that it was detached which of course mucked up what I was doing if the GPU or the SDXC were in use. At about the time I became frustrated enough to get a replacement, I happened to "tap" the side of the tablet "vigorously" and out came someone's fingernail. No further mating issues have occurred.


    The other issues have all been - in my troubleshooting estimation - software/drivers. (I know, same difference). But I am an Insider-fast ring guy and use whatever Gabe or Dona have put out there as my daily driver and that means quality and driver updates on a pretty regular basis. The only remaining issue I have now is that the attached BT devices...Sculpt Mouse and Surface Ergonomic KB...sometimes, even mid-use just drop out of existence. That to some may seem like a SB or CPU freeze up but the touch pad and SB KB work just fine so work continues apace for 20-30 seconds then the BT KB and mouse come back. That's software to me and not a machine quality "returnable offense".


    I have recommended to my friends SB or SP products and those who have purchased are happy. AND they are still my friends. Will I buy an SB2 - abso-frigging-lutely - I am willing to spend $5k on a Coffeelake i9 512/256.


    The more important issue is whether the Surface product line has lost trust within the company and in the general public if the public judges what Panos did as a lie. Now, if we just had a bad batch or microcode on the Skylake chips that were associated with Surface products that is a story that needs to get out there and explains why Lenovo was confused. But that, in turn, says that the problem was as lack of coordination twixt MSFT and INTEL. If Panos forgot to tell Intel that such and such a subcomponent choice has changed requiring a slight change in code - well shame on MSFT. If Panos out and out lied to deflect blame, then he should have been fired....alas, that may be way too difficult to do since Panos is the heart and soul of Surface and it's seller-in-chief.

  45. Avatar

    Tangent Lin

    First month I buy surface pro 4:

    1. When you pick up surface from sleep/hibernate, the surface can cook your hand. Suddenly awake when you have putted to sleep/hibernation. The temperature was hot enough to demage the battery life.

    2. Sometime surface type cover keyboard can't be connected, need to restart surface was the only solution.


    After 2 years of usage:

    3. Screen flick after the screen is being idle for 3 seconds. If the surface is running longer, this issue will become more serious.

    4. When charging surface, touching the surface casing will being shocked by light amount of electricity.

    5. After resume from hibernation, clock on the desktop will be missing. Only solution was open task manager, kill explorer and start task again.


    Will my next laptop/tablet be a surface again?

    No.

  46. Avatar

    Belralph

    I have owned every Surface device minus the Hub and Studio and never had to return any for quality issues. I currently manage about 20 Surface 3/4 Pros of all three CPU models in a food processing plant with about half those being mounted on forklifts that run 22 hours a day, 6 days a week.

    I've retired 5-6 units over the years but those were due to extreme physical damage from being dropped. Remarkably, most would still boot up and attempt to work even with the screen pulverized and the chassis noticeably bent. As far as "quality" goes I would rate the Surface Pro as high as any other 1st tier OEM.

    The thing that effects my overall experience the most is my inability to control updates even while connected to a domain. When a Surface has any kind of operational issue, the first thing I do is go into Updates and there is typically always a restart pending to apply updates.


    • Avatar

      bbold

      In reply to Belralph:

      Same here, and I totally agree. Everyone's focus, though, here, is best suited when we all realize that this renewed focus is great for the consumer (us) and we need to see the positives in these findings... Surface products will get better, the industry will go on, and we will benefit.

  47. Avatar

    Tony Barrett

    No question. Microsoft's QC for Surface has been shocking. Poor/buggy drivers and dodgy hardware. They can spin it however they like, many Surface owners have had one or even more full replacements due to issues. Not acceptable on products at this price. Seems MS have gone into damage limitation mode, but the report is out, and it must be based on real user feedback. The CR report was based on a 20x bigger sample size than the other one too.

  48. Avatar

    Angusmatheson

    My fear from the beginning with the surface line was that it would take profitable high end sales from their OEMs. Forcing them to rely more on unprofitable low end sales, making windows computers no longer profit centers. If they leave windows, it would leave Microsoft alone to make windows computers. 1) they have been unwilling to make any low end computers (maybe admitting that chrome books better at low end?), 2) I have been worried they weren't up to the task of competing computer for computer with Apple 3) the long term health of windows is poor with decling sales not a great business to enter 4) micorosoft has a history of abandoning things that aren't going well - a real problem I'd like windows phone when they up they are the major manufacturers if windows computers left.

  49. Avatar

    will

    I have purchased several Surface Pros, Books, and newer Laptops. The Pro4 and Book devices were very buggy, as was the dock. Continuous issues with sleeping, monitors not working, display issues as well as USB issues. Things are somewhat stable now, but I still have people fidgeting with there dock connectors all the time to get the screen to show up on the monitor correctly even with the newest Surface Laptop.


    I just picked up a new Yoga X1 OLED and this is an amazing machine so far. Makes me start to look back at Lenovo for our mobile devices for the next round.


    I am curious what they will launch in 2018 if they have pushed the new SurfaceHub and any mobile device to 2019. I would guess that for the Surface Book 2, if there is such a thing, will be a minor refresh much link the Pro 4 was? Slight design tweek, updated internals and ship it to have a stable product.

  50. Avatar

    John Scott

    I think it boils down to the fact the Surface line is premium products and consumers have much less understanding when a premium product isn't perfect and works flawlessly. You buy a cheap notebook you tend to excuse a sloppy build quality or a few glitches. This is where Apple excels because they introduce products that for the most part provide that premium expectation. I think Microsoft missed the point here, that these are people who basically felt they did not get a premium product experience.

    It would be the same if you bought a luxury car and you absolutely love it, but its had recalls, needed lot's of unscheduled services and for that even though you love the car. You would give it low marks for reliability, and what if the service department ignored your complaints, couldn't fix the issues, or were waiting for a manufacture fix. To change the customers perceptions you must one address the problems quickly, find a good solution, provide good communication about the issues, and commit to the customer that they will be fixed promptly. I think Microsoft failed horribly on many of these commitments to their customers.

    • Avatar

      Angusmatheson

      In reply to John_Scott:

      I disagree. I think there are lots of time people pay lots and are still willing to put up with problems. Surface was compared to sports cars - the sound of the snap of support, the feel of Alcatel. Sports cars are very expensive and notoriously unreliable. Yet, people still buy them. And fanbois will stick with their brand regardless. I live in the country where Ford vs Chevy trucks is really a thing. I have no idea if one is objectively better than the other. But for those in the debate, a terrible year for Ford reliability would not change Ford fans to Chevy buyers. Just like there are Apple and Samsung fanbois, there are Microsoft fanbois (how else explain the loyalty to windows phone). I think computers are a source of bragging rights. In the coffee shop it is clear who has a 10 year old up netbook and who has a new MacBook. The surface computers were very braggable - beautiful, cool trick with keyboard detaching, rare, not Apple. If you want to brag about a computer, you don't want to dis it as unreliable.

  51. Avatar

    Andrea Barbera

    To qualify the Surface Laptop as an "uninspiring product" seems way too harsh to be honest. Maybe the form factor (traditional clamshell ultrabook) could be defined as uninspiring, but MS did enough to make it stand out from other competing products like the Alcantara fabric and the 3-by-2 screen resolution. I think the Surface Laptop does a great job of offering the traditional ultrabook form factor but also succeeds in being and looking like a full member of the Surface product family.

    • Avatar

      Darmok N Jalad

      In reply to Andrea_Barbera:

      Surface Laptop has some nice ideas, but they are half-baked. The Alcantara material? Glued on so it cannot be replaced, also making the internals inaccessible for any type of service. The nice display? Doesn't even fold to 180 degrees, much less 270 or 360 degrees to make proper use of pen or dial support (which MS has invested heavily in). It also ships with 10S, which will immediately need to be upgraded to Pro right out of the box for pretty much everyone. The product might look nice, but it isn't exactly that well executed or inspiring.

  52. Avatar

    bulls96

    Think the CR report was a blessing in disguise. I could see mSFT even upping their game here... and not just regarding reliability, we could see them probably up their marketing campaign.

  53. Avatar

    RobertJasiek

    After some high starts, most Surface-related 90 days return rates reach ca. 3 - 4% according to MS. Hence, it is reasonable to estimate that 2 years return rates reach ca. 20 - 25%. This is too large by far. In particular, it is extraordinarily too large for so called premium products at premium prices.

    When I build my own desktop PC for ca. 1/5 the price, it lasts ca. 10 years and is perfectly reliable throughout its lifetime. From a premium product at premium price, I expect much better reliability and longevity. With exceptions, the reality is converse: the more premium a product and its price the lower its reliability and longevity are.

    This is one of the major reasons why I have not bought any modern "premium" mobile device yet.

    Until the manufacturers provide a default 7 years warranty for the device and lowly priced battery replacement service during that period, they have a hard time convincing me. I do not buy rubbish for the price of gold.

  54. Avatar

    Darmok N Jalad

    So Intel was never really at fault? If that's really the case, MS deserves a big black eye regarding Surface. I'm no Intel fan, but blaming a supplier for your own crappy code issues is pretty low. I'm curious if Intel could cook up some legal action against MS, since the "Surfacegate" situation might have had an effect on their stock performance. People still point to Skylake as the original problem with Surface 4, so Intel never really recovered from the idea that they shipped a bad product.


    • Avatar

      Winner

      In reply to Darmok N Jalad:

      See the true DNA of Microsoft. They coerced users to upgrade to Windows 10, deliberately, for their own benefit, not the consumers'. They lie about reliability issues. They obfuscate whenever it suits them. And they repeatedly put out half-baked products, they don't do details very well. This is the essence of Microsoft, at least on the consumer side.

  55. Avatar

    amrahulbhatiadelhi

    Thanks for the post...Surface does work pretty good. I mainly bought it to watch movies using mobdro firestick but later started using work purpose as well. I was earlier watching it on mobdro kodi but surface does the job well now.

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