Microsoft Has a Bill Belichick Problem

Posted on October 19, 2016 by Paul Thurrott in Microsoft Surface with 84 Comments

Microsoft Has a Bill Belichick Problem

Credit: Getty Images

New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick has spent his career destroying the hopes and dreams of the competition. But now he’s turned his ire on Microsoft’s Surface tablets. And the results are not pretty.

As you may know, Microsoft entered into a $400 million deal with the NFL back in mid-2013, beating out Apple and other tablet makers. The goal was simple: To bring the NFL into the 21st century and provide coaches and players with the most up-to-date information possible, in real time, on the field field during games.

In typical Microsoft fashion, the deal has always been a mixed bag. The NFL started using Surface Pro 2 tablets during the month in which Microsoft launched a much improved Surface Pro 3, and on-air commentators, players and coaches continued to refer to the devices as iPads for years, giving Apple free publicity.

This week, Mr. Belichick went on an extended rant about his bad experiences with Surface, and declared that he would no longer use the devices. (As is the case with a number of other NFL coaches, by the way.) I’ll get to that in a bit. Because many in the tech industry probably don’t realize that this event isn’t unique, or new. Bill Belichick has been complaining about the Surface for a long time.

The most heated issue—at least, before this week’s divorce—happened in January, when the Patriots lost the AFC Championship by two points to a Denver Broncos team that went on to win the Super Bowl, a contest many Patriots fans believe is theirs by birthright. But in this case, they may have a point: The morning after the loss, Belichick complained about the many ways and times in which the Surface tablets the Patriots were using kept failing, most notably during a Broncos touchdown drive.

The malfunctions were so bad that the NFL required the Patriots to shut down all of their Surfaces during that drive, while the suddenly surging Broncos were not required to do so. So they were blind, so to speak, while technicians tried to solve the problem.

Belichick didn’t actually blame the Surface tablets for the loss—he’s not a sore loser like so many of the Patriots’ adversaries—but he repeatedly noted that these kinds of issues were “common”. Microsoft complained, the NFL backed its big-paying partner, and history happened.

But I think it’s interesting to re-read Microsoft’s statement from January in the light of this week’s news. It says:

The NFL is one of the biggest entertainment properties in the world, and this unique partnership has helped to showcase the impact our technology can have for players, teams and coaches with Surface on the sideline as well as for millions of fans with Xbox and Windows 10 at home. Our products are making teams on the field more efficient and competitive and making the experience for fans more dynamic. Coaches, players and fans have echoed that sentiment, and for that reason we think this investment has been worthwhile.

Leaving aside the marketing baloney—does anyone really believe that Microsoft “invested” $400 million to make NFL games better for coaches, players or fans?—we’re left with this:

Our products are making teams on the field more efficient and competitive and making the experience for fans more dynamic.

And that is precisely what Mr. Belichick says is not happening.

“I’m done with the tablets,” Belichick said this week, and about 10 days after he had an infamous on-field hissy fit in which he tried to destroy one of the failing devices. “They’re just too undependable.”

“I just can’t take it anymore,” he noted, adding that he would “stick with [paper] pictures,” which “several other [NFL] coaches do as well,” presumably for the same reason.

Bill Belichick is 64 years old, and while many will believe that age and perhaps technology phobia plays into his worldview, don’t be fooled. Say what you will about the man, but he is among the winnigest of NFL coaches in history and his team has been the most feared adversary in the league for the past decade and a half. If Surface gave him or the Patriots any advantage at all, he’d take it.

To be fair, the Surface failures often involve communications equipment, which Belichick has explained is complex, with numerous on-field systems often interfering with each other. There are days when the game starts and the equipment is still not working, he says, despite hours of testing.

But then, this too factors into Microsoft’s decision making process. The firm was so hot to get the crucial NFL deal that it never considered the bad press it would get. When everyone called its tablets iPads. And when things didn’t work. Apple didn’t just save $400 million by not getting the NFL deal, it saved an untold amount by not taking a weekly hit to its reputation.

Getting back to Mr. Belichick, the other thing he says that really resonates with me is that the complexity and unreliability of using a Surface outweighs its benefits. And this is something that so many of us, especially those consider themselves technology enthusiasts, often ignore. We think this complexity and unreliability is just part of the deal.

“It’s basically a problem every week,” he said. “For me, it’s a personal decision. I’m done with the tablets. I’ll use the paper pictures from here on, because I have given it my best shot. I’ve tried to work through the process. But it just doesn’t work for me, and that’s because there’s no consistency to it.”

If that doesn’t sound familiar to the Surface Book or Surface Pro 4 users who just had the crappiest year of their technology-using lives because of the endemic issues with those devices, I don’t know what to say.

So, yes, Surface may be “trusted by the pros,” as Microsoft’s Surface NFL web site claims. It’s just not trusted by the most winningest of those pros. And, sorry, Microsoft. But that’s a problem of your own making. As it is so often.

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Comments (84)

84 responses to “Microsoft Has a Bill Belichick Problem”

  1. 430

    "We think this complexity and unreliability is just part of the deal."

    ^^^THIS^^^  Be honest, fellow Surface fans...  If you're anything like me, you're love the products so much that you're willing to endure far more than the average man on the street when it comes to your Surface.  Furthermore, if you're a longtime PC/Windows user and enthusiast, you're mostly unphased by whatever the hot issue of the day (ex.- fillintheblankGate) and have come to expect this as a natural part of personal computing.  In fairness, it's not always simply from shell-shock.  On the contrary, I suspect for most of us that it's a greater understanding of the complexities involved in developing and supporting something on the magnitude of Windows and the myriad of software and hardware configs out there. You're also more than likely pretty adept at troubleshooting any minor glitches, and I suspect that you (like me), are "the computer guy" for your friends and family.

    HOWEVER, if I put aside my inner fanboi (covering up my Zune tattoo), I'm forced to admit a couple of things.

    1) The issues with Surface are real. Beginning with the OG Surface Pro, between my wife and I, we're now on our collective 7th Surface Pro. I'm extremely careful with my stuff, and we've had 2 battery failures, 2 screen failures, a dead SSD, and a myriad of other "glitches" beyond what we should be experiencing from Microsoft's flagship hardware/software pairing. This isn't even counting the SP4 and the Surface Book I sent back (I can still smell the hot nylon of my backpack). Maybe I've just had bad luck, but Google (no wait, Bing) tells me otherwise. There are real problems keeping real people from getting real work done on devices for which they paid REAL premiums.  While it's hardly an exclusively Microsoft problem, it's real and is unacceptable for premium devices.

    2) People are moving on. It was one thing when a Windows PC was your only option. Today, the simpler options have matured to the point that most can simply get back with their smartphone and maybe a tablet or Chromebook. Heck, even I COULD get by with a phone and a Chromebook for my personal life if forced to do so. Life is complex enough, and the "magical" iPhone has convinced people that our tech doesn't have to be. The older I get, the less I want to mess with things that don't interest me. Crazy as it sounds, a lot of people are that way with tech. :)

    Far be it from me to defend a Patriot :), but like most normal people, it makes no difference to him which issue is keeping him from working today. What matters is that the tools provided are unreliable to the point that it is easier to switch to something that he knows will work, technological superiority be damned.  Frankly, I'm starting to see his point...

    • 484

      In reply to bassoprofundo:

      The only thing I'd point out is that it's more than that, it's that the technology isn't adding enough value being a digitial approximation of a process that can be handled on paper.  

      The ineptitude of the NFL goes well beyond network connectivity to the Surfaces.  Communication between the coaches headsets, the press box, helmets, etc... has countless technical glitches / problems as well.  However there is not equivalent to a photo on a piece of paper to match the functionality there so he accepts it and there are no diatribes against Bose headsets for example.  

      The NFL was testing video on the Surface devices during the preseason.  If they start allowing video on the Surfaces I suspect you'd see BB start to use them again and there wouldn't be any more rants (much like we don't hear him ranting about throwing away the sideline to helmet communication) because the technology despite all it's faults is a value add compared to the alternative.  

  2. 570

    Personally, I'm DONE with the NFL and the whining millionaires. So I give a nat what they use.

  3. 4853

    I feel his pain. I just replaced my SP3 with an iPad Pro is the difference is startling. The iPad is a joy to use as a tablet. The Surface is NOT a tablet. It is a fine laptop, but to compare it to an iOS or Android tablet is frankly a joke.

    I gave up using the Surface as tablet because it was not designed with touch in mind. Win10 is still a disaster for anything Touch/Modern/UWP. The bolted on top Jekyll/Hyde OS was not inuitive to use. Couple that with constant issues - fan cranking for no reason, pen would stop working, battery would die unexpectedly, OneNote mobile not syncing and on and on until finally the rotation broke. That was the last straw. I haven't wasted so much time troubleshooting a device since Windows 95!

    I had hoped once upon a time to have a pc, tablet, and phone all running Windows. Nowadays, I use Desktop Windows only and iOS for everything mobile.

    • 5554

      In reply to paladintom:


      Agreed.  MS has utterly failed at touch.  It was a disaster in 8 & 8.1, it's even worse in 10.  Surface Pro is a glorified ultralight notebook.  Nobody uses it for Metro apps.  Don't even get me started on the weekly firmware releases for all the bugs.  Stick a fork in it, it's over.

      • 5842

        In reply to PeteB:

        Isn't this the real problem? MS designed Metro specifically for touch yet people are not using apps and complain that win32 is not designed for touch. Of course win32 was not designed for touch. Nobody thought about touch back in 1995.

    • 5534

      In reply to paladintom: "I gave up using the Surface as tablet because it was not designed with touch in mind. Win10 is still a disaster for anything Touch/Modern/UWP."
      I use my Samsung Slate tablet, which is upgraded to Windows 10 Professional, exclusively with touch, and it works perfectly fine. (Although it did take a while to get used to using touch instead of a keyboard and mouse.) In fact, I sometimes messed around with touch on it when it was new, and running Windows 7 Professional. It worked, but not nearly as well as on Windows 10, and I primarily used a bluetooth keyboard and mouse with it.


  4. 2585

    Taking stock of this past year in Microsoft tech in our 4 person home...

    • Down one Surface device (from three to two)
    • Down four Windows Phones (from four to zero)
    • Down two Bands (from two to zero)


    Haven't upgraded the XBox 360 yet because I have lost faith in Microsoft's commitment to its products.

    On the work front, we've ramped up on MS's cloud products, only to find the reliability is worse than the on-premise equivalents.

    The "promise" of a superior overall experience with broad integration that Microsoft purports to deliver is unsubstantiated. In fact, I'm finding that consumer tech is best consumed as best of breed solutions, which tend to integrate nicely with one another as table stakes (Spotify with Echo, for example).

    On the contrary, being "all in" Microsoft bears way too much risk of abandonment, lack of feature parity, lack of apps/broad support, etc.

    So net net, I'm with Bill.

  5. 442

    Seems he just has a problem with technology in general.  No matter what tablet, he would have ranted about how bad it was.

    • 131

      My first thought was "well, he's from a different generation and is probably a Luddite to some extent."  But then, as Paul said, I have to think back to my own experiences with the SP3/SP4 here at work.  Often (especially when I really need it, like when I'm walking around trying to take notes or present in a meeting), I press the power button and the damn thing either doesn't immediately come on or it just sits at the "Welcome" screen for an annoying amount of time (and don't even try to restart it thinking that will solve it; you'll stare at the "Restarting" screen for 10 minutes).  So, I sympathize with the NFL coaches, if their experiences are anything like mine.

      • 2

        In reply to wbhite:

        Right. I am amazed, sometimes, at what we put up with, usually without complaint. It's like we accept lack of reliability as a fact of life.

      • 442

        In reply to wbhite:

        I have similar issues with both Android tablets and even iPads do odd things like this from time to time.  So again, it's not Surface that needs to be singled out here.  But rather technology in general.  As Paul as stated in the past it's time for Microsoft to work on quality, I believe it's time for ALL to work more on quality.  Hardware has improved in general, as shown in Paul's recent PC sales post here, but software definately needs to do some real work toward improving the experience and results of what technology should REALLY be capabile of doing.

        • 5234

          In reply to Narg:

          I haven't experienced that with any Chrome OS devices since I started testing and using them in the last year.  Maybe it's the lack of complexity, but I see that as a benefit when it means the platform is more stable.  The term I can best use to describe it is "refreshing".  It's a relief from the usual management and maintenance that Windows requires.  This is why I want to see Microsoft go "all-in" with the cloud.  If Microsoft actually stepped up their HTML web app support and built it as a true platform, it would mean Windows wouldn't be needed.  Let's be clear here: nobody NEEDS Windows.  Desktop applications need Win32, but if everything is run on far more stable, cross-platform modular API containers that enable rich HTML5 clients, Windows is dead because it becomes unnecessary.  It would fall under a class of other operating systems that could run as thin clients.  And that's why Microsoft will never go this route.  The problem is that Microsoft would lose control over the PC industry without OEM royalty agreements, so keeping Windows around is just a protection measure.  Practically every PC shipped makes Microsoft a vig, after all.

        • 1377

          In reply to Narg:

          Sorry. MSFT paid US$400 million so that it would be Surfaces singled out for derision whenever anything went wrong or whenever any coach didn't get exactly what he wanted from them. MSFT assumed it'd all be wine & roses & touchdowns, not figuring on fumbles, interceptions and safeties.

          MSFT paid big bucks to have sole possibility of bad press. MSFT deserves it, and it might be valuable if MSFT learns from it.

      • 5184

        In reply to wbhite:

        Can't tell you how many times I've had your exact experience with my personal SP3 and work-provided SP4.  I've cursed at the devices on multiple occasions.  It is truly a love/hate relationship.  Windows/Wintel is just too complex to provide the kind of reliability that is needed for tablets.  The complexity that the hard-nosed devs claim is required is exactly its Achilles heel.  If Microsoft and Intel can't work together to build a reliable device, how the heck can any of the OEM's?

        As a Windows/Microsoft fan with two decades as a developer, it pains me to read this.  But it is just simply the truth.

    • 4932

      In reply to Narg: Exactly. Sounds to me more like Belichick is a luddite. He'd say the same thing if it were the fruty pads.


    • 650

      In reply to Narg:

      More like with technology that doesn't live up to the task. That is a reasonable no-nonsense attitude. Every technology company should listen to this. Deliver what the users require, and they'll use it. This also means to keep the ego and all-too obvious lock-in strategies at bay. Review of the workflow, defensive coding and design (with margins for errors on all sides), proper testing, *never* try one size fits all (it doesnt), listen to complaints. Sounds simple, but it's an attitude thing.

  6. 6988

    this is a non-issue, the problem is Belichik with always something to complain about - stealing the playoffs last year to win the superbowl was still not enough it seems.

  7. 5553

    Bellicose Chick

  8. 6993

    Luckily for Microsoft no one ouside the US knows who Mr. Belichick is, and so couldn't care less about his opinions of Microsoft's products.

    Unfortunately for Microsoft they have yet to figure out there's a really big world out here.

  9. 484

    The NFL is a technologically inept organization.  They have constant connectivity problems with things like communications between the press box, helmets, coaches headsets etc., things that have been in use for decades longer than Surface tablets.

    MLB, a much more technologically advanced operation is now allowing iPads in dugouts but only offline mode. 

    Microsoft should either take complete ownership of the networking / connectivity of those systems necessary for the sideline tablets or walk away from the deal completely.  Tying their fate to an incompetent (from a technological perspective) organization is madness. 

  10. 2371

    Paul - hind sight is 20/20.  Most fans will be totally unaware of the technical issues still today.  Sounds like the problem is more communications than the Surface devices anyway.

  11. 241

    "...he’s not a sore loser like so many of the Patriots’ adversaries..." Yeah, I doubt that. Pats fans - whiners the lot of them - are just annoyed when other teams have an unfair advantage.

    Paul, you are walking a fine line. Veer into discussions on religon or politics - fine with me. But you need to clearly identify your football related bias.

    Mike ... from Denver.




  12. 2979

    In typical Thurrott fashion, you refer to "Microsoft fashion". ;-) The fact that sports reporters and others can't tell the difference between an iPad and other tablets is hardly suprising. Likely, we still have folks out there that refers to HP and Dell PC's as Windows or Microsoft PC's. 

    As a commentor/blogger, it would behove you to to look into what the issues with the Surfaces actually were and include that in your commentary. To the best of my knowledge, not all the issues Bill Belichick  and other ran into, were caused by the Surfaces and would likely surface (pun intended) on both iPads and Android tablets.


    • 2

      In reply to bdollerup:

      Seriously, I'm sorry that every post can't include a rewriting of everything that came before. But I feel like I've documented the issues with the current generation of Surface devices, and Microsoft's utter silence about these issues, ad naseum.


    • 314

      In reply to bdollerup:

      Even though you work for Microsoft, Paul doesn't. And it isn't his responsibility to defend the company's hardware, no matter how awful it is.

      • 2979

        In reply to Dan: I don't work for Microsoft. And my point was simply that this story would be a better if all the facts were there. Just like the coach legitimate claims about out unreliability would be


        • 5234

          In reply to bdollerup:

          I don't know how you missed that part in the article.  It's there.  He complained about the lack of reliability.  Paul covered that.  What did you not read?

  13. 6997

    Shortly after Surface Pro 3 was released, two of my colleagues and I switched from the then traditional laptop-dock combos to SPro 3s with the Spro 3 docks. We had dual monitors at work each at 2560x1440 and the SPro 3 was able to handle all workloads - at first.

    About a month after switching to the SPro 3s, one colleague began having issues with displays not working intermittently. We narrowed it down to the dock and warrantied it. Then, a few months later, display issues began again. After much troubleshooting, it was found that the SPro 3 was to blame and we warrantied that. At that point 95% of the display issues ceased.

    Fast forward 9 months and my other colleague began having display issues with his Spro 3 and dock. They weren't as consistent as they were with the first colleague, so he dealt with them, until the redesigned SPro dock came out. Two of the new docks were purchased (one for him and one for the first colleague) and for the second colleague the display issues all but ceased. Not so lucky for the first colleague. He began having the same display issues that happened previously.

    At that point, it was too much for the first colleague. He was tired of troubleshooting his work PC instead of getting work done. The Spro had been factory reset (as recommended by MS Support) at least 5 times at that point and productivity was suffereing because that was his sole PC wich which to get things done. He switched back to a more traditional laptop and dock and has had no issues since. Meanwhile, I was using my original dock and SPro 3 without issue thinking these other two colleagues werre really unlucky.

    That didn't last. A few months after the first colleague switched back to a traditional laptop with dock, my display issues began. The symptoms were the same as my other two colleagues. Two factory resets and hours of troubleshooting later, I'd had enough and also switched back to a traditional laptop and dock.

    The second colleague is the only one left still using the Spro 3 with redesigned dock, and he occasionally has non-critical display and USB-device issues. These are always fixed with a reboot, so he keeps on trucking.

    Moral of the story? Microsoft had and continues to have inherent problems with their Surface hardware that makes the devices suitable for most people (maybe), but unsuitable for the rest. I could still use my SPro 3 as a hybrid laptop/tablet PC, but connecting it to dual monitors for high productivity in my job? Nope!

    I miss the formfactor and lack of heft my Spro3 had, but I wouldn't trade that for the loss in productivity any day. It now sits unused in my file cabinet as does my first colleague's.

  14. 1377

    Did MSFT take on soup-to-nuts management of all network infrastructure the Surfaces would use during games, or does MSFT only provide Surfaces and let others handle the infrastructure? If the latter, MSFT has no one but itself to blame for putting its reputation in others' hands. If the former, MSFT is reponsible for these snafus. No matter where the problems lie, MSFT seems to have been overeager to beat out Apple and failed to do sufficient due dilligence.

    From a different perspective, if tablets were so productive in football, why aren't they more evident in top college football games?

  15. 6026

    The real problem is usually the software not the hardware itself. If the software crashes everyone says "my computer crashed" when in fact it's some line in the millions of lines of code that you were actually using that are to blame. But of course both are essential, but the point is no matter what hardware it's the the software that rules it all. 

  16. 699

    It's totally his age. Ornery old people and tablets just don't mix.

  17. 6996

    In reply to Narg:

    Pretty sad overall with technology when you post a comment that doesn't automatically spell-check. Didn't even alert you as to misspelling a couple of words in your reply lol 

  18. 5553

    So bad wifi = bad Surface ?

    Not Microsoft fault.

    • 5554

      In reply to Joe_Blo:

      Microsoft's failure to test Surface onsite in real usage before entering into 400mil deal = Microsoft failure.

      • 1286

        In reply to PeteB:

        You are misunderstanding the problem. Alot of his complaints were about hardware like the batter packs that he has to wear or what makes his headset work. All of that has to work for the Surface to be useful.

  19. 505

    If you do not want problems and headaches, avoid the following:

    1. Most, if not all technology.

    2. Anything to do with cars and most homes.

    3. Relationships; Opposite or same sex.

    99.7% of most of your problems are now solved.

    You're welcome!

  20. 1293

    I'm surprised that if the NFL can dictate which brand of shoes the players can wear (completely rediculous), that they can't dictate that Belichick be forced to use a Surface.  Although, I guess the players could also play without shoes.  

    • 1377

      In reply to rh24:

      The rules require player wear shoes.

      I doubt the NFL or MSFT want to try to force Belichick (or any other winning/popular coach) to use Surfaces. That itself would become news, and it'd be bad publicity for MSFT. And, yes, doing the exact same thing with cleets and tablets would be neutral to positive for the shoe maker but bad for MSFT. All players wearing the same cleets could be viewed as leveling the playing field. OTOH, coaches are supposed to exploit their greater cleverness over the coaches for the other side, so MSFT probably doesn't want Surfaces to become known as the tool which can dumb all coaches down to the same level.

  21. 5234

    In reply to krayziehustler:

    The tablet is the endpoint device.  If the endpoint device doesn't work, it's typical for users to blame it.

  22. 6701

    So true...

    "And this is something that so many of us, especially those consider themselves technology enthusiasts, often ignore."

    Most tech addicts seem to accept and/or ignore it indeed. And in the end it's not a good thing for the platform... I guess what's true for people using apps is also true for people using devices/OS: it's often the most outspokens that give the most important feedback. But this is exactly the feedback that's ignored by companies. Because, you know, these people are just irritating...

    What if it was actually the key to a better product ? Because: people that do not care don't take the time to whine...


    I am a Surface Book user, and I chose not to ignore or accept these problems. But when speaking about it, it's like we are ignored...


    I wrote an article about my bad experiences with the Surface Book: and one of the comment I got is "just send it back to Microsoft. A friend of mine had a problem with his Surface Book. He had to complain, and insist so that Microsoft accept it back, and then took weeks to repair it. In the end, he was sent a free Surface Book (faster model) plus accessories".

    Well, I didn't contact them because I don't want a faster Surface Book, what I'd like is a better product. And sending angry or vocal customers free gifts won't improve the product unfortunately... 

  23. 6190

    Maybe it was a communications problem.  We don't know if connections were being dropped and reconnected and we don't know if the problem was on the router or the tablets.  Perhaps it would have been just as bad with iPads.  Still, microsoft sold this solution for marketing purposes and one has to wonder why they didn't send their own engineers to ensure it worked or, at least, solve the problems before they came public.  Can we blame this on the russian mob trying to shave points on their bets? 

  24. 1792

    NFL - that's a kind of rugby Americans play. I guess it would be more significant globally if it was football. I understand Nadella is a cricket fan.

    But Microsoft technology not serving sports very well in the UK is common. Apart from the Premier League in England Cortana is ignorant of other games in the UK.Cortana is well informed about Scottish football, rugby or the Six Nations championship.

    I guess Surface being the NFL brand in the US is a thing. If only the commentators knew it wasn't an ipad it might have some value to MS.

    • 399

      In reply to ponsaelius:

      UK Cortana isn't even any good at US sports scores, even sports like Canadian Rugby and Basketball that are played (by American teams) over here. Seriously, I'm off to see the Giants play the Rams at Twickenham on Sunday, but will UK Cortana on Windows 10 ever give me the latest Patriots score? No. Yet Google Now and Amazon Alexa will give me whatever sports scores I want.

  25. 5501

    Ha.  Just now saw the footage on my local news as the sports guy was showing it.

    It must just be the complexity of integrating the Surface with all the other stuff going on in the stadium.  My Surface RT was reliable -- the only thing that eventually got to me after a while was its lack of performance.

    Maybe the coach should delete his pr0n...   :-)

  26. 2175

    Jeez, maybe Microsoft should've just sponsored a team or a stadium for that amount of money

  27. 5842

    First if all commentators were calling tablets iPads then failure of tablet means failure of iPad. It is not a Microsoft problem. It is Apple problem.

    Or did this thrown tablet problem finally taught everybody that NFL tablets are actually surfaces? In this case failure was not that bad. At least somebody learned something.


    • 5615

      In reply to illuminated:

      I heard some commentators talking about this once. They knew the difference between Apple iPads and Microsoft Surfaces, and that the NFL was using Surfaces. However, they jokingly concluded that when the devices worked they were called iPads, and when they didn't work they were called Surfaces.

  28. 6593

    If anyone thinks IOS, Android or PCs are perfect in any way shape or form they should be slapped. I've used all of these devices, each has had their fair share of problems. Let's look past the Advertisment mumb-jumbo technology offers it's advantages but it's far from perfect and comes with a list of flaws regardless of OS or brand.

    • 5554

      In reply to sharpsone:

      Except for Android and iOS, you don't see the weekly Surface firmware updates to fix the previous week's firmware updates - and its been going on for years now. 

  29. 5615

    In reply to bassoprofundo:

    "The older I get, the less I want to mess with things that don't interest me."

    I'm getting this way even with things that (used to) interest me. It's one thing to "fiddle" around with PCs and tech. It's another to have to keep "fixing" the same things. I'm growing very weary of the latter.

  30. 5728

    The only thing missing from the picture of that grouchy old cheater is an onion on his belt.

    /Giants fan. How's our biatch Tommy boy doing?

  31. 124

    "If Surface gave him or the Patriots any advantage at all, he’d take it."  Nuf said about Belichick.

  32. 6359


    Bad communication environments will bring a machine to its knees.

    Bellibaby is looking for a device that can reveal what that opposing coach is reading. 

    You know, SOP for the New England Patriots.


  33. 1712

    I'd never trust an MS tablet if it needed to work consistently for 3-5 hours. 

  34. 6999

    Ok, so Surface works well with F1, specially with Scuderia Ferrari engineers' and doesn't work with a 64 years old NFL coach... Hmmmm I see... Damn u MSFT! U should rethink the whole thing! ?

  35. 203

    Nine out of ten NFL fans see coaches and players holding clearly-marked Surface tablets on the sidelines.  They probably do no know about the Belichick comments.  They no longer think these bright blue things are ipads.  The $400m "investment" was probably (maybe) a good marketing move. 

  36. 5611

    Communications problems aside, this is where Satya Nadella needs to step up and start focusing better on his goal of "empowering the individual". Fighting with technology is not empowering the individual - it's debilitating!!!

    Don't get me wrong - I love the Surface Pro. For people like me, it's great. I very rarely have any problems with it, but when I do, it's annoying. I can see how certain things might be unnecessarily complex for some kinds of users. The answer to that might mean running the Surface Pro in "Kiosk" mode for the sole pupose of running a single dedicated app exclusively. If that's the case, perhaps a Surface Pro or iPad is overkill. Perhaps what's needed is a bespoke tablet (IoT) running one app, and running it well.

    Ironically, my iPad is currently far more annoying than my Surface Pro 3.

    • 5234

      In reply to WP7Mango:

      Windows Embedded.

      There is no "componentized" version of Windows 10 like there was with Windows 7 and Windows 8.  It's just a stripped-down IoT version that doesn't allow for Win32 applications to run as embedded apps.  Microsoft killed that.  If you want to use embedded apps on a Windows 10 core, they have to be UWP apps.

      But Microsoft doesn't want developers to know that they still support Windows 8 Embedded, and they certainly won't backdate support of UWP on that platform, and new chipsets won't run on old platforms, so your option is to move to their IoT platform which is designed for a completely different target.

  37. 439

    Although I really like my Surface Pro 3, I kind of share in his frustration.  As Paul has mentioned several times here and in the podcasts, if I close my Surface Pro 3 and come back to it at a later time, the instant on functionality almost never works, it simply reboots.  Although I have learned to deal with it, it is frustrating.

    I still love the device though, it is the only machine I use for development and business activities, albeit I have it connected to two big (22") displays.

  38. 2131

    There is something to be said about paper v. digital in many regards. I was acutally listening to Sirius NFL Radio yesterday talk about the process of capturing pictures before plays, during plays, and after plays, then sending them to a printer. Unless it is a stormy day with 25 MPH+ winds, paper really does make more sense for the situation - you need a medium that is reliable. Sure, a printer can get the awful case of jams or toner issues, but we've had decades to try to make a printer that works well (if you spend the money on it). Tablets, touch-screen enabled mobile computers, are too young and prone to issues, even the isolated and specialized versions of the Surface tablets used by the NFL - we've really only had them available to the masses for the last 10-12 years. As a computer enthusiast and professional, I want to see more digital and less paper, but paper is nearly fool proof, cheaper, and everyone, young and old, knows how to use it. MS may need to buy a paper mill and a printer manufacturer if all sidelines start sharing the sentiment of the Belichick to do their advertising. 

  39. 907

    MS do indeed have a problem here. While the Surface are fine devices perception is everything. This story is all over the media and more importantly non tech sites. Many people are hearing about Surface for the first time and correct or not this will remain in their heads.

  40. 5510

    For one thing, Belechick is not a sore loser? He's probably the sorest loser of all time and of all sports.

    To be honest, even though I have been ranting of the user-complexity, that is Windows, there is not enough information in this post to determine what the problem could be (IMO).

    The fact of the matter is Belechick is a sore loser. If he doesn't win, he finds something or someone to blame. That's coming from a NY Giants fan (me) who Belechick helped win 4 Super Bowls.

  41. 6550

    I suspect many of these issues are network related.  I also suspect that - in this scenario - a simple, tablet-first device would do better than a general purpose laptop that has some tablet features.    

    • 241

      In reply to stolar:

      Right, I thought that network/WIFI issues were the primary issue in the AFC title game. Of course, WIFI has been a problem that plagued my SP4 after the released (since fixed of course).

  42. 1266

    In the articles I've read, none of them state what exactly is the problem the coaches/players are experiencing.  You would think that a company like Microsoft would in fact fix a consistent problem.

    I've looked around and couldn't find anything that states what the problems are exactly or what the process of getting the photos/videos that Belichick complains is too complex.  Anyone have anything that shows the process?  I would love to see what they see on these devices.

    For me, it isn't about is this a Surface/MS problem rather a technology problem - does it make sense to have a tablet on the sidelines at all? 

    • 399

      In reply to xapache:

      The best behind the scenes video I've seen is this one from CNET

      But it doesn't go into any great depth.

  43. 5394

    If Belichick solely needs pictures, why can't it just be configured to instantly put pictures on his Surface? Nothing else matters. You can put a ton of pictures on a Surface. I suspect rules means a coach just can't use it according to his desire. I read that no team gets to use the Surface in advance due to fear of cheating. This means on game day, they are flying blind.

  44. 217

    The guy struggled with microphones many times, so I don't take his opinion on technology very seriously 

  45. 901

    Unfortunately, Bill is blaming the Surface, but I'm sure it's more of an ongoing connectivity problem, just as it was with the last publicized problem.  WiFi and data suck in any stadium with 60,000 people, and a lot of them posting photos and videos, etc.

    • 1377

      In reply to chriswong13:

      Wouldn't it have been good for MSFT to have considered WiFi flakiness when entering into the deal with the NFL?

      Maybe the Surfaces aren't to blame, but MSFT definitely deserves the bad publicity its getting for this deal.

  46. 5118

    Can it not be argued that the problem might have stemmed from management trying to force a certain type of technology on a person who never wanted it to begin with. 

    If he had been allowed to select his own tech, and opted for say, an iPad, would he have been more forgiving of its flaws? Might he actually have invested more time and effort into making it work?

    Yes, it's hard to say no to $400 million, but realise that the people saying yes to that money aren't the same people having to use those surface pros, much less having to use them to get a job done. I don't think the coach actually got to see a single cent of that $400 million in exchange for using the surface pro. 

    I am reminded of what Steve Jobs said during one of his older D8 interviews. How one bugbear he had was that people don't get to choose their own tech in the corporate world, and how the tech that people ended up using tend to be selected by people who end up not using them. Hence the apparent disparity between what you want and what you end up getting. 

    And people wonder why he's more than a little dissatisfied at having to use a piece of tech whose adoption he clearly had little say in?

  47. 1475

    Wonder what Windows 8-style apps the NFL is running on them. Odds are they haven't been updated since the Win 8.1 era. Which in turn makes me wonder why MS didn't bake in all the core content of the apps on the device itself so it's less dependant on shoddy stadium WiFi.

  48. 4800

    Is the problem the tablets themselves, the software running on them or the communication in between them?  Also is Microsoft responible for all of it or are they just responible for the Surface hardware?  It really wouldn't be fair to blame them if it was something they don't control.

  49. 3180

    Add one more reason for me to dispise Belichick and the Patriots! (Read "Envy").  Go Bills!

  50. 5205

    I have been using a SP3 since shortly after it came out and have had no problems with it other than the battery not lasting more than a couple of hours now. I know of other people with the same experiences and then I have talked to people who have had nothing but problems. I hear the same things from people with iPads and Android tablets. I don't think MS is alone here.