Mi­crosoft Sur­face branded “un­re­li­able”

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What hap­pened?

An Amer­i­can con­sumer watch­dog has warned that Mi­crosoft’s Sur­face lap­tops and tablets of­fer poor re­li­a­bil­ity in their first two years of use. Ac­cord­ing to Con­sumer Re­ports, 25% of Sur­face-branded de­vices suf­fered from break­ages or other tech­ni­cal faults within two years of pur­chase, lead­ing the watch­dog to with­draw its “rec­om­mended” sta­tus. Mi­crosoft’s break­age rate was higher than those of most other brands, it said.

Mi­crosoft de­nied the re­port, say­ing its own re­turn and sup­port rates show that its de­vices last longer than sim­i­lar hard­ware. Con­sumer Re­ports’ data was based on de­tails of more than 90,000 de­vices bought since 2014, with own­ers re­port­ing frozen ma­chines and un­re­spon­sive touch­screens.

How will it af­fect you?

Con­sumer Re­ports said the sur­vey ap­plied to the most re­cent Sur­face Pro and Sur­face Book, and that the faults af­fected de­vices with de­tach­able key­boards as well as stan­dard clamshell de­signs. The watch­dog’s own tests gave Mi­crosoft Sur­face de­vices high scores for bat­tery life, per­for­mance and value, but said it was clear that re­li­a­bil­ity was an is­sue. Any­one shop­ping for a new de­vice should bear this in mind, al­though Mi­crosoft re­futes the re­port.

What do we think?

Mi­crosoft’s Sur­face de­vices are lovely pieces of hard­ware, but for the rel­a­tively high price, we need more than just good specs and nice de­sign. Most peo­ple ex­pect their lap­top to last longer than two years, so PC mak­ers – Mi­crosoft in­cluded – need to con­sider longevity. Few tech re­view­ers do long-term tests, so we only get an idea of how good a lap­top is when it’s brand new, mak­ing this Con­sumer Re­ports re­search very wel­come. We hope the watch­dog shares fig­ures on a wider va­ri­ety of de­vices so that con­sumers can get a bet­ter idea of which man­u­fac­tur­ers make the most re­li­able prod­ucts.

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